Which Hot Springs to visit in Arenal
Volcanoes are a familiar sight in Costa Rica, and this stunningly fertile, compact landscape boasts over 100, five of which are classified as active. As a result, numerous hot thermal springs occur naturally across the country. Locals and visitors flock to bathe in the enticingly warm, mineral rich waters, historically prized for their relaxing and rejuvenating properties. Here are a few of our favourites. Please note it is best booking in advance if travelling in peak periods, otherwise, you can just pay at reception.
Situated near the foot of Arenal Volcano, the well-established Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa (from $70pp for half day entrance including meal) is perhaps the most famous in the area, renowned for its beautifully maintained, natural setting, which accordingly can get very busy at peak times. The waters are completely eco-friendly, flowing naturally from the thermal Tabacon River without any additional pumping or re-heating systems. The pristine and verdant tropical gardens boast an abundance of waterfalls, tranquil streams, and inviting pools, with water temperatures ranging from 77 to 122F. There is a swim up bar on site, plus an adults-only area, the Shangri-La Gardens.
For those preferring to avoid entrance fees and throngs of visitors, beyond the grounds of the Tabacon Spa the Tabacon River (free) continues to flow through untouched rainforest, and here bathers can opt to wild swim and relax free of charge, in the same waters that supply the spa. This is a popular spot for locals and backpackers.
Also in the Arenal area, Baldi Hot Springs (from $35pp entrance or $57pp entrance including meal) is a bustling family-friendly resort which is extremely busy in high season. The extensive facilities include over 25 thermal pools varying in size and temperature, along with Jacuzzis, waterslides, saunas, waterfalls, and lively swim-up bars.
Near to Arenal and La Fortuna, Eco Termales hot springs (from $40pp entrance or $62pp entrance including meal) offer a more low-key, romantic atmosphere. This tranquil, family owned resort comprises five pools within the gorge of a river, linked by waterfalls and surrounded by verdant tropical rainforest. Water temperatures vary between the pools from 99 to 106 F. In order to ensure a relaxing and intimate experience, visitor numbers are limited, with a maximum of 100 guests at a time. There is an onsite restaurant and lounge bar, plus hiking trails in the grounds.
Upstream from the Arenal Observatory Lodge is the Rio Agua Caliente, an open area of hot springs away from hotels and resorts. Here the enticing thermal waters offer wild swimming and bathing, minus the entrance fee.
As an alternative to Arenal, one of our favourite hot springs experiences in Costa Rica is at Rio Perdido Hotel and Thermal River, which is situated in the northwest of Costa Rica, near Bagaces in Guanacaste Province. Heated by the Miravalles Volcano, a natural thermal river flows through the resort’s 600 acre private reserve, supplying numerous tranquil, thermally heated pools. The luxuriant tropical grounds are perfect for relaxing in and usually crowd free. There are walking trails on site, with massages and mineral mud baths also available.