Observatory Museum

There is so much fascinating history about the area around Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa – the Arenal Volcano, Cerro Chato Volcano, Lake Arenal, hydroelectric dam, rainforest, and the town of La Fortuna, Costa Rica – that we created a small museum to educate our guests and visitors.


Located in front of the swimming pool area at our Arenal lodge, the three-story museum building features museum exhibits and a top-floor observation deck to view Arenal Volcano. The Observatory Museum is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for self-guided tours.


Our Arenal museum displays many historic photographs of the Arenal Volcano eruptions, Lake Arenal, the wildlife of the National Park, and the Arenal Observatory Lodge. There are framed news articles, and information about Smithsonian Institution and other scientific research projects.


You can see the current seismic activity happening at Arenal Volcano on our seismometer that is continuously actively monitoring the volcano.


There also is  information about the Costa Rican Electrical Institute’s (ICE) large-scale project to harness the huge potential of hydroelectric energy with the Arenal-Corobicí Hydroelectric Complex. The project included construction of two massive dams and the creation of Lake Arenal, a man-made lake covering an area of almost 90 square kilometers. The hydraulic energy produced by Lake Arenal and its surrounding rivers now account for almost 40% of Costa Rica’s total energy production.


Arenal Observatory Lodge got its start back in the early 1970s housing Smithsonian Institution scientists in simple cabins on our farm. The spectacularly active Arenal Volcano continued to attract researchers, and our eco-lodge expanded over the years to meet the tourism demand. Scientists studying at Arenal Observatory Lodge have come from the Smithsonian Institution, Earth-watch Institute, the Organization of Tropical Studies, OVSICORI (Costa Rica Observatory of Volcanology & Seismology), and the University of California, to name a few. One of the reasons Arenal Observatory Lodge is so appealing to a wide range of volcanologists, biologists, botanists and geologists is the combination of rich ecosystems here, and our close yet safe proximity to Arenal Volcano.