Planning how to best spend a two-night, three-day stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa in La Fortuna, Costa Rica is no easy task. With a complimentary morning walk, two observation towers, a pool and jacuzzi, a variety of spa treatments, a historical museum, horseback riding tours, some of the best birding in the country, 7 miles (11 kilometers) of trails to explore across 870 acres (352 hectares) of property, and much more to offer, finding time for it all can seem an impossible task. For this reason, we have created this guide, think of it as a template for an unforgettable adventure. Designed to ensure three exciting and fulfilling days at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa.
Ideally, you will be able to arrive at the lodge with some daylight left to spare. Arriving early will give you some extra time to enjoy the installations. Have reception store your belongings until your room is ready and go grab some lunch at El Jilguero, the restaurant. Try one of our locally produced micro-brews and relax, your vacation has officially begun!
After lunch head out to the deck and take in the surroundings. Is Arenal Volcano already clear? Consider yourself lucky and snap plenty of photos! Not everyone gets the chance to see Arenal Volcano without its veil of clouds. This is also a good opportunity to cross the Spider Bridge and check out the museum. This will help familiarize yourselves with the natural history of the Arenal area.
Head back to reception at 3:00 to be checked into your rooms. Take the time to settle in and unpack, this will be your home for the next two nights! After unpacking check out the gardens and trails that are near your room. Each room has something different to offer. Staying in La Casona? Check out the smaller of our two observation towers, located right at your doorstep! Take some time to look over the tour/services menu provided to you at the reception. This will prove invaluable when it becomes time to decide on which adventures you want to partake in tomorrow.
Happy hour anyone? Stop by “El Jilguero” from 5:00 to 6:00 for a selection of two-for-one specials. Take your drinks outside and enjoy the sunset over the beautiful Lake Arenal.
Dinner at “El Jilguero” starts at 6:00, enjoy a meal from a selection of offerings. Ranging from local flavors to international favorites.
After supper grab your swimsuits and pick up some pool towels from reception, booking your excursions for tomorrow in the process. Head to the jacuzzi and let the warm water wash away the sore muscles from a day of travel. Bring a flashlight and stop by the nearby frog pond to check for activity. 70% of Costa Rica’s wildlife comes out at night. After 6:00 p.m. the frog pond becomes a hub for amphibian and reptile activity. Make sure to head to bed early to prepare for a full day of adventure tomorrow.
Breakfast at El Jilguero doesn’t start until 7:00, but the action at the birdfeeder has already begun. Bring your cameras and binoculars to check out what birds are arriving for their morning meal. At 7:00 head into the restaurant for the breakfast buffet. Fresh fruit, the traditional “gallo pinto”, and hot coffee are all found here among several other offerings. The perfect start to an action-packed day.
At 8:30 every morning our complimentary guided morning walk leaves from reception. This is the perfect activity for your first morning at the lodge. Learn more about the rainforest and the history of Arenal Volcano, all while keeping an eye out for interesting wildlife on the way.
Upon your return from the morning walk, prepare to head out on your first excursion outside of the property. There are far too many exciting options to choose from, but a tour with the nearby Sky Adventures will not disappoint. Ziplining, nature walks, hanging bridges, and mountain biking are all offered at Sky Adventures in Arenal. Grab lunch before leaving or check out one of the local restaurants in El Castillo, the small town just past the entrance to Sky Adventures.
Back at the lodge, feel free to just kick back and relax. Not tired yet? Hop on a horse with our guide for an hour-long tour of the lodge. Exploring some of the lesser visited trails on the property.
Get ready to head out to one of the local hot springs in the La Fortuna area. There are over a dozen to choose from, but most guests either prefer the waterpark Baldi Hot Springs or the much smaller, more intimate EcoTermales. Packages that include dinner are available at both locations, otherwise, grab dinner in La Fortuna before or after your dip in the springs.
As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. Try to get up as early as possible and take advantage of the incredible bird watching opportunities at the lodge. Not a birding expert? Book a morning birding tour with our resident guide. This 2-hour tour is the perfect way to get exposed to the wonderful world of birding.
Grab breakfast and then head to The Nest, the taller of our two observation towers. Try using your newly developed birding skills to identify some species from the 28 m. tall viewing platform. If you’re lucky maybe the monkeys will join you on your climb!
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
After your climb up the tower, you may be wishing you had more time to explore. Use this time before check-out to tick off any remaining boxes on your vacation checklist. Still want to explore our River Trail or the Los Cangrejos trail? Now is a perfect time. Maybe you would rather relax and rejuvenate your body in preparation for another day of travel. In that case, why not book a massage treatment at our Spa? In either case, feel free to check out early and store your belongings at the reception. This way you won’t have to worry about making it back to reception before noon.
With so much to do at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa and in the surrounding areas, a two-night visit can feel like too short of a stay. However, by waking up early and taking advantage of the available daylight, you are certain to leave feeling fulfilled and ready for the next stop on your Costa Rican adventure. And if ever in doubt of what to do next, don’t hesitate to ask the receptionists at the lodge. They have experience trying many of the tours that are offered and can help you find an option that best suits your interests.