Lake Arenal in Costa Rica

Beautiful lake surrounded by tropical forests

Lake Arenal is the largest body of fresh water in Costa Rica. Its beauty is undeniable, since its large dimensions provide an environment almost like that of a beach.

View from Linda Vista

Additionally, it is surrounded by extensive mountains, mostly covered by dense tropical forests.

Lake Arenal is an artificial reservoir located in Costa Rica formed after the construction of a dam in 1979 taking advantage of the existence of a small lake of the same name.

It is located near the Arenal volcano, Tenorio Volcano national park and the Monteverde cloud forest at coordinates 10.53, -84.93. The cities of TilarĂ¡n and La Fortuna, in the provinces of Guanacaste and Alajuela respectively, are the largest and most important nearby.

Nature on the shores of Lake Arenal


For its surface, it is the largest lake in the country. It is approximately 30 km long and almost 5 km at its widest point, with an area of 87.8 square kilometers.1

Its depth varies between 30 and 60 meters, depending on the season.


Lake Arenal is the key point on which an ambitious hydroelectric power generation project in Costa Rica is based and currently produces energy for a large part of the country. In addition, this lake is considered of high tourist value in the region and is currently used for the enjoyment of water sports such as kayaking.

During its construction, the communities of Arenal Viejo and Tronadora were totally flooded when the lake was expanded.


There are two predominant species of fish in the lake, the sabalete fish and the guapote. Among the most common birds in the lake are the hummingbird and the woodpecker, as well as the toucan and toucancillo.

The extensive rain and cloud forests that grow around the lake help to “feed” it by providing rainfall. The region’s forests are home to a rich biodiversity of around 2,000 species of plants, 120 species of mammals and some 300 species of birds. The presence of the jaguar, the quetzal and the danto stand out.