Although steeped in aging extranjero cultura (expat culture), this two-horse town still feels very Tico (albeit with a German-Swiss twist). A rest stop for travelers heading to Tilarán and points beyond, it’s certainly a pleasant (and cheap) place to spend the night. The tiny downtown also has a gas station, two banks, a supermarket and a bus stop near the park. It even has a rickety old plaza del toros (bullring).
In case you were wondering what happened to old Arenal, it’s about 27m below the surface of Laguna de Arenal. In order to create a large enough reservoir for the dam, the Costa Rican government had to make certain, er, sacrifices, which ultimately resulted in the forced relocation of 3500 people. Today the humble residents of Nuevo Arenal don’t seem to be fazed by history, especially since they now own premium lakeside property.