Covering almost 86 square kilometers and reaching depths of up to 200 feet (60 meters), Lake Arenal takes the title of Costa Rica’s biggest lake, and it’s also one of its most picturesque natural assets, a shimmering expanse of blue water stretching west of the mighty Arenal Volcano. Once a small crater lagoon lying within the boundaries of the Arenal Volcano National Park, Lake Arenal was expanded in 1979 and now serves as a hydroelectric dam providing up to 12 percent of Costa Rica’s electricity.
The vast lake is also a popular recreational ground with steady winds offering the ideal environment for windsurfing, sailboarding and sailing, and an abundance of rainbow bass and machaca fish making it a top choice for fishing. Visitors can also cruise the lake by boat or kayak; spot hummingbirds, quetzal, tapir and jaguar in the Arenal Volcano National Park; or enjoy hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking through the lakeside rainforest.
Lake Arenal is located to the west of the Arenal Volcano National Park, about 10 miles (17 km) from La Fortuna and 55 miles (90 km) northwest of San José.