For travelers looking to warm themselves in thermal waters heated by active volcanoes, there’s no better destination than Costa Rica. One of the country’s top spots for tourism, the area around the Arenal volcano offers more than a dozen bathing facilities, many of which feature amenities like swim-up bars, water slides, and tropical cocktails. While a few of the hot springs are only open for day visits, others are incorporated into hotels that allow guests round-the-clock access. It doesn’t get much better than a relaxing, after-dinner dip on a romantic getaway.
While it might come as a surprise to some visitors, Arenal is not the only place to soak until your fingers turn to prunes. Newer outlets in Guanacaste surrounding the Rincón de la Vieja and Miravalles volcanoes are also worth a visit, and in this region, baths in volcanic mud are very popular. Guests slather themselves in the mineral-rich mud, which then hardens and can be washed off after yet another dip in the hot springs.
Tabacon Grand Spa and Thermal Resort
Tabacon was the first hot springs facility in Costa Rica, and it remains the most impressive. Its two natural rivers are divided into dozens of bathing areas, and if you wander around enough, you’ll find secret bars and private spaces. Oh yeah, and there’s a waterslide and a swim-up bar with yummy cocktails.
A slightly newer site, Rio Perdidio is tucked behind Bagaces, a little-explored mountain town in the foothills of the Miravalles Volcano on the way to Guanacaste. The springs here are totally natural and the setting is wildly picturesque, with warm green water surrounded by dry forest and incredible rock formations.
Set back from the Arenal Volcano, this magnificent hotel and its sprawling grounds are the mecca of hot springs. There are more than a dozen pools to choose from, some of which feature water slides and swim-up bars. Although the water is pumped in, these pools are as therapeutic as any.
Eco Termales Hot Springs
For a more intimate hot springs experience, Eco Termales is a smaller facility in the Arenal area that is solely focused on its baths. The space around the pools teems with flora and fauna; I once floated on my back for 20 minutes here watching a toucan fly from one tree to another overhead. The on-site restaurant is also delicious.
Vandara Hot Springs and Adventure
Heated by Rincón de la Vieja, this hot springs and adventure facility includes zip-lining, horseback riding, and a giant waterslide. After you’ve finished with the activities, its time for a dip in the Tizate hot springs, man-made pools filled with thermal waters heated by the nearby volcano. Mud baths and mineral treatments are also available.