The Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa crowns a ridge overlooking Arenal Lake and the looming volcano only 1.7 miles away, all within the refreshing ambiance of a working 870 acres farm that includes 400 acres in reforestation and 270 acres of natural forest, all surrounded by the tropical splendor of the Arenal National Park. Arenal Lake is the largest in Costa Rica and offers excellent sport fishing!

The drive to Arenal Volcano from San Jose city passes through some of the most scenic regions in the country – vibrant green pastures, rolling mountains and meadows, patches of lush cloud and rain forests and picturesque Costa Rican villages. Driving to Arenal, you’ll pass by working dairy farms, hillsides full of grazing cattle, and fields of papaya, citrus, cacao, yucca, sugar cane and, of course, coffee. As you can see from the Arenal map, if you are driving to Arenal you can choose from several routes to the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa!

Our Rooms

La Casona Rooms: La Casona offers ideal group or family accommodations and is set 500 meters off from the main building down a moderate slope. Its 5 comfortable, value-priced rooms with a large terrace provide an impressive view of the volcano and Arenal Lake


Standard Rooms: The Standard rooms are another way to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Arenal volcano and/or contemplate the beauty of the lake from your balcony!


Smithsonian Rooms: The Smithsonian rooms feature huge picture windows giving you a premiere majestic view of the volcano from the comfort of your bed. Each room has two double beds (queen-size), a private bathroom, coffee maker and room safe.


 Junior Suites: The Junior Suite are rooms with a volcano view through large picture windows framing the often active side of the majestic Arenal; see the volcano from the room or enjoy the beauty of the Arenal Lake from the comfort of your private deck!


White Hawk Villa with its peaceful surroundings and the ultimate spectacular view of the volcano and lake is about 800 meters from the rest of the hotel. It offers group or family accommodations and is recommended for guests with their own transportation or those who enjoy walking.

Activities in Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa isn’t just a beautiful Arenal family hotel from which to watch the wonders of the Arenal Volcano. It’s also a great base for an entire gamut of activities and adventures.

The hotel lies within the Arenal National Park where primary and secondary tropical forests grow on the fertile volcanic soils, and abundant birds, mammals and reptiles flourish. The howler monkeys are often heard in the forest in the early morning or late afternoons.

An 11-km (6.84-mile) network of well-marked and maintained trails crisscrosses the property, ideal for hiking, horse-back riding or bicycle rides. These trails give you access to so much local natural beauty and we also have 800 m (0.5 miles) of paved pathway for wheelchair access, which enters the tropical forest and gives excellent views of the volcano and primary forest. Seven and a half kilometers (4.6 miles) of the networked are color-coded into red, yellow, brown, and blue, green and orange to help you keep your bearings. Please ask for the trail map from Reception.

Morning walk (free): A guided walk along the property’s trails. The walk starts from the hotel every morning at 8:30 am and lasts about two and a half hours. You start by crossing the hanging bridge (Saino / Peccary) and follow the Saino  and La Hormiga (Ant) trails which cut through beautiful tropical woodland. Along the way you can discover the zone’s flora and fauna. The walk continues into primary and secondary forest to reach a lovely waterfall and continues over the hanging bridge (Danta / Tapir) which crosses the river of the same name. Your walk then passes through pastureland and tropical vegetation bordering the river, which it crosses and where a comfortable, tractor-drawn “Jungle Bus” will take you back to the hotel. During this walk, you might observe many of the 370 bird species found in the area, along with howler monkeys, other mammals, and many insects, reptiles, and tropical flowering plants.

Birdwatching:  More than 426 bird species have been identified around AOL, and which can be spotted in the different habitats that make up the 350 ha. (865 acres) of the Lodge. From the trails, you pass through primary forests, cattle pastures, secondary forest and solidified lava fields. Some of the most spectacular resident species are: three-wattled bellbird, fasciated tiger-herons, sun bitterns, laughing falcons, red-lore parrots, great curassows, northern jacanas, steely-vented hummingbirds and keel-billed toucans. Ask in Reception for the complete Bird List

La Catarata (Waterfall) Trail: This is a favorite walk in AOL. A moderate walk of about 1 km. from the hotel takes you along a cobble and hardcore path that drops 50 steps down a slope to the base of the six-meter (19.7-ft) high waterfall. The air is refreshing by the waterfall and spectacular ferns and palms in this lush secondary forest surround you. You might spot monkeys (howler, spider and white-faced capuchin), birds (crested guan, toucan, Montezuma’s oropendula, tanagers, trogons), and in December you could be lucky enough to see the quetzal and hear a black-faced solitaire during their vertical migration to the property. Look out for sloths, peccary, margay and coati. This trail takes about one hour there and back.

Saino (Peccary) Trail: A paved trail of approximately 650 m (0.4 mile) that takes about 45 minutes and is suitable for the physically challenged. It leads through secondary forest and the Lodge’s gardens. You can often spot coatis and monkeys (howler, spider); birds (crested guan, toucan, oropendula, clay-colored robin, tanagers), many types of humming bird (rufous-tailed, black-crested coquette, green hermit, purple-throated mountain gem) and migratory species. Tropical flora include: guava, fig (ficus), tropical pine, ginger, heliconia, hibiscus, cecropia.

La Hormiga (Ant) Trail: A 450-meter (0.28 mile) hardcore trail that can be walked in about 25 minutes. The path goes through both secondary and primary forest.  You might be able to see coati, sloth, anteater, monkeys (howler, spider, white-faced capuchin); birds (crested guan, toucan, oropendula, clay-colored robin, tanagers, trogons and migrating species in August or March such as the umbrella bird which migrates vertically). Tropical trees include fig (ficus), guava and zapote.

Los Cangrejos (Crabs) Trail: This trail cuts through primary forest for 500 m (0.31 mile) and can be walked in about 20 minutes. It starts 2 km (1.23 mile) from Reception (part of the trail to Chato volcano). Some species that inhabit this part are peccary, armadillos, rabbits, coati, monkeys (howler, spider, white-faced capuchin); birds such as crested guan, toucan, oropendula, tanagers, trogons, chestnut-capped brush finch, and white hawk. Trees along the trail include guava, cecropia, naked Indian and pilon.

Lava Vieja (Old Lava) Trail: This trail leaves the hotel and drops down to the Agua Caliente (Hot Water) river. Beyond there, the trail is out of bounds because it used to pass through a high-risk zone to reach the foot of Arenal volcano. During this walk, you will see how plants have recolonized, and with luck, you should spot some howler monkeys. The trails are quite challenging because of the uneven ground and takes about 40 minutes there and back.

Guided walk up Cerro Chato Mountain: Cerro Chato is an extinct volcano with a summit crater that is now a lake. To reach the top, you leave the hotel and walk to the farm at the base of the volcano. This is a challenging hike up through primary tropical forest to reach the Crater Lake. Its waters are ideal place to cool off after the climb.