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When it comes to outdoor adventure, La Fortuna Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world you can go! From ecological trails that wind through lush rainforest terrain to exhilarating rafting trips down some incredible rapids, to relaxing hot springs perfect for unwinding after an action-packed day, this area offers something special for every type of traveler out there.
Whether you’re looking for your next thrill-seeking adventure in Costa Rica or a peaceful place to relax and soak in the natural beauty during your vacation – La Fortuna has plenty of outdoor activities to keep you entertained! Read on as we take you on a journey exploring some of the best outdoor activities in La Fortuna Costa Rica.
We fell in love with Costa Rica on our first visit back in 2010. The natural beauty and friendly people won our hearts over immediately. Since then, we’ve been back to Costa Rica several times and it never disappoints. Truthfully, we find new an incredible things every time we go. It’s no wonder since nature and adventure are kind of what makes Costa Rica function, and those are two of our favorite things! Here, we’re highlighting the best outdoor adventures in La Fortuna Costa Rica.
Why Visit La Fortuna Costa Rica?
La Fortuna can easily be called the adventure capital of Costa Rica. It’s unique location at the base of Arenal Volcano and right in the middle of the Costa Rican Rainforest, allows easy access to so many outdoor adventures. Whether you want to see wildlife, experience a volcano, or explore jungles and waterfalls it’s all right here. Best of all, you’ll find some of the best Costa Rica hotels and restaurants right in the heart of downtown La Fortuna!
If you’re visiting La Fortuna with kids check out our kid specific version of this list featuring the best things to do in La Fortuna with kids!
How Long To Spend in La Fortuna Costa Rica?
The bare minimum amount of time that you should spend in La Fortuna is 3 days. That will give you time to experience a variety of outdoor adventures in La Fortuna and to have a little bit of time to actually RELAX. If you’ve got more time, you could easily fill a week or more with things to do in La Fortuna. We’ve put together some of our favorite Costa Rica adventures as recommendations for you below.
Best Hotels in La Fortuna
- The Paradise Hot Spring Resort is a good blend of luxury and easy accessibility. With 8 hot spring pools, if you’re looking to visit some hot springs, this is a great deal.
- The Arenal Observatory Lodge has some of the best volcano views you can find. Kids will love the pools and playground and the games on site make it even easier to relax as a family.
- Hotel Mountain Paradise is a great jungle getaway for families. They’ve got a kids pool, a full breakfast, and even laundry facilities!
Best Family Vacation Rentals in La Fortuna
- This home with a private pool is lovely and the outdoor space is just perfect.
- This modern home in La Fortuna is tucked right into the rainforest, so you can feel truly immersed in nature.
- This 4-bedroom nature home sits on 5-acres, with 2 creeks, so if you want to be immersed in nature, this is a great option.
Best Outdoor Activities in La Fortuna
Are you ready for some adventure? As self proclaimed adventure experts, we want you to know about the very best adventures in La Fortuna. Plan ahead and prioritize the ones that are important to you and book them as soon as you can since during the dry season, tours often book up well in advance.
Whitewater Rafting La Fortuna
Whitewater rafting in La Fortuna, Costa Rica is an incredible adventure that takes visitors through some of the country’s most stunning natural scenery. The area around La Fortuna is known for its lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and powerful rivers, which provide the perfect backdrop for the perfect whitewater rafting experience. Growing up whitewater rafting in the United States and then working my way through college as a river guide, I can tell you that rafting in La Fortuna will not disappoint!
There are several different rafting tours available in the La Fortuna area, ranging from beginner-friendly Class II rapids to more challenging Class III and IV rapids that require a bit more experience and will give you a serious adrenaline rush. Most rafting tours include transportation to and from your hotel, and every company includes all the necessary equipment like helmets, life jackets, paddles, and well-trained guides, but you should come prepared with water shoes or good outdoor sandals for everyone.
Here are the best options for rafting in La Fortuna:
Rio La Balsa Class II-III Rafting
If you’re new to whitewater rafting or maybe going rafting with kids in La Fortuna, this is the run I’d recommend. The total time is about 5 hours, though with travel time and getting ready, you’ll only be on the water for about 2 hours. On this La Fortuna rafting section, you’ll go through about 25 rapids that vary in size and length. Overall, you’ll have a fun time, get wet, but you’re likely not going to be fearing for your life. Most companies allow kids as young as age 6 on this section of river.
