Costa Rica is home to five towering mountain ranges and at least 60 volcanoes, five of which are currently active. It is the region’s often violent geothermal and seismic history that helped to form the spectrum of landscapes and ecosystems found here. Natural phenomena that are rarely seen in such concentration within a geographically small country.
Tunnels of boiling magma close to the earth’s surface heat underground rivers and lakes that once reaching the surface, bubble forth as mineral-rich springs and streams. Hundreds of these cherished sites are available to the public. And today, due to their growing popularity, hot springs resorts in Costa Rica are practically as ubiquitous as the springs themselves.
Close to active volcanoes is where visitors are likely to find the best hot springs in Costa Rica. The following is a list of popular favorites among travelers. It is far from exhaustive, however, and there are dozens of other charming thermal springs hotels and parks around the country to be explored.
Arenal hot springs
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort has the best natural hot springs in Costa Rica and the largest network of naturally flowing thermal mineral springs in San Carlos County. The resort is nestled within its own private nature reserve between the volcano and Arenal Volcano National Park.
The steamy Tabacon River originates beneath Arenal Volcano and flows through the resort, forming a breathtaking collection of Tabacon hot springs with waterfalls, quiet pools, and private nooks. The Shangri-La Gardens are an adults-only rainforest lounge with private gardens, steamy baths, and relaxation areas.
The resort’s main grounds also have a full-service fine dining restaurant and an ample swimming pool (thermal) – complete with a slide for the kids and a swim-up bar serving beverages and snacks.
The five-star Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal is perhaps the most luxurious thermal springs resort in the area. The award-winning boutique hotel spans 165 acres of landscaped gardens surrounding the hotel and individual villas. Guests have access to 28 mineral-rich hot and cold spring pools, a deluxe spa and fitness center, five unique dining options, five bars, and a wildlife rescue preserve.
There are two separate hot spring ambiances to explore. Las Lagunas has 12 pools, eight of which boast naturally heated waters pumped from underground, and four chlorinated pools. In all, water temperatures vary between 84 ̊F to 104 ̊F.
The Perdido Springs ambiance has seven hot and cold spring-fed pools that are interconnected by a system of trails that winds through a verdant forest canyon. The nutrient-rich waters range in temperature from 91 ̊F to 104 ̊F. Among them is a small jungle bar and a water flume, “the Monkey Slide” for the young at heart.
Baldi Hot Springs is one of the most frequented hot springs in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, and is very popular with families. The expansive resort is located at the base of the commanding volcano, and guests can gaze at the iconic cone from nearly every spot of the landscaped grounds. The thermal water is pumped from beneath the volcano to fill 25 distinct pools that vary in temperature from scalding to refreshingly cool.
Young and old alike can enjoy the vibrant game park, special kid’s pool, and extreme water slides for. In addition to the country’s biggest sauna within a towering cavern of steamy cascading rivers.
The Arenal Kioro Green Luxury Resort is one of La Fortuna’s many eco-resorts toting sustainability and environmental conservation. The hotel partners with a local private hot spring park located nearby. Guests are provided shuttle service to Titokú Hot Springs (Water from the Gods) where eight naturally landscaped pools of different sizes and temperatures await.
Claiming to have the only true source of natural thermal waters in the area, Eco Termales hot springs is a longtime local favorite. The day-visit destination boasts five volcanic pools set among romantic gardens with water temperatures ranging between 99°F and 106°F. There is also a cool fresh-water waterfall and swimming pool.
Natural and free hot springs, La Fortuna
For travelers wishing to stretch their vacation budget. Or those who prefer to explore Costa Rica at its purest, there are two free and naturally derived hot springs near La Fortuna.
The first, Tabaconcito, is part of the Tabacon River and is located just past the Tabacon Resort. Visitors can park near the resort and follow the locals heading towards the river access among the trees flanking the road.
The second spot is a stretch of the Agua Caliente River, which is located within the Arenal Volcano National Park near the bridge to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Visitors can ask at the park entrance exactly where to leave their car and walk down to the river.
Both mineral-rich springs are free and open to the public and are a great way to experience the steamy treasures of Arenal Volcano like the locals do.
Hot springs Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s northern Guanacaste Province is home to three distinct volcanoes that are the sources of myriad hot springs and bubbling mud baths. The volcanoes are located within the Rincón de la Vieja, Tenorio, and Miravalles National Parks.
Throughout the rugged countryside, visitors will find a host of lodges and eco-resorts offering hot spring pools in addition to a bountiful number of outdoor activities. River rafting, tubing, hiking, horseback riding, canyoning, zip-lining, and birding are among the most sought out adventure tours available.
Hacienda Guachipelin, Blue River Resort, Celeste Hideaway, and Vandara Hot Springs are just a few of the lodging options to choose from. And virtually every traveler will find a steamy pool and rejuvenating soak that fits their budget.
Hot springs close to San Jose
The fertile Orosi Valley in Cartago Province lies below the commanding Irazu Volcano and is a 1:15-hour drive from San José. It is the source of Costa Rica’s beloved rafting river, the Reventazón, delicious coffee, and several distinct hot springs.
Visitors looking to enjoy the valley’s thermal springs can choose from options ranging from public pools at the center of town, Balneario de Aguas Termales and Sports Bar los Patios to meticulously landscaped thermal spas, such as Hacienda Orosi.
Hotels featuring wellness spas as well as hot springs also abound. Among the long-time local favorites popular among wedding parties and honeymooners is the Rio Perlas Spa and Resort, among others.
Approximately two hours from San José and 40 minutes from La Fortuna lies Bio Thermales Hot Springs. Set in the lowland rainforests, the San Carlos hot springs bubble up from limestone beds deep within the earth’s surface and are rich in minerals and healing properties.
None of the 12 free-form cold and hot spring pools contain artificial chemicals as the naturally occurring chlorine and bicarbonates help to keep the thermal waters bacteria-free. Hot water temperatures range from 90 ̊F – 103 ̊F.
Bio Thermales is also known for its authentic Costa Rican culture and charm. The naturally landscaped gardens border 35-acres of rainforest brimming with native species of plants and flowers. Birds and countless species of wildlife can be spotted on the grounds, including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and reptiles.
Guests can stay in the traditionally inspired cabins and have access to the BBQ and picnic facilities as well as the hot spring pools.
Hot springs in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Veins of magma and heated water radiate from beneath Arenal Volcano and often emerge to the surface miles away. One such location is near the mountain towns of Monteverde and Santa Elena to the south of La Fortuna.
These small yet memorable spots are hidden deep within the rainforest and known only by the locals. Once in a while, the secret gets out, and visitors are blessed with the opportunity to share the unique experience.
Finca Lindora is a locally owned cattle ranch that offers horseback riding tours through the countryside and into the rainforest where idyllic hot spring pools await. Several participants of the tour comment that they developed a deep appreciation of Costa Rica’s culture and natural environment during the ride.
Hot springs near Quepos, Costa Rica
Visitors heading to the Pacific Coast beaches will be pleased to know that they can experience hotsprings Costa Rica without having to travel into the interior of the country.
Near Quepos and Manuel Antonio is the Hot Springs Lodge bordering the banks of the Canas River. The eco-lodge is located among 200 acres of primary rainforest crisscrossed by several rivers, spectacular waterfalls, and fresh-water pools.
The grounds are also the source of hot springs pools that guests can soak in after the rigorous outdoor expeditions offered by the lodge and in nearby Quepos.
A few miles from Manuel Antonio are small hot spring pools known as Dos Bocas Termales. The off-the-beaten-track pools are a local secret and accessed only through an organized tour. For more information, contact Manuel Antonio Experts tour company.