Many travelers that are staying in Guanacaste during their entire trip, often ask about visiting Arenal in a day. Some are discouraged when told how far the drive is, but don't really understand what the drive offers. Arenal's climate is very different to Guanacaste and evidence is seen along the way as the environment transforms from a dry forest to a lush green rain forest. This is also great because as you travel the amount of wildlife you see increases big time. From just ctenosaurs, iguanas and cara cara's to sloths, deer, coati's and toucans.
The flora is also a huge change. All will be drier and brown then begins to change to a more colorful green while you drive to higher elevation and notice all the vegetation shifting completely to one side due to the constant wind effect. As you drive over the Guanacaste mountain range and into Tilaran mountain range you will pass close to the windmill fields and link into the main road that surround Costa Rica's largest lake, Lake Arenal. In the distance you will observe Arenal Volcano. By the time you reach this intersection you've been on the road for about 2.5 hours and you've seen 5 volcanoes, 5 towns, learned about various fruit bearing trees that grow all around, animals, agriculture such as sugar cane, rice, grass, cattle, mangos, tilapia, teak wood and macadamia. Now that you're on the road surrounding the lake you will see more lush vegetation and may encounter more wildlife such as coati's, deer, toucans or sloths.
A local brewery is also along the way if you are into craft beer. A macadamia farm offers a small coffee shop where you can stop for a quick break and snack on delicious desserts made with local macadamia. A German Bakery is also an available stop to get goodies for the road. Costa Rica's largest kapoc tree is another amazing stop enroute to Arenal.
Once arriving at Arenal the main town is La Fortuna. Here you can choose from a vast array of tours. The hike are recommended to experience the rain forest and seek animals.
Your day would begin around 7am and end around 10 or 11pm. We have yet to find a traveler that did not love doing a one day trip to Arenal.