Lake Arenal lies just west of Volcan Arenal. Measuring 85 sq. kilometers, and with a depth of 30-60 meters it is currently the largest lake in Costa Rica. The eastern edge of the lake contains a hydroelectric dam, helping produce clean energy. The dam was constructed in 1979, and initially produced about 70% of the country's electricity (currently about 17%). When the lake was expanded due to the dam, the town of Arenal was located to higher ground. The old town, along with the town of Tronadora, now lie at the bottom of the lake. Two species of fish dwell in the lake - the Machaca and Rainbow Bass.
Location: Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal is located in the Alajuela Province northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica.
Cost: $15 entrance fee per person
Time: The park is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. There are plenty of activities to fill 2 full days here.
Description: Hiking around the volcano, visitors can observe the different varieties of plants and animals that live in this tropical rain forest. About 131 species of mammals (including jaguars, monkeys, sloths and tapirs), 135 species of reptiles (including the fer-de-lance and iguanas) and 300 species of birds (including the quetzal and the toucan) live in the National Park boundaries. If you prefer not to hike, there are also many cycling and horse trails.
Lago Arenal is a popular location for water sports. Some of the more popular ones are kayaking, stand-up paddling, windsurfing, kite surfing and wakeboarding.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Things You Should Know: - There is no camping in the park, but there are several hotels outside the park boundaries and in the nearby city of La Fortuna.
- Hiking to the top of Cerro Chato is strenuous and takes about two hours. There is a beautiful lake inside the crater.
- Temperatures usually range from 70-85 degrees.
- The rainy season in Costa Rica is from May-November. Although it is cool hiking through the rain forest in the rain, most visitors come during the dry season (mid-November - April). During the rainy season, it usually is sunny during the morning, rains for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and then is nice again. Make sure you pack rain gear even if it doesn't look like it will rain.
Nearby: La Fortuna Waterfall, Baldi Hot Springs Resort, Bosque Eterno de los Ninos, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park