After five hours of driving to La Fortuna, we were more than happy to learn that for 40$ we could spend the night sipping cocktails in hot water at the Baldi Hot Springs (dinner included). Hot springs are prominent in the area due to the volcano’s geothermal activity. The area is home to many natural hot springs, which offer tourists a perfect way to relax in warm water after a long day of hiking and exploring. All the hot springs are unique. Some have cold and hot pools, and some have swim up bars or even waterslides.
The Baldi Hot Spring Resort has all types of hot and cold pools and is one of the most wide-ranging hot spring resorts in the area. It has 25 thermal water pools, a few bars, a sauna and a waterslide. It was pouring rain when we went but we didn’t mind having a few drops of cold water on our heads when the rest of our bodies were soaking away in hot waters with a tasty cocktail in our hands (they have a wide variety of cocktails too). We could have probably found something cheaper but we were tired and exhausted when we arrived and did not feel like doing too much research.
The Baldi Hot Spring Resort is located in the town of La Fortuna, which is a perfect place to stay during your visit of the Arenal Volcano National Park, and is just 4 miles away from the volcano itself. It is 75 miles away from San Jose, but due to the unstable, small winding roads, the drive there easily takes up three hours. In la Fortuna itself, you can enjoy a delicious Costa Rican coffee with the view of the volcano. The town has a couple of good bars and restaurants, but also offers supermarkets, gift shops and more.
The next morning we woke up early and decided to do two hikes: one to La Fortuna Waterfall and one to the Arenal Volcano. La Fortuna Waterfall is located approximately 5.5km from La Fortuna, right at the bottom of the Chato Volcano. The entrance fee for the waterfall is $14, and the latter is surrounded by a vast jungle and drops 200 feet into a pool. The view from on top is breathtaking, and I don’t think I could ever get used to the abundance of wilderness that Costa Rica has to offer. To arrive at the bottom of the waterfall, it is necessary to hike 400 steps down the long staircase. Once arrived at the pool, you can relax, swim in the water, take a lunch break and take pictures of the enchanting scenery. The hike back up is a little more strenuous, due to the large amount of steps that need to be climbed back up.
After a painful hike back up, we ate lunch and off we were to hike the Arenal Volcano. The Arenal Volcano lies in the 29,692 acre Arenal Volcano National Park, which itself lies in the 504,094 acre Arenal Conservation Area. The volcano is 5358 feet tall, has a crater of 460 feet in diameter and is approximately 7500 years old. It was formed from the neighboring Chato volcano, which has been extinct for 3500 years. The Arenal volcano on the other hand was until recently one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. It was dormant for a couple of centuries until it suddenly erupted in 1968, killing 87 people and destroying the small town of Tabacón (as well as two other smaller villages). For the next fifty years, the volcano experienced constant daily eruptions of smoke and lava. This ended in 2010, and the volcano has been dormant ever since.
Today, tourists won’t be able to see any lava flowing down the volcano, but will be able to witness hardened lava rocks on the hiking trails. There are two main trails leading to the lava fields, and the hikes are short and easy (2 km and 3.4 km). During the hike, we passed through the tropical rainforest and hiked up old lava rock to get a better view of the volcano (see below). The entrance fee for the park is $15, but keep in mind, you are not allowed to go on top of the crater. Park rangers monitor the volcanic activity from very close, and will make sure to close the park ahead of time in case of unsafe situations.