There is nothing better after a long hike than hot thermal waters to relax the muscles. And Costa Rica with its many active volcanoes and countless springs has some of that healthy and delicious heat to offer.
Here, you can hang out with hummingbirds within the lush tropical vegetation and watch lizards taking a little steam bath just next to the pools while healing heart and body in the hot mineral water.
What Are Costa Rica Hot Springs?
Hot springs are produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth’s crust and are found in areas with volcanic activity. If we consider that Costa Rica and Panama have emerged fairly recently by a volcanic mountain chain rising out of the sea, it is not surprising that the country hosts an abundance of thermal resorts.
The rich content of minerals in the water helps our body with circulation, which can lower blood pressure and the hot water relaxes the muscles. Costa Rica’s hot springs are the perfect pit stops for some relaxation between expeditions exploring the country.
Where Hot Springs Are Located In Costa Rica
Hot springs in Costa Rica are found mostly in the northern part. The most famous ones are located around the Arenal volcano, which is highly active and until recently provided a spectacle for visitors by spitting hot glowing lava every night.
This area, known as La Fortuna, provides an abundance of hot springs nestled in the beautiful lush greenness of the area. The other hot springs in Costa Rica, closer to the beaches and located around the beautiful Rincón de la Vieja national park on the Rio Negro in Guanacaste host other attractions such as hanging bridges and ziplining.
Most Popular Hot Springs In Costa Rica
In the area around La Fortuna, beautiful spring resorts offer pleasant access to the mineral-rich waters. Here, you can combine hiking in the beautiful national park around the Arenal volcano with a relaxing visit to the thermal waters.
The grand spa Tabacon on the river carrying the same name has natural hot springs and is definitely on the more luxurious side. The resort also offers other relaxing features such as massages and the gardens are filled with beautiful tropical flowers and very well tended to.
Not far from Tabacon are the Eco Termales hot springs, located on a privately owned and family operated property; it is one of the few in the area that is not part of a larger resort. Only a limited number of guests are admitted to the springs, so those who visit here can expect a more peaceful and romantic atmosphere.
One of our favorites is the Kalambu Hot Springs with their stunning volcano views, lush grounds full of flowers, water slides, and a great restaurant, and more than anything kids friendly, which for us means that there are a variety of shallow pools and also ones with lower temperatures.
Baldi hot springs offer day passes to its more than 25 natural spring-fed pools that vary in temperature, size, and shape. Thus guests have a lot of choice when to picking that perfect hot spring spot for a dip in nature. The Baldi hot springs have a kids’ area and offer fun for the whole family.
Another kids’ favorite is the Volcano Lodge and Springs, a beautiful moderately priced hotel that offers good breakfast, amazing views, and hiking trails along with family-friendly pools. Relaxing while your kids are having fun… what’s not to like?
Around La Fortuna, you can also find free hot springs, notably on the Tabacon river. Just next to the resort, cross a little bridge, and then turn left upon a trail leading along the river. You will soon see people relaxing in the natural pools. The best (and hottest) spots are further up!
Those who want to stay closer to the beach can visit hot springs in the Guanacaste area, located around the stunning Rincon de la Vieja national park.
The Rio Perdido, meaning “lost river”, is the centerpiece of the 600-acre private reserve which allows you to enjoy adventures such as ziplining and mountain biking as well as wellness all in an exclusive setting. This tastefully designed property with comfortable housing is definitely high end, but exquisite in every way.
Hacienda Guachepelin is a good place for families, even though not many kids were there when we visited. You can do tubing on the river here and go on little adventures. The design of the whole place is also more traditional, so you can get a little campo feel.
The Vandara park offers not only hot springs but also zip lining and mud baths. It is a great place to relax while being immersed in Costa Rica’s beautiful nature and have many activities close by.
If you are looking for a wilder experience, you can go to the free natural hot springs on the road to the Rio Celeste waterfall. This magical blue river is worth a visit in any case and fun exploring with kids!
You can find hot springs that are more developed in the Thermomania resort and spa. Here, you can enjoy facilities such as a bar and restaurant, camping and cabanas and even get a massage. This place is especially nice with kids and they offer excursions such as a tour to the Miravalles volcano, a zip-lining, canopy, and horse tour as well as a visit of the local wind and geothermal power facilities.
If you go to private hot springs where you pay an entrance fee, it will be safe. If you go to free wild ones, you should avoid bringing valuables or have someone watch your things while you’re in the water.
Different pools will have varying temperatures, they range between 77-122 Fahrenheit.
Hot springs can be dangerous if they are excessively hot. None of the commonly visited ones fall under that category and hot springs in Costa Rica are not dangerous.
The closest hot springs to the beach are the ones in Guanacaste. From there, you can be on the beach in Playa Hermosa in roughly an hour.