Small Town, Big Adventures: Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna is a popular town in Costa Rica, receiving over a million visitors from around the world each year. Travelers are lured by the hot springs, but it is best known for its jungle adventures and the nearby Arenal Volcano National Park.

If you are an adventurous, thrill-seeking traveler, you can find a variety of unique and fun things to do in La Fortuna. Raft down the white waters of the Balsa River or hike among the volcanic rock of Arenal. You can also find more gentle approaches to submerging yourself into the exotic rainforest of Central America and having encounters with the animals that make it their home.

Here are the ten great things to do in La Fortuna: activities that give an adrenaline rush and calm but exciting outings. Find which one you’d like to add to your next La Fortuna, Costa Rica trip.

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Canyoning in the Jungles of La Fortuna

Photo Credit: [@ammmit/DepositPhotos]

Perfect for those seeking a unique adventure, canyoning screams “Costa Rica.” Many canyoning tours will pick you up, drive you to a waterfall, and teach you how to descend the rock amidst the rushing water.

This activity is a straight-up jungle adventure, giving you an experience of a lifetime. You’ll begin on a mini waterfall and work to a larger one, allowing you to feel confident.

Feel the rush of water coming down while you descend into a jungle. This is an incredible Costa Rica experience in La Fortuna.

Rafting on the Balsa River

Photo Credit: [@pafnuti/DepositPhotos]

Another great adventure in La Fortuna is heading to the waters of the Balsa River. Try beginner rapids (classes 2 and 3) or intermediate/advanced rapids (classes 3 and 4) on the Upper Balsa River.  

As a bonus, many tour companies combine rafting with lunch after your adventure. Thrill seekers will love hitting the rapids, relaxing for a swim, and getting a taste of Costa Rica.

Hiking Arenal Volcano National Park

Photo Credit: [@mihtiander/DepositPhotos]

Just a short drive away from the town of La Fortuna is Arenal Volcano National Park. This is one of the main highlights of visiting Costa Rica, and the volcano is featured in many marketing materials for tourists.  So it may look familiar when you get there.

Arenal Volcano is a beautiful site, and sometimes the smoke coming out of the top can be seen. But the volcano hasn’t erupted in more than a decade, and experts think it’ll be a while until it does again.

In the meantime, you can enjoy hiking through this gorgeous, green, dense park to enjoy views of the volcano and lake beyond. Many hikes at Arenal Volcano National Park are around a mile or less. Though short, they take you through the beautiful jungle and lava fields to witness the volcanic marvel. There is a per-person fee to enter the national park, which you can pay at the entrance.

Zip Lining Through the Jungle

La Fortuna waterfall Costa-Rica
Photo Credit: [@Bruno135/DepositPhotos]

When people think about going to Costa Rica, the first thing they often picture is zip-lining through the canopy of the jungle, surrounded by monkeys, sloths, and other rainforest animals.

There are many zip line adventures to choose from in La Fortuna, each allowing you to soar through the trees in the safety of a steel cable and harness. You’ll soar past waterfalls, through jungles, across canyons, and enjoy unique views of Arenal Volcano up high.

Coffee and Chocolate Tour

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Costa Rica is well known for its coffee, sugarcane, and cacao production, so most places around the country will present tour options. Taking a coffee and chocolate tour in La Fortuna is a classic activity and perfect for all ages. Learn about these resources’ growing process, harvest, and end product.  

Most tours include seeing the plantation, helping create a product, and tasting a bit of sugar, coffee, and chocolate.  

ATV Adventure

Photo Credit: [@miroslav_1/DepositPhotos]

Take a wild ride on an ATV through the hills and jungles of La Fortuna. Many tours take you near Arenal Volcano (but not quite inside the park) to give you stunning backdrops to this adrenaline-filled activity.

You’ll have plenty of time to ride and get some thrills, but also time to stop and learn about the area, the history of the Volcano, and the beneficial mud that exists because of it.

Find Sloths on Bogarin Trail

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica
Photo Credit: [@donogl/DepositPhotos]

Back in 2000, a woman named Joanne Bogarin decided to try and restore a large amount of farmland in La Fortuna. With the city’s continuing development, she wanted to make sure plenty of animals had a home nearby. The barren farmland is now a forest within the city limits of La Fortuna, filled with wildlife that naturally made their way to this new home.

