Encantada Arenal & Encantada Guest House

Frequently Asked Questions & Lots of Great Info.

YES  Costa Rica is currently requiring insurance coverage for any COVID-19 illness or quarantine. You must buy a policy that will cover you for the duration of your stay and fill out the health certificate online. For example, if you will be visiting the country for two weeks, the insurance you buy must cover you for two weeks. Immigration has suspended the typical 90-day tourist visas and your entry Visa will match the exact number of days, for which you are insured. Please contact me for more info and I do recommend www.trawickinternational.com  as an inexpensive and reputable company. 

Also Please Note that as of January 26th, 2021, The USA is requiring a Negative COVID test for all persons arriving in the US, on any international flight. This applies to US citizens as well as all foreigners. We can help you find a nearby lab to get the testing done. Be sure to factor in the extra expense for this requirement into your travel plans. The Costa Rica government is responding by trying to get the costs down to under $80 per test, but currently, tests cost between $130 to $180. Note: Covid Testing for Travel may not be included in your travel policy. ASK before you buy!

As for more comprehensive Travelers Insurance...Considering current events, we would strongly suggest it and it is ALWAYS better to be covered for unforeseen events such as canceled flights, lost luggage, or an accident that requires medical attention (We have excellent hospitals and doctors here.) Here are two websites that offer and compare various plans: https://www.squaremouth.com or  www.bupaglobal.com
Don't forget to check to see if these companies already have the required Costa Rica Covid-19 rider included.

Currently due to COVID-19, we are offering our Guests a Flexible Stay Credit or a Fully Refundable reservation policy... Normally our policy is: a 50% refund after booking and No refunds if reservation is cancelled within 30 days of arrival.

No. The Free tour has been discontinued

Our Guest Villa has two queen bedrooms and it measures 80 square meters or just under 900 square feet. Guest rooms in the BnB are very spacious and have vaulted ceilings.

Yes, the Guesthouse has its own private swimming pool with a raised platform sundeck where you will enjoy lovely views of the Lake and the surrounding countryside as well as a hot tub spa on the upper Garden Terrace. The Halfmoon pool and Starlight Jacuzzi are reserved for the private use of BnB guests only.

No, it is not. When you are staying in our BnB, you are taken care of at the same level as any upscale hotel or bed and breakfast. We provide daily breakfast, daily cleaning, and concierge services to help you explore and enjoy our local area and its many activities. If you are looking for a more budget-oriented or self-catering Vacation Rental option, please check out our unique and very popular Encantada Guesthouse.

Our views are Spectacular. Both the BnB and the Guesthouse have wonderful views of Lake Arenal, the Arenal volcano and the Rainforest jungle below…We often have birds, monkeys or toucans hanging out in the trees nearby!

Generally, No. The villa has a sliding glass door and both properties have fully screened doors and windows throughout. We have designed our accommodations to allow our wonderful mountain breezes to flow through, even with the doors closed. But hey…It is a jungle out there, so you might occasionally encounter a curious critter like a gecko or a mosquito. Note: We have family pets on site, and they are never allowed to enter the Villa or guest rooms.

Yes, both our BnB rooms and the Villa have A/C. However, due to our mountain elevation we enjoy delightfully cool breezes and most of our guests are quite comfortable using the special Jalousie window open-air design, and ceiling fans. If you choose to use the A/C, do keep in mind that electricity is very expensive here and please be sure to close all of the windows while in use and please turn it off when you leave for the day.

If you are staying in the Guesthouse, Yes!  It has a fully equipped kitchen and many extras, like oil, sugar, coffee, and spices to make it easier to make money-saving meals during your stay. The BnB does not offer self-catering. However, Personal Chef options, are available.

Yes, and plenty of it. We use an on-demand heating system which delivers hot water whenever you need it

Yes, there is Wi-Fi in both the B&B and the Guesthouse. The villa has a flat screen HDTV, and a DVD player so guests can watch any of over 200 classic movies. We do not offer cable television. Television is not offered in the BnB.

