La Fortuna is the name of a district and a small city located in San Carlos, in the province of Alajuela, Costa Rica. “La Fortuna” is Spanish for “The Fortune”, and aptly named due its ample supply of tourist attractions and extremely fertile lands.
Originally called “El Burío”, La Fortuna was founded in the mid 1930s by settlers that came from Ciudad Quesada, Grecia (canton), Alajuela and other parts of the region. In 1968, the Arenal Volcano erupted to the west, causing extensive damage and casualties, including 82 deaths. The eruption did not reach the village of La Fortuna. This catastrophe, nonetheless, changed the geography of whole region, making it one of the most visited tourist destinations of Costa Rica.
Arenal is often cited by scientists as being in the top 10 or top 20 of the world’s most active volcanoes. La Fortuna is less than 10 km from the peak of Arenal and less than 20 km from the entrance to Arenal Volcano National Park (the entrance is west of the peak, whereas La Fortuna is east of the peak).
The Cerro Chato, also known as the Chato Volcano is a dormant volcano that first erupted 38,000 years ago and last erupted 3,500 years ago. One of its eruptions paved the way for the nearby La Fortuna Waterfall. Cerro Chato has two peaks, Chatito (little Chato) and Espina (Thorn), as well as a 1,640-ft (500-m) crater filled with green water. At an elevation of 3,740-ft (1,140-m), Cerro Chato stands much shorter than it’s neighbor Volcano Arenal, but this also makes it hike-able. Classified as a difficult hike and at times a “climb”, it is only recommended for hikers of good physical condition. The average hike lasts 5 hours, and can be very muddy when it rains. Due to certain minerals in the water, some advise no swimming, however most locals disagree and swim in it regardless.
Other than the volcanos, La Fortuna has tourist attractions such as the La Catarata de la Fortuna, a waterfall that falls from a height of 70 meters, several resorts with natural hot springs temperate enough to bathe in, other day spa services, and day-trips which involve horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hanging bridges, a “sky tram,” zip-lines, mountain biking, kayaking, stand-up paddle boards, ATV or dirt bike rentals, “butterfly farms,” the Venado Cavern tours, bungee jumping, Laguna Cedeno, El Salto Swimming Hole, and canyoning.
There are a few taxis in the town which can be called if needed, and most tourism companies provide their own means of transportation. Additionally, there are car rental locations and even ATV’s and dirt bikes if one wishes to go off-roading.
La Fortuna is served by Arenal Airport, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) east of town.
Due to being in the tropics, the climate of La Fortuna and Costa Rica in general does not vary greatly like those areas in the temperate zones. The four seasons are not all experienced in La Fortuna, which means one can expect close to 12 hours of daylight at any time of the year. The biggest changes in temperature are the effect of the wet and dry seasons. With the dry season being more subject to direct and intense sunlight, there is a resulting higher average temperature of above 25 C (77 F). The wet season, however, also usually includes higher levels of humidity which may be perceived as very warm. The annual average temperature in La Fortuna is between 20 C and 26 C (68 F to 78 F)
Medical Care and Local Business
La Fortuna has a medical clinic, but serious injuries may require a medivac. La Fortuna also houses a veterinary clinic, dentist office, a police station, gas station, 3 banks, 3 groceries, restaurants (in addition to those in the resorts), a post office, thrift shops, clothing stores, and a hardware store.
The town and surrounding province was founded by a small group of people, namely Elias Kooper, Alberto Quesada, Jose Garro, Rufino and Isolina Quesada, Juana Vargas Ricardo Quiros, Juan Ledesma, Red Porfirio, and Julio Murillo.This group and a few others were dedicated to the cultivating of the land and are largely responsible for its development.