Home to hot springs, a big volcano, a pretty waterfall and all the action packed adventures you could dream off.
On my first trip to Costa Rica in 2007, I was lucky enough to see the volcano erupt. However in 2010 the volcano stopped erupting, so this is not an excursion available any more. That said, there is a lot more to the sleepy town of La Fortuna than just volcano eruptions. There are a number of adventure outfitters in town that can organise trips such as white water rafting (with a choice of different grades), hiking, quad bike tours, mountain bike tours, canyoning, horse riding and the list goes on. Many of these can be combined, or combined with a trip to the waterfall or one of the hot springs. All will have hotel pick u included in the price.
There are several activities you can do without a guide, and for those where this is possible, I’d recommend doing it alone to save money.
Activities without a guide
You can easily, and cheaply catch a taxi from your hotel to any of the hot springs just outside of town. Once you are done, ask the reception at the springs to call a taxi for you and they’ll be more than willing. If you want to save even more money, there is access to a fully natural hot spring area that doesn’t have an admission fee. The downside is that there’s nowhere to store your belongings, or dry off/change when done. However it’s what the locals favour.
La Fortuna Waterfall
Another easy activity you can organise your self is a trip to the waterfall just outside of town. We were a little worried about how we’d get a taxi back, but the entrance is well maintained with a taxi phone, cafe, toilets, changing rooms and so on. As it happened, a couple were being dropped off as we were ready to leave so we jumped in their taxi. Not only do you save money through not paying extra for a company organising it all for you, but you also get to dictate how long you spend there.
Waterfalls Tip: Plan ahead. We took a small waterproof bag that we put the return taxi money into and the Go Pro which was in a waterproof case. It meant that our bag only had our clothes and towels in. No DSLR cameras or wallets – we left these in the safe back at the hotel. Not that anything was dodgy down at the waterfalls, but it did mean we could go swimming in the plunge pools without worrying about valuable items being stolen.
Cerro Chato Hike
We had originally planned to hike Cerro Chato, and the trail head for this is moments from the top of the waterfall. However due to heat exhaustion and jet lag, we decided better of this, though combining the two is very possible.
Between the lake and the volcano is a trail within the national park that will take you as far as the lava flow from the 1968 big eruption. I believe that when it isn’t cloudy, the view of the lava trails looking up to the volcano is quite spectacular, unfortunately, it was very over cast when we hiked it so maybe don’t take my word for it! Again, you can take a taxi, though be prepared for it costing a bit more than fares to other places as you have to go all the way around the volcano. To help the pennies, you could stop off at one of the hot springs on the way back to La Fortuna as they are all dotted along the main road.
Where to eat and stay
In town, I’d highly recommend the local sodas. Our favourites were La Parada right on the square. Reasonably priced, good quality food with a stunning view, and Soda Viquez. The latter was always busy, often with a queue. We managed to get seated immediately at lunch time one day and the owner was so grateful to have us there – which took us by surprise because it didn’t look like she was struggling for custom, but it’s nice to feel valued!
We stayed for 3 nights at the Hotel Monte Real. The design of the buildings, and rooms were quite westernised, but the grounds were stunning, backing onto a babbling brook, and it came with a bonus of a pool. If you don’t mind not having much charm and quirk, then it’s a hotel I’d recommend.