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Arenal Observatory Lodge
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The under submit is the primary a part of our two-part collection concerning the Arenal Observatory Lodge. For the aim of our collection, the Arenal Observatory Lodge info has been divided into two sections:

#1. The lodge (i.e., who ought to keep on the lodge, who may want to remain elsewhere, the lodge’s property, lodge room lodging, and eating on the Arenal Observatory Lodge)
#2. Nature trails and issues to do (i.e., statement deck lookouts, onsite museum, nature walks, difficult hikes, waterfall visits, and different issues to do on the Arenal Observatory Lodge)


Arenal Observatory LodgeNikki; view of the Arenal Volcano from our room


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Having lived in La Fortuna for numerous years, we’re conversant in nearly all of lodging choices situated within the area. We’ve got been to most and have spent days and nights at many (the Arenal Observatory Lodge included), but the handful of resorts that we select to advocate to travellers make up a really brief record (don’t miss our associated weblog publish Costa Rica Hotel Suggestion Collection: The place To Keep In La Fortuna/Arenal for entry to this listing). As per our choice for being choosy, our Arenal lodge suggestions are rigorously and cautiously curated in response to quite a few elements. Whereas we offer common particulars under concerning the Arenal Observatory Lodge (particularly, the lodge’s rooms, property, and restaurant), what’s most telling is our admittance of why it took us so lengthy to advocate the lodge to others, and extra importantly, why we’re extra assured doing so now than ever earlier than. For travellers who’re keen on studying concerning the onsite actions and issues to do on the Arenal Observatory Lodge, don’t miss half two of our weblog collection: Arenal Hotel Suggestion: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Half 2: Nature Trails And Issues To Do.

Why we hesitated to advocate the Arenal Observatory Lodge for therefore lengthy

Let’s get the apparent level out of the best way first (some extent that, arguably, many travellers contemplate to be an obstacle). If the next actuality was sufficient for us to hesitate recommending the Arenal Observatory Lodge to travellers at one time limit, there’s a good probability that the identical actuality is impacting your decision-making too.

The Arenal Observatory Lodge is situated an approximate twenty-five minute drive west of downtown La Fortuna. Given it’s distance from city, most tour operators and transportation service suppliers don’t contemplate it to be a “La Fortuna hotel”, and as such, most won’t embrace complimentary pick-up and drop-off providers on the lodge with out charging additional pick-up or drop-off charges (these charges are likely to vary from $20-$50 per group, per method). As well as, given the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s distant location, there are few eating choices located near the lodge, excluding the lodge’s onsite restaurant (additionally it is value noting that there are not any eating choices inside strolling distance of the lodge, aside from the lodge’s onsite restaurant). Because of these two inconveniences (i.e., relevant pick-up/drop-off charges and the shortage of eating choices close by), it’s advantageous–though not required–that visitors of the Arenal Observatory Lodge have entry to a rental car throughout their keep within the La Fortuna area (free car parking is obtainable on the lodge). Moreover, since half of the drive between downtown La Fortuna and the Arenal Observatory Lodge (the latter half, if departing from downtown La Fortuna) is run on a bumpy street, having a 4X4 car is really helpful.

Any “Costa Rica expert” will inform you a similar as what we state above. And, they too can be proper. Sure, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is among the furthest inns from downtown La Fortuna (technically, it’s thought-about an “El Castillo hotel”). Sure, it might be greatest to go to with a rental automotive. And sure, the bumpy drive to and from the lodge isn’t probably the most nice. We purchased into these “disadvantages” for a very long time too, till we opted to spend a couple of days on the lodge, and we fell in love. We discovered for ourselves how the lodge’s few “disadvantages” pale compared to the brilliance of “advantages” they create, and we turned insta-fans of the property that we argue is probably the most distinctive in all of La Fortuna.

