Nuevo Arenal is a miniature melting pot of local Ticos, Europeans, Americans and Canadians. Many foreign residents own restaurants here that offer some of the country’s tastiest fare. The Gingerbread is a gem worth seeking out and its chef, Eyal, is easily the country’s best. Moyas, in the town center, serves pizza and a thoughtful selection of delicious dishes. The German Bakery, also in town, has a cozy ambience and serves pastries and German dishes. Platos Voladores is a great little Italian restaurant located just uphill from the German Bakery, which specializes in to go plates. Finally, Soda China, across from the soccer field has affordable Costa Rica style food.
A few kilometers outside of town on the road to Tilaran you will find The Lucky Bug B&B, Art Gallery and Caballo Negro Restaurant, specializing in a fusion of German cuisine and local flavors served in generous portions. The art gallery of this small, family-run enterprise features original works of art and souvenirs created by some of Costa Rica’s finest artisans.
Despite the many temptations, there is much more to do around here than dining. Lago Arenal is a mecca for water sports enthusiasts, with winds ideal for kite boarding, windsurfing, and sailing. When the winds are down try wakeboarding, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or a boat tour around the lake, which fortunately never gets too crowded. Tico Wind offers rental equipment as well as kite boarding and windsurfing lessons. In short, you can always find things to do in Nuevo Arenal!
Sport fishing is also popular here, and although it’s not what it used to be, there are still plenty of trophy Guapote and Machaca to be caught.
With a unique history, the town of Nuevo Arenal, as its name suggests (nuevo means new), was recently rebuilt. The volcano’s 1968 eruption buried most of the old village of Arenal and the rest of it was flooded during construction of the man-made Lake Arenal in the 1970s. At the time, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), assisted in transferring the town to its current location.
Check out NuevoArenal.com for more information about Nuevo Arenal.
How to get to there
Nuevo Arenal is just a short and scenic drive from La Fortuna. Take the road that leads to Arenal Volcano National Park and keep driving until you reach the bridge over Lago Arenal. Follow the winding road and signs leading to Nuevo Arenal. Make sure to stop along the way for the breathtaking views! The town of Tilarán is just a half-hour drive from Nuevo Arenal.
Weather and packing list
Like most of the Northern Region, Nuevo Arenal enjoys temperatures that hover between the upper 70s during the day and the lower 60s at night. The wet season runs from May through June and September through November, with the heaviest rains experienced in September and October.
Visitors should pack shorts, t-shirts, swimsuits, rash guards (for sun protection), and rain gear. Grey skies here can be treacherous, and a day spent on the lake could turn into a painful sunburn, so bring lots of sunblock and aloe vera gel! Don’t forget a light sweater or jacket and pants for those cool, breezy sunsets! Check out the Costa Rica packing list for more ideas.
Fun Fact: There is a small public park on the lake with a nice pavilion. The Guapote fishing is pretty good at the end of the point.