Five Essential Bits of Trivia About the Arenal Volcano

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If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, you will know that this Central American country is famous for its volcanoes (as well as its beaches, climate, and food - but that’s a subject for another time!).

In Costa Rica, there are over two hundred volcanic formations, some dating back sixty-five million years, with at least one hundred volcanoes commonly listed and six which are considered active.

Out of those six, the best known one is Arenal Volcano, which crowns a national park of the same name and sits atop a stunning lake, famous for its watersports. You can find more about the water activities on, but for some fascinating trivia about the volcano itself, read on.

Five Essential Bits of Trivia About the Arenal Volcano

Basic facts

Arenal Volcano is approximately 5,358 feet (1633m) tall, with a crater size of 460 feet  (140m). Its height isn’t constant as it depends on levels of activity, so you will find different estimates in different sources. It is around 7500 years old which, in volcano years, makes it a mere teenager! It is currently quiet, but from 1968 to 2010 it underwent a period of high activity, with very frequent eruptions. The first of those was an eruption on 29 July 1968, which destroyed some of the nearby towns. This was a very tragic event which resulted in loss of life, as well as property, and ended a long spell of approximately 400 years of no activity. Nowadays, Arenal is considered dormant, and new technology is being developed to monitor volcano activity all the time.

Volcano type

Arenal belongs to a common group of volcanoes called andesitic stratovolcanoes. Volcanoes of this kind usually have steep and symmetrical sides, and the lava which erupts from them tends to be less viscous, so it often cools and solidifies before it can travel too far. Sometimes these volcanoes are also called ‘composite’ volcanoes.

Surrounding area

Arenal Volcano is part of the Arenal Volcano National Park, which encompasses a variety of stunning ecosystems, including a rainforest, a cloud forest, and even a savanna. At the base of the volcano is Lake Arenal, which is the largest lake in Costa Rica. It was artificially enlarged in 1979 so that it could generate hydroelectric power, but nowadays it’s best known for its great range of watersports.

Hot springs

As if the watersports and the presence of the volcano weren’t exciting enough, this area also boasts a number of hot springs. They are a major tourist attraction and can have therapeutic properties. Be sure to bring a swimsuit and head to a hot spring to relax those sore muscles after a day of exploring.


This area is hugely popular with tourists who come for the watersports, wildlife spotting, birdwatching, and hiking in this stunning natural landscape. The available accommodation ranges from super-affordable hostels through to 5-star hotels, so there is something for every budget. Most of the hotels are located in a nearby town called La Fortuna de San Carlos, which is located just 2.5 hours from San Jose’s international airport. This picturesque town is known for its postcard-like prettiness, with a lovely central square and lots of gardens.

Photo by Rikin Katyal on Unsplash