Lake Arenal

Lake Arenal, Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

If you weren´t impressed by - or couldn´t see - the volcano, take a ride around Lake Arenal, Costa Rica´s largest lake at 33km/20miles long. The view of the countryside is wonderful.

Tectonic upheavals created Lake Arenal about three million years ago and it provided fresh fish for ancient Guatusu inhabitants of its shore. In 1973 an electrical energy dam raised the lake level and drowned the old villages of Arenal and Tronadora. Arenal rebuilt on higher grounds as Nuevo Arenal and lost part of the archeological evidence of pre-historic habitation, including a native burial ground. The eastern edge of the lake has an incredible view of the Volcano, although that side no longer features the lava flow.

As you drive west you pass through dairy farms, secondary forests and the occasional habitation. The lake´s water is warm and fine for swimming but the most popular sports around are sailing, windsurfing and fishing for Guapote (bass), who put up fierce fight. Due to the lake´s alignment and climate, it´s famous for warm winds that whip across its western end -at 60 or more knots, especially from December to February.

Outside of Tilarán you´ll come to huge white windmills rotating with a steady hum on the hills above the lake. From Arenal Observatory Lodge, the best lake views are from La Casona and Standard Rooms where you have stunning lake views.