Costa Rica windsurfing on the ocean can be tricky, since the winds there are fickle and unpredictable, but the winds that buffet Lake Arenal are so steady and strong that fans of board sailing and other board sports have made the Arenal village of Tilaran their winder refuge.
From December through March you’ll find the best windsurfing and kite boarding in Costa Rica on Lake Arenal, and you’ll also find many hard core sail boarders and water sports fanatics from Washington’s Columbia River Gorge taking up semi-permanent residence, following the wind and the waves around the world.
To rent equipment and try windsurfing on Lake Arenal yourself, check out the Tilawa Windsurfing Center (www.windsurfcostarica.com), located on one of Lake Arenal’s few accessible beaches, about five miles from Tilaran on the road that winds around the west end of the lake. In addition to great Costa Rica windsurfing events, Tilawa Windsurfing Center also offers classes on the hot new sport of kite boarding.
Another great outfitter, Tico Wind (www.ticowind.com), sets up shop between December 1rst and the end of April in the Lake Arenal area. Tico Wind books Costa Rica wind surfing and kite boarding outings that start around $65 USD per person per day, including lunch. Multiday trips are also available.
If you want to stay right in the center of the Costa Rica windsurfing action on Lake Arenal, Mystiica (www.mystica.com) or the Rock River Lodge (www.rockriverlodge.com) are the best places to stay. Also, if you can’t reach Tico Wind by phone or through their website, the proprietors at Mystica or Rock River Lodge can hook you up to them fast.
Mystica is actually a pizza restaurant just outside Tilaran that also rents out six modest rooms for about $60 USD per night, including breakfast. The Rock River Lodge, set on a high hill above the lake, is even better, and will set you back $63 USD for a double room or $78 per night for a bungalow. Most of the die-hard Costa Rica windsurfers and kite boarders stay at the Rock River Lodge.
The same winds that stir up Lake Arenal in the winter travel down to the Bahia Salinas for the rest of the year. Also known as Bolanos Bay, near La Cruz Guanacaste, the Bahia Salinas draws Costa Rica windsurfing and kite boarding outfitters and fans from Arenal who don’t want to quit just because the weather changes.
The Guanacaste winds are best from mid-November through Mid-May, so if your goal is to keep windsurfing year round and never leave Costa Rica at all, you can nearly manage it by wintering by Lake Arenal and moving down to La Cruz in May. Plenty of kite barding fans do exactly that.
Tico Wind books trips out of the Ecoplaya Beach Resort during the windy season in La Cruz, and the Kitesurfing Center (www.suntoursandsand.com) operates out of Playa Copal, near the shores of the Bahia Salinas. Either outfitter can set you up with everything you need to get hooked on Costa Rica windsurfing and kite boarding for life.