It’s a Monday morning in 1968. You’ve just had a great weekend with your family and friends in your local town. You live in San Carlos which is a county in the province of Alajuela, Costa Rica.
There are four districts in San Carlos: Tabacón, Pueblo Nuevo, San Luis, and El Borio or La Fortuna. You live in “The Fortunate,” La Fortuna. It is rumored that your town was named for its good luck long before this Monday in 1968, but some tell a different story because you were the only location left untouched when boulders and lava shot through the air.
A history lesson
Around 7:30AM on a Monday in July of 1968, Arenal Volcano which had been dormant for nearly 500 years, since 1520, decided to awaken from its slumber. In doing so, it managed to shoot boulders and lava through the air at 600 meters per second (Costa Rica Highways). The devastation killed 87 people and destroyed most of San Carlos, Tabacón, Pueblo Nuevo and San Luís, but left La Fortuna or “The Fortunate” untouched.
- Volcanoes do not always spew out lava when they erupt. As is the case with Volcan Irazú y Volcan Poas, they most often let out out ash, vapor (gas and liquid), sulfur and other gasses. Volcanic excrements can be extremely hot, but can also be cold.
- Volcanoes have four stages: extinct (RIP to the Volcano that is now just a mountain); dormant or sleeping (like a hibernating bear waiting to rumble awake); active (it’s like when your doctor asks if you’re sexually active — sometimes here and there, waiting for it to happen again); and erupting (actually throwing rocks, boulders, gassing it up, hot lava — all happening right now).
- Nicaragua’s Masaya Volcano is apparently active and you can see lava.
What to do
- Absolutely everything you can imagine, especially if you enjoy adventure. There was so much to do I felt like I could have stayed in Arenal for a full week and actually regret not having booked a longer stay.
- What I did: a tour of Arenal Volcano park (lots of animals); La Fortuna Waterfall (freezing cold but quite refreshing); Hanging Bridges (super wobbly); and Hot Springs.
- What I wished I had time for: cave exploration, ATV riding, horseback riding and spa massages.
- I recommend booking your tour through Eco Terra Costa Rica. My guide was Julio. He was funny, knowledgeable, an interactive presenter, kept the group together, took great photos (below), and helped make the experience what it was.
Where to stay
- I booked my stay through AirBnB. My hosts, Hernan y Alejandra, were amazing, click here to book.
- The AirBnB is located on the same property as Arenal Volcano Inn and only cost a fraction of the price, but I guarantee that you will not receive a fraction of their incredible service.
- The staff is friendly, helpful when it comes to booking tours or calling taxis (no Uber in this region), and quite responsive.
- Their is a restaurant on property, Que Rico. The name does not lie, it is in fact delicious. Everything on the menu is delicious, but if you are a pizza lover definitely order a pie — there is a brick oven on property. Remember to ask for Salsa Lizano!
- The actual room is very clean, has two comfortable beds, a TV with many channels, AC, a table, couple stools and other pieces of furniture. A great view right outside the door.
Thanks for reading! Come back soon!