A trip to Costa Rica isn’t complete unless you spend some time in the northern lowlands of Arenal Volcano. La Fortuna is the closest town to the Volcano and is a great home base when exploring this tropical, lush area. There are many adventures and relaxation to be had, so without further ado here is the Ultimate List of Activities to do when visiting La Fortuna and the surrounding area.

Arenal Volcano! Isn’t she a beauty?

Explore Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park is filled with wildlife and adrenalin pumping activities. Depending on your preference there is a unique way to explore the National Park that suits everyone.

Explore by foot and hike the surrounding area of Arenal Volcano. There are a number of trails to choose from. While non of the trails take you to the summit of Arenal, all the trails provide you with viewpoints of the perfectly cone shaped volcano.

Explore by water and go white water rafting or enjoy a pleasant family float down the river.

Explore by air rappelling, canyoneering, or zip lining. Pick your poison.

For nature lovers and avid learners you can experience a guided hike through the rainforest across several hanging bridges to get a birds eye view of the exotic animals and birds that inhabit this ecosystem. This activity is suitable for all ages.

Cruising above the canopy on a hanging bridge

See Monkeys, Sloths and Toucans

When I think of Costa Rica, instantaneously a sloth pops into my mind, as I’m sure this is the case with most people. Luckily for you, Arenal’s ecosystem is home to thousands of animals and birds including sloths, monkeys and toucan’s.

I would suggest going a guided rainforest tour as the guides will be able to spot wildlife and tell you interesting things about the rainforest and the birds, animals, and plants that make it up. I went on a Hanging Bridges walk that took you through the rainforest and through the canopy which is where the toucan lives.

Zip-line through the Jungle

Flying down a zip-line cable over the rainforest canopy, through trees and canyons, and with panoramic views to match was one of my favorite moments on my recent trip to Costa Rica. And its no wonder that zip-lining in Costa Rica is on most peoples bucket list.

I chose to zip-line with Sky Trek in Arenal and I had an incredible experience for many reasons. First, the amount of time spent on the zip lines was enough to make me feel like I got my moneys worth. There are a total of 7 lines. The highest cable is 200 meters, the longest line is 750 meters and the fastest cable can get up to 43 miles per hour! This adventure will take you soaring over the rainforest canopy giving you panoramic views of Arenal Volcano. You’ll also zip through trees and canyons. There’s even one zip-line that you get to race a partner.

The second reason I enjoyed Sky Trek was the safety of the zip lines. You did NOT have to stop yourself with your hands or have the fear of accidentally getting turned around. All you had to do was hold onto the pulley, look forward, take in the views and when approaching the end of the line just spread your legs so you wouldn’t fling your legs up and burn them on the cable as you recoiled from the stop. The safety of the cable lines made it easy to enjoy the full experience and I have to say, I’m a sucker for safety.

The zip-lines guides were fun and we had a perfect day with the weather. I definitely recommend this tour when exploring Costa Rica.

Spend a day relaxing at the Hot Springs in La Tabacon

Can we say a dream?!?! I was lucky enough to have been able to stay here for a week lounging in the posh hot springs, sipping on hand crafted cocktails.

There are dozens of hot springs in the area to choose from but if you want to style yourself out, hands down I recommend spending a day if not a few nights at La Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa. The Tabacon Hot Springs are tucked away in the rainforest with lush floral, beautifully landscaped gardens that surround the baths. The thermal water itself is naturally heated by the volcano and is slowly mineralized underground. The springs are 97 percent rainwater and 3 percent magma which flow into waterfalls, cascading pools and hidden bathing spots. There are 5 different pools to choose from and if you’re a guest at La Tabacon Resort you’ll get access to the adults-only Shangri-La Gardens. If I haven’t sold you enough on the spring’s there’s a luxurious, bad ass, eco friendly spa next door.

If you’re ballin on a budget and not staying at the resort you can buy a day pass starting at $85 and price increases during peak season. If you’re going to splurge on one thing in Costa Rica this is it. A few nights at this luxurious resort will have you recharged and ready to take on the world. I mean just look at the photos!

Check out prices and availability here.

Swim under a waterfall at La Fortuna Waterfall

This iconic waterfall is pictured on most maps, books, and magazines of Costa Rica and for good reason. Located 5-10 minutes outside of La Fortuna town, it is easily accessible and takes about 15 minutes to walk down the set of stairs (1200 steps in total) to reach to bottom of the waterfall.

The impressive 200 foot waterfall cascades down into a pool of water where you are able to swim. Warning: the water can be very cold and the current ca be strong. There are also plenty of places to perch up and have a picnic.

Admission: $18 to enter open from 7 am to 5 pm. No drones allowed

It gets crowded as most attractions do so if you want a shot without people in it my advice to you is to get there when it opens at 7.

Warming may be cold

Rio Celeste

Although Rio Celeste is located in Tenorio Volcano National Park, about an hour and a half north of La Fortuna, I wanted to include this activity in the list because it was my favorite experience while in Costa Rica and its still in the general area.

Rio Celeste is a moderate 3.7 mile hike that takes you along a aquamarine river and to a mesmerizing waterfall and YES the color of the water is all natural. The Rio Celeste is formed when two rivers meet, creating a chemical reaction which in return creates the bright blue water color. You can read more detail of Hiking the Rio Celeste here.

Enjoy the Pura Vida Life

The most common phrase you’ll here when traveling through Costa Rica is ‘Pura Vida’. This simply translated means ‘simple or pure life’ but in Costa Rica this is the way of life. Costa Rican’s or Ticos will use this term to say hello, goodbye, thank you, life is good. Much like in Hawaii where I live when we say Aloha which can take on a number of meanings like hello, I love you, and thank you.

No stress, no worries, no problems are to be had when you are traveling through Costa Rica. Life is good and embracing the way of life here is the only way to truly experience Costa Rica and understand the culture. So what are you waiting for, let go of your worries and live like a Tico for a while, you’ll never want to go back living like anything else.

Costa Rica, a place that look forward to visiting again as my time here wasn’t nearly long enough. Thanks for reading and follow @imjess_traveling for more of my adventures as I frolic across the globe.