Hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park with Kids

Arenal Volcano National Park is located in La Fortuna Costa Rica. It’s a beautiful area that’s full of green, lush, fresh air. If you’re visiting Arenal with kids, it’s also a great way to spend a day. Arenal has some of the best hikes in La Fortuna, and gives great views for a relatively easy hike. Read on for info on hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park with kids.

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Arenal Volcano National Park pin 1

About Arenal Volcano

With over 60 volcanoes in the country, Arenal is Costa Rica’s most popular volcano. The volcano is beautifully set outside of downtown La Fortuna and has many great viewpoints.

It last erupted in 2010. The big eruption of 1968 is what killed nearly 90 people and covered 6 square miles in lava and rocks. Today it has movement, but is not considered fully active and isn’t predicted to erupt for years or even a few decades. It can have up to 5 small eruptions a day.

You can, however, see smoke emerging from the top at times.

Arenal National Park sign

How to get to Arenal Volcano National Park

If you are staying in La Fortuna, it is an easy drive to get to Arenal Volcano National Park. Simply continue on the main road (142) and go past Tabacon. Within a few miles, you will eventually see signs for Arenal Volcano National Park.

Turn where the signs prompt and drive briefly down that road.

Now you may see multiple signs for the park. Some are to the offices; this is not what you want. The entrance will be to your left, past the 1968 trail entrance (<– another of the best hikes in La Fortuna if you have older kids!). We saw quite a few people pulled over and a bit confused on where to go (including ourselves). The offices are a right turn, and are not part of the main entrance.

Arenal National Park Entrance Fee

While costs can change, the cost for tourists to visit Arenal Volcano National park currently (Jan. 2024) is

$15 for adults

$5 for kids

(Prices do not include fees/taxes.)

Some National parks in Costa Rica require advance reservation (like Manuel Antonio or Poas Volcano) and will not allow entry without. However, at Arenal Volcano National Park we were able to walk-in and pay at the entrance, no reservation needed.

If you’d like to reserve in advance, you can purchase on the official website.

Looking for a tour? Get hotel pickup, a boat ride in, and a shorter hike in Arenal Volcano National Park with this tour.

Arenal Volcano National Park Tours:

Arenal National Park Lava Flow Trail

Family-Friendly Hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park

The great thing about Arenal Volcano National Park is that there are a few hikes to choose from to enjoy view of the volcano. Choose which hike you’d like to do and then head to that parking area.

The main hikes within the park are fairly short.

>>> Good to know: Sendero means “trail” <<<

Los Miradores and El Tororoi will take you out to the peninsula of Lake Arenal and each are under 2 miles round trip.

At the first parking lot you come to, you’ll have trailheads for a few other great trails.

Las Heliconias is flat and under a mile round trip.

Las Coladas is around 2 miles round trip. This is the main trial within the Volcano trail area.

El Ceibo branches off of the Las Coladas Trail. It is the longest trail at around 3-1/2 to 4 miles roundtrip. The main feature of this trail is seeing the famous 400-year-old Ceiba tree that survived the big 1968 eruption.

You can also drive less than a mile up to a lookout point “Mirador Principal” if you are not up for hiking or unable to.

Check out these cool Arenal Volcano Coloring Pages Created by Let’s Jet, Kids! (by my talented daughter)

La Fortuna Coloring Page picture


Las Coladas / Lava Flow Trail in Arenal Volcano National Park

For hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park with kids (or without!), I recommend this hike.

Our family chose to hike the Lava Flow Trail, or Las Coladas. It’s one of the longer trails, so we thought we could experience more, but still not that long. It was perfect for the kids.

This trail was fairly easy and enjoyable for the whole family. It is about a mile to hike to the end of the trail.

You’ll come upon large bamboo plants at the beginning of the trail and slow change into green flora along the rest of the trail.

The trail is a mostly-packed dirt with roots and rocks along the way.

Arenal National Park Lava flow trail

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Arenal National Park Lizard

Toward the end of the trail is a staircase. When you get here, you are just about to the end.

After the staircase, you’ll hike just a short distance and then reach the bulk of the lava rock left behind from the eruption of 1968.

You may have to scramble a little up the rocks, but it’s short. My kids really enjoyed this part.

At the top, there is a small area to enjoy the views.

*Note, if it’s crowded, allow others to have their turn and photo opportunities. Then move on up. The area isn’t that big.

Make sure to look both directions at the top. To one side is Arenal Volcano in its glory. To the other side is Lake Arenal, observed from a spectacular viewpoint.

Arenal National Park stairs
Arenal National Park lava scramble

Lava Rocks at the top

Arenal National Park Arenal View
Arenal National Park Lake Arenal View
Arenal National Park Vine Snake

See the snake?

Final Thoughts on Arenal Volcano National Park

We loved hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park with kids. They loved hiking some of the best hikes in La Fortuna and the ability to see little animals (like a vine snake) and being able to climb up real, hardened lava.

My final suggestions would be... BRING BUG SPRAY. The bugs were pretty thick and annoying in areas. Bring a light raincoat as it can start raining at any moment. Watch for army ants as they can bite. And enjoy your family hike through Arenal Volcano National Park!

>>> Need a Great Place to stay? See my review of Los Lagos <<<

Dining on a budget? Check out these great sodas in La Fortuna

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  1. Hiking in the Arenal Volcano National Park is a wonderful way to explore this magical place! Thanks for taking me back there.

    1. The views are just incredible! And yes, what kid wouldn’t want to crawl up some lava rock 🙂

  2. Arenal Volcano National Park looks like an incredible place to hike and explore. Those views are phenomenal.

  3. I hate biting ants! I hope I get to tour this area someday! I will be bringing bug spray for sure!

  4. How much fun! I went pre-kids and loved it and it’s good to know I can take the boys back when they get a bit older.

  5. This place looks incredible! I would love to visit the volcano, but definitely not the biggest fan of the insects there might be 😀

  6. Such a lush green national park! Arenal looks like the perfect national park for family fun. I am impressed how the kids are so much into this hike especially climbing all those steps. Yes, the army of ants sounds scary. But nothing like family fun and a challenge too. 🙂

    1. Thank you, It was such a great place to bring them! Haha we saw those army ants lots of places, so we kinda came to expect them…and avoid them as best as possible!

  7. We would definitely not want to miss one or more of the 60 volcanoes when we get to visit Costa Rica. Arenal Volcano National Park looks like a great one to plan to visit. I do like the idea of a boat ride and a hike. So maybe we will check out tour options.

  8. What a fab sounding hike to do with kids! Arenal Volcano aaaand seeing all the animals in the jungle is just such a fab way to see the area. Plus, now you have some mini volcanologists. 😀

  9. Can´t get enough of your post – hiking is one of our favorite family travel activities, Lava Flow Trail looks so unique! Hope to visit Arenal Volcano NP one day

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