- Type: Natural Wonders, Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
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Arenal, one of the world's most active volcanoes, stands more than 5,000 feet high. For the latter half of the 20th century, admirers traveled to its base in droves to catch a glimpse of glowing rocks and molten lava tumbling down its sides. But Arenal wasn't always spewing fiery lava, rocks, and ash. The volcano sat dormant for hundreds of years. On July 29, 1968, Arenal awoke from its slumber. A thunderous earthquake shook the area and a subsequent explosion of lava wiped out three nearby villages. Frequent eruptions continued until 2010, when the volcano reentered a non-active state.
Today, travelers head to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, which sits in an ideal viewing spot along the volcano's northern side. Arenal is often concealed by a thick layer of fog, but if you visit between February and April, you will have a better chance of unobstructed views. One TripAdvisor user explains, "It's the luck of the draw, but if you do get to see it, [it's] amazingly beautiful and impressive […]. You just have to hope the weather cooperates."
The easiest way to access Arenal Volcano is from the nearby base village of Fortuna. This small town is perched at the eastern edge of Arenal Volcano National Park in northern Costa Rica. A variety of tours depart from Fortuna to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Tour prices range between $10 and $70 USD per person, depending on your desired experience. General admission to the park costs $6 USD. You can reach Fortuna via car or bus from San José, which is located approximately 80 miles southeast of the park. The park welcomes visitors every day from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.