Fodor's Expert Review Arenal Observatory Lodge

La Fortuna, Alajuela, 21007, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

These cozy, comfortable, and simple rooms allow you to sleep as close as anyone should to a volcano—it's a mere 2¾ km (1¾ miles) away, and stellar views and outdoor activities are what the place is all about. The facility was founded by Smithsonian researchers and is fairly rustic, though after a hike on the 11 km (7 miles) of well-maintained trails, you can take a dip in the infinity pool and Jacuzzi, which face tall pines on one side and the volcano on the other. With more than 400 species of birds and 870 acres of private rain forest, this property is a dream for bird-watchers and those who seek peace and quiet. Other activities include complimentary guided hikes to the waterfall, horseback riding, or relaxing at the spa. Five of the rooms are wheelchair-accessible, as are a couple of miles of the property's trails. The dining room, which serves tasty and hearty food, has great views of the volcano and lake. A separate building contains a few spartan budget rooms.


  • best volcano views
  • secluded location
  • rate includes breakfast, taxes, and guided hike


  • rough road to get here
  • isolated location
  • patchy Wi-Fi




Phones: 877-804–7732-in U.S. and Canada | 2479–1070-lodge | 2290–7011-in San José


48 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

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