Check out this option for Class II-III Rafting in La Fortuna.
Rio La Balsa Class III-IV Rafting
If you’re looking for a really exciting La Fortuna rafting experience that’s really exciting, but not terrifying, the class III-IV section of the Rio La Balsa is a great option. Like the Class II-III option, you’ll be on the river for about 2 hours, with 5 hours of total tour time (including transportation. The Class III rapids are a good warmup, and the Class IV will really get your blood pumping. It is AWESOME! Most companies will start taking kids around age 8, though we don’t recommend this section for timid kids, since the Class IV rapids are pretty intense.
Check out this option for Class III-IV rafting on the Rio La Balsa.
Sarapiqui River Rafting Class IV
For more experienced rafters looking for a challenge, the Sarapiqui River Rafting Tour is a great option. This tour offers Class IV rapids that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping, and is ome of the most difficult rafting sections near La Fortuna. There are over 30 rapids here and they’re pretty continuous! The tour typically takes about 6 hours and includes a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. Kids typically need to be 13 years old for rafting La Fortuna on the Sarapiqui River.
Check out this option for rafting Class IV Sarapiqui River.
Go Tubing In La Fortuna
If you love water, but want something different from rafting, go tubing in La Fortuna.
No, this isn’t just a lazy river, but you’ll get a little bit of everything. You’ll tube down the Rio Celeste in La Fortuna and the scenery is absolutely STUNNING! Seriously, you could go just to watch the jungle! Since you’re in a tube and right on the water, every little ripple in the river seems bigger and more exciting. While you won’t go through anything too dangerous, you’ll get enough of a trill from all of the small rapids you go through. This is one of the best la Fortuna activities to do with kids!
Check out this La Fortuna Tubing Trip
Explore The Mistico Hanging Bridges at La Fortuna
The La Fortuna Hanging Bridges at Arenal are legendary and are something you absolutely MUST DO on your La Fortuna visit. The hanging bridges are a series of suspension bridges over the rainforest, some of which reach heights up to 150 feet. This is an awesome experience that gives you a great view of the rainforest and its flora and fauna. You’ll get a chance to see sloths, toucans, monkeys and more! We were especially excited by all the poison dart frogs we saw on our last visit there! Simply walking on the hanging bridges is spectacular, but if you want the best chance to LEARN and spot wildlife, you’ll want to hire a guide to go with. I’ll be totally honest – we didn’t spot any of the wildlife we saw on our last trip without a guide pointing it out to us.
PRO TIP: Most of the guided tours, go to the Mistico Hanging Bridges between 8:30-10am, making mornings there SUPER CROWDED. To avoid the crowds, go just after sunset or in the afternoon.
Check out this Guided Hike through the Mistico Hanging Bridges
Hike Around Arenal Volcano
The most iconic feature in La Fortuna is the legendary Arenal Volcano. It looms over the town, and it always seems to inspire a sense of wonder and adventure. You can’t hike up the volcano, but there are lots of great trails that take you around it.
The most popular trail is the Arenal 1968 Trail which takes you through the old lava flow from when the volcano erupted in 1968. It’s amazing to think that this force of nature changed this whole area so quickly and dramatically!
To get to the 1968 Trail from La Fortuna, head west on Route 142 towards Lake Arenal. Turn left onto a dirt road leading to Arenal Volcano National Park and El Castillo. After about 1.25 km (3/4 of a mile), you will reach the visitors’ center and parking area for the trail. Look for the big sign on the left.
Admission is $25 per person for access to the trail. While this may seem like a steep price to pay for trail access, there are almost no free hiking options in La Fortuna, so if you want to hit the trail, it’s a price you’ll have to pay.
The Bosque 1968 trail spans 4.7 km (3 miles) and features some steep portions, as well as plenty of roots and rocks, making it a moderate-to-difficult hike. However, if you’re hoping to spot some wildlife like birds, it’s definitely worth it! You’ll want to bring some binoculars so you can see everything this hike has to offer. The forest offers plenty of shade and the small lake is also a great spot to look for animals.
