Things to do in Nuevo Arenal

There are plenty of things to do in Nuevo Arenal!  Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities on Lake Arenal, observe exotic wildlife, or even enjoy the local culture.

Nuevo Arenal Activities
Nuevo Arenal is a small town with a big personality! You’ll never find yourself wondering what to do next.

Top 10 Things to do in Nuevo Arenal

Enjoy the Nuevo Arenal lake park

The lake park is well-maintained and there’s plenty of room to find your own picnic spot in paradise.  The lake is safe to swim in and fishing is pretty good right from shore.

Boating on Lake Arenal

Nuevo Arenal provides a free boat launch at the lake park.  Take off and enjoy the amazing scenery of Lake Arenal.  Cruise to the east for a close encounter with Arenal Volcano or simply sail along as the day passes away.  Kayaking is just as popular and a fun way to get up close and personal with wildlife along the shore.

Wakeboarding lessons

Go for a day of adventure on Lake Arenal!   Learn how to wakeboard on Lake Arenal with Flyzone.  They’re the best and can even take you out for a day of fun if you have previous experience.

Windsurfing or kiteboarding

The west end of Lake Arenal is a premiere kiteboarding and windsurfing location.  Lessons or rentals are available at the Tilawa Windsurfing Kiteboarding Watersports Center.

Sport Fishing

Lake Arenal is home to trophy Guapote and Machaca.  You can fish from shore at the park, kayak fish in the nearby coves, or take a boat ride to some of the lake’s hot spots.  Captain Ron is the local fishing guide for more serious anglers.  Lake Coter is another option up in the mountains, but you will need permission to access it as it is surrounded by private property.


Nuevo Arenal is an excellent birdwatching location with several hundred species identified in the area.  It is located in a transitional weather zone from the humid Caribbean slope to the drier Guanacaste region.  Lake Arenal attracts migratory waterfowl and we are close enough to the mountains to see highland species at times.  This all equates to a wide variety of birding possibilities to enjoy.

Nuevo Arenal Birdwatching
Keel billed toucans and many other species of exotic birds are commonly spotted in Nuevo Arenal.

Horseback riding

What better way to enjoy the local culture and scenic countryside than horseback riding?  El Establo provides riding lessons and tours just outside of town on the road towards Tilaran.  The Costa Rican style ranch is owned and run by a local family that will always greet you with a open arms and a big smile.  Even if you don’t enjoy horseback riding, you can stop over, enjoy a traditional meal at their typical restaurant and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

Hiking, walking and looking for wildlife

There are several enjoyable walks or hikes in Nuevo Arenal.  The road that leads to Lake Coter is a nice challenge along a gravel road that slowly leads up the mountain and then down to the crater lake.  In town, birdwatchers and those seeking wildlife will enjoy walking along the gravel roads near the park at Lake Arenal.  Keep your eyes peeled in the trees as congo monkeys, toucans, pavas, parakeets, and many other species of birds hang out in the canopy.  Of course, if you’re going to walk the roads near the lake, you might as well wrap it up with a lap around the park.  You’ll take in beautiful scenery, likely see waterfowl, and can take a refreshing swim at the end.

Practice yoga

Yoga is very popular in the Lake Arenal area.  Classes are available several times each week in some of the most inspiring locations imaginable.  Classes or vacation retreats can be reserved at Mystica Lodge & Retreats, Lake Coter Ecolodge, Living Forest, and several other locations.

Spanish classes

Brush up on your Spanish or learn a whole new language at Ileana’s Language School.  Ileana is Nuevo Arenal’s unofficial language maestra (teacher), teaching Spanish, English, French and Persian.  She provides one on one, private sessions and has plenty of students, so you’ll need advance reservations.

Day Trips from Nuevo Arenal

Arenal Volcano and the hot springs

You can’t visit Nuevo Arenal without stopping by nearby Arenal Volcano and the hot springs.  There are several hiking trails at the base of the iconic volcano.  After a day of exploring, you can wash it all away at the soothing hot springs of Tabacon, Los Perdidos, Baldi, or Ecotermales.  Of course, you can also enjoy the free hot springs at Tabaconcito, below Tabacon Resort.  The drive is less than an hour in each direction and well worth it.

Hot Springs at Tabacon
A day or evening trip to the hot springs will be time well spent.

Farmer’s Market at Cinco Esquinas

The Farmer’s Market at Cinco Esquinas is held on the first and third Sunday of every month.  It’s not all fruits and vegetables though as locals peddle homemade goods and tasty treats.  At only 25 minutes from Nuevo Arenal, you’ll want to set aside time for this fun gathering.

Rio Celeste

The gorgeous turquoise blue Rio Celeste Waterfalls are located in nearby Tenorio National Park.  You’ll also find excellent hiking, wildlife observation, and birdwatching.  The drive takes around an hour and a half from Nuevo Arenal.

Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

The Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places in Costa Rica for wildlife observation.  Take a riverboat safari with a local guide in search of caiman, iguanas, monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds.  The ride from Nuevo Arenal is about one and a half to two hours depending on the road conditions.

Day of adventure at La Fortuna

While Nuevo Arenal has plenty to offer, you may want to visit la Fortuna for a day of adventure.  Options for activities include ziplining, whitewater rafting, canyoneering, ATV, La Fortuna Waterfalls, hanging bridges, tubing, and more.  La Fortuna is Costa Rica’s adventure capital, so you won’t be a at a loss for fun things to do.  The drive is less than an hour and worth it if you are seeking adventure.

Venado Caves

Caves in Costa Rica? Yup, you heard that right!  The Venado Caves are located about an hour from town.  The tour through the limestone caverns takes a couple hours.  You’ll see cave dwelling critters and features such as stalactites and stalagmites.  Enjoy spelunking in Costa Rica!

Whitewater rafting on the Rio Tenorio

The Rio Tenorio is one of the best whitewater rafting rivers in Costa Rica, with class III, IV and V rapids.  The meetup location is at the Rincon Corobici Restaurant near Canas, about an hour from Nuevo Arenal.

Safari Float on the Rio Corobici

This tour is a nice combination of adventure and wildlife observation.  You float down the river on a whitewater rafting boat as the guide navigates and points out wildlife.  The tour starts at the previously mentioned Rincon Corobici Restaurant near Canas.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Nuevo Arenal!  It’s a small town with a big personality.  Please leave your comments below and share your favorite things to do in Arenal.

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