Guesthouse Check-in time is 3:00 p.m. and Check-out time is 10:00 am. BnB guests may Check-in at 2:00 pm and Checkout at 11:00 am. However, if we do not have other guests coming in on the same day you are checking out, then we are happy to extend those times to you at no charge. Feel free to check with us ahead of time and, of course, we are happy to hold your bags for you when needed as well. Any unauthorized late check-outs will incur a $35 per hour late fee.

No. We hold a strict “No outside guests” policy.

No, and yes. We are not able to invite guests to bring pets, but we do have two very friendly dogs and a few cats that can provide pet therapy to our guests who are missing their own furry friends back home. If you are not a fan of dogs or cats, they are perfectly happy to leave you in peace. Pets are never allowed in the Guesthouse or BnB rooms.

We are fortunate in that the charming village of El Castillo, with its many restaurants, small markets, and tourism activities is located within walking distance.  La Fortuna is the closest town of any size and where guests will find, large grocery stores, gasoline, and shopping.

We have over 60 varieties of birds, Raccoons, Coati Mundi, Anteaters, and many unseen critters that live in the rain forest below.

As the toucan flies, it’s about 90 miles or a 3.5 hour drive time from the Guanacaste beaches as well as either of the international airports in San Jose or Liberia. From the Quepos area the drive is about 6 hours.

Yes. Almost all our guests, and for that matter most visitors to the Arenal area, prefer to have their own vehicle. We strongly suggest getting a 4x4 SUV, not for traction but for road clearance. Some of Costa Rica’s roads are more than a bit rustic, including our own little cow path to paradise! Having a car allows for great flexibility in exploring the countryside and getting to venues that are 10 to 30 minutes away.

No, but taxis are quite expensive from La Fortuna and public buses only run to El Castillo twice a day. Car rentals are very reasonable here, and the driving is easy. While most cars have a manual transmission, Automatics are available upon special request.

We have a large array of restaurants nearby. The closest one, Amigos, is only a two-minute drive away. Most restaurants serve local cuisine as well as some international fare and wood fired pizza, Howlers Bar & Grill is our version of a Sports Bar, with TV, Pizza, Burgers, Hot Dogs, Beer etc. There are many more restaurants in La Fortuna. We have our favorites and can make recommendations.

Yes, we have an expert Masseuse nearby and on-site Spa services can be arranged by appointment. Prices vary per treatment.

Yes, we have a private trail to a little hidden gem of a stream. It is seasonal so may not always be flowing, but the hike through the rain forest is lovely. The trail begins just past the Spa Pavilion. The trail has 105 steps and handrails and is great for early morning walks when the animals and birds are most active. Be sure to wear some Mosquito Spray! And for those interested in experiencing the awe of the jungle after dark, A guided 1-2-hour night hike is available by appointment. Michael (your guide) does this night hike on his personal time, for tips, so please be generous if you enjoy the hike. Ponchos and head lamps are provided. We recommend wearing long pants at night and plenty of bug spray whenever you are in the Jungle, especially if you are outside at dusk or dawn. Mosquitos love tasty new blood.

We are located near the quaint village of El Castillo de La Fortuna, in the picturesque Northern Zone of Costa Rica. We enjoy peace, tranquility, and being surround by nature, all the while living in the majestic shadow of the simmering Arenal volcano, which is still considered active, but in slumber. There are many tantalizing restaurants and small markets in the village and our closest “commercial” center is the tourist town of La Fortuna, about 25 minutes away.

There are SO many to choose from!
Our area is famous for its amazing Hot Springs, Canopy tours, adventure activities, beautiful hikes, and offshore lake fishing.  
Here are just a few of our local Day Trip offerings:
Class 2-3 or 4-5 White Water rafting, Hot Springs, Waterfall repelling, Zip lining, Canyoning, Horseback riding, Hanging bridges hikes, Nature walks, Bird watching, Arenal National Park tours and the 1968 Lava Flow hike. There are Bike rentals, Water sports, Coffee & Chocolate plantations tours, Sloth tours, Animal Rescue centers and more. Depending on the duration of your visit, we can help you make the most of your time here, make recommendations for the best tours and even book the reservations for you.

