If you’re planning on driving to Arenal from Guanacaste, we’ll show you what it’s like in this post. We’ve driven this exact route quite a few times and it is one of our favorite drives in the country with beautiful views and fresh weather.
You can watch our video below or read on to find out if you need a 4X4, see what the road is like and why it’s such a beautiful drive!
Driving to Arenal from Guanacaste
Our video from our drive from Playas del Coco to Arenal. We stopped a few times to take shots of the dam, lake and road.
This route takes roughly 3 hours and goes through Canas, Tilaran and around Lake Arenal.
The drive to Arenal Volcano in the Alajuela province from Guanacaste is through the Inter-Americana highway which takes around 3 hours. The scenery is one of the most beautiful with some of the most green landscapes I have ever seen!
Our departure point was Playas del Coco which is an easy 35 minute drive to Liberia. From the main cross section/traffic light in Liberia you turn onto the Inter-America highway.
After driving on the Inter-American highway for about 1 hour, you’ll turn left to get to Tilaran and Canas. There is a small sign for this turn so keep an eye out especially since there is a ton of construction going on so you may miss it.
We stopped a few times so I could take some pictures and to stretch our legs in the beautiful green landscapes. We’ve driven this route during both dry and rainy season and hands down, rainy season is much prettier to see.
I absolutely love driving through the countryside, it’s such a fun way to see the sights and it gives you more freedom to enjoy more of what the country has to offer.
After about an hour or so, you start driving around Lake Arenal which is the largest lake in the country. There are many signs for Lake Arenal/Nuevo Arenal so watch out for those if you’re not using a GPS. Restaurants and hotels are scattered along the highway that offer lovely views of the lake and near the hydroelectric plant, people can take boat rides, kayak and canoe.
This area is called Nuevo Arenal past the town of Tilaran and it is so pretty. The dirt against the lake banks look like an brown-red clay which contrasts incredibly with the blue waters and green vegetation.
Eventually after all the curves and turns, the volcano finally appears and you’ll start noticing signs for resorts like the Springs and Nayara. The next big town you’ll come across is La Fortuna which is where most people stay or go to eat when visiting Arenal Volcano. It’s a pretty large local town that you can find nearly everything with plenty of banks, restaurants, hotels and the bus stop.
You will also pass the Arenal Volcano National Park entrance on your right a little after you pass Tabacon.
If you ever get a chance to go driving to Arenal from Guanacaste, definitely do it. It’s not that long and during rainy season, it is just absolutely beautiful!
Tips for Driving to Arenal from Guanacaste
- If you get carsick, bring anti-nausea medicine. The road gets quite curvy. Be very careful if it’s raining!
- It’s not advised to drive this route late at night, especially if you aren’t familiar or have a GPS or if it’s raining because of the curvy roads and lack of good signage.
- If you don’t rent a GPS, use Waze, a GPS app. Download it on your phone and you can use it if you get a pre-paid sim card or have data.
- The road is nicely paved so you won’t need a 4X4 (Read our driving in Costa Rica tips.)
- You’ll pass through several towns so don’t worry about getting hungry, you’ll see sodas and places to eat all along the road.
Psst… if you are looking to rent a car in Costa Rica, we have a special discount for our readers!
Looking for some activities? Find out what are the top things to do in La Fortuna/Arenal!