If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, a thermal hot springs visit is likely high on your list of things to do!
Fortunately, Costa Rica has dozens of therapeutic hot springs located across the country in popular tourist destinations like La Fortuna and Guanacaste, so you can experience the laid-back “pura vida” lifestyle wherever it’s most convenient for you.
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly destination or a romantic couples getaway, Costa Rica has plenty of hot springs to satisfy all types of travelers.
Before discovering the most popular Costa Rica hot springs, let’s take a look at what hot springs are and why they should be at the top of your sightseeing list for your Costa Rica vacation!
What Are Hot Springs?
Hot springs are formed when subsurface magma (from volcanoes) heats groundwater, creating steam and hot thermal water under the earth’s surface. Then, as the hot water rises through cracks in the ground, hot springs, mud pools, and geysers are created when the water reaches the surface.
Natural doctors have been using the mineral-rich thermal water in hot springs to cure aches and pains for over 200 years. Aside from their medicinal qualities, hot springs are also a popular destination for tourists, especially in countries with lots of volcanic activity, like Iceland, Japan, and Costa Rica.
Hot springs are usually categorized by their temperature and pH value.
Acidic hot springs can remove old, calloused skin and have sterilizing abilities.
Alkaline hot springs are known for removing dirt and oil from the skin.
Neutral hot springs are best for sensitive skin and young children since they have fewer stimuli.
Why Should I Visit Costa Rica’s Hot Springs?
Costa Rica’s hot springs provide a soothing place for year-round relaxation, rejuvenation, and therapeutic relief for locals and visitors alike. Costa Rica has an abundance of natural hot springs due to the hundreds of volcanoes scattered throughout the country.
Though the best hot springs in Costa Rica are popular during all times of the year, if you’re visiting during the high season from December to April, room rates will be higher than during the low season, from May to November.
If you’re planning to visit during peak season and want to see any popular destinations below, make reservations plenty of time in advance. Some hot springs require you to reserve time slots or a day pass to visit, and other resorts book out months in advance.
Most hot springs in Costa Rica are located in two regions—near the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna or the Guanacaste Province. Here’s an overview of the best hot springs in Costa Rica to help you plan your trip!
Best Arenal Hot Springs
These springs and resorts are located near the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna.
The Springs Resort Hot Springs
The Springs Resort & Spa is the perfect place to visit in La Fortuna if you’re looking for a location that’s tucked away in the rainforest. The Springs Resort has two sections, Los Lagunas and Perdido Springs, that are both open to non-resort guests with a day pass.
At Los Lagunas, guests can soak in twelve pools of varying temperatures, shapes, and sizes across two acres of lush landscaping. Some pools are even multi-level and feature waterfalls. Guests can also select from chlorinated or natural pools since one-third of the springs are treated with chlorine.
If you’re looking for a more peaceful atmosphere, you may prefer the spring-fed pools hidden between lush vegetation along a winding trail at Perdido Springs. Here, you’ll also be able to enjoy spectacular views of the rainforest and Arenal Volcano. There is also a swim-up bar and a waterslide called the Monkey Slide, so it’s a great location to visit with kids.
At The Springs Resort & Spa, guests can also visit the Club Rio Outdoor Center. This outdoor center offers tours and activities like horseback riding, rock climbing, river kayaking, and more to enhance your family’s day at the Arenal hot springs in La Fortuna.
EcoTermales Hot Springs
If you’d like to support a locally-owned business in the La Fortuna area during your trip to Costa Rica and are searching for a relaxing, low-key environment, consider visiting the EcoTermales Hot Springs.
They have four hot springs ranging in temperature, and one even has a waterfall you can stand beneath. This is one of the only hot springs in La Fortuna that’s not attached to a resort, so it’s open to the public.
EcoTermales enforces a limited daily entry, so you’ll truly be able to feel relaxed without being swarmed by hundreds of tourists during your hot springs visit.
When you’re finished with your thermal experience, you’ll be able to explore the property’s hiking trails through the rainforest, observe the native wildlife, or enjoy a meal and cocktail at the authentic Costa Rican restaurant onsite.
Tabacon Thermal Resort Hot Springs
The Tabacón Thermal Resort was one of the first hot springs locations to open in the La Fortuna area, and this destination is still one of the most popular spots to visit Costa Rican hot springs today!
The Tabacon Hot Springs are eco-friendly, and they’re one of the only locations in Costa Rica to offer naturally-heated hot springs—you won’t find any pumps or re-heated water here! The Tabacon River flows through the entire property, and it constantly provides fresh, circulating water to all the pools.
Many of the pools at Tabacon Hot Springs are open to the public with a day pass, but if you’re staying at the resort, you’ll be able to access a quieter environment exclusive to hotel guests who stay onsite. The resort features a world-class spa and attentive service, and it is beautifully landscaped to offer guests and visitors a peaceful, relaxing environment.
While you’re visiting the Tabacon Hot Springs, you can also visit the Shangri-La Gardens. This private, adults-only section of the property offers hot spring pools and walking trails through a tropical garden designed to provide guests with an intimate, romantic experience.
Best Guanacaste Hot Springs
Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province is home to some of the best hot springs in the country. The province is also famous for its active volcanoes, rainforests and other natural attractions. Here are some of our favorite spots to relax.
Rio Perdido Hotel & Thermal River
The Rio Perdido Hotel & Thermal River is located just a short one-hour drive from the Liberia International Airport in the Guanacaste Province. This small, boutique-style hotel offers tons of fun activities, like spa treatments, zip-lining, and mountain biking.
However, the resort’s premier attraction is the hot springs, naturally heated by the Miravalles Volcano.
Even if you don’t stay at the resort, you can book a day pass to enjoy the thermal river, mineral pools, volcanic mud, and other natural amenities available on the property.
Rio Negro Hot Springs
The Rio Negro Hot Springs is located in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The hot spring pools are heated by the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano—the largest active volcano in the Guanacaste Province.
Since this location isn’t as well-known as some of the other hot springs in Costa Rica, you’ll likely be able to enjoy a quieter, laid-back environment when you visit. Rio Negro Hot Springs has nearly a dozen pools that you can access from hanging bridges scattered around the private property.
You can book a tour through the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin to visit the Rio Negro Hot Springs, regardless of if you’re staying on the property or at another location.
FAQs About Hot Springs in Costa Rica
Yes, Costa Rica has hundreds of natural hot springs created by heated groundwater that emerges from cracks in the earth’s surface. The pool water is heated from magma that escapes from volcanic vents.
In Arenal, Costa Rica, visitors love The Springs Resort Hot Springs, EcoTermales Hot Springs, Tabacon Thermal Resort Hot Springs, Paradise Hot Springs, and Baldi Hot Springs.
In Guanacaste, visitors enjoy visiting the hot springs at the Rio Perdido Hotel & Thermal River and the Rio Negro Hot Springs.
Yes, you can swim in the hot springs in Costa Rica. Though you should never submerge your head completely in a non-commercialized hot spring, you can wade in the pools, soak your feet, or relax your body in the pool from the neck down.
Most Costa Rica hot springs are located in the Arenal area, near La Fortuna. There are also several hot springs pools in the Guanacaste Province near the country’s Pacific Coast.