Lake Arenal is situated in the northern highlands of Costa Rica, at elevation about 2,000 ft ( 600 meters), is country’s biggest and the most spectacular lake. With the magnificent Arenal Volcano to the east, mystical Tenorio Volcano to the west and rolling hills, pastures and forested slopes all around the deep blue lake, the scenery is truly breath taking. Add to that a number of activities that include world-class windsurfing and sailboarding, fishing, kayaking, bird watching, mountain biking, hiking and more, this area has it all in term of a spectacular destination.
For decades Arenal region has been drawing eco-minded travelers and adventurers in search of opportunities in wildlife watching, jungle hiking, water sports or similar. However, situation has been changing recently as area becomes more recognized, attracting a large number of expatriates from all around the world, interested in making their permanent homes here. Arenal area is dominated by the 85 km2 (33-square-mile) Lake Arenal. Also, looming above the landscape at the east end of the lake is 1,670 meter high (5,500-foot) Volcan Arenal, a cone-shaped volcano that is active but not dangerous, same as 1,920 meter high (6,300-foot) Volcan Tenorio at the west end. A side benefit from the volcanic activity is presence of thermal hot springs abound the area. The mineral-rich waters, naturally heated to upwards of 38° C (100 F), are believed to have medicinal properties in regards to arthritis, skin issues and other ailments.
While development in this area has recently increased, it is far from overdeveloped or overrun. The character of the area remains peaceful and quiet, the pace of life slow and friendly. And all the factors that make Arenal so popular with visitors and long-term residents alike remain in place. With all the natural beauty dominated by the lake, often covered in clouds, this place feels sort of mystical.
Concerning climate, Arenal area is influenced by its altitude, same as nearly constant cooling trade winds this area is blessed with. It does get its share of hot days, but for the most part the weather year-round in the area can be described as “spring-like.” Comfortable daytime temperatures reaching 25-28 °C (in the 80s) … cooling off at night. Most people here do not use air conditioning. Instead they keep their windows open, using natural cross-ventilation of cooling breezes. Arenal area clearly is a very interesting alternative to the scorching hot beach locations.
The great weather means a lot of living and entertaining takes place outdoors – in tropically-landscaped gardens, terraces, or back porches. Expats here eat meals outside, enjoy that first cup of coffee in the morning overlooking the lake, and watch sunset over a glass of wine. The organic food orientation has also been very strong lately.
There can be heavy rains here at times. This is the tropics. But most expats welcome the water because it nourishes the vegetation and really brings out the different shades of green in all the trees and other plants.
The centerpiece of the Arenal region is the lake. Gently sloping green hills, dotted with farms and homes, cascade down to the deep blue water. The land alternates between field, forest, and village. The region is still quite rural, with plenty of wild areas and green space, including a large national parks surrounding both volcanos, Arenal and Tenorio on each side.
The lake is totally pristine and beautiful. The shoreline is mostly undeveloped. In fact, regulations severely restrict any building or development on the water’s edge. As a result you get unspoiled views and no shoreside condo buildings, or busy resorts. And that’s not going to change any time soon, and not only because of the rules. Most developers understand that a big part of the appeal of the area are the views, and tend keeping it that way..
The Arenal valley created by the tectonic shifts some 2-3 million years ago, was filled with rain water, resulting in a small lagoon that acted as the initial area for the lake. This was the state of Lake Arenal until 1979, when the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity enlarged the river valley and built a dam on its eastern end. The lake of today is Costa Rica’s largest land locked fresh water body, depth varies from 30 to 60 meters (100-200 ft). The unobtrusive hydroelectric plant at the east end used to provide most of Costa Rica’s electricity. It’s been joined by other forms of renewable energy such as large number of wind mills located at hill tops surrounding western side of the lake.
The lake offers many year-round activities, such as windsurfing, kite surfing, wake boarding, fishing, boating or kayaking. Lake Arenal enjoyes a world-class reputation among windsurfers and sailboarders as it receives a steady supply of strong and dependable wind. The fishing is superb as well. Rainbow bass ( guapote ) are specially prolific in the lake’s waters. Their tasty white meat and feisty nature make them a challenge – and a delight – to catch.
The area surrounding the lake is abundant with activity as well. There is great hiking and mountain biking, horseback riding and bird watching. Birds that can be spotted in the area include hummingbirds and woodpeckers, kingfishers, toucans, aricari and more.
We at Arenal Guru Real Estate take pride in being the leading Lake Arenal Real Estate source with over 150 properties and homes for sale and rent, lake-wide and beyond.