Lake Arenal is the largest lake in Costa Rica. Considerably enlarged in 1979 as part of a hydroelectric dam project, it covers 33 square miles and can be found straddling the border of two Costa Rican provinces. These provinces are Guanacaste and Alajuela.
Lake Arenal isn’t only renowned for its size and the fact that its eastern side is home to a major electricity production facility. The relatively large body of water has been making waves on the tourist front. The water and the surrounding hills are ideal for a number of recreational activities. Among the most popular pursuits are fishing for rainbow bass, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching, and mountain biking. Many Lake Arenal visitors also come to do some windsurfing or sailboarding. The winds are consistent on the lake, especially from November to April, and they can top 60 knots on occasion.
No discussion about Lake Arenal would be complete without mentioning the Arenal Volcano. This active volcano rises up on the lake’s eastern side and adds considerable depth to the Lake Arenal sightseeing opportunities. Other highlights in the area include the surrounding Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area and the nearby Monteverde Cloud Forest. Considering all of this, it is a wonder that the area in general didn’t really start to figure on the tourist map until relatively recent times.
A number of hotels have sprung up in the Lake Arenal area to meet the growing tourist needs. Many come in the form of alluring lodges, and some lie along the scenic shores of Lake Arenal. Prospective visitors might also make note of the fact that Tilaran, El Castillo and Nuevo Arenal are among the main Lake Arenal towns. La Fortuna, which is the main gateway for the Arenal Volcano National Park, also calls the area home and can make for a good base.