Why we will advocate the Arenal Observatory Lodge with confidence, to travellers with or and not using a rental automotive

After a quick rainshower, Ricky and I have been sitting on a coated balcony outdoors of our room on the Arenal Observatory Lodge. We had accomplished a difficult hike to the property’s waterfall a number of hours earlier, and we have been having fun with some downtime as we watched Oropendulas beat the humidity by feasting on slices of juicy watermelon. Beams of daylight broke by way of the clouds and illuminated the Arenal Volcano Nationwide Park under; Lake Arenal shone within the distance. Because the fog lifted, a mere kilometer and a half in entrance of us stood the mammoth Arenal Volcano. Though we had long-lived on the base of the beast on its east aspect, the place we sat to the west, we might virtually attain out and contact it. As we repeatedly do after we cross one other Costa Rica journey expertise off our bucket listing, Ricky and I mirrored on the day’s escapades–what we appreciated, what we didn’t like, what was shocking, what was uneventful, and what we might think about recommending to others. Not surprisingly, we each got here to the identical conclusion about our time on the lodge: that whereas the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s remoteness could also be a hindrance to some, due to it, we have been capable of expertise a wonderfully quiet scene, an unobstructed volcano view, and a nature-filled few days in Costa Rica’s epicenter of journey (a.okay.a., La Fortuna) with none disturbance from the pushy sort of tourism that engulfs the city’s middle. Fortuitously for us, on the lodge we existed on what felt like our personal time in what really was our personal area. Maybe most tellingly, we realized that we might have beloved our go to simply as a lot had our car not been parked within the lodge’s lot, and from this level on, we knew that not getting access to a rental automotive was not a enough excuse for lacking out on every little thing that the Arenal Observatory Lodge has to supply.

So, why precisely is the Arenal Observatory Lodge so distinctive? As a result of it’s–fairly actually–La Fortuna’s “Arenal” “Observatory” “Lodge”. Many lodging within the area supply volcano views, however none permit guests to see the Arenal Volcano as shut and with as a lot element because the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Many lodging within the area supply informative placards and fowl/wildlife recognizing guides, however none supply as full a set because the museum on the Arenal Observatory Lodge. And, though many lodging within the area function rustic design and forest-infused decor that invitations the outside in, none present the identical “remote wilderness” expertise that the Arenal Observatory Lodge is understood for.


Though we fell in love with the lodge, the Arenal Observatory Lodge isn’t for everybody. We might advocate you propose so as to add a keep on the Arenal Observatory Lodge to your time in La Fortuna/Arenal if…

  1. You’re keen on nature! Merely put, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is among the greatest lodging within the La Fortuna/Arenal area for accessing barely-touched land; not solely is almost all of the lodge’s property lush and inexperienced, however it boasts each main and secondary forest, and is adjoining to the Arenal Volcano Nationwide Park
  2. You have an interest in strolling/climbing self-guided trails that adjust in period and problem
  3. You have an interest in educating your self concerning the volcano, volcanic exercise, and/or the historical past of the lodge’s property (i.e., you’d make use of the lodge’s onsite musuem and benefit from the info offered)
  4. You have an interest in birdwatching
  5. You have an interest in bugs
  6. You have an interest in flora
  7. You don’t require a excessive diploma of stimulation, motion, journey, or motion to remain (i.e., you might spend a couple of hours studying a guide on the lodge’s balcony, admiring the encompassing views from quite a lot of lookout factors, or strolling via a strolling path; you don’t bore simply and/or really feel nature is thrilling sufficient!)
  8. You wouldn’t thoughts the required transportation (roughly twenty-five minutes, every method) to get to and from downtown La Fortuna the place nearly all of eating and purchasing choices are situated); you consider the lodge’s distant location is nicely well worth the journey
  9. You want to keep at a lodge that’s quiet, slow-paced, and gives a hospitality expertise that features plenty of “down time”
  10. If in case you have a rental automotive, you don’t thoughts driving yourselves between the lodge and downtown La Fortuna with a purpose to take part in excursions/actions that curiosity you
  11. In case you shouldn’t have a rental automotive, you don’t thoughts paying additional charges to tour operators and/or transportation service suppliers to acquire pick-up/drop-off providers immediately on the lodge with a view to take part in excursions/actions that curiosity you


In distinction to the record offered above, if you don’t plan to spend a lot time at your La Fortuna lodging (i.e., if nearly all of your days within the area might be spent exploring the city, collaborating in offsite excursions and actions, and/or taking day excursions to close by cities or points of interest), then maybe the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s distant property and onsite choices would pose few benefits to you. If all you want is room and board, in case you are on the lookout for financial system or resort-quality lodging, if you don’t want to be located removed from the city’s middle, if you don’t want to lease a automotive or pay tour operators/transportation service suppliers further pick-up/drop-off charges, and/or in case you are not overly occupied with nature’s delicate magnificence (as evident in crops, flowers, birds, bugs, and so forth.), maybe one of many different La Fortuna resorts that we advocate in our associated weblog submit Costa Rica Hotel Suggestion Collection: The place To Keep In La Fortuna/Arenal can be most popular by you.


