The Marvels of La Fortuna Waterfall & Arenal Volcano

Costa Rica’s natural beauty is unmatched. Among the many wonders in this tropical paradise are the La Fortuna Waterfall and the Arenal Volcano.

Here, we take a closer look at the key features of these iconic Costa Rican destinations, giving you practical advice for planning your next adventure.

Plan your dream vacation to the natural wonders of La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano!

Geographical and Geological Wonders

Learn more about the geological narratives, unique formations, and breathtaking viewpoints that define the essence of these extraordinary wonders in the heart of Central America:

La Fortuna Waterfall

Located in the La Fortuna area, the Fortuna River Waterfall cascades into a refreshing pool below. The most distinctive feature of La Fortuna Waterfall is its impressive height (more than 200 feet), making it one of the highest waterfalls in Costa Rica.

La Fortuna Waterfall is fed by the Fortuna River. Furthermore, the formation of this high waterfall is attributed to the geological processes that have shaped the terrain over millions of years.

You can take a hiking trail that winds through the La Fortuna area to reach it. Along the way, a hanging bridge adds an adventurous element to the journey, offering panoramic views of the rainforest and the waterfall.

Arenal volcano

A visit to the Arenal Volcano should be part of any Costa Rican vacation, especially if you’re an outdoor enthusiast.

The Arenal Volcano, standing majestically within Arenal Volcano National Park, is prominent and active in Costa Rica. It rises to an elevation of 1,670 meters (5,479 feet) and is part of the Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area.

This is one of the six active volcanoes in Costa Rica, and its formation results from tectonic activity. Arenal Volcano is renowned for its periodic volcanic activity monitored for safety, including eruptions and lava flows. 

Moreover, the volcano’s geothermal activity gives rise to natural hot springs in La Fortuna. These hot springs are a popular attraction, providing a relaxing and therapeutic experience for anyone.

Many viewpoints along the hiking trail leading to La Fortuna Waterfall offer spectacular perspectives of the cascade and its surroundings. The trail takes you through the rainforest, providing glimpses of the waterfall from different angles. 

You’ll find a strategically placed observation deck near the pool at the waterfall’s base, allowing an up-close view.

Unlike some destinations with seasonal restrictions, Arenal Volcano National Park is accessible year-round. This ensures that visitors can experience the wonders of La Fortuna regardless of the time of year, providing greater flexibility for travel plans.

If you want to explore these areas in the best way, consider adding our 12-Hour Volcano & Jungle Experience Tour in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, to your itinerary. This package includes visiting the La Fortuna Waterfall, exploring the Arenal Volcano National Park, hiking to the hanging bridges, and relaxing in the hot springs.

Exploring the Sites

Hiking trails and sightseeing

Set out on a thrilling hiking expedition to the La Fortuna Waterfall. With its lush rainforest surroundings, the trail provides a window into Costa Rica’s abundant biodiversity.

You can travel over a hanging bridge en route to the waterfall, which spices up the experience. Take expansive views of the rainforest canopy from this vantage point, offering fantastic photo opportunities and a distinctive viewpoint of the surrounding terrain.

Once at the base, you can admire La Fortuna Waterfall’s immense height and force from various vantage points. Seize the opportunity to witness the breathtaking cascading water into a lush green pool below.

Similarly, there are numerous, well-maintained hiking trails in Arenal Volcano National Park, with varying degrees of difficulty. These trails lead to strategic viewpoints that offer breathtaking views of the volcano and its surrounding area, making them ideal for both casual strollers and more experienced hikers.

As you stroll the trails, take in the varied volcanic landscape. See the traces of past eruptions, take note of the changing vegetation, and learn about the geological past that has shaped the Arenal Volcano.

Search the trails for signs of native wildlife. A haven for biodiversity, the Arenal Volcano is home to howler monkeys and colorful birds. Note that your chances of seeing the variety of plants and animals in the park will increase if you have binoculars.

Nearby services and accommodations

At the entrance of La Fortuna Waterfall, you’ll find facilities such as ticket counters, restrooms, and informational kiosks. 

The La Fortuna community takes pride in managing the area sustainably. You can support local vendors by buying snacks and souvenirs or participating in guided tours.

On the other hand, Arenal Volcano National Park features a visitor center where you can gather information about the park, its trails, and any current safety guidelines. Knowledgeable park staff are available to answer questions and provide assistance.

Stay in nearby accommodations that offer breathtaking views of Arenal Volcano. You’ll encounter luxurious resorts and cozy lodges that suit different preferences and budgets.

Local activities

After hiking La Fortuna Waterfall, take advantage of the natural pool at the waterfall’s base for a refreshing swim. The calm, pristine waters offer a perfect way to unwind amidst the tropical surroundings.

You can also extend your adventure by exploring the Guayabo de Monte Biological Reserve. The reserve showcases additional natural wonders; this is perfect if you’re trying to deepen your connection with Costa Rica’s diverse ecosystems.

If you’re visiting the Arenal Volcano, you can spend an evening witnessing the sight of the volcano illuminated against the night sky. Many accommodations offer vantage points for volcano-watching, providing a serene and surreal experience.

For thrill-seekers, this volcano offers a range of adventure activities such as zip-lining, canopy tours, and hot springs experiences. Engage in these activities to add an adrenaline boost to your Costa Rican adventure.

You can explore the iconic Arenal Volcano with a guided hike in La Fortuna. Our 3-hour Hiking Tour to Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica tour, invites you to discover the natural wonders of Arenal Volcano National Park. 

Led by knowledgeable guides, the experience provides insights into the volcano’s geological history, local flora and fauna, and the park’s unique ecosystems.

