Summary. Arenal Volcano is an active volcano located in north-western Costa Rica. Roughly 3-hours by car from San Jose, the Arenal area is surrounded by rainforest so chances are you may not ever see a clear view of the Volcano. The result though is that the area is lusciously green and filled with exotic flowers, waterfalls, and wildlife. Three places we visited while staying here are the Rainforest Chocolate tour, Proyecto Wildlife Rescue, and the local hot springs.
Chocolate Tour: We took a tour of a chocolate plantation at Rainforest Chocolate tours. The tour includes learning how chocolate is made, from the plant, to harvesting, to powder. At $26/adult and $18/child, this experience was a bit overpriced so if you are on the fence, this could be one to skip. That being said, it was fun and informational for the kids. The tour guide was knowledgeable and the staff worked with kids well. The tour includes a hands-on experience of grinding the cocoa and making hot chocolate.
Proyecto Asis is non-profit organization that houses injured, sick, abandoned, or abused wildlife with the goal of releasing them back to the wild. To take this informative tour, you will need reservations. $35/adult and child 10 & up. While pricey, it is worth the cost. We really enjoyed our time here. As the animals are caged (for their recovery), photos are somewhat difficult. Unlike a zoo, where the animals permanently reside and are housed in displays, this animal rescue center is designed for rehabilitation and release back into the wild.
Hot Springs. A nice way to end a day in the Volcano Arenal area is to relax in the nature hot springs that flow from the volcano. Skip the expensive entry prices at the hotel and resorts and instead, join the locals in the nearby watering hole for free.