The Trade winds blow across Costa Rica with incredible force and consistency during the dry months, creating windsurfing conditions in the country's northwest corner. The western end of Arenal Lake is one of the world's premier windsurfing spots, having been compared to Italy's Garda Lake and the Columbia River Gorge.
During the dry season, the wind speed averages 33 miles an hour, a speed that only experienced windsurfers can handle. As the gale increases, the lake's surface becomes choppy, and expert surfers use the waves to jump high into the air.
Though the dry-season winds on Arenal Lake are too strong for beginners, they calm down during the rainy months, when it can be a good place to learn this sport. There are several hotels near the western end of the lake that rent windsurfing equipment and offer private classes. There are also some spots along the Pacific coast that have good conditions for practicing the sport.
The best area for experienced surfers is Port Soley, near the border with Nicaragua, whereas the Gulf of Papagayo is a better area for less experienced surfers, since it features calm waters and less intense wind.
Basic equipment can be rented at some of the beach resorts in the Papagayo area, as well as along the Central Pacific Coast, where the dry season winds tend to be less intense.