Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa was originally built in 1987 as a scientific research station for the world-famous Smithsonian Institution. After Arenal Volcano’s sudden and dramatic explosion into life in 1968, Smithsonian Institution scientists began frequenting the area and would camp on the family’s land because of its strategic location. They built cabins and a small hotel to take care of them and expanded over the years.
The property is uniquely located right between Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, you can explore rainforest, waterfalls, streams, 11 kilometers (7 miles) of trails, and see an amazing wealth of wildlife. Arenal Observatory Lodge is a renowned destination for bird watching in Costa Rica, with more than 500 species of birds noted so far in our forest. Nature rises early in Costa Rica. It is worth it to get up at first light to see the howler monkeys and birds that were your alarm clock in the morning.
Enjoy delicious meals in the lodge restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for gazing at the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, and a huge observation deck just outside. The Observatory Spa will help you relax with massages and other body therapies.
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is a sustainable eco-lodge with a rating of Three Leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) by the Costa Rican Tourism Board.
Additionally, Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa consistently wins TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award every year and is a proud member of its Green Leaders program.
Five rooms are fully equipped for disabled travelers, with rooms, bathrooms, hallways, parking areas, and even the new swimming pool designed accordingly.
La Casona’s five rooms are ideal for groups or individual budget travelers. It is located 500 meters (0.3 miles) from the main hotel building down a moderate slope.
Spacious and comfortable Standard Rooms at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa all feature two queen-sized beds, a private bathroom, a coffeemaker, a room safe, sitting chairs and a writing table.
Very spacious Smithsonian Rooms all showcase huge picture windows which frame the majestic Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal or the beautiful rainforest and gardens. Five Smithsonian Rooms are outfitted for wheelchair access.
The two Junior Suites are the most spacious rooms with grand views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, and a large private terrace.
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa rests in the heart of one of Costa Rica’s largest nature preserves – the Arenal Conservation Area. We are uniquely located within the Arenal Volcano National Park boundaries, where primary and secondary tropical rainforest grow in fertile volcanic soil, creating a rich habitat for birds, butterflies, mammals, reptiles and insects. One of the more iconic sounds of the rainforest at Arenal Volcano is the howler monkeys that you can often hear in the early mornings or late afternoons.
An 11-kilometer (7-mile) network of well-marked and maintained trails crisscrosses our Arenal lodge property, ideal for hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking. These trails give you access to so much local natural beauty, and since they are inside our 870-acre property, you won’t run into crowds when out exploring.
An 800-meter (0.5 mile) paved trail allows universal access to explore the gardens and rainforest, and gives excellent views of the Arenal Volcano. The paved trail also is perfect for a short night hike to immerse yourself in the exotic sounds and smells of the jungle after dark.
We recommend our daily free guided walk with our naturalist guide that departs from Reception every day at 8:30 a.m. and goes to the Danta River Waterfall. We also recommend walking our other trails early in the morning or in the afternoon for better wildlife viewing, for cooler weather, nice light and beautiful views of Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal and the rainforest.
On our detailed trail map, which you can obtain from Hotel Reception, 7.5 kilometers (4.6 miles) of the trail network are color-coded into red, yellow, brown, blue, green, and orange to help you keep your bearings. Distances and landmarks also are given.