Costa Rica is well known for it’s focus on eco-tourism and sustainable practices. A country bordered by both the Pacific and Atlantic ocean, the interior volcanic region, known as Arenal, is a gorgeous part of the country that feels wild and undisturbed by man. Thanks to the still-active Arenal Volcano, this region boasts eco-experiences for curios travelers and hot pools galore for those looking for a little relaxation. Visiting Costa Rica on a cruise or on your own is a unique experience for most, so here’s a handy guide to what you need to know about Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano region.
What is the Arenal Volcano?
Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano is unique in that in geological years, it’s actually quite young. Formed only 7,500 years ago, the volcano’s most notable eruption was in 1968. Seismic activity around the volcano has waned in recent years, making it a very safe mountain to explore. Similar to famous volcanoes in Hawaii, the Arenal volcano was primarily known for spewing smoke and ash high in the sky, causing more inconvenience than actual danger across the area.
While the steam and ash seem to have subsided over the past decade, other volcanic activity is still ongoing including the many hot pools, volcanic mud, and climate features found across the region. There are a number of resorts and wellness retreats operating in the region which take advantage of the natural physical and mental healing offered by Mother Nature’s hot tub.
Arenal Hot Springs
You could spend an entire trip simply visiting the many hot springs and pools of the Arenal region. Most hotels sell day passes to their hot pools so you can visit as many as you like without needing to be an overnight guest at the resort. Two particular standouts to check out are the Arenal Paraiso Resort and Spa and the Baldi Hot Springs. The Paraiso Resort is an affordable and family-friendly venue that features 14 different natural mineral pools ranging from 107°F (42° C) to 78° F (26° C).
Kids will love jumping from pool to pool in what at first glance may be mistaken for muddy water, but is actually mineral rich pools which work wonders for the skin. Baldi Hot Springs, on the other hand, is known for its sparkling clear water with a mix of hot and cold pools including a steam cave and waterfall. Standout features of this luxury resort include in-pool wet bars and a large selection of waterslides.
RELATED: Yoga Transformation in Costa Rica
Arenal Conservation Area
The Arenal Volcano is located in what is now known as the larger 504,094-acre Arenal Conservation Area. Eruptions over the years has produced layered lava fields that are popular hiking spots to study geologic activity and unique terrain in the Arenal Volcano Park (a park within the larger park itself). There are guided tours available across hanging bridges, and floating water tours or guests can visit the fabulous La Fortuna waterfall for the most Instagram-able moment of the whole trip.
For those visiting Costa Rica via ship, the distance is too far for a day excursion and it’s important to note that the waterfall base requires a 500 stair hike, so it’s definitely not for everyone. Ziplining is also popular with visitors, offering a different perspective on the dense foliage and plentiful wildlife in the area of both Arenal and Monteverde.
The next time you take a vacation to Costa Rica, make sure you don’t skip the chance to visit the Arenal region and all it’s natural wonder!
Kate Hagan Gallup is a mom, wife, writer, digital strategist, and geek located in West Seattle. A UW grad, she loves writing about all things local from food to fun.