Posts tagged: Tabacon hot springs

Best Hot Springs in Arenal, Costa Rica

Tabacón Hot Springs, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a land of seismic shenanigans, and the Arenal region, a few hours north of San José, is an excellent place to get in on the action. Hot springs burble up from cracks in the earth’s crust, and very active Arenal Volcano is one of the most dramatic sights in the country.

Of the many lovely hot springs, Tabacón is the best known (and the most expensive), with Ecotermales Fortuna and Baldi Hot Springs just down the road. All three have their strengths and weaknesses — read on to know which hot spring is best for you.

Tabacón Hot Springs
Location: 13 kilometers (8 miles) west of La Fortuna, on the road to Lake Arenal.
Open 10 am to 10 pm; best to make reservations; $60 per person

In this hot-spring rich territory, Tabacón is the most stunning of the bunch. A naturally warm river winds its way through beautifully landscaped grounds and is guided into a series of pools and over a small falls, which will drum the tension right out of your shoulders and neck. Their Grand Spa has won awards, and offers everything from massage to volcanic mud wraps to coffee-bean exfoliations. All of this and a volcano view.

There’s also a largish swimming pool (not hot) with a swim-up bar. Things can get pretty raucous at night and/or when the tour buses arrive. Up the hill from the hot pools and full-service spa in the Tabacón Resort Hotel; you can walk from one to the other. A stay at the (moderately expensive) hotel allows you free admission to the hot springs.

 

Baldi Hot Springs, Costa Rica

Baldi Hot Springs
Location: 5 km west of La Fortuna, on the road to Lake Arenal. It’s on the left hand side, across from Ecotermales Fortuna Hot Springs; 15 minutes west is Tabacon.
Open 10 am to 10 pm; about $35 per person

At Baldi, more than a dozen hot pools are set amid landscaped grounds at the foot of Arenal Volcano. Heated by volcanic activity, the water in the pools varies in temperature, from slightly warm to piping hot. There are decks and platforms near most of the pools, some partially covered to protect from the rain.

Massage and other spa treatments (like Volcanic Mud Wraps) are available. There’s also a 32-room hotel and a restaurant, although the food (especially the buffet) doesn’t get high marks from most visitors.

Kids will love the three water slides (the longest is 325 feet). But watch out–you can get going really fast! Near the entryway and bar, the pounding techno music doesn’t feel too relaxing, but further up the hill the environment is much more peaceful.

Ecotermales Fortuna
Location: 5 km west of La Fortuna, on the road to Lake Arenal. It’s on the right hand side, across from Baldi Hot Springs.
Open 10 am – 9 pm; book ahead; $37 per person

Ecotermales Hot Springs, Costa Rica

Ecotermales Fortuna is the smallest and quietest of the three major hot springs near La Fortuna, in part because the spa limits the number of people they allow in. Visitors book ahead of time for one of three daily time slots: from 10 am to 1 pm, from 1 pm to 5 pm, or from 5 pm to 9 pm. A traditional Costa Rica-style lunch or dinner is included in the admission price.

Four different pools of water range from 91 to 105 degrees; one of the pools has a cascading waterfall you can sit under for a natural back massage. There are also separate changing rooms for men and women, individual lockers, toilets, and showers. Next to the restaurant is a shaded area with hammocks.

Note that unlike Baldi and Tabacon Hot Springs, Ecotermales doesn’t have a view of Arenal Volcano.

Happy soaking!