What to do in the Northern Plains Top Ten
1- Arenal Volcano National Park and La Fortuna
La Fortuna is a town in the Northern Plains, home to the majestic Arenal Volcano and one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica because of its natural and geological wealth and the wide range of tourist activities. The Arenal Volcano is an active volcano although its activity has significantly decreased since 2011. However, there continue to be two very different landscapes in its structure: a cover of dense, green vegetation, and another dominated by lava and sand of the last eruptions.
2- Hot Springs of La Fortuna
The hot waters from the Arenal Volcano are rich in minerals associated with health, so it is one of the most visited sites in the country for relaxing and enjoying an extraordinary natural landscape in the rainforest. There are several tourist developments that offer hot springs, but particularly noteworthy is the River Tabacon hot springs, which have an average temperature of 37 degrees Celsius and runs freely into the river.
3- Chato Hill
Located on the southeast side of the volcano is Chato Hill which is an extinct volcano with an altitude of 1,140 m.s.n.m. Currently, in the crater you can see a greenish lagoon about 550 meters across, bordered by dense vegetation. To reach the lagoon you must walk an average of 5 hours in a narrow walk way, all worth the while to appreciate the beauty of the place. At the entrance to the main road to Chato Hill is the waterfall La Fortuna, one of the jewels of this place measuring 70 meters high and with pools for cooling off.
4- Maleku Indigenous Reserve
Near the village of Guatuso, along the Frio River is the Maleku Indigenous Reserve. Currently, the population has approximately 600 people, so you can visit some villages that preserve their culture, as in the case of El Sol, Margarita, and Tonjibe. In the area of La Fortuna there is also a small settlement that aims to show Maleku culture for tourism purposes and preserve their customs.
5- Parque Nacional Tenorio and Celeste River
The Celeste River is one of the natural wonders of Costa Rica, formed from the union of two rivers with different mineral content from the slopes of the Tenorio Volcano, this gives the waters of this river a very particular blue color. The river is protected by the Tenorio National Park, which offers a trail of 7 kilometers surrounding the area, showing the main geological attractions, such as Teñideros, hot springs, the intense sky-blue waterfall, hot springs and fumaroles, between others.
6- Arenal Lagoon
A few kilometers from the center of La Fortuna is the country's largest artificial lake. Lake Arenal is an anchored dam between forests and mountains that is 87.8 square kilometers, and at an elevation of 546 meters above sea level, this lagoon is ideal for boat tours, kayaking, fishing tourism and water skiing; windsurfing and SUP, among others.
7- Wild Refuge Black Reed
The Black Reed Wildlife Refuge is located north of Costa Rica adjacent to the border of Nicaragua. There is a wetland of about 10,171 hectares surrounded by its extensive biodiversity, especially for species migrating from January to March, which require areas like this to make their migrating tour successfully. It is an ideal site for bird watching; so many visitors choose to take boat trips on the waters of the Frio River to reach Black Reed. The village of Black Reed is small but offers all a tourist needs to explore the area.
8- Bajos del Toro Amarillo Waterfalls
The area of Bajos del Toro, located at 1,442 meters above sea level, conceals natural treasures, among them Toro Amarillo and Agrio River Waterfalls. The biggest of all are the Toro Amarillo Waterfalls, measuring 90 meters high, and is formed from the union of three rivers: Toro Amarillo River, Desagüe River and Agrio River (named for its lemony taste), all of which have water with high mineral content that makes the landscape a fairy tale scene. Its landscape is unique because it has a particular blend of rivers, waterfalls, hydroelectric projects, natural reserves, and agricultural landscapes.
9- Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí and Sarapiquí River
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui is a typical riverbank community, surrounded by forests and agricultural plantations, featuring rural architecture and numerous hammock bridges. Sarapiqui River tours allow you to watch wildlife from the dock. This area also allows you to enjoy whitewater rafting. The Sarapiqui River is 84 kilometers long and connects with the San Juan River (bordering Nicaragua), Barra del Colorado and Tortuguero. Near the town of Sarapiqui you can find the Vara Blanca and Cinchona communities, which offer the traveler very beautiful rural landscapes combined with dense vegetation. Imposed within its lush forest are a series of beautiful waterfalls culminating with the La Paz Waterfall.
10- Cote o Coter Lagoon
Following the road bordering Lake Arenal one can locate along the way the little green lagoon Cote or Coter, standing at approximately 680 meters above sea level. Although the distance appears short, it has a diameter of 1 kilometer and its geological features has made several Costa Rican scientists believe that could be a crater of an extinct volcano. Currently, it is has a recreational and tourist use, offering boat trips and artisanal fishing.