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Introducing Laguna de Arenal Area

About 18km west of La Fortuna you’ll arrive at a 750m-long causeway across the dam that created Laguna de Arenal, an 88-sq-km lake and the largest in the country. A number of small towns were submerged during its creation, but the lake now supplies valuable water to Guanacaste, and produces hydroelectricity for the region. High winds also produce power with the aid of huge steel windmills, though windsurfers and kitesurfers frequently steal a breeze or two.

If you have your own car (or bicycle), this is one of the premier road trips in Costa Rica. The road is lined with odd and elegant businesses, many run by foreigners who have fallen in love with the place, and the scenic views of lakeside forests and Volcán Arenal are about as romantic as they come. Strong winds and high elevations give the lake a temperate feel, and you’ll be forgiven if you suddenly imagine yourself in the English Lakes District or the Swiss countryside.

But, things are changing – quickly. Gringo baby boomers, lured to the area by the eternal spring climate, are snapping up nearly every spot of land with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it. Some Ticos are not all that happy about the impending loss of their lakeside paradise, and, in fact, this part of the country doesn't actually feel much like Costa Rica at all. Still, it is nourishing to have Laguna Arenal in your life. Rain or shine, be it a quick and lively affair or one that lasts.

Most of the road is paved and in decent condition, though you’ll find some big potholes. Buses run about every two hours, and hotel owners can tell you when to catch your ride.