The volcano has been active since 1968 and you can, in fact, still see molten lava flowing down its sides and bursting from its top nearly every day! Its iconic cone and fiery lava make it a photographer’s dream, as jaw-dropping images can be captured from every angle and during any time of the day. Activity abounds in the area surrounding the volcano, ensuring that a trip here will never be boring. What’s more, the volcano’s base is stippled with a handful of thermal hot springs, providing visitors with a sensuous way to relax.
You can rent a 4x4 car and make the drive from Monteverde to Arenal yourself (cars without 4-wheel drive are not recommended for the bumpy, pothole-filled roads). However, considering both the cost of driving and the difficulty of navigating Costa Rica’s signless roads, we recommend using a combination of shuttle buses, taxis, boats or tours to get to Arenal.
Car: It’s 85 miles (136 km) between Monteverde and La Fortuna. Due to the mountainous terrain, there is no direct route. The road from Monteverde to La Fortuna detours by Tilarán and then continues on to La Fortuna. The initial segment of the drive – from Monteverde to Tilarán – is along a road that is in poor condition. This portion of the road is not paved and is quite uneven. The final part of the drive – from Tilarán to La Fortuna – is along a nicely paved road. Still, a 4x4 is recommended, especially during the rainy season when the road gets washed out with water. With a 4x4 car, it takes about 3 hours to make the trip. In a non-4x4, it will take around four hours. It is, however, not possible to make the trip in a car without four-wheel drive during the peak of the rainy season – in October and November – because the road is typically in such bad condition.
A taxi ride from Monteverde to La Fortuna for four people costs around $130. If you choose to take a taxi, make sure that it has four-wheel drive.
Public Bus: The public bus is another way that you can get between these destinations. However, it does take upwards of nine hours to do so.
From Monteverde to La Fortuna: Take the 7:00 AM bus to Tilarán. From Tilarán, take the 12:30 PM bus to La Fortuna. This will get you to La Fortuna at 3:00 PM.
From La Fortuna to Monteverde: Take the 8:30 AM bus to Tilarán. From Tilarán, take the 12:30 PM bus to Monteverde. This will get you to Monteverde around 3:00 PM.
By Taxi / boat / taxi
This mode of transportation involves taking two taxi rides and one boat trip across Lake Arenal. This is a quick and scenic three-hour trip that can go either way between the destinations. The first leg of the journey – from Monteverde to Lake Arenal – is a 1.5-hour drive. You then board a comfortably equipped boat and cross the lake in 40 minutes.