2. La Fortuna Waterfall
One of the first excursions we took upon arriving in La Fortuna was the La Fortuna Waterfall. We took some of our best pictures while visiting this waterfall. It’s considered the most visited waterfall in all of Costa Rica and I can see why. At 75 meters (nearly 250 feet) of cascading blue water within a lush rain forest, it’s truly a spectacular sight. You can swim in the clear waters below the falls. Be aware if you try to swim under them, as Joel did, one of the guides may yell at you. Oh well, I got a few great pictures before he had to move.
How Much Does It Cost?
We did this excursion on our own, which I would recommend. There’s really no reason to have a guide unless you need transportation or it’s part an excursion package for the day. The cost to enter on your own is $18.00 per person, from what we found it was approximately $55 per person to go with a guide (not part of a package deal).
We rented a moped for our stay in La Fortuna so we could be free to explore on our own. It cost us $200 for one week and $7 for gas. A taxi ride from the center of town is around $20 each way. The hours are 7:30 am – 4:00 pm daily. There is a gift shop and bathrooms near the ticket booth.
What Can I Expect?
There are approximately 500 stairs descending to the waterfall, which you have to go back up. It was quite the workout and I won’t lie my calves hurt for 2 days after this excursion. The steps are impeccably maintained to prevent slipping and there are many places to stop along the way so take your time, enjoy the views and take lots of pictures. You won’t be disappointed!
3. Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges
This attraction is located approximately 15 minutes from downtown La Fortuna. This hike will take you deep into the green tropical rainforest and it lasts approximately 2 1/2 hours depending on whether you want to hike through every trail. The day we went to visit the hanging bridges it rained most of the day. Our advice after taking this hike would be to check the weather beforehand because the animals are less likely to be seen during the rain according to the guides. During the rain the snakes and frogs come out, unfortunately, we didn’t see any animals.
What Can I Expect?
Be ready to see some incredible views of the Arenal volcano and rain forest. There are 6 hanging bridges, with the first bridge being the highest suspended at 148 feet. The trail is well marked, yet you still feel as if you are venturing into a rain forest without the touristy feel. We were by ourselves maneuvering through the trails for much of the time.
Be sure to slow down while going through the trails, so you can look for the mammals, reptiles, and bugs which blend into the jungle. We learned there is a brown and green snake, which in the United States is referred to as the “kiss of death snake” living within this forest. Luckily we did not come across it, although, Joel spent a lot of time looking for it. This is probably one of the reasons we spent 3 hours at this attraction.
”One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”
Should I Get A Guide Or Not?
This is one the excursions we would recommend you get a guide if your vacation time is limited. You can go on a guided excursion which includes transportation or you can schedule a guide when you purchase your ticket at the counter. We did not have a reservation, but you can make one ahead of time by visiting their website. We recommend a guide because they have “trained eyes” to see the things we can’t see. Since your vacation time may be limited, and if you want your best chance to see animals a guide is your best option for this excursion.
The animals, snakes, frogs, etc. will blend into their natural habitat making it difficult for someone who isn’t an expert to find them. Along with seeing the jungle ecosystem within this amazing wildlife sanctuary, you will come to a waterfall. You may see monkeys, sloths, frogs, snakes, lizards, and tropical birds just to name a few throughout the hike.
How Much Does It Cost?
The self-guided tour for this attraction is $26 per person. If you want a guided tour with a naturalist guide the cost is $40 per person. Like I said earlier in the post, we recommend the guide option especially if you are here for a limited amount of time. We are spending a month in Costa Rica, we will be taking both guided and self-guided tours. You can schedule a guided tour on the Mistico website. There are also night walks available if you’re feeling adventurous, go to their website to reserve.
Here’s the link to our youtube video of our day at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges.
6. Mirador El Silencio
Are you looking for one of the best hikes to get up close to the Arenal Volcano? There are many different hikes near the volcano in Arenal, but we liked the Mirador El Silencio hike because of many reasons. First off, if you go on a clear day, the view of the volcano is spectacular. Secondly, the price is reasonable and totally worth it, not only that but it’s great exercise!!
Where Is It Located?
Mirador El Silencio is a Wild Life Preserve located about 7 miles from downtown La Fortuna and 3 miles from the Arenal volcano. There are 7 trails to choose from or you can take all of them if you have the energy. We hiked 5 of the 7 trails and it took us about 3 hours. Trail number 6 is the most challenging, as it’s uphill walking on lava rock and then back down the hill. The view was worth it!! If you are with someone that doesn’t want to hike that far, you can drive up the hill and park right below trail 6.
What Can I Expect?
The trails are in a forest with giant trees, a vast ecosystem, and many species of flora. During the hike, you may see snakes, many types of monkeys, raccoons, birds, falcons, and butterflies.
What Is The Cost Of The Hike?
The cost is $8 per person for a self-guided tour. You can pay a little more and go with a guide, although in our opinion you do not need a guide.
Try to do this hike on a clearer day if possible, so you are able to see the entire volcano and try to be patient because the clouds seem to be fast moving in this area. Wear good hiking shoes, bring water, and you may want to use some bug spray. We recently came back from the Dominican Republic and I would say the bug bites were worse in the Dominican Republic than in Costa Rica. I’m sure some of this is because we visited Costa Rica during the dry season.
Thermal Water Pools, Hiking, & Atlas…….Food!
