REVIEW OF HOUSE IN NUEVO ARENAL
My daughter and I had the whole 3-bedroom house to ourselves. It is spacious, pretty and clean, with a wonderfully large terrace in front that catches pleasant breezes and has an awesome view of Lake Arenal and the mountains beyond. The main bedroom has an ensuite bathroom with a huge tub, the kitchen is large and fully equipped and the large living room area has a dining room table, telephone, and entertainment section, very nicely laid out, and there's a laundry room. The house can easily accommodate 6 people.
Lake Arenal is a 10 minute walk away, with a lovely large park, and the swimming is great. We returned to it daily. The town of Nuevo Arenal is small and quaint, with a few bars, restaurants for a variety of tastes, and 2 or 3 supermarkets. The walk up the hill from the house to the town center is fairly challenging. Although we appreciated the exercise and it got easier with each ascent, it would be difficult for physically-challenged people, but taxis are plentiful and cheap.
The nicest thing about Nuevo Arenal, and Costa Rica in general, is the people. Open, friendly and genuine. I could write a book.
We had considered staying in La Fortuna, 40 km away, but I can't begin to say how happy we are that we didn't, and that we chose Nuevo Arenal. While Nuevo Arenal is in the mountains, has a pleasant temperature, apparently year round, and refreshing breezes, La Fortuna is hot and flat and packed with souvenir shops and tour kiosks and everything that comes with being a "tourist" town (albeit with a great view of the volcano) but it's an easy drive away from Nuevo Arenal if you have a rental, or a cheap and scenic bus ride, which we took (1 hour).
John, the owner of the house, was extremely helpful with answering our several pre-vacation emails. He clarified transportation routes (we were bussing it from Liberia Airport) and made inquiries on our behalf. He pointed us to a couple of contacts in town and even helped with our travel-Spanish. He wasn't present at the house; instead he has a friendly and helpful guy, Franklin, who manages the house and picked us up half-way for a reasonable price. He doesn't speak English but is used to dealing with foreigners.
One honourable mention: Enrique at Pacific Tradewinds in Nuevo Arenal was extremely helpful in helping us plan tours - he went above and beyond and we highly recommend hi