Last week Dinah and I landed in Costa Rica after a two-week long trip in Cuba, feeling a bit battered and gritty, knowing that we were going to spend two nights at Arenal Volcano Lake hotel made me unusually cheerful. I still had some Havana central grit under my nails and in my hair so I was in desperate need of a clean shower, bed and some comfortability.
The Hotel was located in Nuevo Arenal, right next the Arenal Lake and near the most active volcano in Costa Rica – Arenal Volcano – which meant we were going to drive past the 1657-meter-high monster on the way there.
A freaken Volcano! It was the first time in the 32 years of being on this planet that I was going to see a volcano! I couldn’t contain my excitement, I felt like a little kid. Butterflies were frantically fluttering around my gut. Every 2 minutes I shouted, Volcano, Volcano were going to see a freaken volcano!
The Arenal Volcano is most famous for its large explosive eruption spewing red-hot lava bombs up to 5 km from the vent, killing 78 people in the neighboring villages and blowing up the entire western side of the mountain. It’s one of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world, but luckily it has been dormant since October 2010.
It is however still seismically active at levels deeper than 5 km and Volcanologists have warned that a major eruption is coming in the future that could cause pyrocalstic flows – a mixture of hot rocks and gases that travel up to 80 kilometers per hour, destroying everything in their path. Driving toward the hotel with the view of the volcano in front of me my imagination went wild, imagining myself in an end of the world apocalyptic disaster film.
As we drove from La Fortuna past the volcano and towards the Arenal Lake and were taken back by the gorgeous view, the roaming hills, the lush green. I had been waiting for this part of the trip for what seems like forever. I felt at peace, content.
Arriving at the hotel we were greeted by the very warm and welcoming owner Milton and shown to our rooms. The room was spacious, clean and a very cute hand painted Mural covered the wall. The first thing I did was check the water pressure in the shower! Oh my god never underestimate the power of great water pressure; this is something our stay in Cuba highlighted for me…wohoo the pressure was amazing!
After settling in Milton took us for a drive to through town. Nuevo Arenal is a quaint lil town housing many expats and has services for all basic needs; banking services, a health clinic, grocery stores, mini-markets, a gas station, restaurants, hotels, resorts, bars and plenty of souvenir shops and an apparently active night life.
By the time we arrived back at the hotel I was starving, we ordered traditional Costa Rican food from their restaurant on the property. The food was really good and full of flavour and best of all it fitted our very very …very tight budget.
Arenal Volcano Lake hotel prides itself our offering affordable accommodation and food in the area and it’s actually the most affordable hotel in the area. In fact, the vision behind the start-up of the hotel was to make it affordable for everyone. Passionate about giving back to the community, prior to the opening up of the hotel Milton was involved with missionary work in his community and saw how costly it was to provide lodging for missionaries and other groups, with that focus in mind Milton opened up the hotel.
About Arenal Volcano Lake Hotel
Located 2 and a half hour away from both major airports, the recently re-opened hotel is owned and managed by the father and son team Milton and Eduard. Their passion for people and customer service is evident. These two are one of the most hardworking teams I’ve seen in a while, working from very early morning till late at night ensuring their guest have the best stay possible.
The hotel has 10 rooms and can host up to 35 people, it is perfect for large groups, families and backpackers. Each room has a private bathroom and a furnished outside patio to enjoy the sunset over the lake. The hotel also has a restaurant onsite that serves great mix of traditional Costa Rican and ‘western food’.
In terms of location it’s a perfect base to stop if you want to explore La Fortuna (21 km away) or head to Monte Verde (23 km away).
The hotel offers a personalised service and organises any trips or activities you would like to do in the area at no additional charge. There are plenty of activities in the area to keep you busy during the day.
Things to do nearby
Chill by the Lake: Lake Arenal is the biggest lake in Costa Rica, this man-made lake supplies more than 40 % of Costa Rica’s hydroelectric power supply, not only does it provide power to the locals but it also provides some sweet recreational activities for travellers. You can go fishing, take a sunset cruise, water ski, jet sky or windsurf.
Zip lining: If your idea of fun is flying 2000 feet through the air over the rain forest with the most awesome views of Arenal volcano and the lake then this activity is something you really need to do.
Horseback Riding: Enjoy some country side vibes and views that you can’t reach on foot or by car. You can ride through the rainforest and with some luck you might be able to spot some toucans, monkeys, peccaries and coatis.
River rafting: This is something I’ve always wanted to do but unfortunately did not have the time. In La Fortuna you’ll be able to ride through class 2 and 3 rapids in the Balsa River in La Fortuna and pass underneath some super amazing waterfalls.
Arenal Volcano national park: I love hiking so I was super stoked to hike through the Arenal National Park. The hike is really easy and only 2 hours long if hike to the base of the volcano. Despite its current lack of lava and rock flows, experts advise against exploring beyond the marked restricted areas as there could be a new magma supply and an eruption could happen.
The top of the mountain is extremely unstable and prone to landslides. For all of these reasons, visitors are reminded to stay on guard and not explore beyond the posted signs
The national park is home to a wide variety of flora and exotic animals due to it’s unique micro-climate and ecosystem resulting from the slight changes in altitude. Four different habitats can be found in the park a Tropical Rainforest, Tropical Montane Rainforest, Pre-Montane Rainforest and Lower Montane Rainforest which makes for a wide variety of flora and different wildlife, perfect for bird watchers and photographers but just in general for all nature lovers.
Natural hot springs: If your budget is pretty tight like ours was then I’d definitely recommend visiting the free natural hot springs, why pay 90 dollars to soak in hot springs when you can do it for free WITHOUT 500 tourists next to you? The natural springs are located just before Tabacon Hot springs. If you can’t find the place, park near the Tabocan hotel and ask the locals, they will direct you.
Butterfly conservatory: A Costa Rican Rainforest Regeneration project dedicated to the preservation, growth and study of the rainforest and other tropical species of the Arenal region. The project has the largest exhibition of butterflies in Costa Rica and it’s also an educational centre for students from the University of Costa Rica and other universities. The project is kept going by the entrance fee charged and any donations received from the visitors so it’s definitely a worthy place to spend your cash. http://www.butterflyconservatory.org/
Contact us to book your stay at Arenal Lake Volcano Hotel, we can also organize a tour of Costa Rica that includes community and volunteering work and home stays, or you can visit the Hotels page and book with them directly.
Lover of music festivals, awkward situations and ice cream, Chanelle recently quit her PR and Communications job in Cape Town to live the intrepid life she had been yearning for. Since the age of 10, she knew the white picket fence and 2.5 children just wasn’t for her! Rather than being barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen she dreamed of being barefoot in the Amazon Jungle. This Digital Nomad is currently based in Barcelona, trying to not take life too seriously, she also works as an English teacher and a Reiki practitioner.