Wildlife Watching in Lake Arenal | Volcano Watersports

Wildlife Watching in Lake Arenal

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2 May 2023

We are incredibly lucky to call Lake Arenal home. It’s a rare gem, even for those who travel the world for the best watersports locations – a unique world buzzing with life at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, and just outside of the world-renowned Arenal National Park.

Being so close to a protected area, the lake gets to benefit from that same respect for nature – it’s an incredible, vibrant world ruled by the many fascinating species of fish, bird, insect, plant, reptile, and mammal.

Whether you’re renting a SUP or kayak to take a tour of the lake yourself, or taking a well-deserved break as you try out the various watersports we offer, there’s always a reason to take a look around and spot the signs of life in and around the water.

If you spend enough time around here, you’re guaranteed to see many incredible sights for yourself – and that’s just one of the reasons why Costa Rica is the best watersport destination.

The Quetzal

Quetzals are about as bright and colorful as birds can be. They may not be as well-known as parrots and toucans, they’re familiar friends in this part of the world. They love humid weather, which they find in abundance in the dense, tropical forest that sits at the very edge of Lake Arenal.

Their markings echo the bright colors around them, which can make them difficult to spot when you’re walking through the parkland – but, spend enough time looking above the tree line from the lake, and you might just catch a flash of green streaking through the sky.

The quetzal was considered sacred to the ancient Mayans and, at a temple named El Castillo, the echo of a human clapping sounds exactly like the call of this fascinating bird. It took archaeologists many years to figure out how the Mayans managed it and, safe to say, it’s an incredible example of ancient engineering.

The Guapote

Also known as the rainbow bass or, even cooler, the ‘wolf cichlid’, the guapote is a fish common to Lake Arenal, thriving in its fresh waters. This species is recognizable for its iridescence – which, let’s face it, is probably why they were named after the word ‘guapo’, which is Spanish for ‘handsome one’ – and its high, prominent ‘brow’ and lips, which may not have inspired the name.

These fish live for many years – decades, in the right conditions – although they don’t make for great pets, as they are widely-known for being very aggressive with one another. Maybe another good reason to address them as ‘handsome one’…

Guapote is popular with anglers in the local area, so you’ll spot plenty of fishermen in their natural habitat when out on the water. As for the fish, you may have to look a little harder – but, every now and then, a vibrant streak of purple or blue may just catch your eye from beneath the waves as you gather speed on the wakeboard.

The Spider Monkey

If you keep your eyes on the tropical forest that surrounds Lake Arenal, there’s a good chance you might spot a little movement from the spider monkeys, who like to keep themselves busy high in the treetops.

Acutely intelligent, with thoughtful faces and elegant silhouettes that can, on occasion, be seen swinging from tree to tree, Arenal offers plenty of great opportunities to watch these animals do their acrobatics from a distance they’re comfortable with.

The Kingfisher

The Amazon kingfisher is a common sight in Costa Rica, particularly if you stick close to water. Often perched on secure branches close to the water’s edge, these distinctive birds make a cacophony of different sounds – and, true to their name, will dive down to the water to ‘fish’ their food in their beaks.

Bright and beautiful, the teal and orange feathers that distinguish the Amazon from other kingfishers catch in the sunlight as they go about their days by the sparkling lake. Spending a day wandering the shore, trying to get a good photo of the Amazon kingfisher is a rite of passage for any budding birdwatcher.

Costa Rica is famous around the world for its incredible dedication to conserving its wildlife, and educating visitors on the beauties of the forest, the freshwater rivers and lakes, and everything that calls it home. We are very lucky to exist so close to some of the country’s most incredible species, and we can’t wait to show you why renting a boat in Costa Rica with us is so good for the soul.