Hotsy-Totsy: the Arenal Volcano Costa Rica!
Truth is, you don't have to do much of anything to love the Arenal Volcano Costa Rica. You could sit and just look at it for a week. But if you've got ants in your pants (figuratively speaking), there's lots to do.
Photos of my trip to Arenal
Beautiful views, amazing animals, and a few favorite spots in the rainforest/Arenal area.
Stay somewhere awesome for cheap.
We loved Essence Arenal, a hostel about 50 minutes down a dirt road outside the little touristy town of Fortuna. It has great views of the volcano, of course, and low prices ($15-$38/night US). We stayed in a sweet little room with private bath. But the best part was the dinners at night. All the guests help cook or assemble some part of the meal and then eat together. We made lots of friends, ate fantastic homemade food, and farted a lot. (They like beans in Costa Rica.)
Below is the view from Essence.
Go out in the jungle.
Kelly, the awesome manager of Essence, directed us to lots of good times in the Arenal Volcano Costa Rica. You can hike on the Essence property, or take the hostel's $6 shuttle to various areas during the day and get picked up by the same shuttle late afternoon.
Amazing things we did:
Zip lining through the rainforest! (At Los Canyones)
Hiking down to a waterfall and wandering the gardens in the Arenal Observatory
Crashing the pool at the same observatory and swimming all day in luxury (it's guests only, not for day visitors like us, but no one checked)
Basking in the thermal river. What? YES. The volcano heats the water in some rivers, so it's like a natural, flowing hot tub in the wilderness. If you know where to go you can plop your butt* down in there for absolutely free. Try across from the Tabacon resort. It is the most fun you can have in a bathing suit.
Swimming and lounging at our hostel pool all morning with a 40 of Imperiales.
How much Spanish will I need to speak, Gringita?
Some. A lot of people in Costa Rica do speak English, but I think it's polite to try Spanish first. One wise guy at the zip lining place let me pantomime zip lining in my broken Spanish before he said, "So where are you guys from?" in perfect English.
Gringa was embarrassed.
The same dude, when he lifted me up to the zip line the first time, said, "I can see the fear on your face." I was like, thanks.
I know you want to go! Arenal Volcano Costa Rica awaits. Learn a little more before on my travel tips you pack your bikini.