Last updated on December 17th, 2020 at 04:43 pm EST
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We’ve experienced all 12 hot springs in La Fortuna Costa Rica!
Continue reading below to read about our visits to Costa Rica’s Tabacon Hot Springs.
This article offers our review of the Tabacon Hot Springs. Don’t miss all of the hot springs reviews we include in our La Fortuna Hot Springs Guide:
Get the Costa Rica info you need by browsing our article’s TABLE OF CONTENTS:
An overview of the Tabacon Hot Springs in La Fortuna Costa Rica
If you’ve already conducted a bit of research on hot springs options in La Fortuna, you’ve no doubt already heard of the Tabacon Hot Springs. They’re easily one of the most well-known and well-loved hot springs attractions in all of Costa Rica. They also come with one of the highest price tags for hot springs passes, which may have you asking yourself: “What’s so great about the Tabacon Hot Springs?” and “Are they worth the added expense?”
Before we get to our review of the Tabacon Hot Springs below, we’ll start by clarifying some misinformation. Through several sources are quick to (erroneously) state that the attraction is Arenal’s only natural hot springs, the more accurate statement is: the Tabacon Hot Springs are the only hot springs attraction in the Arenal area that has a non-pumped (i.e., free-flowing) hot spring river. Like most other hot springs attractions in La Fortuna, the Tabacon Hot Springs also has man-made hot spring pools.
To confirm, all hot springs attractions in La Fortuna are “natural” in the sense that they deliver mineral-rich thermal water that comes from the Arenal Volcano. Some hot springs in La Fortuna pump that water up from the ground into pools. Hot spring pools at inexpensive attractions often resemble swimming pools and hot spring pools at more expensive attractions tend to look like elegant lagoons. A few hot springs attractions around Arenal have a series of connected pools you can soak in where thermal water flows freely from one pool to the next. The Tabacon Hot Springs is one such attraction. What makes the Tabacon Hot Springs unique, however, is that its thermal water reaches the property from above the ground (via a mountain-fed river) as opposed to below the ground (via a pump that taps into an underground spring).
It’s important to reiterate that the non-pumped (i.e., free-flowing) hot spring river at the Tabacon Hot Springs is just that: a river. Though the shape of its in-river pools were created in part with concrete, the majority of the river isn’t artificial. It’s edged by slippery rocks, it has a stony bottom that can sometimes feel slimy (use of water shoes is recommended), and it’s full of fast-moving water. If you’d prefer to visit an attraction with hot springs that are easy to slip into, relax in, and climb out of, you may want to rethink spending extra money on Tabacon. If you’re in search of a paradisaical hot springs experience that invites you to be at one with nature, the raw oasis you’ll find at the Tabacon Hot Springs is unmatched elsewhere in the region.
Who should (and who shouldn’t) visit the Tabacon Hot Springs
Consider choosing the Tabacon Hot Springs if you’re looking for a hot springs site to enjoy on your own, or with a friend or significant other. Though the property does welcome groups, such as family groups, friend groups, school groups, and sports teams, the thermal-water river doesn’t offer a ton of space to comfortably spread out in, and the atmosphere is more calm and romantic than communal and entertaining.
If your budget is tight, it would be best to choose a different hot springs attraction, as Tabacon Hot Springs passes are some of the most expensive passes around. If you can afford the splurge, great! If you can’t, consider visiting one of La Fortuna’s many other (less expensive) hot spring sites instead. To read the reviews we wrote for other hot springs attractions in the Arenal area, don’t miss the links at the top of this article.
If you wish to stay at a La Fortuna hotel that has hot springs on-site, you can choose the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, the resident hotel of the Tabacon Hot Springs. It’s important to note, however, that the Tabacon Themal Resort & Spa’s on-site hot springs are accessible to the public via the purchase of a hot springs pass; they are not reserved for hotel guests. If you’d prefer to stay at a La Fortuna hotel that limits hot springs access to hotel guests only, it would be best to choose a different hotel.
