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Exceptional Views at Arenal Observatory Lodge

Coast of Riches: A Journey Through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama My experience at Arenal Observatory Lodge, a hotel literally at the base of Arenal Volcano. This was our first night in Costa Rica coming from Nicaragua!


  • Exceptional location and views of Arenal Volcano.
  • Eco friendly resort so you can get up close to the wildlife.
  • Self-guided hikes and walks within the vast hotel grounds.


Arriving late at the hotel we checked in and had a snack at the bar. We were first very surprised by how far the hotel was from the main road and we kept questioning if we were going the right way on the dirt road.

The next day we woke up to a spectacular view then had the buffet breakfast at the main restaurant while watching the professional birdwatchers do their thing.

We took a recommended self-guided hike to Cerro Chato, a neighboring volcano of Arenal. The moderate difficulty hike led to a rewarding swim in the lake in the crest of volcano.

After the tiring hike, we enjoyed another swim in the infinity pool overlooking the rainforest. Towels were available at the front desk. That was our last activity before leaving the hotel.

The first glimpse of Arenal from the courtyard.
The first glimpse of Arenal from the courtyard.
The reception at Arenal Observatory Lodge.
The reception at Arenal Observatory Lodge.
Walkways to rooms Arenal Observatory Lodge
The walkways to the rooms.
Restaurant and View Arenal Observatory Lodge
The restaurant and view of Lake Arenal.
The infinity pool overlooking the forest. Arenal Observatory Lodge
The infinity pool overlooking the forest.
Bird Viewing Room Arenal Observatory Lodge
They even had a bird watching room!


Arenal Volcano towers in view from most points of the hotel. The proximity is impressive and is the main selling point of the lodge. Unfortunately Arenal has not erupted in years, meaning there is no more lava show at night to watch.

Set deep in the forest, you have several hiking and wildlife watching options to choose from. This location also means its a bit far from the nearest town, so if you want to stock up on supplies, do that before heading to the hotel.


We stayed in a “Smithsonian” room, with two double beds facing the floor to ceiling windows overlooking Arenal Volcano. The room was decorated with pictures of the erupting volcano and had complimentary coffee. It was clean and quite comfortable.

Smithsonian Room Double Beds Arenal Observatory Lodge The double beds were centered in the room in order to get the best view.
The double beds were centered in the room in order to get the best view.
Arenal Observatory Lodge The bathroom was pretty standard.
The bathroom was pretty standard.
Arenal Observatory Lodge Entrance to our room from the garden.
Entrance to our room from the garden.
Colorful bird themed tiled artwork on the terrace.
Colorful bird themed tiled artwork on the terrace.


The service was quite good with the reception checking us in late at night even though we weren’t registered in their system. Bar staff was especially friendly and reception was helpful in providing suggestions for hiking trails.


The resort had several options when it came to activities. There was the standard tourist fare of treetop zip-lining, white water rafting, horse riding etc. All can be organized through the hotel, but most activities are located off site.

They even had a helicopter tour at one point to see the volcanos and surroundings from a different vantage point, but is now discontinued due to demand.

Unique to the area is taking a hike through the property and exploring the birdlife and other wildlife. I highly recommend hiking to then swimming in Cerro Chato! It’s an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime.


The main restaurant near the reception offered a decent breakfast, but we didn’t have a chance to try the other meals. Again, the views of the restaurant make it a special experience.
The Chato’s Bar is connected to the restaurant and offers a large drink selection.


If Arenal and the scenic surroundings is the main purpose of your visit, you wont find a finer and more convenient property to put your right in the middle of nature. The modern facilities and pool make it even more comfortable.


About David

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and has less than 10 countries left! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!