Costa Rica

Costa Rica Series #4 – Lake Arenal

Driving to the Arenal area was long…way longer than we anticipated on google maps.  We hit traffic, we hit fog, dense dense fog where you couldn’t see 4 feet in front of your car, we were stuck behind a pineapple truck, an orange truck, an accident occurred that was blocking the way, you name it we encountered it.  But I got the impression that this was not unusual for this route.  In hind site I wouldn’t have done the whole drive from Montezuma to Arenal in one day, it was just too much.  Plus some of us were still tummy sick so driving for long stretches was not helpful.

The interesting part of the drive were the dynamic differences you see throughout this country.  There are cities, there is countryside, there is rain, sun, fog, there are great roads and there are very un-maintained, rough roads, there are places you feel safe driving and places that are quite questionable.  We saw it all in our travels throughout Costa Rica.  The drive to Arenal was no different, there were some skinny roads on the edge of steep cliffs, there were cities where we were moving slow, and there was FOG.  I’m not talking a little fog, this was thick, thick fog, and of course while passing through a thick fog area we were stuck behind a slow moving truck and there was just no way to pass.  Not only could you not see far enough in front of you but the roads don’t travel in a straight line, they twist and curve, it would’ve been risking your life to try and pass in this fog.

When we arrived in the Arenal area we went straight to our Air BnB in the town of San Luis, just outside of Tilaran.  This was a small town, seemed very well maintained, I wish we had more time to explore.  Our accommodation was incredible, we had a private pool overlooking the lake and more room than we could even imagine.  I felt like we were living like royalty.


Unfortunately, the weather had different ideas.  Lake Arenal is in it’s own little micro-climate.  This is the only time we saw rain in Costa Rica.  Throughout our ventures in the Arenal area we noticed wind farms everywhere, taking advantage of this interesting climate.

Luckily we had packed our rain jackets, they came in useful.  Unfortunately our own private pool was less used.  My husband and I made the effort to make the most of it and swam at least once a day even in the rain.

The main reason people visit the Arenal area is for the Arenal Volcano.  Before planning this part of our trip I had read that depending on the weather you may not be able to see the volcano.  Unfortunately for us this was the case…did I mention the fog!  We did drive to the base of the park but it wasn’t worth the entrance fee with the weather we were in.  There are many volcano’s in Costa Rica, this one stands out because of it’s perfect cone shape, we did catch a glimpse of it while driving:  

Our host was really great, she recommended many locals for fresh meats, freshly squeezed juices, restaurants, even looked into kayak rentals for us.  She also recommended we visit the Viento Fresco waterfalls.  The rain wasn’t going to stop us from heading out for an adventure, so with our rain jackets donned, we headed over to the Viento Fresco waterfalls.  This hike including 5 amazing waterfalls!  The hike itself was not too tough, but you’re traversing a hillside and what goes down must come up.

The first two waterfalls:

  I wish I knew how to capture the beauty of waterfalls better on camera, photos just don’t do it justice.  These two were the smallest of the five.  After we passed these you could see the fifth waterfall down the hillside in the distance…our destination:

The third waterfall was the tallest – 75 metres, I had a really hard time fitting the whole thing in my camera shot.  This is the one my husband chose to swim in on our way back up.

Finally, we made it to the bottom so A and I decided it was time to go in.  It was cold but worth it.  And then the hike back up with my husband as a pack-mule…he definitely got a work out on this one.

If your in the Arenal Area, on the South West side of the lake, it’s worth a trip out to the Viento Fresco waterfalls.

That’s about it for our trip to Lake Arenal. Check out the other areas we visited in Costa Rica: Jaco, Playa Hermosa, Manuel Antonio, Tambor Beach, and Montezuma.

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