Not for the faint of heart, the Arenal Observatory Lodge sits 1.7 miles (2.7 km) from the famous Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. This eco-lodge sits in view of the active volcano, but don’t worry, you’re at a safe distance.

Nestled on a ridge lined with pine trees, this rainforest eco-lodge stays true to its namesake: this is a wonderful observatory for nature. With eleven kilometers of trails, hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers alike can wind through the lush hills of Costa Rica. 

Happy hours with a volcano view are only a portion of what guests can enjoy at Arenal Observatory Lodge. With spa treatments, hiking trails, museums, and zip-lining, there is something for everyone, ranging from adventurous to relaxing.

Their story

The lodge was built to be an observatory for the Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica’s most active volcano. In 1987, the lodge acted as a research station. The observatory sits on the opposite side of the Agua Caliente gorge, protecting it from the volcano while affording the lodge prime views. Arenal Observatory Lodge and Spa offers guests privacy within nature, as it is the only hotel located inside the Arenal National Park.

The family which owned the land allowed scientists to camp on their land before building the structures that make up the lodge. Over the years, the cabins have expanded to a hotel with 48 hotel rooms and two house rentals. This lodge is the closest hotel to the volcano. 

Located 22 kilometers from the town of La Fortuna, the lodge is comfortably nestled in nature while close enough to the outside world. With views of the volcano and Lake Arenal, most guests won’t want to leave!

The lodge sits on 870 acres, 270 of which are primary rainforests. Volcanoes, lakes, and rainforests await you at this lodge. Not only perfectly located, but it is also one of the most sustainable eco-lodges in Costa Rica, rated by the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program. With its unique location, it is no surprise that the lodge works to protect the environment. Read more about them here.

Sustainability actions

  • All plants in the gardens surrounding the lodge are native to the region, providing habitats and food for the local fauna. 
  • Run-off rainwater is properly diverted to reduce soil erosion and degradation.
  • Their electricity is provided by the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE). Since Costa Rica is one of the leading countries in renewable energy, on-grid electricity comes from more than 90% renewable energy sources (wind, water, and geothermal sources).
  • The water for the lodge comes from pure mountain springs, approved for drinking by the Costa Rican Health Ministry.
  • The lodge prioritizes indirect light to protect wildlife from light pollution.
  • The lodge is equipped with low-flow toilets and shower heads. Guests and staff are encouraged to lower their energy consumption when possible.
  • Laundry is dried in the sun rather than in energy-heavy dryers.
  • All products are recycled or reused if possible. Guest toiletries are in reusable containers.
  • Organic waste is given to local farm animals.
  • The lodge is equipped with proper sewage treatment plants to prevent harmful products from entering the environment.
  • The gardens are maintained with natural and biodegradable products.
  • There is minimal chlorine use in the guest pool.
  • Guest rooms are cleaned with biodegradable cleaners.
  • The lodge maintains and protects over 270 acres of natural forest. They have also reforested over 400 acres worth of pine and eucalyptus.
  • Locals are employed at the lodge.
  • The lodge donates books, building materials, and supplies to local schools. They also help the nearby community with road maintenance and drainage systems.

Most Popular Activities near Arenal Observatory Lodge

READ ON36 Eco-friendly Things to Do in Costa Rica (From A to Z)

Best time to visit Arenal Observatory Lodge

  • The humidity in Costa Rica is high all year around. 
  • To avoid the rainy season, plan your visit outside May-June and September-October. 
  • If you want to enjoy this place the sunniest it can be, visit in March or December.
  • Smaller showers or thunderstorms can be expected all year around, so please be prepared.

READ ONBest Time To Visit Costa Rica (Factual Data, Pros & Cons, What to Expect)



Arenal Observatory Lodge is 140 km from Tobías Bolaños International Airport. The lodge does not offer pick up from airport.
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