Arenal Volcano

With an average of over 40 eruptions per day, Arenal Volcano was for a long time Costa Rica’s feistiest volcano, belching ash and floods of glowing lava almost hourly. Since 2010, however, this green giant has been in one of its dormant phases, meaning today’s visitors can enjoy its observation tower and dried magma flows in safety. Only watch out for the thermal vents and jagged rocks: climbing the molten-cored peak is still illegal.

Arenal’s fiery furnace has produced a number of secondary wonders. The hottest (literally) are the thermal springs, including the medicinal waters at Tabacón, surrounded by jungle and used as a restorative by locals for more than two centuries. There are also the Rainbow Falls at Viento Fresco, a hidden pool still unspoiled by crowds, as well as the slender La Fortuna waterfall, a silver cascade that plunges 200 feet into a shimmering lagoon.

Nor will wildlife lovers be disappointed here. Arenal Volcano National Park is crawling with sloths and howler monkeys, with their deep, guttural screeches, while not far away is Mot Mot Garden, an exotic refuge aflutter with butterflies and hummingbirds. When you’re ready to rest, pamper yourself at one of the region’s numerous resort spas.

On foot, on horseback, or by zipline, seeing Arenal Volcano is like glimpsing a true earthly paradise. A place where Costa Rica’s Edenic beauty shimmers from land, water, and sky.

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