The Arenal Volcano is located at the center of the Arenal Volcano National Park, where it towers above the fertile landscape of Costa Rica’s northern lowlands. In addition to the volcano, which is undeniably the star of the show, the park is also home to an astonishing plethora of natural sights, such as hot springs ,waterfalls, plenty of tropical flora, and the stunning – and, at over 30 square miles, massive! – Lake Arenal, which sprawls out from the foot of the volcano. The volcano is just 18 kilometers from the town of La Fortuna, often considered “base camp” for visitors coming to explore the area.
Looking at an Arenal Costa Rica map, you’ll find that it’s in the Alajuela province, the San Carlos Canton and the La Fortuna district. The volcano and the vibrant nature, small towns and accommodation possibilities that surround it are about a three-hour drive from San José (150 km), the capital of Costa Rica, as well as from the Juan Santamaría Airport (130 km), the international travel hub you’ll most likely be flying into and out of.
Renting a car is a popular option, as Costa Rica is a spectacular country teeming with adventures to be had and scenery to be ogled. There are scores of car rental options right at the Juan Santamaría Airport and in San José. However, if you’d rather sit back while someone else takes the helm, there is no shortage of options: shuttles, private transfers, buses and even flights. The companies Nature Air and Sansa offer daily flights between the Juan Santamaría Airport and the small Arenal Airport, located about two kilometers outside of La Fortuna and 25 kilometers from the Arenal Volcano.
Planning to rent a car to head up to Arenal? First of all, spring for the GPS and pinch your pennies elsewhere! Almost all car rental agencies have them on hand, and having it on hand to lead the way is well worth the few extra dollars. Try to plan your drive – and any drive in Costa Rica – during daylight hours. You may find that some sections of road aren’t in the best conditions and, additionally, aren’t illuminated, making it tricky to read signs. Plus, any drive in Costa Rica is a stunning one, and it would be a shame to miss out on the scenery.