This place is commonly known for its great view of the Arenal volcano and hot springs but it actually has so much more to offer.
During the holy week we wanted to get creative with our plans compared to previous years so we decided to take off to San Carlos. The trip was a bit improvised like the majority of our plans, but with some positive attitude it turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve done. We stayed four days at La Fortuna town, which is actually not enough for the number of activities to do in a place like this. We stayed at a place called Cabinas Rusticas which had all the necessities and was really well located, near the majority of the area’s attractions. We’ll go ahead and share our highlight activities during our stay.
La Fortuna River
How to get there?
3.5 km from the center of Fortuna, a bridge over the street.
TIP:You can leave the car parked on the road.
The earlier the better.
To take full advantage we left early in the morning to visit this river that is 200 meters from the cabins, Rio La Fortuna, the only thing we knew about this place was that we could swim in it, which was enough reason to go and check it out. We stumbled upon a nice surprise that was much better than we expected; The color of the water was awesome, it looked very clean and there was a rope there to swing from. Lucky us, there was only one family there, they were from the area, they swung themselves with so much confidence and peace of mind, that we quickly got excited to try it, they willingly explained to us how to swing correctly and next thing you know we were jumping in one by one. Basically, it’s just about being brave and letting go. The fact that there were no people was a success since we were able to use the rope practically the whole time and the truth is that the water was so nice that It was worth it. We sat down by the river to warm up a bit and talk for a while, and after an hour we decided to continue our way.
La Fortuna Waterfall
How to get there?
It is 5.5 kilometers from the center of Fortuna. Close to the Arenal Volcano National Park. With Waze
Cost:¢ 3000 for Costa Ricans with ID in hand.
Hours:8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day
We recommend to bring a snack so you don’t starve while you appreciate the waterfall, or at the entrance, there is a restaurant that we did not try but It was there just in case.
La Fortuna Waterfall is a super touristy spot so it is not usually a must but in this case, it is worth it. Once we paid at the entrance we went straight to the waterfall. Before starting the descent we took a selfie at a lookout spot there, and then we walked down 500 steps (they told us this because we surely did not count) and reached the much-anticipated cascade. In all honesty, the place is awesome, it’s super large and impressive, it’s a 70 meters drop surrounded by lots of trees. One can get in the water without any problem, it’s not very deep, the only thing is that the water is a bit cold but it’s tolerable. We stayed there for a couple of hours, we took pictures, we went to the river and then we ate some chips to kill the hunger. On the way back you have to climb the 500 steps but it is not as hard as it sounds, it’s easy, it’s good exercise and everyone does it the best they can.
How to get there?
300mts north from the entrance of La Fortuna Waterfall
Cost:¢ 5000 for Nationals
Chato Hill is an extinct volcano, it has a truncated volcanic cone at a height of 1,140 meters. They recommended this hill, of which we knew absolutely nothing about, and we did think twice to find a way to hike it. There are two ways to get there, it can be from the Green Lagoon Hotel or from the Fortuna Waterfall. We went with the hotel option, nationals must pay ¢ 5000 and from there the walk begins. We did not know what to expect, they told us that it was a bit challenging and that they had lasted about 2 or 3 hours, but the truth is that It is not that difficult, If each person goes at their own pace they’ll arrive without issues. The road is very beautiful, it starts with paddocks, always overlooking the Arenal Volcano, then we went along the mountain walking among nature most of the time. We lasted 1:13 hiking up, when we arrived we had an impressive view towards the Arenal Volcano, there we took some really good pictures. Then it starts to get challenging, a descent, that with the combination of humidity and rain it becomes pure mud, it’s necessary to descend carefully and after about 15 minutes later you arrive at the lagoon where for sure you have to swim at. It is awesome, super green, big, the water is cold and the lagoon is very deep, so the only requirement is to know how to swim well or bring floaties. After swimming for a while, we decided to turn back and this takes a lot less time, but you have to be careful not to fall and twist your ankle. It is a super recommended hike and swimming in the lagoon simply can not be missed.
Location:3.5km southwest of La Fortuna, on the way to La Fortuna Waterfall
Hours:Morning and Afternoon.
In ‘La Fortuna’ there are many options for horseback riding and we supposed that they are all equally good, but this time we did not have much time so we wanted to take advantage of the afternoon and after listening to the popular classic song ‘Caballito de Palo’ we wanted to kill our fever of horseback riding. So we started to call places, almost everything we heard was a 4-hour ride to the waterfall but finally, we met Don Alberto who offered us a 2-hour horseback ride through a paddock near the stables and our objective was met. We had not to ridden a horse in a long time so, so we really enjoyed it … Trejos overcame the trauma he had with horses, Glori and Karla dominated the horses because they decided to lead the whole ride, and I chose to take it easy to avoid the chafing in my inner thighs feeling. Overall we recommend this activity to make the most of your stay in La Fortuna and It’s always fun to horseback ride anyways.
Paddleboard, Lake Arenal
How to get there?
Behind the Catholic Church of La Fortuna, in Desafío Adventure.
Hours:7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Paddleboarding is one of the most common activities to do on the beaches, so we decided to see how it was on a lake and turns out It is much better. The activity is super simple, you just have to have a little balance and that’s it, it is also very safe, you wear a vest, so nobody drowns, cheer up, in the group, there were foreigners of all ages. We hired a tour that picked us up at the hotel, it included refreshments, the team, a guide who gave us all the explanation, a little boat ride … the whole ride lasted about 3 hours. It was great, the day started cloudily and It seemed like It was going to rain, but after a while, the sun came out, everything got better and it got really beautiful. While we rowed we had a view of the volcano right in front of us, surrounded by the vegetation of the area and the Arenal Lake around us, an image that makes one disconnect and enjoys paddling and paddling without stopping. During the activity, we did yoga on the boards and the guides invented games, of course, we were up for everything they put us to do and we had a great time. In the end there is a small boat ride on a part of the lake with refreshments (beverages and fruits) and then we returned to the hotel.
How to get there?
You can find them everywhere.
Do this in the afternoon/evening, truly, the water is very hot!
This is a popular activity that nobody should miss if you go for a walk in La Fortuna. There are many options, for all preferences. We decided to check out the paddleboard because the afternoon was cloudy, perfect to withstand the heat of the water and we wanted to relax a bit, but the best thing was to go at night since the air is cooler. After searching and a recommendation, we went to Ecotermales, very nice, there were not many people, very welcoming and the entrance has a reasonable price for the area. It has 3 areas to bathe, one with a waterfall where we got a message with the water, then there are 3 pools near one another to be relaxed and also there is a cooler pool to regulate the body temperature. After 2 hours which we think was fair, we went to the hotel to sleep like babies.
How to get there?
50 km from La Fortuna.
Hours:8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
We were only 45 minutes away from the Deer Caverns so we had to go and check it out. The scenery during the road trip was super nice and full of vegetation which is common in all of this area. When you get to the caves you pay the entrance, they give you the equipment and after a short walk, you enter the caverns. The guides are highly trained with several years of experience and they explain everything in good detail.
Upon entering the cavern the light ends, the flashlights are turned on and the adrenaline starts, the walk begins with a subterranean river and it gets better and better. During the tour you get soaked, you have to crawl through some parts and it’s super dark, but that makes this place somewhat different and exciting. We climbed several large rocks, we also went through small holes that one would imagine we’d fit through (Kinda like the one that comes out in a video they call: BIRTH), but everyone succeeds. There are small waterfalls, numerous stalactites, and stalagmites. After the caverns we returned to San José … 4 incredible days well spent, With a bit of positive attitude one can truly enjoy life!