Arenal Volcano Overview

At 5,437 feet, the Arenal Volcano looms large and ominous over the pastured green hillsides that surround its base. Although currently in a resting phase, Arenal remained the country’s most active volcano for the past 43 years. Its storied history is charged with eruptions – both major and minor – that have intimately affected the region and the people who live here.

Formed some 7,000 years ago from the adjacent (and now extinct) Chato Volcano, Arenal’s most recent eruptive period began in 1968 with an explosion that buried three small villages and left 87 people dead. Up until July 2010, the eruptions had been constant, though much less severe—there were effusions of smoke and lava on an almost daily basis.

Since 2010, however, the volcano’s seismicity, explosions and lava flows have decreased significantly. It is, scientists assure us, still alive; it’s just sleeping. At present, visitors will be unable to see lava flowing down its sides or find plumes of ash rising from its top. Still, there is much to see and do here – including rainforest hikes, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and more – that visitors will undoubtedly enjoy.