Arenal Volcano
Photo by: Ardyiii, Creative Commons

While not as renowned as Costa Rica’s other tourist spots, the Arenal region has more than its share of draws for the nature-loving tourist. Chief among these is the Arenal Volcano, the country’s most active volcano. The volcano provides some spectacular vistas, particularly at night, when the dark sky provides a perfect backdrop for the spewing lava.

Another draw for those who love the outdoors is Lake Arenal, where you can go fishing for rainbow trout in the abundantly-stocked lake or, for the more daring, go windsurfing; the lake’s strong winds attract world-class windsurfers from November to April, when they are at their most powerful. The Lake is also a reservoir that provides water for a hydroelectric project that supplies energy for the entire country. If you would like to remain firmly on land, you can take a nature hike around the lake to enjoy the area’s abundant flora and fauna, including Howler Monkeys, Chachalacas and toucans.

Also worth visiting is Nueva Arenal (New Arenal), the small town that lies at the base of the volcano. Nuevo Arenal is quite tourist-friendly, with banks, grocery stores, a clinic, grocery stores and mini-marts as well as souvenir shops. The town’s nightlife is quite active as there are many bars and restaurants. And don’t forget to try out some local delicacies at the German bakery.

The town is also home to the Arenal Botanical Gardens and butterfly farm, where guests can see over 1,200 species of Costa Rican flora, including some which are extremely rare and hard to find in their natural environment, as well as a wide range of butterfly and bird species.

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