Arenal Volcano is perhaps the most popular vacation destination in all of Costa Rica. It is also home to the best hot springs.
The volcano’s iconic cone can be seen rising from the lush tropical landscape for miles around. And its wild natural surroundings are a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers.
Today, the volcano is classified as dormant. But don’t be fooled by its calm demeanor and the occasional puff of steam. The sleeping giant still produces plenty of geothermal energy. And thankfully so, as Arenal’s hot springs are legendary.
The best remedy for sore muscles after a day of adventure
The combination of soothing hot springs and the wide variety of activities available has made La Fortuna Costa Rica’s most famous vacation destination.
Arenal’s waters are naturally heated and renowned for their therapeutic properties. It is said that the high calcium bicarbonate and magnesium content have anti inflammatory, analgesic, and muscle relaxing properties. The perfect remedy for weary vacationers after a day of serious outdoor adventure.
Getting to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano
Arenal is located in the central lowlands of San Carlos, near the town of La Fortuna. It is a short 2.5 to 3 hours by car from either of Costa Rica’s international airports.
The best way to really explore La Fortuna and the attractions around Arenal Volcano is by car. There is so much to do and see in the area. Taking a taxi or public transportation could be either painfully expensive or overly time consuming.
Most visitors to Costa Rica choose to rent a car when they arrive. At Adobe Rent a Car, we have full service offices at both international airports. These include the Juan Santamaria International Airport near San Jose and the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia.
We have thirteen additional Adobe offices across Costa Rica. We’re Costa Rica’s oldest and biggest rental car company. And we’re 100% Costa Rican owned. We know Costa Rica, and customer satisfaction is our top priority.
Choosing the right hot springs in Arenal, Costa Rica
The volcano’s fame is not a new phenomenon. The surrounding region is brimming with resorts and ecolodges. Several of them boast onsite hot springs. Their offers vary from ultra-luxe wellness resorts to family style lodges toting amenities to please a wide variety of tastes.
There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to Arenal’s bubblies. How do you choose which hot springs hotel is right for you?
The following list will break down the options into friendly categories. Then you determine which hot spring venue or resort is right for you.
Best hot springs in Arenal
The Tabacon Hot Springs Resort & Spa is arguably the first and foremost hot springs destination in La Fortuna. It is also one of the most luxurious. Hence, day passes are more expensive than at any other resort.
However, it is arguably one of the most beautiful hot springs venues in La Fortuna. Its expansive springs and gardens encompass a large stretch of the Tabacon River. Visitors have access to several natural pools, waterfalls, and beautifully landscaped gardens providing privacy and serenity.
The resort has a first-class beauty and wellness spa. There are also a family pool with a water slideand a swim-up bar for the adults. And to top it off, Tabacon’s dining options are renowned for their gourmet quality and variety. Not surprisingly, the hotel is also considered one of the country’s best.
The Springs Resort & Spa is also at the top of the list as the best hot springs resort in Costa Rica. Covering some 165 acres, visitors have access to two separate spring “ambiances,” Las Lagunas Pools and Perdidos Springs. Both have several thermal pools to enjoy. These including extras like a water flume for the kids, swim-up bars, and manicured gardens.
What sets the Springs Resort apart from the rest, is its government sanctioned animal sanctuary. The open air exibits feature live tropical species, including wild cats, monkeys, and exotic birds that are either injured or unable to survive in the wild. The resident animals receive rehabilitation care while visitors learn about conservation and Costa Rica wildlife.
In addition, The Springs offer a two-day pass for a better rate than many other resorts advertise their one-day versions. Do the math and you’ll see the Springs are the best deal and the best hot springs in Costa Rica. The resort also boasts five restaurants and bars, a full-service spa, adventure tour & hot springs packages, and natural walking trails.
The best La Fortuna hot springs for families
The first and foremost family friendly hot springs hotels in La Fortuna is Baldi Hot Springs. Baldi is located midway between town and the Arenal Volcano National Park. It sits at the Volcano’s base, offering guests some of the best views around.
Baldi is as popular for full day visitors as it is for hotel guests. It features several pools ranging in temperature, size, and ambiance. A Baldi day pass is well priced and includes a dinner or lunch option.
For kids and the young at heart, there’s a hot springs play area featuring waterslides, fountains, and other steamy entertainment. There’s a set of three impressive waterslides for kids and adults. A ride through the fastest is sure to take your breath away despite your age and thrill threshold.
And then there are the hot springs caves. Towering (manmade) caverns with steaming jets of thermal waters cascading to the floor below. An enchanting alternative to the traditional hot spring pool.
The best budget friendly springs in La Fortuna
One of the best mid-range resorts that still promises excellent springs, family amenities, great views, and value for the price is Los Lagos, Hotel, Spa & Resort. Los Lagos is located just a few minutes from La Fortuna directly below the volcano.
Several pools are dedicated to children and families. They have fresh water slides and waterfalls made just for the little ones. A springs-focused wellness spa, a swim-up bar, and adult pools ensure everyone is entertained and pampered.
Los Lagos is a great option for families or groups wanting quality lodging and service at a good price that won’t overstretch the budget. Their day passes include a lunch or dinner option for less than other La Fortuna hot springs resorts.
Free hot springs La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Budget travelers need not look elsewhere to enjoy Arenal’s thermal gifts. Access to the hot thermal waters is available to everyone.
Known locally as Rio Chollin, this popular hot springs destination is free to the public. The steamy thermal river is actually the same that flows through the Tabacon Resort. And the main trail down to the river is just a few meters from the resort entrance.
To get to the Rio Chollin Springs, head west out of la Fortuna towards the Arenal Dam and Mystico Hanging Bridges Park. As soon as you see the Tabacon Resort look for a parking spot just past the designated hotel parking.
The springs are extremely popular and parking is sparse. We recommend you visit early in the morning or in the late afternoon/evening to beat the crowds.