Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
Life at Lake Arenal

The several hundred "ex-pat" residents living around Lake Arenal in the province of Guanacaste live an idyllic life. The weather is pleasant throughout the year, the setting is beautiful and peaceful, and there is almost no crime. Most of the Costa Rican families of this area have spent their entire lives here. They live, except for a few, on widely dispursed individual properties, not in gated communities. Within the ex-pat community, there is a monthly women's luncheon group which works together on charitable projects for the area, an environmental organization, a Wednesday afternoon social at one of the local hotels, and other planned social and cultural activities.

The weather at Arenal is generally mildly warm, usually the low 70's at night and low to mid-80's during the day. This writer has seen a low of 60 and a high of 91. Air conditioners are therefore rare, though most homes have several ceiling fans. In contrast to the hot "dry" season - November through March - characteristic of the lowlands and beaches, Lake Arenal has instead its windy season from mid- December until mid-February , which makes it one of the top windsurfing destinations in the world. There is some rain during these months as well. Then, beginning in mid-April, like the lowlands, Arenal experiences the "green" season through October, when there are frequent short afternoon rains, often with thunderstorms. In other words, the weather, within the parameters noted above, is changeable, and therefore interesting.

At the famously active Arenal Volcano, a few miles past the eastern end of the 25-mile-long man-made lake, is a tourist mecca with many hotels in and near the town of La Fortuna. There is little population around the rest of the lake and no towns until, coming westward from La Fortuna, you encounter Nuevo Arenal on the north side. After that are the villages of Aguacate and Las Piedras, and, on the south side, San Luis and Tronadora. About four miles south of the lake is the "county seat" called Tilarán where you will find restaurants, grocery and hardware stores, doctors and dentists, and several banks blessed with ATM machines. Tilarán, a planned community laid out on a hilltop in 1912, is notable for its broad streets, cleanliness, and friendly residents. From there, it takes less than a half-hour to descend to the larger lowland town of Cañas on the Interamerican Highway and, from there, less 45 minutes to the very convenient Liberia International Airport.

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