Arenal is stunningly beautiful, and a special place. I can’t explain why it’s overlooked and undervalued. It’s just an anomaly.
Sometimes things of great beauty and value are overlooked…for a while. Like the work of a great artist that gathers dust on a shelf until someone finally notices it.
Then everyone wonders why they didn’t spot it sooner.
Arenal is easy to get to. The highway from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, is modern and smooth. It takes three hours to get to Arenal. And the drive takes you through some beautiful landscapes.
The road twists and turns its way through green hills and mountains, past cloud forests and tumbling streams.
Hand-painted signs hang from fences and gate posts, pointing the way to fresh local produce, cheese and honey for sale. You’ll see towns devoted to making hand-crafted furniture and even little cigar factories where you can hand-roll your own cigars.
Roadside sodas, small rustic cafes common in Costa Rica, offer inexpensive and tasty local-style food, and in some places amazing views of the mountains and valleys below.
Hot-orange bird of paradise flowers grow wild in the roadside verges, alongside lush ferns and exotic palm trees. It’s all a sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of downtown San Jose.
As you get closer to Arenal, the scenery changes. You’ll pass flat, fertile fields, with cattle grazing peacefully, trailed by snow-white egrets. Heading in to the tourist town of La Fortuna, you’ll see the dramatic flared cone of a volcano rising skywards from a magnificent lake, its peak shrouded in cloud.
The volcano provides a mesmerizing backdrop to La Fortuna. It also powers the hot springs that the town is famous for. Visitors come here for cleansing volcanic mud treatments, to soak in steamy rock pools, and for soothing massages.
One of those resorts was the setting for an episode of the hit television show The Bachelor in 2011. That brought La Fortuna to the attention of mainstream TV audiences in the U.S.
For most visitors, the journey ends in La Fortuna. They come for a few days of relaxation. Even though it’s only an extra 45-minute drive, few venture to the other side of the lake.
That’s unfortunate for them. They don’t know what they’re missing. But it’s a huge plus for you and me. You see, property prices on the other side of the lake are incredibly good value. Here, a half-acre lake view lot will set you back as little as $19,000.
Lake Living at its Finest
Driving from La Fortuna to the other side of the lake, you’ll notice a few things.
The landscape becomes richer and lusher, with hills and forests surrounding the lake. The temperature drops noticeably, hitting a comfortable mid-70s in the refreshing breezes that blow from the lake. You won’t see fancy spa resorts or souvenir stores on this side of the lake. This is pristine lake living at its finest…no development, no crowds, and no luxury price tags.
Howler monkeys sit in the trees overhead, eating placidly. Big yellow butterflies dance around giant feathery grasses on the lakeshore. A breeze sends soft ripples across the lake, breaking the reflection of the volcano into a thousand pieces.
The lake is huge. It’s a 33 square mile expanse of water, up to 200 feet deep in parts. Boating on the lake is magical. It’s like floating across a mirror, framed by green hills, mountains, and forests, with the volcano as the focal point. Amazingly, you’re likely to have the lake all to yourself, apart from the odd fisherman or kayaker.
With the cooling breezes, warm, sunny weather year-round, and such a dramatic landscape, it’s not surprising that this place is ideal for outdoor activities. You can swim, kayak, water-ski or boat on the lake. You can fish for rainbow bass and tilapia. One side of the lake offers good conditions for wind-surfing.
You can hike, bird watch or horse ride in the hills above the lake. You can trek the cloud forests and nature reserves nearby –or zip line or rappel, if that’s more your style.
With La Fortuna only 45 minutes away, you can relax in hot springs or enjoy a blissful massage. At night, stars twinkle and the volcano glows. This really is a special place. But, it surely won’t stay secret for long.
Only a handful of expats have discovered this side of the lake so far. They came as tourists…went a little off the beaten track…and decided to put down roots in this hidden gem. They set up small hotels and restaurants. They began to develop residential communities. They formed a tight-knit expat group that meets regularly, supports each other’s businesses, and makes newcomers feel right at home.
