Our drive from tamarindo to the arenal area with the volcano was a long one so we made a trip out of it.
First we stopped about an hour away at llanos de cortes waterfall. This was my favorite stop by far! It was a small fee to enter the park, then a short 5 minute hike. You can swim in the water and its beautiful! A man wearing a bright yellow native guide shirt started talking to us and ended up taking us to a great picture spots. Then he showed us a quite place to swim, where we jumped off small cliff into the water - so much fun! Then to end it, he took us to the top of the waterfall for more pictures and then easy walk to our car. We tipped him but I dont think we needed to. It was really cool!
Next we stopped at the finca verde lodge to see the sloth sanctuary. I was super excited to see it but kinda disappointed. A couple of cool things to see and it was cheap!
Next to the rio celeste, a huge bright blue waterfall that was on the way to arenal (about 2.5 hours away). This waterfall nearly killed me, I huffed and puffed up and down those thousands of stairs. It was a hike and you couldnt swim anywhere in the park but it was beautiful!
We arrived at lost iguana resort when it was cloudy so we didnt see the volcano our first night. Our room was huge and beautiful and very private with a bath tub on the balcony that overlooked the volcano - wow! The bugs weren't bad and we left the balcony doors open sometimes. The resturant and service was excellent. The view of the volcano was breathtaking and incredible at all times of the day.
Our first day there we did a volcano hike through silencio tours. It was a perfect hike! We went through the rainforest with a guide who had an amazing ocular (binoculars). We saw a viper! Then we hiked up into the lava fields and got great views of the volcano. A bus took us home which was great because we were hot and tired! I heard some of the other volcano hikes (1968) were really hard, so I'm glad we did this one.
The next day we went to mystico hanging bridges, a cool hike basically in our resort property. It was an easy hike and pretty cool on the hanging bridges. We did not do a guided tour, and I'm glad we didnt. Once you do one guided tour, they dont change much and they go much slower.
We also made a quick pit stop at a free natural hot spring that was beautiful! It is right before you get to tabacon ($50 to use their hot springs). There is some cars off to the side of the road and a guy will help you get over and park. You pay him like 5 bucks and he shows you a little path and the hot springs are right there! It felt safe and there were people all over with small coolers and kids having fun or just soaking. Dont leave anything in your car and keep your stuff with you in the hot springs (dry bag!)
Then we went to chachagua rainforest eco lodge, about 30 minutes away. No more volcano, hello jungle! It was pretty but there was a lizard living in the bathroom and the service sucked. The location was similar to our last place at lost iguana in terms of tours. We wished we would have stayed at beautiful lost iguana longer! But chachagua had some hot springs and pretty grounds with a small hiking area and waterfall.
We went on a coffee and chocolate tour at north fields, which was great even though it rained like crazy. Just have your rain coat and umbrella! Great place to buy some souvenirs too
The next day we went on a tour through wave expeditions. I searched for days to find the best adventure tour! We finally settled on ziplining and rafting combo for $125. It was the best! We drove ourselves to the tour office and saved money and didnt have to ride their big tour bus. The zipline was 7 ropes at sky adventure (I think) and amazing! I've ziplines before and it's been ok so we almost didnt even do it. But wow! There was very little hiking involved (thank god) and the platforms were very safe. I loved our guide and the ziplines were so fast, fun, high, and right through the trees! They offer a 12 rope course but I wouldnt do that one, ours was perfect. We went rafting on a level 2/3 down the basia (?) River. It was the most fun ever! It was very safe and very rapidy and a great time! Sit up front! We stopped to eat pineapple half way through too. Then we got back on the bus for a quick ride to a place for food, and we got a beer for the ride. The food was good and they had a bonus sugar cane tour. This was the best tour we did in costa Rica and it was a great deal
We were going to stay in chachagua our last night but we opted to drive into san jose (4 hour drive.) I would recommend staying in san jose before your flight. The roads here are crazy and I wouldnt chance missing your flight.
We had to get a covid test to return and we went to the biblical hospital in downtown san Jose. It was a big hospital with a no appointment needed great easy process that was fast and only $50. Dont do it in a rural place, they can cost up to $150. And if you decide to get your covid test at the airport you have to be there 4 hours early. It was great to get it done early at the hospital
We stayed at the a loft in san jose, which felt like being home again (we stay at a lofts alot). We got 3 free meals which was great!