Cultural and Historical Insights

Besides offering breathtaking natural wonders, La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano carry the weight of centuries-old traditions, local stories, and a historical context that adds depth to their allure. Here are some of the ones that stand out the most:

Local traditions and stories

Indigenous influence can be seen in the La Fortuna, where the Bribri and Maleku communities have left their mark on the area. Regional customs like storytelling and traditional ceremonies echo a strong bond between the waterfall and Costa Rica’s cultural legacy.

The Arenal Volcano has a pre-Columbian history, with evidence of ancient settlements found in the volcanic terrain. If you explore the trails around the volcano, you might discover archaeological remnants.

Arenal Volcano holds symbolic significance in the traditions of the indigenous peoples, representing both a source of fear and reverence. Understanding the volcano’s role in local narratives provides a deeper appreciation for the cultural significance attributed to this majestic natural wonder.

You can complement the area’s exploration with our Hanging Bridges and La Fortuna Waterfall Tour, designed with a touch of local traditions and stories. One of the distinctive features of this tour is the opportunity to engage in a hands-on experience with Doña Mara. Learn the art of tortilla making, a culinary tradition passed down through generations.

Historical context

The management of La Fortuna Waterfall is tied to the Integral Development Association, a community-driven initiative focused on sustainable development. This non-profit organization is crucial in preserving the area’s natural beauty while fostering a sense of pride and ownership among the local community.

Over the years, there has been a shift towards conservation efforts in the La Fortuna community. These initiatives have emerged to protect the waterfall and its surrounding ecosystems, ensuring that future generations can continue to witness this natural treasure.

A crucial aspect of the historical context surrounding Arenal Volcano is its eruptions in the 20th century. Although there hasn’t been an eruption since 2010, the Arenal Volcano is still classified as active.

Mirroring the efforts at La Fortuna Waterfall, the Integral Development Association around Arenal Volcano plays a vital role in sustainable management. 

Get the best trip in Costa Rica by exploring its natural wonders and cultural treasures.

Eco-Friendly Visitation and Environmental Importance

A commitment to sustainable practices guides visiting La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano. These destinations captivate with their scenic beauty and stand as an example of a natural area managed sustainably. 

La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano are shelters for diverse plant and animal species. Eco-friendly visitation practices play a crucial role in safeguarding this biodiversity, ensuring that these natural habitats remain thriving and undisturbed.

The Integral Development Association’s commitment to sustainable development extends to La Fortuna Waterfall, fostering responsible tourism practices. Here, you’re encouraged to tread lightly, respect designated trails, and minimize your environmental impact to ensure the long-term health of the ecosystem.

Likewise, Arenal Volcano National Park emphasizes the importance of eco-friendly visitation through carefully maintained trails. Visitors are urged to adhere to designated paths, minimizing disturbance to the volcanic landscapes and allowing for the continued flourishing of native flora and fauna.

Take into account that the geological formations of Arenal Volcano are delicate and susceptible to the impacts of unregulated visitation. Responsible tourism safeguards these formations and contributes to ongoing scientific research.

It’s important to note that the local community actively participates in conservation efforts, promoting a shared sense of responsibility and encouraging visitors to appreciate the delicate balance between human activities and the natural environment.

Practical Travel Information

Best time to visit

The best time to visit La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano is during the dry season, from December to April. This period ensures favorable weather conditions, making it ideal for outdoor activities, hiking, and exploration. 

However, if you’re seeking the breathtaking sight of a robust waterfall, the rainy season from May to November offers a more dramatic flow at La Fortuna Waterfall.

Getting there

Access to La Fortuna Waterfall is conveniently facilitated by taxi rides, which can be arranged from the town of La Fortuna. A short taxi ride takes you to the entrance.

Arenal Volcano is also easily accessible from La Fortuna town and has various transportation options, including taxis and tours. For those seeking a more adventurous journey, zip lines and outdoor activities can be incorporated into the travel experience.

Entrance fees and tickets

You can purchase entrance tickets at La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano National Park’s sites. These fees fund conservation efforts, trail maintenance, and educational programs.

Ensure an unforgettable vacation by exploring the marvels of La Fortuna Waterfall and Arenal Volcano.

Plan Your Next Adventure

Ready to explore the marvels of La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano? Contact Find My Costa Rica to plan your next adventure. Discover the beauty of Costa Rica with tailored itineraries, expert guidance, and authentic experiences. Start your Costa Rican adventure today!

Explore Costa Rica's iconic destinations with Find My Costa Rica!


1. How long does it take to do La Fortuna waterfall?

The time it takes to explore La Fortuna Waterfall can vary based on individual preferences. The hike to the waterfall and back, including time spent at the base, typically takes 1 to 1.5 hours. 

However, you can extend your stay, especially if you want to participate in additional activities like swimming in the natural pool or exploring the surrounding trails.

2. Can you visit La Fortuna waterfall on your own?
  1. Yes, you can explore La Fortuna Waterfall on your own. The trail to the waterfall is well-marked, and the site is designed for self-guided exploration.
3. Can you walk to the top of Arenal Volcano?

While there isn’t a direct trail to the summit of Arenal Volcano, you can hike to certain viewpoints around the base for stunning panoramic views. Keep in mind that reaching the actual peak is not permitted for safety and conservation reasons.

4. Can you hike around the Arenal Volcano on your own?

Yes. The Arenal Volcano National Park is open for independent exploration. However, if you want to learn more about La Fortuna, the surrounding rainforest, and the volcano, having a knowledgeable guide can be helpful.

5. What do you wear to the Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Waterfall?

These are some of the appropriate clothing and footwear that could enhance your visit:

  • Sturdy yet comfortable hiking or walking shoes and water shoes.
  • Light and breathable clothing.
  • Swimwear.
  • A hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sun protection.
  • Insect repellent.
  • A waterproof jacket or poncho if you’re visiting in the rainy season.

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