The Colada 1968 trail is another way to reach the viewpoint and lava fields. This trail is a little bit easier than the Bosque trail and slightly shorter as well. The Colada 1968 trail has some of the best views of the Arenal lava flow and Arenal volcano!
Want someone to help you find the trail and point out the best wildlife along the way? Check out this Guided Hiking Tour around Arenal Volcano.
Explore The Free El Salto Rope Swing and Waterfall
There are not very many FREE things to do in La Fortuna, but this one is free and absolutely amazing. The El Salto Rope Swing is a local hot spot, but even if you don’t want to take the plunge, it’s still worth going. The El Salto Waterfall is located just outside of La Fortuna. It’s only a 2-minute drive from the center of town and there is parking available on both sides of the bridge.
The rope swing is perfect for daredevils who want to take a plunge off the cliffs into the cool water below. Make sure to bring sturdy shoes, as the terrain is rocky and slippery, especially climbing out of the water and back up the hill. This is a great place to hang out, enjoy the waterfall and to hang out with the locals.
Go Canyoning/Canyoneering in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Canyoneering (or canyoning – they’re the same thing) is the ultimate outdoor adventure in La Fortuna Costa Rica. This unique sport combines a mix of rappelling, rock climbing, cliff jumping and swimming in an adrenaline-pumping experience. You’ll explore some of the most beautiful canyons in Costa Rica as your guides show you all the best spots to jump and rappel.
There are several different options for Canyoneering in La Fortuna Costa Rica. You can choose from half-day and full-day tours, depending on how much time you have. We’ve been so impressed by the different La Fortuna Canyoneering options!
You’ll be getting wet and being active the whole time so make sure to wear good water clothes, closed toed outdoor sandals, sunscreen, and a hat. It’s also a great idea to leave a towel and a dry change of clothes in the shuttle car.
Check out this Canyoneering tour in La Fortuna
Ziplining in La Fortuna Costa Rica
Costa Rice is one of the best places to go ziplining, thanks to the incredible jungles and huge variety of wildlife. La Fortuna is home to ziplines that let you soar through the jungle and over rivers, while getting an amazing view of the Arenal Volcano.
Most zipline tours in the La Fortuna area start by taking you up to a high point from which you can admire the view of Arenal Volcano. From there, you’ll soar through the jungle on several different lines, each one giving you an incredible view and feeling of freedom. You might spot toucans, parrots, and other wildlife as you fly through the treetops!
There are several different zipline tour options in La Fortuna that vary in length and height. Here are some of our top suggestions:
Zipline Tour Over La Fortuna Waterfall
12 Cable Zipline Tour with Views of Arenal
Explore the Blue Falls of Costa Rica
The Blue Falls of Costa Rica are HANDS DOWN the most incredible set of waterfalls and pools that we’ve ever seen – ANYWHERE. At just a 90 minute drive from La Fortuna, a day trip to the Blue Falls is a must do activity. Best of all, the Blue Falls have just recently been developed for tourism, so they’re one of the least crowded waterfalls in all of Costa Rica!
The cost is only $15 to get into the Blue Falls for adults and $7.50 for kids. Best of all, for that price, you get access to all 7 Blue Waterfalls and the pools. Once you’re there you can swim, explore and enjoy the stunning blue water.
Visit La Fortuna Waterfall
The most popular waterfall in La Fortuna shares the same name as the town – La Fortuna Waterfall. It’s the easiest waterfall to visit from La Fortuna, making it the perfect outdoor activity in Costa Rica.
At the parking lot for La Fortuna Waterfall, you’ll have to pay $18 per person to get in, but you can skip the line and buy your tickets in advance online. After that, you can take a short hike down to the waterfall, crossing over several footbridges and admiring the lush jungle around you.
The 70-meter tall waterfall cascades into a natural pool, surrounded by lush rainforest vegetation. The waterfall is fed by the Arenal River, which originates from the nearby Arenal Volcano.
The area around the waterfall is protected as part of the Arenal Volcano National Park, and it is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can hike down to the waterfall on a steep trail that winds through the forest, or they can ride on horseback down to the bottom of the waterfall.
