Dreaming about immersing yourself into the jungle of Costa Rica? Looking to travel somewhere with seemingly endless natural adventures? La Fortuna, Costa Rica is your answer.
La Fortuna is located about two and a half hours north of San Jose. It is tucked into the jungle with the Arenal Volcano at it’s center- a landmark you’ll be able to see almost anywhere you are. We quickly realized why this is one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.
Where to stay
There are plenty of places to stay in town, but we really wanted to feel a bit more secluded and have the feeling that we were actually staying right in the jungle. We did some research and found the Sangregado Lodge, located an easy 20 minutes from town. These villas will make you feel like you so much further away from the world and that you are completely connected to the nature around you.
The unique villas at the Sangregado Lodge have an incredible view of the Arenal Volcano from the overhanging balconies into the jungle. When we first stepped out onto our balcony I couldn’t believe the view- we’ve never stayed anywhere like this before.
From the balcony you’ll hear the howler monkeys screech, see many birds and wildlife (we had an adorable toucan out our window) and hear the sounds of the jungle getting louder as the night goes on.
Step into the bathroom and you’ll be even deeper into jungle paradise. You’ll be able to bathe or shower with a full view of the jungle- the windows will even allow you to open the screen if you’d like.
The property has it’s own nature trail for guests to hike and is across the street from the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park- which was our favorite hike in the area.
This hotel was everything I could have dreamed to stay in the jungle and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a special and unique experience in La Fortuna. Book your stay here.
What to do
There are many beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, but this waterfall is unique because you will be able to swim in the water around it. It was one of our very favorite days in Costa Rica. At 70 meters high it is truly stunning. We consider this a must do in La Fortuna.
When we pictured a trip to Costa Rica, we imagined hiking over suspension bridges in the jungle. This park was everything we had dreamed. We saw many monkeys (both howler and spider) and soaked in the breathtaking views of the jungle as crossed each bridge. We reserved our tickets in advanced since they only allow a certain number of guests in the park each day. You are also able to take a guided tour if you would like.
If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, you probably already know that this is where you’ll find some of the best zip lining in the world. Sky Adventures is known for it’s safety measures and made us feel very comfortable during this experience. On their Arenal course there are seven zip lines you will ride, each providing an full view of Lake Arenal and the expansive jungle below. We couldn’t believe how high, long and fast these were! If you are looking for a thrill, this is a must while in La Fortuna.
In our opinion, one of the coolest parts of visiting Costa Rica is seeing the wildlife in the jungle. There are many self guided tours you can do, but we highly recommend doing at least one guided tour to get the most out of your experience and see so much wildlife you most likely not see otherwise. We chose to go on a guided hike on the Bogarin Sloth Trail. Our guide Kenneth was unbelievably knowledgable about the wildlife. He brought a telescope and we were able to see birds, insects, reptiles and LOTS of sloths!
Rio Celeste (day trip)
Rio Celeste is located in the Tenorio Volcano National Park, about a two hour drive from La Fortuna. Many tourists simply don’t have the time to take to visit, but if you have the time, it is well worth the trip. Celeste means “heavenly” and that is absolutely the best way to describe this place. Give yourself around three hours for this moderate hike. You’ll want to soak in your time with the turquoise colored river and waterfall.
*Tip: on your way out of the park, stop at one of the “pozas” on the side of the road. A poza is a natural swimming pool. You will be able to swim in a portion of this turquoise river and it is a surreal experience. Ask at the visitors center and someone will give you directions from the park*
La Fortuna is known for its many hot springs. Eco Termales is known to be the only truly natural hot springs in the area, with a magmatic origin from the Arenal Volcano- how cool is that? This was the only one we visited, but we’ve heard good things about many of the others. No matter what your budget is or what you are looking for in a hot spring you will find one in La Fortuna that suits your every desire.
What to eat
This was a recommendation from many locals in the area and it was probably our favorite meal we had in Costa Rica. We recommend one of the combo platters so you can try a bit of everything.
We had the Al Pastor tacos and they were absolutely unbelievable.
This was another recommendation from locals. Very reasonable prices and delicious Costa Rican fare. We recommend getting a casado (a traditional Costa Rican dish of beans, rice and meat).
For some weird reason, Costa Rica has amazing pizza (and that means a lot coming from Chicagoans). Pizza Ranch was our favorite in the area. We were very impressed!
Looking for something a little more upscale? Blue Hibiscus is a stunning restaurant located at Lost Iguana Hotel (not far from the Sangregado Lodge). You will have an unrestricted view of the volcano with a beautiful garden around you. The food and service were great as well.
La Fortuna is a place of adventure, wildlife, breathtaking views and happy people. With so much to do in this area, you can’t go wrong in what you choose. We hope this guide is helpful in planning your trip to La Fortuna. Pura Vida!