Costa Rica has many microclimates, but basically there are two seasons, Green, or “rainy” season and Summer, or “dry” season.  Green season begins in April and can last through November. In our area, that means beautiful warm sunny days and intermittent rain or thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings.
In turn, our “summer season” usually occurs between December and March, it can be cool and rainy in Arenal. The volcano creates a microclimate around us that is almost opposite of the Central Valley area. We suggest bringing some long pants and a light jacket just in case we hit a “cold snap” somewhere around 65*.
Secret Tip: September & October are spectacular months to visit Arenal. This is a well-kept secret, and this is typically our slowest time of year. There are typically very few tourists once school goes back into session, so you won’t encounter a lot of crowds until the high season kicks off in the latter half of November.

Bottom line is…Costa Rica weather is humid and tropical, so bring plenty of sunscreen and an umbrella or poncho and you are good to go!

If you do, that is great, but it is not at all necessary. Many locals, known as Ticos, know at least some English and most of the staff in larger restaurants and on the adventure tours, are required to be semi-fluent in English. Some may speak other languages as well.


Yes, and Yes.
The tap water in Costa Rica is as clean as most of the U.S. and Europe and typically has no after taste. However, we do suggest that you drink bottled water when visiting the beach areas as there is some evidence of arsenic contamination in the ground water there.

At Encantada, you can safely drink right from the tap. We have a private water supply that comes from the purest source, a natural artesian rain forest spring. Our swimming pools and Starlight Jacuzzi are naturally spring fed and a gentle chlorine balance adds an extra layer of protection. Vegetables and fruits are safe to eat even unpeeled, after a normal rinse. You can eat almost anything here and not worry about getting sick from it.

The local currency is called the “Colon”.  Expect colorful water-resistant bills and a pocket full of heavy coins. (Hint: Bring a coin purse.)
U.S. dollars are widely accepted here, but change is often given in Colones.
In La Fortuna, some ATM’s dispense both dollars and colones, so it is not necessary to change money at the airport or when you arrive. Visa credit cards are widely accepted as well. Just make sure to let your bank know that you will be using the card in Costa Rica.
We use a simple benchmark for exchange and find that a 2 to1 ratio works well for a quick conversion, ie: 1000 colones roughly equals $2.00 dollars. 5000 colones equals roughly $10.00 etc. If you bring Dollars, be sure that all the bills are in good condition with no ink marks or torn edges. Do bring plenty of “ones” for tips etc. and please note that any bills larger than a $20.00, are usually difficult for the locals to break.

There are two international airports in Costa Rica, and Encantada Arenal is located approximately the same distance from either of them, about a 3.5 hour drive. They are: San Jose (SJO) or Juan Santamaria International and Liberia (LIR) or Daniel Oduber Quiros International.

The Liberia airport serves the Guanacaste, or North Pacific beach area of Costa Rica. If you are going to that area first, then LIR is the most convenient airport for you, but do note that prices for flying into Liberia are typically much higher than flying into San Jose.

You can rent a vehicle, hire a car and driver, take an airport shuttle van (See our services page) or you can also hire an Uber. If you do not want to rent a car and are feeling adventurous, you can make your way over to the bus station in downtown San Jose  or Liberia and take one of the Express Buses to La Fortuna. Once there, you may want to consider just getting a car for the days you are in the Arenal area. A car gives you much greater flexibility and may be your cheapest option if you are traveling around the country or visiting several places.

Driving in Costa Rica in daylight is quite easy, but we do suggest that you do not drive any long distances after dark. The roads can be a bit rustic (potholes galore) and visibility can be reduced if it is raining. It is not uncommon for people and animals to wander the roads at night. It would be fine to drive for a short trip like from Encantada to La Fortuna and back, but if your flight arrives after 2:00 pm, and we are your first destination, then you should plan to stay near the airport for your first night.

There are very few marked streets outside of San Jose, so having a GPS or cell phone with a data plan, is a great advantage. Google Maps and Waze are the apps most used for navigating Costa Rica. A GPS unit can be included with your car rental. Hint: If you are coming in from Liberia…Do Not follow the routes that are shown for coming via the south side of Lake Arenal, it is shorter…But there is no bridge. Follow route 142.

