Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica, July 26-29, 2018

After a 5-hour ride up and down winding roads from Manuel Antonio, we bumped down an incredibly pothole-filled road for several miles until we reached the Arenal Observatory Lodge - the closest place you can stay to one of the five most active volcanoes in the world. The rooms are very simple - two king beds and tiled floors - but the views out our private patio were amazing of the Arenal volcano and lake. Free buffet breakfast every morning, complete with lots of bird watchers and photographers. And we saw the elusive king-billed toucan, among other monkeys and birds.

Arenal Lake Bike Tour

Sky Adventures, July 27, 2018

Took a 2-hour bike ride on a bumpy dirt road around Arenal Lake through Sky Adventures. It was about an 8-mile journey with views of the lake and muddy dirt roads, which were washed out by a raging river. We also ran into four black horses just hanging out on the trail. It rained hard off and on - which actually felt good.

The Springs Resort and Spa

LaFortuna, Costa Rica, July 27-28, 2018

We got a 2-day pass for the hot springs at The Springs Resort, a 165-acre luxury boutique five star hotel in La Fortuna, with amazing views of the Arenal Volcano. It had about 20-25 hot springs pools with temperatures ranging from 83˚F to 103˚F; from waterfalls to tranquil forest experiences. It also had a swim-up bar with a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano and a incredibly fast slide. We spent a total of about 10 hours hanging out at the resort.

LaFortuna Waterfall

LaFortuna, Costa Rica, July 28, 2018

In the morning, we went to the Lafortuna waterfall, a 200-foot waterfall that had an extremely powerful stream. They only allowed swimming in a pool off to the side. It's about a 15 minute hike down 480 steps on an easy trail.

Rainforest Chocolate Tour

Lafortuna, Costa Rica, July 28, 2018

We went on a 2-hour tour of a Rainforest Chocolate making facility with guide Gustavo in Lafortuna, learning the process of how chocolate is converted from cocoa plants to fermentation to chopping (which JD got to do) to grinding (which Haleigh and I did) to flavoring with pure cane sugar to, of course, eating. We ate dark chocolate (only the best!) with sea salt and vanilla. We also drank lots of chocolate, the best mixture being chili, vanilla and cinnamon.


Arenal Lodge restaurant at our hotel: ate breakfast there everyone; okay buffet; watched birds and animals
Chillat in El Castillo: great little "soda" after our bike ride
Ginger Sushi at The Springs Resort: decent sushi place at The Springs resort; large portions
Rainforest Cafe in LaFortuna: wonderful coffee and great food in Lafortuna; went before chocolate tour
Tres Cascades at The Springs Resort: great viewing spot above the Springs; food was okay
Bohemia on the way to Playa Flamingo: great food and service; perfect late lunch spot along the road