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Arenal & Central Highlands

Visit Arenal & the Central Highlands


The mountainous Central Highlands lie to the north of San Jose and are the centre of geothermal activity in Costa Rica. The Arenal Volcano National Park has one of the most volatile reputations in the highlands and the booming eruptions and brilliant night-time lava displays of the Arenal volcano are legendary.

Large areas of the highlands spend the majority of their lives cloaked in thick cloud cover; these montain forests are the ideal habitat for many different bird species, ranging in size from the minute hummingbird to the three-wattled bellbird. The cloud forest reserves at Montverde and Santa Elena are home to animals found nowhere else in the world and are one of the highlights of any stay in Costa Rica.


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Top itineraries in Arenal & Central Highlands

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Classic

13-day tailor-made holiday from £4,765 pp incl. flights

Costa Rica is a land of spectacular volcanoes, wildlife-filled cloud forests, fast-flowing jungle rivers and tropical jungles. Explore its natural-world highlights in Arenal and Monteverde before kicking back on the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park or Guanacaste.

Scarlet Macaw Couple, Osa Peninsula

Costa Rica: Sarapiqui and the Osa Peninsula

11-day tailor-made holiday from £5,050 pp incl. flights

Let expert guides introduce you to two Costa Rican gems – the rainforest of Sarapiqui and towering Arenal Volcano. You'll then enjoy a full-board stay at the Lapa Rios Ecolodge, hidden among the wildlife-filled rainforests of the Osa Peninsula.

Toucan, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Self-Drive

13-day tailor-made self-drive from £4,965 pp incl. flights

Travel past farmlands, forests, lakes and volcanoes to Arenal, the cloud forests of Monteverde and the wildlife of the Palo Verde national park. Top it all off with a relaxing stay on the palm-fringed bays of Guanacaste on Costa Rica's North Pacific Coast.

Hummingbirds, Costa Rica

Wildlife of Costa Rica & Caribbean Coast

14-day tailor-made holiday from £6,680 pp incl. flights

This tailor-made holiday perfectly showcases the spectacular variety of wildlife and landscapes of Costa Rica. Alongside stays in luxury eco-lodges, you'll go in search of the wildlife that lives among remote peninsulas, white-sand beaches and subtropical rainforests.

Top places to stay in Arenal & Central Highlands

Nayara Springs

Nayara Springs, Arenal

Contemporary hotel

Regularly voted amongst the world’s leading hotels, this adults-only Costa Rican resort is truly stunning. It’s set beside a creek, pristine rainforest and the Arenal volcanic national park, home to a huge concentration of wildlife and tropical plants.

Arenal Nayara

Nayara Resort, Spa and Gardens, Arenal

Contemporary resort

This luxury resort at the foot of the imposing Arenal volcano combines outdoor living with luxurious design and exquisite dining.

Hotel Belmar

Hotel Belmar, Monteverde Cloud Forest

Contemporary hotel

In a coveted location high in the famous Monteverde cloud forest, this resort has a wonderful chateau feel and is perfectly situated to explore the vast array of wildlife on its doorstep.

Arenal Springs Resort & Spa

Arenal Springs Resort & Spa

Contemporary hotel

All the rooms at this splendid spa resort have perfectly framed views of the famed Arenal volcano – that great conical peak, surrounded by verdant rainforest in Costa Rica's wild interior.

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Where to go in Arenal & Central Highlands


The Montverde cloud forest is one of the most eerie and moving habitats on earth. We recommend you visit early, when the clouds still cling to the forest canopy to get a real sense of the beauty of this changeable environment.

Palo Verde

The habitat of Palo Verde National Park changes with the seasons, spending half the year as a wetland haven and the other half as one of the best examples of tropical dry forest in Costa Rica. The dual nature of this forest is due to the annual flooding of the Tempisque Lake and river system. …


The Arenal volcano has a long-established history as the most active volcano in Costa Rica and from the 1960s began admitting a near constant stream of lava into the night sky. This spectacular night-time display ceased as recently as 2010 though when the volcano entered a dormant, resting cycle. …

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When to go to Arenal & Central Highlands

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Arenal & Central Highlands articles

Macaw, Costa Rica

Trip report: Costa Rica

Join Wexas Latin America specialist Alison Nicolle as she travels to Costa Rica, finding everything from volcanoes and rainforests to jungle-fringed beaches teeming with wildlife.

Meet our Arenal & Central Highlands experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 0207 590 0697

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 0207 590 0697 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

Learn why Wexas is the leader in creating luxury holidays. What is tailor-made travel?

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