7. Las Termalitas de Arenal
Las Termalitas de Arenal is a short 6-minute drive just outside of La Fortuna. We spent an afternoon and evening here after a day of hiking and it was wonderful. The 9 pools and cabanas are surrounded by lush tropical landscaping, all 9 thermal pools have varying temperatures.
What Can I Expect?
Many of the locals frequent these pools, there cabana style semi-private areas with a picnic table, bbq, electricity, and light at each station. There is a larger cabana with 8 tables if you have a large group. There are showers and clean restrooms, a snack bar, and a restaurant.
If you want you can bring your own cooler, along with food to bbq yourself. They do allow alcohol at this location, if you don’t bring it in they have drinks for sale.
Should I Stay Through The Evening?
At night they light up the pools with colored lights. It’s a beautiful romantic place to enjoy a drink while relaxing in one of the pools. We were there on a Wednesday and there was plenty of room in the pools, by the evening we had one of the pools to ourselves. They have a sign posted next to many of the pools saying “Prohibited Love Scenes”. So I guess people may have gotten a little to carried away in the past. lol
Hours: 9 am to 10 pm Daily
Cost: 4000 colones or $7
We highly recommend Las Termalitas de Arenal, for the price along with the amenities you can’t beat it for an afternoon and/or evening. It was a low-stress, relaxing day. The only downside is they don’t have wifi, which was unfortunate for us because we planned on getting some work done while enjoying the outdoors.
8. Make Sure You Eat At A Few “Sodas”
Soda’s can be found all over Costa Rica, they are reasonably priced restaurants with typical Costa Rican cuisine (Tico food). They are kind of like a neighborhood diner, but with better food.
It’s a place you would go for breakfast or lunch, not so much for dinner. Soda’s are where the locals go, so if you want to live the culture, as we do, do as the locals. We have an in-depth video and blog post on Sodas and restaurants (recommended by locals and our Airbnb host), we loved while staying in La Fortuna.
Most of the dishes include black beans and rice with variations of meat, including steak, chicken, fish, or pork. There are also vegetarian options available at every soda we visited. Usually, the meals included a large plate of food, for around $4 or $7. Joel’s new favorite place to eat is at a Soda.
Also, be sure an order a refresco or a batidos at the Soda, they all sell them. They come in many flavors, such as mango, pineapple, blackberry, cream, banana, and raspberry. They are refreshing and inexpensive, and we found most cost less than $2.
These are the Sodas we liked best in La Fortuna:
Soda Ara – Make sure you try the blackberry smoothie, their prices are reasonable for a good plate of food.
Soda La Hormiga – This one was our favorite, and we went to a few times. Joel loved it, and it was cheap. It’s a great place to get a simple dish for $5. They seemed to be busy (which I look for when picking a restaurant), yet we always found a table. Everything we ordered was good, and the servings are large, so I had a lot to take home. One entree we liked, was the Casado which includes white rice, beans, salad, and the meat of your choice.
Soda La Caribena – We ordered the Plato Fuertes special of the day, which was fresh red snapper and it was amazing!! This Soda was a little pricier than the others, and just outside of downtown La Fortuna on your way to Arenal.
Our waiter also let us try a Chiliguaro, which is a considered Costa Rica’s national “firewater.” A Chiliguaro is made with Cacique Guaro, which comes from sugar cane juice, it has a high alcohol content, and it’s usually mixed with fruit juice or soda. We tried it with tomato juice served as a shot. It tasted similar to a bloody mary, but not as spicy. This drink is served in many areas of Central America.
We Have To Include A Pizza Joint
We have to add our favorite pizza place in La Fortuna, it was La Cava Pizza a la Lena. We love pizza, so at every destination we usually try a few spots to find what we think is the best.
More Fun Things To Do While Staying In La Fortuna
Unfortunately, it seems there’s never enough time to do and see everything we want to when visiting an area. We spend a lot of time researching our travel locations, including contacting other full-time travel bloggers, along with talking to locals while we are there to determine which places to visit and which attractions would be of most interest to our subscribers. Below is a list of other top attractions we heard are amazing; however, we ran out of time.
Rio Celeste Hike – This was a hike we missed that I really wanted to do because we’ve been told the views are absolutely beautiful. It’s a moderate 3 1/2 mile hike which takes about 3 – 5 hours to complete, depending on the time of year. During the rainy season, it takes considerably longer due to all the mud that you will be trekking through on the trails. From what I’ve read you do not need a guide for this hike. It sounds like hiking shoes or sandals are a must.
Whitewater rafting – There are all levels of whitewater rafting to be found near La Fortuna, along with many tour companies to choose from. While I write this, I’m in contact with other digital nomads who may have specific recommendations of which tour companies to use and which to stay away from. I will update this post as soon as I am confident enough in the information and company to recommend them to our subscribers.
Venado Caves – These caves were discovered in 1945, and some are considered to be over 6 millions years old. There are ten caverns of over 8,800 feet which have been found.
Baldi Hot Springs Resort – A gorgeous hotel with 25 geothermal pools, spa, restaurant & amazing views of the volcano. If you are staying here on a honeymoon or a couples getaway, I would check this hotel out its heavenly.
”As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was about to happen.” -Winnie the Pooh
I hope you found our 8 Best Things To Do In La Fortuna Costa Rica useful and you are excited to visit La Fortuna. We found the town absolutely darling with lots of shops, restaurants, and things to do for a short-term or long-term stay. If you are interested in checking out hotels in the La Fortuna area click here.
More 2 Traveling Lovers Article & Video links from Costa Rica:
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