Once we endured the drive on the crazy roads around Costa Rica, we finally arrived in La Fortuna. Many people know of the small town of La Fortuna for the volcano located there called the Arenal Volcano. This active volcano was just
one reason we wanted to visit this town. During our stay here of only a few days, we stayed at the La Pradera del Arenal, which we loved! The hotel felt like it was right next to the volcano, which could sound a little scary knowing that the volcano is still active, but the views were unreal. I would suggest one of the many hotels in the area around the base of the volcano! There is nothing better than waking up to a stunning view to get your day started. I would also suggest a place with a pool or access to hot springs. After a long day, it was nice to sit back and
relax at your hotel with a drink in hand. The picture above is the view from the pool area of the Arenal Volcano, which was just a few steps from front door of our room. But before you get super excited about seeing the volcano like this all the time, let me put a disclaimer on this. You won't always be able to see the top of the volcano, most days there are clouds that set on the top of it. Most days when we were there we only saw about half of it, sometimes even less, so it takes a little bit of luck and good timing. To give you some perspective, the images below are photos of the same volcano on other days with a less satisfying view.
So we made it to La Fortuna at our nice hotel right next to the volcano, time to have some adventures! After our first day of getting there and relaxing with some drinks, the next day we had white water rafting planned. Those of you that don't know, white water rafting is a popular activity in Costa Rica because they have amazing rapids. We had our rafting trip planned prior to getting to Costa Rica, so we just got picked up in the morning and a bus took us with three other people and the rafting crew and head off to the rafting area. Once we got our life vests, helmets, and paddles, we were ready to head down to the water. Even though I've been rafting before, I honestly didn't have much of an idea of what I was getting myself into. We did class 4 rapids, and let me tell you, they were no joke! One second you are just paddling along and the next second you are in the water hanging onto the side of the raft so you don't get swept away by the current. Once we finished our rafting instructors had beer and fruit for us to relax with, and for good reason, it was exhausting. I think I under estimated how much of a workout rafting actually is. But despite falling into the water and being exhausted after, it was a blast and I would very highly recommend adding rafting to your itinerary while in Costa Rica!
Kayla and I drinking a beer after rafting
White Water Rafting Tips:
- make sure you wear clothes you don't mind getting wet, because you will definitely be in the water at some point
- wear sneakers or water shoes, no flip-flops or slip on shoes, they will fall off and you will lose them
- plan you skill level accordingly. if you have never been rafting before, don't start off with a class 4, start with like a class 2
- don't forget an extra set of clothes to change into after, you will leave them on the bus so they won't get wet in the raft
- eat breakfast before you go, this is a physical activity and Costa Rica rapids are no joke so you will need the energy from a good breakfast to get through it
- listen to the instructors and the rules, it could save your life
So this is now where my Costa Rica story gets interesting. I honestly wasn't sure if I was gong to share this part of our journey on my blog but what fun would that be if I kept out a good story. Lets back step a little bit to rafting. While we were rafting, but mainly after, we were talking with our instructors and the other group of people we were rafting with, whom were all locals surprisingly, about things to do in La Fortuna. They were telling us that all of the locals and some tourists go out in town at night for drinks and dancing. I honestly don't remember what day of the week it was, but we had no plans and were on vacation so why not go out drinking and dancing?! So in the middle of talking about going out when our rafting instructor mentioned that him and some friends were going out tonight and we should go with them. Being in a town as a tourist, how fun would it be to see the town with locals, what a great idea we thought. Once we said "sure, that sounds good", he responded with "okay, we will pick you guys up because it's a far walk". I know what you're thinking, this sounds like a weird version of a taken movie, but no worries, this story is all happy moments. Okay, time to flash forward to later that evening, after we get ready our new friend whom will remain nameless comes to our hotel to pick us up.
Now for our night out on the town with some locals! To some people, this may seem a little scary and possibly sketchy, but for me and my friend, really felt like all of the locals of La Fortuna were super nice and kind people, and took that at face value. I am pleased to say, our intuitions were correct, everyone we met that evening and for the rest of our time in La Fortuna were amazingly nice people. That evening, we had drinks and danced, overall it was a really fun night. After the bar closed, we ended up walking across the street to a random store to pick up a few cans of rum and cokes. Our new friends and us then walked to a nearby park to drink all of the rum and cokes we just bought. We were there with a bunch of other locals changing out until about two in the morning until we wanted to go back to our hotel. When we mentioned this to our new friends, the one said hold on I'll get you a cab, he runs off. About ten minutes later he comes back and apologized for taking long but he wanted to find us a female driver and she would be here in a few minutes. And nice enough, our female taxi driver picked us up, kayla and I were back at our hotel, reflecting on our super random yet, amazingly fun night!
This is a stray dog we named Benny that was hanging out with us the whole time we were at the park, he was adorable ---->>
After our fun yet randomly interesting night, the next day we just wanted to chill and see more of the area we were staying in. So we had spent the day walking around the cute little town of La Fortuna. The pictures don't even do it justice, it is so cute and the views of the volcano (on a good day) are amazing. There so many little shops for souvenirs or anything you might need to find. Get the coffee, it is SO good! There is a little coffee shop/tour in the town that we heard good things about, but it happened to be closed on the day we were there so we didn't end up going. While we were walking around we talked to some of the shop owners we were in and a few of them recommended the same place for lunch, so we thought that was a good sign, and they were right, the food was so good! If I ever remember the name of this place, I will definitely update this post to include it, but right now I can't think of it for the life of me. So while I keep beating myself up trying to remember it, I would suggest just asking the locals for suggestions! If you can't tell by all of my stories, they were all super nice and had great suggestions that are not so touristy and usually not as expensive.
After our fun day walking around the town, we wanted to enjoy something the town was known for, hot springs! The volcano causes many natural hot springs all around the town and the area. There were many to choose from but we decided on this newer hotel, Baldi Hot Springs, that had what looked like a variety of hot springs in a beautiful rainforest-like setting. If you are looking for a free option, ask around, there are a few spots around La Fortuna that are free hot springs, but usually only the locals know about them. There are also many other hotels and local hot springs that are good options, but we really liked the look and idea of Baldi, plus it was very new and they had a special at that time, so we didn't pay full price. It is a little overrated of an experience, but totally worth it! I would highly recommend picking one that best suits your needs and wants and just go to one hot spring while you are in La Fortuna. Our experience at Baldi was great! They had so many different temperature pools that were different sizes, and even some with waterfalls. We even sat at a swim up bar at one of the hot springs and had a drink in the nicely warm waters. We even were lucky enough to watch a fire spinning show and fireworks later that evening! Overall, it was a great experience and another great day in La Fortuna! The next morning we were off to our next destination, Mounteverde!
I hope you enjoyed my stories and advice from my time in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Please post your questions or comments below and don't forget to tell me about your experiences in La Fortuna!
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