Categorized as a superior lodge, the Arenal Observatory Lodge provides primary, clear, quiet, and protected lodging at affordable costs. Shared lodging within the La Casona constructing assist maintain the lodge reasonably priced to backpackers and travellers with a strict price range, but personal commonplace rooms, superior rooms (referred to as “Smithsonian” rooms), and junior suites can be found for couples, households, and pal teams looking for independence and higher privateness, and at costs which are similar to (if not inexpensive than) these provided by different superior motels within the area. Throughout our go to, we liked that our room was spacious, our balcony/terrace had an amazing volcano view, and our rest room was divided into two elements so I might use the sink and mirror to prepare within the morning whereas Ricky hopped within the bathe. We additionally thought that the lodge’s acutely aware determination to not present televisions of their rooms was intelligent, as was the witty signal within the toilet that reminds friends to throw all rest room paper within the trash bin versus the bathroom (a normal Costa Rican follow on the majority of resorts all through the nation):

Kleenex, matches, pins, and strings,
filter ideas and different issues–
nation plumbing will reject
so, urbanite, be circumspect.
It’s all a hassle and a care,
however oh my pricey! So necessaire.
~ Anon(ymous)

Outdoors of our second-floor room, we have been spoiled with two sitting areas full with Adirondack chairs that we flip flopped between; one on the north aspect of the constructing that confronted the onsite restaurant and provided a view of each Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano, and one other on the south aspect of the constructing that backed onto the lodge’s closely forested grounds–a great spot for birdwatching, and one creatively adorned with lovely lava rocks. Whereas many travellers would anticipate to obtain such luxuries with the acquisition of an upgraded keep, we opted for the lodge’s commonplace room, and we have been pleasantly stunned by the twin expertise it offered.


The Arenal Observatory Lodge’s property might be divided into two sections: the higher constructing and the decrease constructing. As visitors of the higher constructing, we have been handled to quick access to the lodge’s reception, widespread room, and restaurant. In distinction, friends that keep within the decrease constructing are located nearer to the lodge’s pool, Jacuzzi, spa, museum, recreation room, and nature trails. Car parking is out there close by each the higher and decrease buildings, and inner transportation (for journey across the lodge’s property) is offered free-of-charge between the hours of seven:00am and 10:00pm as long as it’s coordinated prematurely via the lodge’s reception. For travellers who would like to stroll to and from the lodge’s separate areas, directional indicators scattered all through the property will information your means.

Given the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s distant location, the lodge’s reception (open from 7:00am to 10:00pm every day) is the go-to spot for info and requirements. Along with providing many gadgets for buy (together with souvenirs, books, and toiletry gadgets), the reception additionally supplies visitors with towels to be used on the pool and a free hen information (don’t overlook to ask for the fowl listing upon check-in). The reception can also be answerable for verifying visitor entry to the lodge by way of the property’s entrance gate. For security causes, the entrance gate closes at 11:00pm (no exceptions) and reopens at 5:00am, so travellers ought to plan their check-in, check-out, and/or day journeys accordingly. As well as, the property’s footpath and street lighting is turned off at 11:00pm, so to attenuate danger and greatest keep away from damage, visitors ought to plan to be of their rooms by this time.


  • With earlier reservation, the Arenal Observatory Lodge can present transportation to and from the lodge and downtown La Fortuna (at a set location: in entrance of the grocery retailer “Super Cristian #1”, subsequent to Hotel Las Palmas) at 3 times day by day: departing from the Arenal Observatory Lodge at 6:15am, 10:15am, and four:20pm, and departing from downtown La Fortuna at 7:00am, 12:30pm, and 5:15pm. The value for the one-way service is $eight.00 per individual ($16.00 per individual round-trip). In case you are a lone traveller and you don’t plan to drive your self to and from La Fortuna in an effort to take part in day excursions/actions, and if considered one of Arenal Observatory Lodge’s shuttle service occasions will be just right for you in accordance with your day’s itinerary, contemplate taking the lodge’s shuttle to and from downtown La Fortuna and catching the tour operator’s pick-up from there. The value you’ll pay to the Arenal Observatory Lodge for the shuttle service shall be lower than the price a tour operator will cost to select you up and/or drop you off on the Arenal Observatory Lodge immediately. Alternatively, in case you are travelling in a gaggle, it might be financially advantageous so that you can pay the tour operator’s pick-up/drop-off charges; these are sometimes charged per group (not per individual), and chances are you’ll pay much less to the tour operator general than should you pay the Arenal Observatory Lodge their per individual shuttle service price.

