ARENAL LAKE, SAN CARLOS, COSTA RICA
Lake Arenal is a reservoir in Costa Rica, formed by enlarging an existing small lake of the same name by the completion of a dam in 1979. It is located near the Arenal Volcano and the Monteverde cloud forest. Lake Arenal is the key driver in a nationwide hydroelectric project that currently produces the majority of electricity for the entire country. Water depth generally varies between 100 and 200 feet (61 m).
The communities of "old" Arenal and Tronadora were submerged by the expanded lake.The Arenal National Park created in 1991, is located on Costa Rica’s central northern plains. The Arenal Volcano is the most active volcano in Costa Rica. It stands 1,657 meters ( 5,435 feet) high above the eastern shores of Lake Arenal. Its conical shape typical of a strato volcano is made of successive layers of eruptions, rocks, ashes and lava. The most recent eruptive period began with a major explosive eruption in 1968, after 400 years of being dormant
The land-locked national park is also the home of Costa Rica’s largest artificial lake, which lies west of the volcano. The majestic lake Arenal was enlarged to three times its original size to form a 33-square-mile (85 km2) basin that feeds the hydroelectric dam, which produces 70% of Costa Rica’s electricity. Under the water of the lake, lies the abandoned town of Arenal.
From November through April the dependable strong winds attract windsurfers to its western end. Many consider Lake Arenal the world's foremost windsurfing area.
Lake Arenal is one of the best retirement locations in all of Costa Rica due the beautiful tropical weather (never too hot), air quality, and friendly people.
This beautiful weather is because Lake Arenal is surrounded by mountains, pastures and plenty rain to keep the fields green the whole year. The wind is steady most of the year, except for the wind season (Dec-Mar) when the wind can go up to 25 miles per hour. The direction of the wind is from the east bringing the Atlantic Ocean air and weather to the eastern edge of Lake Arenal where it meets the hot dry Pacific Ocean air coming in from Guanacaste to the west.
Here is some numbers about Lake Arenal:
10° N 84º W, 1,525 feet above see level, 48 square miles of surface area, 24 miles long, Air Temp: 65° to 90°, water temp 73° +, sweet water
History of Arenal
Lake Arenal: This natural depression caused by local geological faults formerly contained a small lake that emptied into the Arenal River which flowed into the Caribbean via the San Carlos and San Juan Rivers. However, in the 1970's, the Costa Rican Electric Company (I.C.E.) began construction of what is currently the country's largest hydroelectric generating project.
An earthen dam was built only seven kilometres (4.3 miles) to the west of Arenal Volcano--that had erupted violently just a few years earlier. As the waters filled up behind the dam a thirty-kilometre long lake was formed. Water from the lake is tunnelled to the Pacific side of the country, passing through three turbine-driven generating stations, before being channelled into a system of irrigation canals that have substantially increased the agricultural productivity of the lower Tempisque basin in Guanacaste.
Activities at Lake Arenal
As well as its importance for energy and agriculture, Lake Arenal provides excellent recreational opportunities, especially for windsurfing and freshwater fishing. The north-western end of the lake is buffeted by strong winds, particularly from December through March, that make for ideal windsurfing conditions.
Fishing for guapote (Cichlasoma dovii), often referred to as "rainbow bass" even though it is not related to bass, is another popular sport on the lake. The season is open year-round (on this lake only) and there is a limit of 10 fish per day.
Besides that, there are also other activities like canopy, horse back ridding, waterfalls, birds watching, just to mention some of them.