Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Observatory Lodge information

day pass per person US$4, museum admission free
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This lodge was built in 1987 as a private observatory for the Universidad de Costa Rica. Scientists chose to construct the lodge on a macadamia-nut farm on the south side of Volcán Arenal due to its proximity to the volcano (only 2km away) and its relatively safe location on a ridge. Since its creation, volcanologists from all over the world, including researchers from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, have come to study the active volcano. Today, the majority of visitors are tourists, though scientists regularly visit the lodge, and a seismograph in the hotel continues to operate around the clock. The lodge is the only place inside the park where you can legally bed down.

In addition to beds the lodge offers massages (from US$60), guided hikes and all the usual tours at good prices, and has an excellent trail network, including the leisurely Waterfall Trail and challenging-but-worth-it Cerro Chato Trail . You can swim in the pool, wander around the macadamia-nut farm or investigate the pine forest that makes up about half of the 347-hectare site. You can also rent horses for US$8 per hour.