Travel

What To Do Near Volcano Arenal With Kids – Costa Rica Report

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This is the first report of our trip to Costa Rica with kids.

If you are looking for an amazing destination that is affordable, close to the U.S., offers a huge variety of landscapes, climates, and experiences, and is safe and fun for all ages – Costa Rica needs to be on your list!

After safely landing in San Jose – Costa Rica’s capital city – it was a quick 2.5-hour drive to La Fortuna, home of the impressive Volcano Arenal!


Where We Stayed


There are several options in La Fortuna. Because we travel with 3 little kids in tow, we booked our entire Costa Rica trip with AirBnB!

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In La Fortuna, we stayed at Raquel’s amazing property. We had 4,000 sq. ft. of space to ourselves. The kids had a kids room full of toys, the American kitchen was fantastic, the back porch looked right onto the jungle, providing a breath-taking bird show in the morning! They even have 2 resident sloths!!

It was also the most expensive of the AirBnB’s we booked during the trip, but for $150 a night, we thought it was very well-priced luxury!


What We Did Near Volcano Arenal


La Fortuna is the main town and where most activities around the volcano happen! We stayed 2 nights and spent a full 1.5 days experiencing the region. There is sooo much to do, and this is what we did!

1- Desafio Adventures Safari Float

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while, you know that my key to successful family travel is implementing activities that the kids will really enjoy. If you haven’t been following us for long, please read our 10 Sanity-Saving Tips for Traveling with Kids!

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In La Fortuna, we chose to book a family adventure with Desafio Adventures. They have a bunch of family-friendly options and we wanted to see animals, so we chose the Safari Float.

We actually did the Safari Float on our first afternoon in La Fortuna. We drove the 2.5 hours from San Jose in the morning and got in with plenty of time to spare before the 1.30PM tour.

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We looooved the adventure and saw crocodiles, birds, iguanas, and monkeys! We ended the tour with a Costa Rican snack on a private family farm!

Want to learn more about our safari float? Read our full blog + video HERE!

2- Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal

This is the obvious one!! You are in La Fortuna to see the volcano!

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In the morning of our only full day in La Fortuna, we headed out to the national park. The entrance fee actually gives you access to the actual volcano area, as well as to the park closer to the lake!

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We headed to the park’s main entrance and decided to do the main hike to see the lava, and then the Ceiba tree.

We unfortunately got rained on the entire day…. but it didn’t take the beauty away. We had a blurred view of the lake from the lava flow and loved walking through the forest!

3- Paradise Hot Springs

Because it was raining, we decided to skip the second park and headed straight to Paradise Hot Springs.

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Now… we are slightly obsessed with hot springs and try to visit one in each country we travel to! La Fortuna has a TON of hot spring options. The water is heated by the volcano and you will find something for all budgets.

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We generally prefer smaller springs, more natural, local’s tips. Our AirBnB host told us that he takes his family to Paradise Hot Springs and we liked the price point, so off we went!

If you’re in La Fortuna, forget the uber-expensive springs and head out to Paradise Hot Springs! They have 2 main pools and a bunch of smaller ones of different temperatures. They even have a kids pool!!

4- Don Olivo Chocolate Tour

After a full day of rain and feeling relaxed from our afternoon at the springs, we were headed home when drove in front the Don Olivo Chocolate Tour.

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Hm…. chocolate, you all…. we had to stop! We got there around 3PM and got super lucky to be able to hop on the tour as soon as we got out of the car!

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Of our entire week in Costa Rica, this was on our top 3 of family experiences! YOU HAVE TO DO IT if you’re in La Fortuna!

The tour takes place on a private plantation and the owner first walked us and pointed out to tropical fruits they grow. We must have eaten our weight in fresh tropical fruits, and if you are a foodie, this is for you! We also got to press sugar cane and taste the juice, as well as taste home-made rum!

The second hour of the tour was spent walking through and learning about cocoa trees. The tour ended with a home-made hot chocolate of the nicest kind! We got to customize it with sugar and some spices!


La Fortuna


In itself, La Fortuna is a small but vibrant town. We had super busy days so we ate breakfast and dinner at the AirBnB. If you plan on eating in, I recommend shopping at the local Pali. It is where the locals shop and you won’t pay inflated tourist prices!

