Hiking Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
There are volcanoes all around Central America. Costa Rica itself has tons! So, if visiting Costa Rica, it’s pretty easy to take a trip to see at least one volcano.
We had the chance to stop by Arenal Volcano and it was hella dope!
During our road trip we had a lot of good views of the volcano even just from the road! Heading away from the volcano and toward Tamarindo were the best views. The Lake Arenal sitting beside the volcano as we drove through Costa Rica gave us one of the best experiences of the road trip.
We also stopped by Nuevo Arenal to fill up on gas before hitting Tamarindo Beach and that was the coolest little town! If only we had more time we would’ve stayed to explore more there.
We chose to visit Arenal Volcano by way of hiking through Arenal Volcano National Park. There is an entry admission but it’s only $15. Other ways to view the volcano (aside from seeing it from the road for free) is by doing a tour. En route to the national park there are tons of tour companies offering their services: kayaking, ATVs, horseback riding, etc. Especially while in La Fortuna, the nearby town, there are tons of tour companies as well as other activities to do like soaking in hot springs!
Once we entered the national park we parked our car and started our hike.
The hike in total was a bit over 2 hours round trip. It’s certainly an easy hike that even the young an elderly can do. In fact, we saw both young and old on the trails. During this time of year in April it was not crowded at all. At times, we did not see anyone on the trail for probably about a quarter of a mile.
There’s the option to hike to the base or drive to the base. If hiking there are a few turns such as a spot where there is very old cooled lava from a past eruption. I’ve heard that viewing the old lava is very anticlimactic however. We chose to skip out on that. There is also a spot where you can turn off the trail to hike to an overlook where there are panorama views of the volcano, lake and surrounding towns.
After speaking with hikers that had just finished the trails we chose the latter. We were informed that when hiking to the base there isn’t really the best view of the volcano and its entirety being so close up on it. We also got a tip that there were tons of monkeys hanging around. With that knowledge I sped walked almost the entire time just to not miss the monkeys!
The hike through the rainforest was really serene. Everywhere you look there’s lush green trees and bushes as you hear the wildlife all around you. There were trees and animals we spotted there that I’ve never seen back home in the States. It was all so beautiful.
The Ceiba Tree is certainly a highlight. The tree is huuuge and is over 500 years old. It definitely reminds me of the tree featured on Avatar. I wonder if they took the tree as reference!
A little past the Ceiba tree we spotted some wild white face monkeys swinging through the trees. This was the highlight of the hike fore me. It was amazing to see monkeys in their natural habitat – not having to pay a zoo entry fee to see them in cages. It was amazing. They are such beautiful creatures. I could’ve stayed there all day. Luckily seeing wild monkeys was a constant theme throughout our stay in Costa Rica so there were no worries there.
Continuing on we finally made it to our destination. We hied up and around a rock scramble to make it to the panorama view of the volcano, lake, and surrounding towns. It was stunning. Especially after hiking for nearly one hour… Finally having had made it to the volcano and all its glory was just so rewarding. It was certainly well worth the trip.
I stood there with sweat dripping in all places imaginable, heart pounding from both excitement and exhaustion, and eyes wide open. I felt blessed beyond measure.
We enjoyed the view for a long while: took pictures, climbed and jumped off of rocks, felt light droplets hit our overheated bodies as it began to drizzle, and thought about how we had to hike allllll the way back.
On the way back we didn’t see the monkeys again which was unfortunate but it made me that much more grateful to have caught them earlier.
Despite it being an extremely cloudy day. The views were wonderful, the animals were a joy, and the light rain even cooled us off a bit!
About another hour later we were back to our car and on the road to Tamarindo Beach!
“Finally.” I remember thinking to myself after discovering the city and rainforests of Costa Rica.. “We are finally gonna make it to the beach!!!”