Outdoor Activities in Alajuela

In the Alajuela Province, stretching from northwest of San Jose to the Nicaraguan border, visitors have a chance to enter the driver's seat of adventure. Dive into the waterfalls, hike around an active volcano, or embrace the flighty wonders at butterfly farms. Without a doubt, some of the best outdoor activities take place at the area's standout attraction, Arenal Volcano and its national park. As a 29,692 acre park, Arenal is home to delightful nature trails, thermal hot springs and hotspots to catch a glimpse at the magnificent flora and fauna.


White water rafting is a popular activity in Alajuela. Throughout the region, there are a series of rivers that keep the land rich and fertile. Rated a Class II –IV river, the Rio Toro offers more than 45 rapids, all the while treating you to some wonderful vistas of the dense tropical forests. Embark on a white water rafting tour, kayaking or canoeing for a nonstop adrenaline rush beneath the sunny Costa Rican skies. You might also be able to spot a number of wildlife species as you cruise down the river, from white-faced monkeys to toucans and the Montezuma Oropendula. For windsurfing and freshwater fishing, travelers embrace the wonderful Arenal Lake.

Hiking Adventure

At Arenal Volcano National Park, you can discover short trails that pass through both secondary forests and hardened lava fields. Since the volcano sits beside a giant lake, visitors have no trouble finding magnificent views along the way. Make your way to Poas Volcano National Park, where hikers trek across a series of trails that weave around its lakeside slopes, leading all the way to summit for panoramic vistas. Along the route, you'll encounter fruit farms, flowering fincas and coffee groves. Considerably warmer than San Jose, Alajuela makes for an excellent hiking destination to bask in the outdoors.

Natural Hot Springs

There are a number of spas in Alajuela. Head up north to the Ciudad Quesada San Carlos area for thermal hot water springs and mud baths. You can also find a number of natural hot springs at La Fortuna de San Carlos, the getaway to the Arenal Volcano National Park, boasting hot springs alongside resorts and lodges. To soak in serenity with an incredible view of the mighty Arenal Volcano, visit the famous Tabacon Hot Springs, famous for its their cascading waterfalls and tranquil pools.

Tour the Canopy on a Zip Line

No trip to Costa Rica is complete without a canopy tour. Experience the thrill of sailing through the treetops in the rainforest beside the foot of the Arenal volcano in La Fortuna. One way to tour the forest is through the Hanging Bridges of the Arenal Volcano. You can also go canopy touring in towns such as Ciudad Quesada and La Fortuna de San Carlos to explore a diversity of wildlife as well as rare plants. North of Alajuela is the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, another excellent place for a wildlife tour.

Butterfly Farms and Animal Refuges

If you want to stay within city limits, check out Zoo Ave, an animal refuge center covering 142 acres, where you can see a variety of local animals, including toucans, cranes, monkeys and the raved-about quetzals. The zoo is also home to a 3.6-meter-long crocodile. Another great place to see creatures is the Butterfly Farm in La Guacime. With a giant net overhead, the farm hosts an array of butterfly habitats that dazzle onlookers young and old. As a matter of fact, tens of thousands of pupae are shipped from the zoo to across the globe here.

Local Culture

Founded in 1657, the city of Alajuela still has deep roots in agriculture. Get a taste of local culture at the open-air Saturday market, which draws hundreds of farmers who sell fruit, vegetables, flowers and dairy products. Beyond the sellers, people come from all over town to shop and socialize with neighbors.

Costa Rica Cloud Forest & Arenal Volcano Tour
6 Days / 5 Nights
Starting at $878 per person
Costa Rica Eco-Adventure Tour
12 Days / 11 Nights or 10 Days / 9 Nights
Starting at $2,352 per person
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