The History And Presence Of Arenal Volcano
Concentration is key when you’re waterskiing or wakesurfing. You need to keep your eyes on the boat, your hands tight around the rope, and every ounce of your strength going into maintaining balance.
We’re not going to lie, this becomes a little difficult on Lake Arenal. While you can still master the water and pull off a few tricks, we have seen a few people get wet because they’ve spent too much time admiring the landmark that looms right beside us.
Arenal Volcano is the monument of Arenal National Park.
Standing at 5,358 feet, it takes centre stage in nearly 30,000 acres of natural beauty, all of which will surround you when you’re on the water.
There’s something mystical about Arenal Volcano, and that’s one of the reasons why our boat rentals – held on the doorstep of Arenal National Park – are so popular with people from all over the world. Whether it’s the shining grey rock face that glints during the sunset, or the clouds that linger incessantly around the crater, this is a landmark that feels like it’s come straight out of a fantasy book.
But really, there’s nothing mystical about Arenal Volcano. We don’t want to burst the bubble, but it’s true. It may be beautiful, sure, but Arenal Volcano has been a part of our world for 7,000 years and it has a distinct history that is easy to pin down.
The History Of Arenal Volcano
According to the history books, Volcano Arenal has been erupting on and off since 5000 BC. Despite the fact it’s long been an active volcano, for a large portion of its life, it was believed to be extinct. It wasn’t until the eruption of 1968 – the largest eruption since its formation – that anyone realised it was still dangerous.
This eruption destroyed 232 kilometres of land, killing 87 people and filling Tacabón, Pueblo Nuevo, and San Luis with pyroclastic flows. For the people of Arenal, it changed their lives forever. With no prior knowledge of the volcano’s power, they lost everything from neighbours to cattle to crops, all in six hours.
But it didn’t take long for the region to rise from the ashes. Over time, the interest in the volcano spread across the world, and the sleepy town of Arenal quickly became a global hotspot. Volcanologists came from far and wide, and the locals began building accommodations to house them.
The influx of volcanologists soon became an influx of tourists, all of whom wanted to come to see the volcano for themselves. In response, locals built more accommodation. Lake Arenal – which sits in the shadow of the volcano – tripled in size, and became a prime spot for wakesurfing, waterskiing, and several other watersports. Out of the tragedy of 1968, a new age of global interest in Costa Rica was born.
The Presence Of Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano has continued to experience minor, infrequent eruptions since 1968, but since 2010 it has been considered dormant. Volcanologists determined that the volcano had, in fact, had several large eruptions over its lifetime.
The first was in 18000 BC, then in 1000 BC, 800 BC, 1 AD, 800 AD, 1450, and 1525. According to the data gathered through radiocarbon dating, the volcano experiences cyclical eruptions, meaning it has one explosive event, and then goes quiet for centuries. Although it’s impossible to say when Arenal Volcano will erupt again, it likely won’t be for another few hundred years. Until then, it continues to be a major tourist attraction.
While it is still forbidden to climb, millions of tourists still want to visit Arenal Volcano and experience all the other wonders that are available in Arenal National Park – including the town La Fortuna, La Fortuna waterfall, the Mistico Hanging Bridges, the Venado Caves and, of course, the beautiful Lake Arenal.
For the locals of Arenal, the volcano holds an even greater significance. During the 1960s, Costa Rica had one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. When Arenal Volcano erupted – despite the fact it was considered extinct – Costa Rica was reminded of its fierce presence and, coincidentally, has since been one of the greenest countries in the world.
In 2023, the volcano serves as a constant reminder of all that’s important to Costa Rica. It is a beacon of the natural world. A world that Costa Rica is now working so hard to sustain. And with millions coming to see the volcano with their own eyes every year, that mission of sustainability is only boosted further.