Arenal: Focusing on a Non-Event

December 04, 2012
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International Expeditions Media Relations Director Emily has just returned from a custom journey to Costa Rica with her family. Keep reading the IE Blog for more on the joys - and trials - of experiencing "Pura Vida" with kids.

Something strikes me almost immediately after checking into the Arenal Springs Resort in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Every photo of the resort and town in brochures, every piece of art work and — in fact — every room and dining table feature sweeping views of a spewing, smoking mountain. Except that the famed Arenal Volcano hasn’t erupted in a year.

One day after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake rocked the eastern shore of Japan, Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano, which had erupted continuously since 1968, suddenly stopped its fireworks. Scientists are still studying the connection according to our International Expeditions’ Costa Rica guide, Jonathan. For the record, Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes and 60 dormant or extinct volcanoes.

“It’s kind of sad,” comments my husband as we enjoy a frosty Imperial on our private patio — positioned so we can gaze at the imposing stratovolcano, of course. “An entire town where the main event — 40 plus years of volcanic eruptions — is gone.”

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that all La Fortuna offered were volcanic views! As my family discovered, the Arenal region this still a “must see” on any custom Costa Rica tour. Adventure activities abound, and you can fill your days with rainforest hikes, white-water rafting, canopy tours and more. Since my family used the Arenal area as a stop-over as we traveled from the Caribbean to the Pacific, we opted for a half-day hike and canopy tour from an impressive hanging bridge complex. Then we capped-off our day soaking in the hot springs. Our favorite was the private Eco Termales Hot Springs, which limits itself to no more than 100 visitors spread out across various pools.

If the hiking and canopy tours are enough adventure for the day, schedule some time taking in the amenities of the Arenal Springs Resort. The resort boasts on-site hot springs, a pool and a spa. Plus, the food is delicious! There is something for even the pickiest eater — my nine-year-old son — on the breakfast buffet, which features everything from local specialties like gallo pinto to pancakes and fruit. Of course, my favorite amenity was the fully stocked mini-bar. Never underestimate the joys of gazing on the still-striking (though somewhat less impressive) site of the Arenal Volcano as you sip a frosty Imperial or rum punch and try desperately to photograph hummingbirds darting through the garden.

Stay tuned for more about Emily’s Costa Rica tour, including the day the phrase “That’s why they call it a rainforest” quit being funny.