In the eight days Dad and I spend in Costa Rica, we experienced a diverse sampling of cities. There were interesting and delicious aspects of every place we went, but one city just had that special something. Located in the shadow of the active Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna had excitement, charm, and awesome volcano views.
If you are coming from San Jose, you can rent a car and enjoy a winding three hour drive through the mountains. You can also take a bus from San Jose to La Fortuna, which takes a bit longer. The bus station is in downtown and everything in town is walkable. A car is necessary to get to the natural attractions around La Fortuna unless you plan to do an organized tour with a tour company. Many organized tours provide transportation from a pick up location, but this might not be ideal if you want to go at your own pace.
Two of my all-time favorite Airbnb’s were in La Fortuna. Dad and I booked the first Airbnb thinking we would spend one night in La Fortuna, but we loved the town so much we decided to stay another night. We reached out to our host to extend our stay, and our first Airbnb was already booked for the second night. He suggested another property of his that was equally excellent, so we got to experience two different areas of La Fortuna.
Both were cosy, two bedroom apartments with awesome views. They were both very close to town. The first was about a three minute drive, but there was a side walk most of the way so it could easily be walked. The second was a few minute walk to the center of town through a cute family neighborhood. At both locations, families were sitting out on their porches and kids were playing outside. In the evening, the park in the center of town came to life with people playing soccer, throwing the frisbee, and hanging out. The school was very close to the center of town and we could hear the band practicing. From every street, you can see the massive Arenal Volcano.
The town of La Fortuna has great vibes, and it is surrounded by stunning natural beauty that only an enormous volcano can create. We took a morning walk through Arenal Hanging Bridges Park where we saw monkeys and birds. The monkeys were clearly used to packs of humans walking through their jungle living rooms, and they made sure to strike a few poses for the cameras.
In the afternoon, we visited the La Fortuna Waterfall. Sure, it might look quiet and tranquil in the pictures, but this thing is a beast. With the force of a thousand fire hydrants or pressure washers or bowling balls, the waterfall spills over a rock face at break-neck speeds and swirls into a turquoise pool at the bottom. The current is strong. Strong enough that dad and I would cling to boulders in the water and the current would simply lift us AND THE BOULDER and carry us away if we weren’t holding our ground. The water is churning and cool, a delicious break after hiking down 500 steps. When you get to the bottom, there is a lifeguard who tells you not to go under the waterfall or basically you will be toast.
It is nature at its most powerful, most beautiful.
After being sufficiently cooled down, we warmed back up by hiking 500 steps back. Thankfully, there were motivational sloth posters along the way reminding climbers that they got this.
La Fortuna is also home to my favorite soda (or local diner) in Costa Rica, Soda Hormiga. It had great veggie friendly options and was a little off the beaten path, so it didn’t have the touristy feel that some places had. It was also the first place I had this delicious yellow squash mixture that I need to learn how to recreate!
Because it is right by the volcano, La Fortuna has famous hot springs. On this trip, it was too hot to even think about getting in a pool of hot water, but in the future I would love to take a dip in these natural hot tubs.
When traveling through Costa Rica, plan to spend some time in La Fortuna! It has a slower feel than the big cities, but there is no shortage of beautiful and awesome things to do.