The area around Arenal volcano and La Fortuna is the undisputed epicenter of Costa Rican tourism. The volcano itself, with its perfect cone, is definitely a very cool sight to behold; there’s something truly epic and primal about standing in the presence of something as elemental and powerful as an active volcano. Not to worry though - Arenal has been pretty quiet the past few years. Arenal offers activity-loving visitors a ton of great options for exploration and excursions. ATV tours, horseback riding, wildlife sanctuaries, a national park, zip lines, river tubing… you name it, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to do it in Arenal. This makes Arenal an especially great destination for families; even extended family groups will have a great time in Arenal, as everyone can go off and do exactly what they feel like doing. Two experiences in particular were, in my opinion, standouts of my most recent trip to Arenal. The first was a guided hike of Mistico Hanging Bridges Park. This park features 15 hanging bridges in a beautiful stretch of primary rainforest, with excellent opportunities for viewing birds and wildlife. Our guide, Ruben, was truly fantastic - his knowledge and genuine enthusiasm made our tour fun and memorable. He helped us to see wild peccaries, an eyelash viper, tarantulas, and several incredible species of birds. This park is a great little hike for all ages, and the perfect way to experience a slice of the rainforest if you’re not interested in doing lots of intense hiking, or won’t be able to visit another rainforest on your visit to Costa Rica. The other major highlight of the Arenal area is the natural hot springs, created from the area’s volcanic and geothermal activity. Almost every hotel had at least a couple of hot pools heated by the earth, and it’s simply a wonderful experience to sink into one after a day of adventuring. There are a few spots that go above and beyond however; Tabacon, as one of the first enterprises to move in, has hands-down the best hot springs in Arenal. With dozens of naturally-occurring pools of various temperatures strewn through the forest, and the ability to freely wander between them, Tabacon fits many visitors’ image of the Garden of Eden.
Spotlight on: Nayara Resort
In my opinion, this stellar resort is among the very best in Costa Rica. It is a wonderland for adults looking for peace, romance, beauty, luxury, and tranquility. The level of service and attention to detail are nothing short of spectacular. Each stand-alone villa is lovingly decorated in an delightfully eclectic style, and each has its own private balcony looking into the rainforest. Nayara is wonderful, and my #1 pick for honeymooners headed to Costa Rica.