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Lake Arenal Windsurfing

by Enrique Clunie

Steady 60-mph winds sweep across Lake Arenal from mid-December through May (the dry season), allowing for some of the best windsurfing in the world. Windsurfing aficionados from Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States flock to Lake Arenal to rip in style across this magnificent, 22-mile-long lake at the foot of Arenal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the continent.

Nowhere else in the world would you be able to enjoy top-notch windsurfing conditions while witnessing a pyrotechnic show of incandescent rock and lava flowing down the sides of a volcano!

Located in the San Carlos Valley, Lake Arenal is one of the hottest windsurfing winter destinations in the world, surrounded by pristine rainforests teaming with monkeys and exotic birds, excellent hotels and lodges with spectacular volcano views, and offering world-class freshwater fishing.

Lake Arenal's strong and steady winds make it easier and faster for beginners to learn the sport, according to Hotel Tilawa's windsurfing instructor Oscar Delgado, a.k.a. "Koki."

"Two hours is what it usually takes to learn to windsurf in Lake Arenal because it's hands-on practice from the beginning. You see, you don't have to wait for the right wind conditions to appear. They're already here, " he explained.

The lakeside Hotel Tilawa is where the windsurfing scene is at, says Koki. There, you can rent all types of rigs and sails and hire bilingual instructors. The instructor boasted of Hotel Tilawa's invention, the "double rig," where you get to windsurf on the same rig with your instructor until you're ready to go solo.

Sailing at 30 or 40 mph across Lake Arenal may not sound very fast, but when it's just you and your board rig-ripping across the water at that speed, it feels like you're going at 200 mph.

The current world speed record for sailing on a windsurfer is 45.34 knots (84.01 kph/52.21 mph) set in San Marie de la Mer, France, by Thierry Bielak on April 14, 1993. According to some local experts, Lake Arenal has the right wind conditions to put Bielak's record to sleep one of these days.

While at Lake Arenal, you may also enjoy myriad other outdoor activities, including fishing for Guapote, or Rainbow Bass, soaking in the hot springs near the volcano, visiting La Fortuna waterfall, or spending a romantic evening watching the volcanic fireworks.

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