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Arenal volcano spits lava on a regular basis and - on a clear night - puts on a terrific fireworks show for the lucky visitors and residents of la Fortuna.
Arenal is the most shapely and lively of Costa Rica's 300 volcanoes, acting as the centrepiece for La Fortuna's tourist trade. The dry season offers your best chance of the rare sight of magma flow or a mini-eruption.
The volcano's base area is a fascinating mass of magma caves; the best route to the base is via a forested path from Tabacon Resort. There are hot springs and cold drinks not far away for pure hedonistic viewing.
Arenal is some way north of San José but two other active volcanoes are closer to the capital and can be visited on day trips - Irazu in the Central Valley and Poas on the Northern Plains with its iridescent crater lake. Both of these are possible to approach much closer than Arenal.
Arenal the morning after, looking sleepy and docile.
La Fortuna offers plenty of tourist excursions and activities when Arenal volcano is not in entertainment mode. Hiking, biking, caving and slumping in hot pools around the base, for a start.
Poas Volcano and its brilliant blue lake from a viewing platform. Poas is a day trip from San José.
Irazu dormant volcanic soup.
A thermal spa supplied by volcanic springs, a must-do after a hard day's hiking or other activity around forest trails. Next, Costa Rica Activity Pictures.