Lake Arenal
Lake Arenal is an artificial lake in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

, located in the northern highlands of the country. It was enlarged to its present size as a part of a 1979 hydroelectric project by the Costa Rican government to provide electricity to the country.


Lake Arenal is situated in the northern highlands of Costa Rica, in the provinces of Guanacaste
Guanacaste Province
Guanacaste is a province of Costa Rica located in the northwestern part of the country, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. To the north it borders Nicaragua. To the east is the Alajuela Province, and to the southeast is the Puntarenas Province. It is the most sparsely populated of all the...

 and Alajuela
Alajuela Province
Alajuela is a province of Costa Rica. It is located in the north-central part of the country, bordering Nicaragua to the north, and clockwise the provinces Heredia, San José, Puntarenas and Guanacaste...

. It is located in the Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area
Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area
Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area is an administrative area which is managed by SINAC for the purposes of conservation in the central part of Costa Rica, near the Arenal Volcano and covering the Cordillera de Tilarán...

, and is close to the Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano, in Spanish , is an active andesitic stratovolcano in north-western Costa Rica around 90 km northwest of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna....

 and Monteverde
Monteverde, Costa Rica is a small town in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Located in the Cordillera de Tilarán, roughly a four hour drive from the Central Valley of Costa Rica, Monteverde is considered a major ecotourism destination in Costa Rica...

 cloud forest
Cloud forest
A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical evergreen montane moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and...


The lake is approximately 30 km long and almost 5 km at its widest point, making it the largest lake in Costa Rica at 85 sqkm. Its depth varies between 30 and 60 meters (100–200 feet) depending on the season.

The town of Arenal was relocated to higher ground when the lake was expanded in 1979. The old towns of Arenal and Tonadora now lie abandoned at the bottom of the lake, with the new town of Arenal existing to the northeast on the lake.


Lake Arenal was tripled in size with the construction of the Arenal dam in 1979, which exists at the eastern end of the lake. This hydroelectric project is hugely important to Costa Rica, generating 70% of the country's electricity, and was also a driving force behind Costa Rica's green energy policy.


There are primarily two species of fish in Lake Arenal (el lago Arenal), the machaca fish (not to be confused with machaca
Machaca is a dish prepared originally most commonly from dried, spiced beef or pork, then rehydrated and pounded to make it tender. The reconstituted meat would then be used to prepare any number of dishes...

 food) and bass. Notable birds found in the area include the hummingbird, woodpecker, kingfisher
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australia...

, and toucan, whose populations make the lake a popular destination for bird watchers. The rainforest ecosystem that encompasses Lake Arenal is hugely biodiverse, composed of over 2000 species of plants, 120 mammals, and 300 birds, and includes the jaguar, tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

, and quetzal
Quetzals are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family . They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico...



From November through April the strong, dependable winds attract windsurfers to its western end. Many consider Lake Arenal one of the world's foremost windsurfing area. Wakeboarding is gaining popularity in Costa Rica, with Lake Arenal being the center of this activity. Fishing and kayaking are also popular recreational activities on this lake.


The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.