About Lake Arenal
It’s unbelievable that a lake this beautiful and big (25 miles, or 40.2 kilometers long) is practically unused during April through September: that’s when most days it is as smooth as a mirror. However, December to mid-March, the windsurfers flock to Arenal Lake, but only on the northwest end. It’s smooth and calm at the other end, so a few tour boats can show off our Arenal Volcano.
Photo: David Forester
Photo: David Forester
Lake Arenal is situated on the Continental Divide between the Tilaran and Guanacaste mountain ranges. Having an altitude of about 2200 feet insures perfect weather year round. The town of Nuevo Arenal, located on the East side of the lake receives approximately 65% more rain during the rainy season than we do on the West (Tilaran) side. However, during December through February, we receive more wind (ah yes!) and it can be strong. Whatever your preference, you can find the perfect weather, view, town or in el campo (the rural country).
Let’s Talk Wind
When I first visited Costa Rica from Alaska and ended up at the Lake, the wind was blowing like crazy. However, it didn’t bother me like the cold winds of Alaska. Sure, it messed up my hair, but it was warm and felt good. I had also expected a lot of biting bugs, but nary a bite because the wind kept them away.
Then my friend took me to the lake where he was going to windsurf. I didn’t know of windsurfing then…my sports were skiing, snow and water, tennis and other things. When my friend took off on his windsurf board and sailed a ½ mile in what seemed like just seconds…I was hooked. Arenal Lake changed my life.
Make Sure to Include Lake Arenal in Your Fishing Vacation
If you plan to visit the Guanacaste area (The Northern Zone) of Costa Rica, make sure your fishing vacation includes Lake Arenal. This scenic lake will surely leave you breathless as you realize that you are about the only boat on this 25 mile long lake. You can troll for fish, or anchor and use bait or live minnows (which you can catch with worms close to the grassy shoreline). Imagine an early morning or late afternoon as you quietly pole into a bay and cast toward shore with weed less lures. The locals fish from the shore with bait (a piece of store bought shrimp) or with a minnow they caught as described above. They call the minnows “sardinas” and they are between 3 and 4 inches long. You can also cast from the shore with lures, but as you get in close the weeds can sometimes cause problems. And of course, you can fly fish.
If you hook a Guapote (rainbow bass), then hang on. These are the fish of choice in the lake and boy, do they fight. You will think the fish is twice the size it turns out to be...and they are delicious. The world record is, I believe, around 13 pounds. However, your catch will run between 2 and 6 pounds. But be cautioned...I’ve seen poles broken and numerous lines snap because the power of this fish was underestimated. So if you are on a fishing trip to Costa Rica sometime after February, be sure to include Lake Arenal on your fish list. That’s when the lake has gone down a little and the fishing is fine.
Costa Rica Lake Arenal: Where it’s All Happening
Costa Rica Lake Arenal seems to be the buzz these days. Cooler than the beach areas (perfect, really), always surrounded by green – it’s a beautiful fresh water lake that nobody seems to use…except yours truly and a few of our friends…and the windsurfers, the kiters and…
The Lake is situated on the continental divide at about 2200 feet elevation. We can go to the Pacific beaches in about 1.5 hours from our house, or 3 hours to the Gulf of Mexico. The Northern Pacific beaches are where all the “big money developers” did their thing. But guess where a lot of them come to cool off and enjoy sweet, fresh lake water activities…yes, right here at Lake Arenal.
Many people, who have visited Costa Rica, remark that the Lake Arenal area was one of their favorite places: for the moderate temperatures, the activities on the Lake, and the stunning views of the volcano and exotic birds and wildlife. We think you’ll love it here, too.