Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica
The immeasurable peace that appears to float up from the depths of Lago Arenal (Arenal Lake) to the bluish-toned mountains that surround it extends all the way to the tiny village of Nuevo Arenal, nestled on a hilltop on the northern end of this breathtaking region, referred to as the ‘Swiss Alps’ of Central America.
Nuevo Arenal (New Arenal in Spanish) has a history unlike most Costa Rican rural villages. This young town was built after Arenal Volcano’s 1968 eruption, which buried a portion of the village of Arenal. During construction of the man-made Lake Arenal in the 1970s, the rest of this town was flooded. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) rebuilt the town where it is currently located.
Lago Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest, is named after the massive cone-shaped volcano that looms over it. It is windy and ideal for a variety of sports including windsurfing, kite boarding and sailing. On no-wind days, visitors can go kayaking, test their stand up paddle boarding skills or circle the lake on a boat tour. Sport fishing is a popular activity here, and Nuevo Arenal-resident Captain Ron’s tours are highly recommended. Tico Wind Wind and Kitesurf Center has equipment for rent and sale and offers kite and windsurfing lessons.
With an impressive array of magnificent restaurants, the town of Nuevo Arenal makes a great rest stop during your visit to this area. The town and lakeside are populated by a mixture of locals, Europeans, Americans and Canadians, many of whom own hotels and restaurants serving top quality fare.
The Gingerbread, outside of town on the road to La Fortuna, stands out as the area’s most delicious restaurant, while Moyas, in the town center, serves great pizza and has a small but mouth-watering menu. The German Bakery, also in the heart of Nuevo Arenal, is a great place to get dessert or try authentic German dishes.
Hotels in this tranquil area are spread alongside the lake and there are many options for all budgets, from rainforest bungalows to European-style chalets and bed & breakfasts such as The Lucky Bug. This cozy bed & breakfast includes an art gallery and the Caballo Negro Restaurant, a delicious mixture of German cuisine with local flavors. The Lucky Bug’s art gallery contains a collection of original works of art and souvenirs made by renowned Costa Rican artisans.
Nuevo Arenal Weather and Packing Checklist
The breezy Nuevo Arenal enjoys comfortable temperatures ranging between the upper 70s during the daytime and the lower 60s at night. The rainy season here generally goes from May to June and September to November, with the heaviest rains recorded in September and October.
Visitors should bring t-shirts, shorts, swimsuits, rash guards (for sun protection on the lake!), and rain gear. Don’t forget sunblock and aloe vera gel for any nasty sunburns resulting from a fun-filled day at the lake. Light sweaters or jackets and pants are recommended for breezy evenings.
How to get to Nuevo Arenal:
Nuevo Arenal is located down a scenic road that winds around the lake. Keep driving down the road that leads from La Fortuna to Arenal Volcano National Park and until you reach a long bridge with breathtaking views that crosses the lake. Soak in the scenery as you follow the winding road and signs that lead to Nuevo Arenal. The town of Tilarán is located a half-hour drive from Nuevo Arenal.