Mount Arenal Costa Rica is beautiful in its own right, but this ancient volcano also provides a fabulous fringe benefit to weary travelers—natural hot springs and spas that circle its base.
Visitors to Arenal Costa Rica can trek miles of forest trails by day, tour the volcano, ride horseback through the rain forests, then relax afterward with a hot soak and a cool drink at one of the Arenal hot springs spas that dot the area.
Tabacon Hot Springs Resort and Spa is by far the most luxurious of the hot springs resorts. Several pools fed by natural hot springs hide amidst lush tropical gardens, while the central and largest pool features a swim up bar, a fabulous view of the Arenal volcano, and a natural waterfall.
A rock ledge underneath the Tabacon waterfall provides a free warm shoulder massage for anyone who sits there. Other spa treatments include mud masks, professional massages, and more, all offered on the premises by appointment for varying fees. Spa services can be booked as early as 8:00 AM.
Guests at Tabacon Hot Springs sign a credit card voucher when checking in so they can run a tab on drinks, food, and other services without worrying about getting things wet. The entrance fee here is $29 USD for adults and $17 for children under age 9.
Tabacon Hot Springs opens daily at 10:00 am, plus, a discount for entering after 7:00 pm is offered most evenings. Reservations are recommended during the peak season from late November to Late April, since occasionally the management limits visitors at that time to maintain the quality of the experience. An onsite restaurant, snack bar, and cash bar complete the relaxing itinerary.
Bargain hunters will find more basic facilities and lower prices across the street and just down a gravel road at Las Fuentes Termales. For under $10 per person visitors can soak in pools fed by the same streams as Tabacon at a facility run by the same owners. Although you won’t find lush gardens or spa treatments at the Las Fuentes Termales hot springs, the naturally heated water there is every bit as relaxing as the water at Tabacon for one-third the price. Changing rooms, showers, and friendly people are offered free of charge.
On the drive from La Fortuna toward Tabacon Hot Springs, the first hot spring-fed facility you’ll pass sports the interesting name of Baldi Termae. Located next to the Volcano Look Disco, Baldi Termae features a swim up bar and a concrete hot pool, but the overall ambiance is a bit worn and the facility is maintained at nowhere near the high standard set by the owners at Tabacon. At $17 a head, the entrance fee at Baldi Termae is a bit steep as well.
Most travelers hold out for the Tabacon hot spring experience if possible.
If you can’t make it to Tabacon however, check out Eco Termales, right across the street from Baldi Termae. Smaller than Tabacon and missing the spectacular view of the volcano, Eco Termales still features lush gardens and a friendlier experience than Baldi Termae, and for just $15 per person.