The Bogarin Trail isn’t a hidden gem but a trendy thing to do in La Fortuna. Why do people like the Bogarin Trail? First, it’s accessible, meaning kids, strollers, and wheelchairs will all have an easy time.  The guides are even trained to provide an incredible experience for those who are blind.

Second, this trail provides ample opportunities to see sloths.  While arguably the best place in Costa Rica to see sloths is Manuel Antonio, the Bogarin Trail walks you through a land where you’re almost guaranteed to see one. 

The land has 30 sloths but is also home to dart frogs, coatis, Toucans, and plenty of other exotic birds and wildlife. It’s a great place to experience the unique animals of Costa Rica without having to go far.

You can take a guided or a self-guided hike on the Bogarin Trail, both of which have a fee.  The fee is used to preserve and protect the land for the animals.

As a bonus, you can also head to Bogarin Trail for a night walk. These night walks present a different group of exotic animals that come out once the sun is down and it’s cooler.

Explore Nearby Caves

Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica
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Many don’t know about the caves within Costa Rica. Some have heard of Barra Honda National Park in the Nicoya Peninsula as the place to see caverns, but you may not be traveling in that direction.

If you are looking for caves near La Fortuna, consider a stop at the Venado Caves. These caves are one of the lesser-known, hidden gems of La Fortuna. The caves were first discovered in 1945 but didn’t really get explored until over 20 years later. Today, you can walk through the ten discovered caverns in these tall, beautiful underground rooms.

The Venado Caves are about 35 kilometers from La Fortuna. What’s cool about them is not just the fact that they are caverns but that you’ll get a lot of the Costa Rica beauty inside. Inside the caves, you’ll admire the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and enjoy waterfalls falling into underground rivers, bats, insects, and fish. The Venado Caves also have an outdoor swimming pool to take a refreshing dip after exploring. 

Kayak the Peñas Blancas

Photo Credit: [@wollertz /DepositPhotos]

A short drive from La Fortuna provides access to the Peñas Blancas River. This is an ideal way to spot wildlife along the river.  And in this case, you’ll be on the river.

There are different ways of floating down the river. Families may enjoy a river safari on a raft, but other visitors will love sitting atop the water as you leisurely paddle in a kayak.

The kayak adventure down the river will present plenty of wildlife spotting. Enjoy the monkeys that swing on the branches right about you, birds unique to Costa Rica, exotic lizards, and even crocodiles. Having a guide will make finding the best spots for seeing animals in the river’s habitat easy.

SUP Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal Costa Rica
Photo Credit: [@wollertz/DepositPhotos]

La Fortuna may not present both beach and jungle, but it is home to an incredible lake, giving you some calm water activity options.

Lake Arenal is a beautiful doormat to the popular Arenal Volcano. If you want a relaxing adventure, rent a stand-up paddleboard, or take a tour, and get out on the water for a day.  

The mountains surrounding the lake are covered in rainforests, and you’ll have stunning views of the Arenal Volcano. This will easily become the most beautiful place you’ve ever gone paddle boarding.  

Just because you’re not in the middle of a jungle doesn’t mean you won’t encounter wildlife. Watch for Blue Herons and Toucans above and Machacha and Rainbow Bass below as you enjoy the water.

Winding Down from Your Adventures

Tabacon Hot Springs Costa Rica
Photo Credit: [@oriololiva/DepositPhotos]

After a day of adventures in La Fortuna, get a truly local experience by stopping at one of the sodas in La Fortuna. These restaurants are delicious, affordable, and true local cuisine.

Relax sore muscles, and a tired body at the beautiful Tabacon Hot Springs.  You can stay as a guest or visit on a day pass. The hot springs here are magazine-worthy, designed with beauty and relaxation in mind.

Top Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica

La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Photo Credit: [@chrispictures/DepositPhotos]

La Fortuna is a central hub of adventure in Costa Rica. You can stay here for a week and do something new each day. Whether you want some high-adrenaline activities like canyoning down a waterfall or something a little more gentle like strolling down the Bogarin Trail to spot wildlife, you can pack your days with endless, unique opportunities in Costa Rica.  

There are many other things to do in La Fortuna, but these give you a good feel of everything it offers and some unique experiences to make your trip memorable.


Small Town, Big Adventures: Things to Do in La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Megan (Let’s Jet, Kids)

Megan runs and is a mom of four kids.  They all love to travel and find memorable adventures.  They recently spent three weeks in Costa Rica, soaking in everything they could during their time there.  She provides tips and guides to traveling as a family at Let’s Jet, Kids!