If you are looking for an amazing affordable place to stay in Cost Rica, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is a place we’ve been twice and we we totally fell in love with it each time. The first time we went it was years ago when Arenal still roared through the night with explosions. We were a little worried that it might be frightening for the kids when we went last year but we really wanted them to see it. It turned out that Arenal is ‘off’. The volcano become dormant in the past couple years and there’s no telling if or when it will ever blast again. For some reason this hadn’t been clear when we booked and our new fear was that this place might now be a little boring. But the area around Arenal is amazing.
The grounds are gorgeous with hanging bridges and trails and we spotted toucans frolicking in the trees on a hike. At night watched fireflies fly around the forest in front of our room. (Both times we had a Smithsonian Room and I totally recommend it.)
The dining room has a spectacular view. At breakfast we had a great buffet and at night we watched the sunset fall over the volcano and Arenal is still majestic without all its rumblings. (There were yummy choices for the kids as well.)
The boys liked the room that explained all the volcanic activity.
They even found a swing that we didn’t notice the first-time around. (Back when we were young, adventurous and child-free…..sigh.)
We even had some excitement when a snake with poisonous markings decided to make its way into the eaves in the building over the jacuzzi. It turned out the snake was harmless, but it was so exciting to think maybe it WAS a poisonous snake.
When we went without kids we did the hot pools and they were fun. This time we explored a nearby reserved called Danaus which had really easy trails and lots of sloths. This is also where we saw an unfortunate car experience-I can’t recommend comprehensive insurance enough when you travel in countries where you don’t speak the language. I can only fathom how the vehicle renter tried to explain this one.
I definitely have a feeling we’ll be visiting Arenal again. The road is quite treacherous and long and both times we’ve been we have had a guide drive us. Of course the hubby is trying to convince me HE can drive this road and I think it’s becoming like the Road to Hana trip in Maui for us. We might just have to conquer it. We’ll just have to wait and see.
(PS. I can’t remind you enough to pack flashlights or headlights in your luggage when visiting Costa Rica. We had two power outages on our last trip: one in Arenal and one in Manuel Antonio. In Arenal it happened during bed-time stories and the headlamps were definitely handy in keeping the goodnight ritual calm and smooth.)