A Visit to Arenal Volcano National Park

A Visit to Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano
First sight of Arenal Volcano
PlaceArenal Volcano National Park
Opening Times8-4
Price$16.95 (card only)
Driving ScheduleLa Fortuna to National Park Entrance
Distance16 km
Driving Time21 minutes

Arenal Volcano, measuring 1600m in height, with its peak standing proud above the rain forest (often topped by cloud), makes for spectacular views for miles around. As it is technically an active volcano, climbing Arenal is not permitted, however you can visit the National Park at its base. Here, several trails will furnish you with even more spectacular views of the volcano and of Lake Arenal.

Arenal Volcano National Park map
Map of Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park is a 16 km drive from La Fortuna. The first 14 km is along the main road (Route 142), then take a left turn onto the Calle Real el Castillo. After 2 km, you will reach the main park entrance (Sector Volcán). It is an easy drive along paved roads.

Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano National Park

The park is divided into two sectors; Sector Volcán and Sector Peninsula. Opening hours are from 8 am to 4 pm. As we arrived at 8 am and there was a queue of vehicles waiting to enter Sector Volcán, we opted to visit Sector Peninsula first – this requires driving off road.

Road to Sector Peninsula
Road to Sector Peninsula

Sector Peninsula

To reach Sector Peninsula, turn right by the main park entrance to tackle the 2 km drive along a rather bumpy track. This brings you to the sector entrance with plenty of parking right outside.

Entrance to Sector Peninsula
Entrance to Sector Peninsula

The entrance fee for foreigners is $17 (payable by card only). The ticket is valid for both sectors, so keep it somewhere safe (mine went into my bumbag with other essential items; phone, face mask, emergency Oreos…)

Sector Peninsula Map
Sector Peninsula Map

Sendero los Miradores

The main trail is the Sendero los Miradores, which is surprisingly well paved, bearing in mind the road we had to drive down to reach it. The path is 1.2 km long and leads through the rainforest, past a couple of viewpoints to Lake Arenal.

Arenal volcano 
View From Observation Tower
View From Observation Tower

Two thirds of the way along the trail is an observation tower which you can climb for views of the lake and the volcano (in theory, although when we visited, it was shrouded by cloud).

Observation Tower
Observation Tower

Just past the crocodile warning sign, is the final viewpoint; a platform over the lake which provides a view across the lake to the volcano.

Lake Arenal
Lake Arenal from the final viewpoint

To return, you can either retrace your steps, or half way up the trail, take a right turn onto the Sendero El Tororoi.

Crocodile Warning Sign
Crocodile Warning Sign

Sendero El Tororoi

This trail is a short (600m), but steep loop off the main trail, through the rain forest, via a lot of steps and a bridge.

Sendero El Tororoi bridge
Sendero El Tororoi bridge

Sector Volcán

After visiting the Sector Peninsula, we drove back along the track to the Sector Volcán. Once you have shown your ticket at the gate (restrooms are also located here), you can drive a few hundred metres further to the car park at the trail head for the two main hiking trails.

Sector Volcan Trail Map
Sector Volcán Trail Map

Sendero las Coladas

First, Sendero las Coladas; a 2 km path which takes you to a bridge, from where you can climb onto a lava flow created when the volcano erupted in 1992.

Lava Flow
Lava Flow

To return, you can either retrace your steps take a left turn to follow the Sendero el Ceibo, a 3 km loop off the main trail.

Sendero Las Coladas bridge
Sendero Las Coladas bridge

Sendero el Ceibo

This path takes you past an enormous ceiba tree, which is 400 years old and 30 metres tall. It’s so big you can climb in between its massive roots for the obligatory photo op.

El Ceibo
El Ceibo

Once back at the trail head, it is a 1.3 km walk/drive (it was raining when we visited, so we opted to drive) along the Camino Vehicular to the final lookout, the Mirador Principal.

Sendero el Ceibo
Sendero el Ceibo

Mirador Principal

This viewpoint is supposed to provide the best views of the volcano. Unfortunately, when we visited, it was so cloudy we could barely even work out where the volcano was. I don’t usually use other people’s photos, but I have on this occasion – here is a picture of what we saw and what it looks like on a clear day…

View from Mirador Principal
Our view from Mirador Principal
View from Mirador Principal
Someone else’s view from Mirador Principal

Author: Jane's Midlife Journey

Stopped work, started travelling. Sometimes I run - combining the two with some parkrun tourism.

One thought on “A Visit to Arenal Volcano National Park”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s