They’re a mixed bunch here: Former professional rugby players, corporate attorneys, entrepreneurs, and an international chef. That chef runs a restaurant with what I believe is the best food in Costa Rica. It’s not something you’d expect to find in a location like this.
A Superb Location with a Chance to Profit
This side of the lake reminds Americans of Lake Tahoe…without the crowds. It reminds Europeans of lake country in Switzerland or Austria…without the snow.
And it doesn’t come with the sticker shock property prices you’ll see in Lake Tahoe or Switzerland. This place hasn’t reached its tipping point yet. As I said, it’s only 45 minutes from La Fortuna, the popular tourist destination. Yet it’s off the tourist trail…off the beaten track. It’s an undiscovered gem waiting for someone to take it from its shelf, shake the dust off, and proclaim it a masterpiece.
And that means opportunity…a chance to get in ahead of the tipping point. A chance to profit…
Once word gets out about this place, and it becomes trendy or hip, it could explode. There’s no reason for its low property prices, other than the fact that nobody knows about it.
I’ve seen situations like this before.
In Roatan, Honduras and in Boquete, Panama. Beautiful undiscovered locations that stayed off the mainstream radar for years. But once they reached the tipping point, it only took a few short years for them to reach their full potential – and for property prices to soar.
Rich & Luxurious – But with Bargain Price Tags
Don’t get me wrong. This place is rich and luxurious in every way, from the landscape to the community spirit. But the property prices don’t reflect that.
Here’s a sample of some of the properties on offer that grabbed my attention:
- Half-acre lake-view lots from $19,000.
- A three-bed, three-bath condo with lake views, alongside a country club. The price? An amazing $75,000.
- A 15-acre farm with lake and volcano views, two rivers and a small local-style house for $179,000.
- A newly completed two-bed, two-bath fully furnished home with lake views and an open-plan layout for $125,000 (negotiable).
- Home sites with expansive lake views in an upscale private community with a marina and boat storage from $57,000, with developer financing on offer.
This is a great place for a second or retirement home. And it’s a fun place to visit.
And there’s an easy way for you to explore this tranquil location for yourself…meet the friendly expats…and see the best property bargains on offer here.
Chill Out in Costa Rica’s Lake Country
My go-to contact on the ground in Arenal is Terry Moran. He’s been a real estate agent in the tropics for decades. He’s spent the last decade on the shores of Lake Arenal. He knows Arenal inside out. He’s a wealth of knowledge on the geography and history of this lakeside location. He’s a central figure in the expat community. And he’s got the best listings of any real estate agent in the area… from modest houses, luxury homes, and lake-view lots, to farms and hotels. Terry’s got something to suit most buyers –and most budgets.
I can’t think of a better person to help you get a feel for this special place…and to help you discover its finest real estate opportunities. So that’s why I’d like to extend an invitation for you to check out Arenal on a chill weekend with Terry as your host.
You’ll stay in the Gingerbread hotel. It’s a little hotel with only three guest rooms. Downstairs is the restaurant with the best food in Costa Rica. It’s the meeting place for the expats in the area, who come here to relax over a beer, share a bowl of spicy chili, and swap stories.
Terry will organize real estate viewings for you. He’ll discuss with you what you’re looking for, send you sample listings, and arrange a customized schedule that’s tailor-made for you.
The chill weekend will give you a taste of Arenal’s relaxed lakeside living. You’ll really get a feel for what it’s like to live here. And remember, you’ll only see the properties that interest you…at your own pace.
The cost of a personalized chill weekend is just $299. That price includes airport transfers, accommodation and some meals.
All you have to do is get to either San Jose or Liberia airport. Then just sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere.
This isn’t a hard-sell trip. You won’t sit through endless sales presentations or feel pressured into buying. Arenal isn’t that kind of place. And Terry isn’t that kind of guy. Instead, this trip will give you a flavor of this hidden lake location, and what it’s like to live or vacation here. I’m sure you’ll love it.
Reprinted from International Living, Feb 01, 2012
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