No, you do not need to have one, but we strongly suggest, a 4x4 SUV. Not only will you have easier access to more places should you want to get off of the beaten track, but these vehicles generally have much higher clearance and this is very important when driving on roads with potholes and stones. If you decide to choose a sedan, you will be fine, but there are areas where you might bottom out and you will have to take it slow. A sedan would definitely make it up the cow path, that we lovingly call our road, but we don’t recommend it.


Great question, and here is where you can save some serious money especially when using one of our approved rental agencies like Adobe.
Most agencies here, will urge you to take out an all-inclusive policy, meaning it’s expensive.

Our best advice is to do this:

First check with your credit card company about their international car rental coverage policy and be specific in telling them that you will be driving in Costa Rica. Many credit cards will cover the basic collision insurance, but some may not, so ask. If they do, then you will only have to purchase the Mandatory Liability policy which should be included in your rental quote by the agency. Most agencies will also “hold” a damage deposit on the card until it is returned. So be sure your limit allows for that, if you are planning to use the same card for other expenses.

It is common that some companies tack on hidden fees and extra insurance, after they have given you a quote. Always clarify that the bottom line on your quote, is what you will pay at the counter or you might get a nasty surprise when you go to pick up your car. We highly recommend Adobe, because they never do this, and Adobe offers our guests a special discount! See our services page for easy booking.

No, you do not, a valid license from your home country is good for up to 90 days.

If you are picking up at either airport upon your arrival, you can just go meet their shuttle van, or if you are arriving late and staying near the airport for the night, Adobe will actually bring the car to your hotel, in the morning! Unlike many other agencies, Adobe has offices located throughout the country, so if you run into an issue, they are usually nearby to help. The closest office to us is in La Fortuna.

Email: corpgte@adobecar.com, our personal contact is Orlando Araya and if you tell him you are staying with us at Encantada Guesthouse or Encantada Arenal, (Even if you are not) he will give you a special discounted rate. (See our service page for an easy widget link)

No, you do not.
First and most importantly, you must have a valid passport to enter Costa Rica. Your passport must not have an expiration date of less than 6 months or there is a good chance you will be denied entry. We have actually had this happen with one of our own guests. Once you have passed through customs, they will have stamped your passport and from then on you are only required to carry a copy of your passport’s photo page and the date of entry stamp.  After that, is better to just leave your passport and excess cash in your Villa or Guestroom safe.

Helpful Hint: Take a photo of the main page and entry stamp to keep on your phone, as well as having a paper photo copy, for your wallet.

We will just cover the basics here, please ask about anything else.
I tell people to pack light. We are in the tropics, and even our finest restaurants offer a casual elegance, so there is no need to dress up or wear fancy jewelry.
The most important thing may be what footwear to bring!
We always suggest bringing at least three pair of shoes:
Flip flops for the beach, a sports sandal that can get wet, and a closed shoe that is light weight, like Keens, a cloth sneaker or light hiking shoe. (Leather hiking shoes WILL NOT dry if you get them wet!) The lighter, stronger and more water resistant the better and for any activity.

As for Clothing:
Bring light quick dry, cotton or natural fabric clothes, and light rain gear. Having at least one long sleeve shirt and pant will go a long way to guard against mosquito bites in the evenings.
Obvious stuff like sun block and bug spray, it’s much cheaper if you bring it, from home.
Bring any needed medications, and rest assured that we do also have very good medical care here if you need it.

A small pocket flashlight can be very useful, as power outages are not uncommon here.
Electronic readers or iPads are great to have. We do have Wi-Fi in the rooms and common areas but note because we live in the Jungle, it may not be fast enough for personal video streaming on your device.

No, Currently Costa Rica does not require any shots or Covid-19 Vaccinations to visit the country.

If you’d like to bring alcohol, we suggest stopping in at the Duty Free shops in the airport.  In the San Jose airport, you can pick it up on your way to baggage claim, right after passport control, which is quite convenient. But if you forget, there are many other places to make a purchase at your leisure.

Fun Fact: If you are feeling brave…The local fire water here is called “Guaro”, it is an inexpensive corn liquor, made in Costa Rica. But be warned that it packs a wallop of a hang-over the next day! The best wines to look for will be from Chili and Argentina.