Lake Arenal Costa Rica attracts windsurfers and kite boaders from around the globe year after year, but Lake Arenal hotels don’t have to be expensive to be comfortable. Lots of great budget accommodations are available to money-conscious travelers, making Lake Arenal one of the most popular student destinations in the country.
One of the best budget Lake Arenal hotels can be found right next to Tilaran’s large, sunny central park. Cabinas Mary in central Tilarin provides basic but clean lodging above a popular local hangout. The restaurant and bar downstairs at Cabinas Mary is popular and inexpensive, and the rooms upstairs are clean and large, with lots of windows for good cross ventilation. Hot water is included in the minimal room price, which is a great perk and unusual for student lodging in the Lake Arenal area.
The rooms at Cabinas Mary have no phones, but a double runs only about $22 USD, and the park across the street provides a relaxing place to watch the world go by when guests need a break from the energetic night life in the bar.
Hotel Naralit is another good budget Lake Arenal hotel in Tilarin. The rooms are large and comfortable, and some of the rooms even include cable television service. All upstairs budget accommodations at Hotel Naralit share a single balcony and a lovely view of the town church. Expect to pay between $20 and $30 USD per double room at this charming budget Lake Arenal hotel.
Budget student travelers who can afford a bit more for a Lake Arenal hotel should definitely check out the Hotel Tilawa, a popular windsurfer and kite boarder hangout set high on a hill between the villages of Tilarin and Nuevo Arenal. For only about $50 USD, budget accommodations at Hotel Tilawa provide the adventurous traveler with easy access to windsurfing, kite boarding, mountain biking, horseback riding, and a variety of fishing trips.
The Hotel Tilawa even provides a small skateboard park for radical skateboarders and BMX freestyle bikers, and a small spa and microbrewery on site round out the student-friendly vibe. The rooms at Tilawa are painted in bright, tropical colors and feature Guatemalan bedspreads and large windows. Some rooms even offer kitchenettes, a great budget feature.
Hotel Tilawa also features a small pool and rental service for bikes and water sport equipment, and the friendly owners are happy to arrange almost any local tour for interested guests. Laundry service is provided on site.
Finally, most budget Lake Arenal hotels feature casual restaurants that serve budget friendly food, and the local restaurants also feature hearty portions of good food at low prices. So eating well will not break your budget.
Try the pizza at Tramonti in Nuevo Arenal, or the breakfasts and pastries at Tom’s Pan German Bakery. Another excellent and unexpected budget dining option is Willy’s Caballo Negro in Nuevo Arenal, which serves huge portions of German and European cuisine at moderate prices in a candlelit, appealing atmosphere.