Arenal Observatory Lodge

The closest lodge to the Arenal volcano surrounded by its own nature reserve with trails, and thousands of acres of forest

Arenal Observatory Lodge

Originally built near the small village of La Fortuna in 1987 as a research facility for the Smithsonian Institution Arenal Observatory is the closest lodge to the Arenal volcano. The lodge has 24 spacious rooms with smart wooden furnishings and an outside terrace with views of the gardens and volcano. The rooms are rather basic but have private bathrooms, ceiling fans and safety deposit boxes. The Smithsonian rooms have huge picture windows framing the impressive Arenal volcano.

There is a good restaurant in the main building where tasty international dishes and regional cuisine are served and there is a bar and lounge for relaxing.

The lodge also offers a large swimming pool, hot tub and spa and is surrounded by its own nature reserve with trails, and thousands of acres of forest comprising part of the Arenal National Park.


Restaurant, bar, 800mt-long wheelchair-accessible trail, landscaped gardens, spring-fed infinity swimming pool and gift shop.

Local Wildlife

Some 370 species of bird have been recorded including three-wattled bellbird and the bare-necked umbrella bird. Mantled howler, white faced capuchin and central American spider monkeys, white-nosed coati, kinkajou, margay, silky anteater, three-toed sloth and the occasional armadillo might also be seen.

Optional Activities

On-site complimentary guided morning wildlife walk along forest trails (approx. 2.5hrs) to learn about the wildlife and ecology of the area; independent walking in the lodge’s private secondary and primary rainforest reserve to waterfalls and along old lava flows. Nearby optional activities include horse riding, cycling, white-water rafting, canoeing on Lake Arenal, canopy walks, zip-lining and hot springs.

Number of rooms


Air Conditioning


Swimming Pool


John Melton
Area Specialist

Request one of the Smithsonian Rooms for the best views of the volcano.

If you have any queries about this accommodation please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

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Arenal Observatory Lodge 10.434784, -84.701071 Arenal Observatory LodgeView

This is the second trip with reef and Rainforest and it certainly met all of our expectations. (Your representatives) were excellent as were all the lodges generally. There was a good balance of organised tours and time to ourselves – this was just what we wanted. Your choice of locations in Costa Rica was again excellent sharing your local knowledge and expertise and assessing what we wanted. Thank you very much for your help and organisation. We look forward to using you again and will happily recommend you.

Mr D M - Gwynedd