Related to the reception is the lodge’s widespread room, the place seating, a tv, a pc, a tabletop chess recreation, and a classic phone sales space can be found for visitor use. The widespread room—along with the lodge’s recreation room and museum situated elsewhere on the property—supply alternatives for passing time throughout wet durations. Nevertheless, even when it rained briefly throughout our go to, we selected to utilize our room’s balcony/terrace amid the bathe; because the rain started to let up, we have been proper there to see and listen to toucans play within the mist.

Arenal Observatory LodgeArenal Observatory Lodge deck overlooking Lake Arenal


Simply behind the lodge’s reception is a set of stairs that lead right down to the property’s Spider Bridge hanging bridge. Cross the bridge, and also you’ll discover the decrease property’s constructing, museum, pool, Jacuzzi, spa, and nature trails. Obtainable for visitor use solely, the spring-fed pool is situated subsequent to the forest and is open between the hours of 9:00am and 10:00pm. The Jacuzzi—located across the nook from the pool—is out there throughout the identical hours. Additional down the decrease constructing’s path is the Observatory Spa, the place a lot of pores and skin remedies together with massages, wraps, and scrubs are carried out (for a further payment).


Eating ambiance, high quality, and affordability on the Arenal Observatory Lodge is essential, provided that the subsequent closest restaurant to the lodge is a minimal ten-minute drive away. Fortuitously, when it comes to general expertise, the restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Perched above the forest, not solely do the floor-to-ceiling home windows present a shocking view of the of the Arenal Volcano, however from the restaurant, one can even admire a blanket of treetops under and swarms of birds (primarily Oropendulas) out entrance.

Arenal Observatory Lodge restaurant hours
Breakfast: 7:00am to eight:30am
Lunch: 11:30am to four:30pm
Dinner: 6:00pm to eight:30pm
Glad hour providing two-for-one drinks: 5:00pm to six:00pm (bar closes at 10:00pm)


At dinner, we discovered the menu to be typical in comparison with what most resorts within the area serve, providing staple Costa Rican dishes corresponding to casados and quite a lot of meat cuts (for extra details about meals in Costa Rica, don’t miss our associated weblog publish What To Eat And Drink In Costa Rica: Our Costa Rica Meals/Beverage Listing And Order Ideas). As vegetarians, we might select from one among 4 meal choices: a combined vegetable plate, greens with rice, vegetable casado (rice, beans, greens, plantain, tortilla, and egg), or a concoction of combined greens in a curry and coconut sauce. From a pricing standpoint, though the meals value extra on the Arenal Observatory Lodge than what we might sometimes pay for it elsewhere (provided that we choose to dine economically at native sodas), the costs have been in keeping with these of a higher-class restaurant and/or these current at most superior lodges. The restaurant’s environment, nevertheless, was fantastic and properly well worth the added meals value; the open-air eating expertise was snug, and the lodge’s selection to melt the setting with candlelight was a pleasant contact.


Within the morning, we have been spoiled by a breakfast buffet of recent fruit (watermelon, papaya, and pineapple), toast, cheese, meat, eggs, gallo pinto (rice and beans), pancakes, and extra (word that a boxed breakfast is obtainable to travellers who plan to go away the lodge previous to 7:00am, as long as the reception is knowledgeable of the early morning departure the night time earlier than). Offering a a lot wanted increase to start out off a slightly adventurous mountaineering day, we appreciated the protein-packed peanut butter cups and the do-it-yourself banana bread. Yum!

All in all, we beloved our time on the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Nevertheless, a lot of our enjoyment stemmed from the onsite actions that we selected to take part in. For extra details about what we skilled on the lodge—particularly, the paths we hiked, what we noticed, and what we might advocate to different travellers—don’t miss half two of our collection Arenal Hotel Suggestion: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Half 2: Nature Trails And Issues To Do.


QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you ever stayed on the Arenal Observatory Lodge? What did you assume?

Pura vida!

For those who’re extra of a visible learner, take a second to view our gallery photographs under from our most up-to-date go to to the Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Arenal Hotel Suggestion: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Half 1: The Hotel

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