Once you are at the base of the waterfall, you can swim in the natural pool, take photos, or just relax and enjoy the stunning scenery. The waterfall is surrounded by tropical plants and wildlife, and it is not uncommon to spot exotic birds or monkeys in the trees above.
Check out this Horseback Riding Tour to La Fortuna Waterfall or also this Guided Hike to La Fortuna Falls.
Visit Hot Springs in La Fortuna
With so much geothermal activity from the Arenal Volcano, is is any wonder that La Fortuna is PACKED full of hot springs? With all of the outdoor adventures that we’ve already shared, you’ll probably need a nice long soak in some hot springs in La Fortuna. After all, there’s nothing better than relaxing in some hot springs after a long day of exploring.
The Tabacón Hot Springs are the most popular, and it is the closest to La Fortuna Town. There is an entrance fee of $80 per adult or you can upgrade to a full on spa package with dinner and drinks. Otherwise you can also choose to visit the Baldi Hot Springs, which is a bit cheaper and offers 17 pools of varying temperature.
The Rio Chollin Hot Springs are located even further away from La Fortuna town but offer two pools that are surrounded by lush jungle scenery and tropical birdsong. You will need your own transportation to get here, but it is definitely worth the journey.
If you’d rather avoid the expensive hot springs, then head to the free hot spring river in La Fortuna. The Free Hot Spring is located right in the river, just below Tabacon Hot Springs Resort, which is one of the more upscale hot spring resorts in the area (costing close to $80/day just for the hot springs). The hot springs are really the entire river, with several pools that have been dammed up to make the water deeper in areas.
We suggest that you opt for the free hot springs instead of paying for the La Fortuna Hot Spring resorts if you’re traveling to La Fortuna with kids. At the free hot springs, our kids had a great time jumping off little cascades into pools, building their own pools by damming the river, and playing in the small rapids. In comparison, a paid hot spring would have allowed them to only soak and swim, which would have been less enjoyable for them. Visiting the free hot springs of La Fortuna should be on your to-do list when you go to Costa Rica.
Go On a Sloth Tour
It really wouldn’t be a trip to Costa Rica without seeing some sloths, right? Well, this is one activity where we 100% recommend getting a guide to accompany you. We’ve visited Costa Rica several times in the last 15 years and NEVER have we seen a sloth without the help of a guide. They’re worth every dollar! Because of where sloths naturally live and spend their time, they can be very difficult to see, especially when you consider that they move so slow, so their motion doesn’t really make them stand out.
Check out this great sloth tour in La Fortuna
Can you hike to the top of Arenal Volcano?
While it is possible to hike to the top of the Arenal Volcano, it’s important to note that the trail leading to the summit is currently closed to visitors due to safety concerns. The last eruption of the Arenal Volcano occurred in 2010, and since then, the area around the summit has been considered dangerous and off-limits to hikers.
However, there are still hiking trails that lead up to the base of the volcano, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. The Arenal Observatory Lodge, which is located near the volcano, offers several hiking trails that range in difficulty and length. These trails take hikers through lush rainforests, over streams and rivers, and up to lookout points with panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano and the Arenal Lake.
The most popular hiking trail in the area is the Los Tucanes Trail, which starts at the Arenal Observatory Lodge and takes hikers through a variety of ecosystems, including secondary forests, old lava fields, and primary rainforests. Along the way, hikers can see a variety of flora and fauna, including monkeys, toucans, and sloths.
It’s important to note that hiking in the area around the Arenal Volcano can be challenging, as the terrain can be steep and rocky in some areas. It’s important to wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring plenty of water and snacks, and wear sunscreen and insect repellent.
When is the best time of year to visit La Fortuna?
The best time of year to visit La Fortuna is between the months of December and April, when temperatures and rainfall tend to be at their lowest. During these months, you can enjoy comfortable temperatures and sunny skies, ideal for exploring the area’s attractions.
However, if you want smaller crowds and cooler weather, pack your rain jacket and visit La Fortuna during the rainy season. It often just rains for a couple of hours in the afternoon and evening and it really makes the jungle come to life!