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We were there end of March and loved watching the yearly festival with parades.

A lot of the town is geared towards tourists, but it is a young and exciting place where you will spend at least 2 nights and not be bored!


Pin this for later!

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What to do near Volcano Arenal with kids | Costa Rica with kids | La Fortuna | Kid activities in Costa Rica | Kids activities in La Fortuna, Costa Rica | Family travel | Traveling with kids | #travelfamily #familytravel #costarica #costaricatips #costaricawithkids #centralamerica #lafortuna #volcanoarenal #frugalforluxury

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32 Comments

  1. This looks like such a nice family experience. The hot springs look like somewhere I would want to stay the whole day in.

    • I know…. it’s hard to make just an afternoon… but you could totally spend the whole day in it! They even had a restaurant and bar, and they sell packages for swim + eat!!

  2. Kittyslifeblog

    I am in love with the pictures.. I can see you guys are having your best time there 😊… How are you feeling now???

    • I am feeling good, thank you!! 🙂 And thank you, the area was so beautiful!! I only wish we had had a clear view of the volcano, but the rain had its charm too!

  3. The hot springs would be my favorite to do. I love soaking in warm water.

  4. The place you guys stayed looked absolutely amazing. It looks and sounds like you guys had such a great time!!!! Love this post I would definitely wanna go here

  5. Thanks so much, Laura. I have a 5-year-old boy who would love to explore La Fortuna. This is definitely on my short list. I am curious, did you guys rent a car while there or did you have a hired driver/taxi to get around?

    • Hi Danica, you are so welcome! We flew into San Jose (SJO) and rented a car from Alamo. We spent $440 all inclusive of the insurance, for 8 full days. If you rent a car, definitely get an SUV. You will NOT make it to places like Monteverde without an SUV. If you stay at AirBnB’s, some won’t be accessible without an SUV either. We decided on the rental because we spent 8 days and traveled long distances. It was perfect for us 🙂 Maybe backpackers and solo travelers use the public bus system, which works well but time spent in the bus can be very long! Let me know if you have other questions!

  6. This was a wonderful post! Traveling with small children can be as rough as it is rewarding and I’m sure your tips have helped out many parents!

    • Aw, thank you so much, I hope they do! 🙂 It is extremely rewarding, yet somehow, our kids behave a lot better on travel than at home!!

  7. What an absolutely amazing looking area to go and explore! It looks like there is so much to do in the local area around the resort as well.

  8. Holly Lasha

    This looks like a great place to visit. I love that you incorporate so many kid-friendly activities into your trip. This is definitely a great idea!!!

  9. My plan to visit USA is still delayed. But, I know families with kids who love such adventurous places. I will recommend this place to them.

  10. Oh my goodness this trip looks absolutely AMAZING. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  11. OMG, thank you for this timely post! I’m actually going to Costa Rica in the fall and am so excited that there are so many great things to do there. The trip to the volcano sounds like so much fun!!

    • Oh my goodness, you will love it so much! I am working through all of our Costa Rica content. We saw so much and I will be posting everything in the coming weeks. Make sure to come to see other parts of the country 🙂 And let me know if you have any questions!

  12. I’ve always wanted to visit Costa Rica! This looks like a a amazing trip!

    • It was! The Arenal region was especially wonderful for seeing wildlife and experiencing the nature of Costa Rica!! But there is so much more to see in Costa Rica, you will love it!

  13. This looks like an incredible trip. It’s going on my bucket list. I bet my son would love the boat tour. And the hot springs. And chocolate. 🙂

  14. Looks like great fun. Glad you take us with your pictures and write up . Looks like kids also enjoying the trip. Eating local food and learning local culture is always important during a travel to new county.

    • We love trying out the local flavors. We also love going to a local grocery store and buying a bunch of produce and snacks we’ve never seen before!

  15. Alexandra Cook

    That looks like an awesome vacation! Costa Rica has a lot of beautiful scenery!

  16. That looks like such an amazing trip. Volcano Arenal looks like a great place to take your family for a vacation.

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