Learn what to expect from Costa Rica’s La Fortuna Hot Springs according to which hot springs attraction you plan to visit
Want to know what kind of thermal water experience you’ll have before you decide which hot springs in La Fortuna is the best to visit? We’ve got you covered. Not only have we personally experienced 12 different hot springs attractions in Costa Rica’s La Fortuna area alone, we’ve written a review of each La Fortuna hot springs property to help you decide for yourself which is most deserving of your time and money. Below is our review of the Tabacon Hot Springs attraction which documents the following:
- Location: Where you’ll find the hot springs property, complete with the hot springs’ physical address and a map
- Hours: When you can visit the hot springs property during the day and throughout the week
- Price range: A range of prices you can expect to pay for a hot springs pass with or without a meal included (prices are subject to change without notice)
- Reservations: A confirmation of whether advance reservations are required to acquire a hot springs pass
- Size and design: Whether you can expect to enjoy and explore a small, medium, or large hot springs property
- Popularity: Whether you can expect to be joined by crowds at the hot springs
- Pools and rivers: What you can expect to find at the hot springs in terms of thermal-water pools and rivers
- Additional on-site features: What else you can expect to find at the hot springs in addition to thermal-water pools/rivers
- Atmosphere: What type of ambiance you can expect to find at the hot springs
- Dining: Whether you can expect to eat and/or drink on-site at the hot springs
- Accommodations: Whether the hot springs property offers a hotel on-site
- Towels and lockers: Whether you can expect to receive and/or pay for towels and lockers at the hot springs
- Parking: Whether you can expect to find parking at the hot springs
- 4×4 vehicle required: Whether a 4×4 vehicle is required to reach the hot springs
- Alternative hot springs names: Other names for the hot springs property that locals, GPS navigational systems, and maps may cite
Our La Fortuna Hot Springs rating system
We also rate Costa Rica’s La Fortuna hot springs according to a 1-10 scale (1 being the worst and 10 being the best). If you’re short on time, visit each hot springs review page on our blog (we’ve written one review for each hot springs property in La Fortuna; see the top of this article for links to each review) and look for the scale to quickly identify how we rate the hot springs.
The scales look like this:
To learn which rating we gave the Tabacon Hot Springs, please see the rating provided at the top of this article.
Tabacon Hot Springs photo gallery
We took the below photos during our most recent visit to the Tabacon Hot Springs. Click on any photo below to view a larger version.
Tabacon Hot Springs location
The official address of the Tabacon Hot Springs is 11 km oeste del Parque Central (11 km west of the Central Park), La Fortuna, 21007, Costa Rica.
The Tabacon Hot Springs is the one of the furthest hot springs properties from La Fortuna. It takes approximately 15 minutes to drive to the Tabacon Resort Hot Springs from downtown La Fortuna. If arriving from the south/east (via downtown La Fortuna), the Tabacon Hot Springs will be on your left (just after the entrance to the Tabacon Resort hotel, which will be on your right). Look for the large entrance signed for the Tabacon Hot Springs.
Tabacon Hot Springs map
Tabacon Hot Springs hours
Though the Tabacon Hot Springs hours are subject to change at anytime, the most recent operating hours we’ve recorded are 10:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Sunday for day pass visitors and 8:00am to 10:00pm for hotel guests.
Tabacon Hot Springs price range
Though entrance fees to the Tabacon Hot Springs are subject to change at anytime, the most recent prices we’ve recorded are $85 per adult and $38 per child age 6-11 (children ages 0-5 are free) for a full-day hot springs pass that includes one meal (either lunch or dinner). During peak busy periods (typically Semana Santa), the fees of $94 per adult and $42 per child age 6-11 (children ages 0-5 are free) apply.
If you’d prefer to visit the Tabacon Hot Springs for only a few hours, you can choose to purchase their 4-hour morning pass (10:00am to 2:00pm), which includes lunch, or their 4-hour evening pass (6:00pm to 10:00pm), which includes dinner. The most recent prices we’ve recorded for either the morning pass (with lunch) or the evening pass (with dinner) are $70 per adult and $28 per child age 6-11 (children ages 0-5 are free) during the majority of the year, and $77 per adult and $32 per child age 6-11 (children ages 0-5 are free) during peak busy periods (typically Semana Santa).
Are the Tabacon Springs expensive?
On the spectrum of hot spring attractions you can visit in La Fortuna, the Tabacon Hot Springs compete with the Springs Resort Hot Springs as high-end options in terms of overall quality. For this reason, and compared to the prices you’ll see offered by other (lower-quality) hot springs attractions around Arenal, the costs associated with the Tabacon Hot Springs’ passes are considered high.
Tabacon Hot Springs reservations
Advance reservations are highly recommended for Tabacon Hot Springs passes at all times of year, especially during the busiest times of year, including the Christmas/New Year holidays and Semana Santa (Easter). Hot springs passes can be purchased directly from the Tabacon Hot Springs.
Tabacon Hot Springs size and design
The Tabacon Hot Springs are below average size. They’re also one of La Fortuna’s most natural-feeling hot springs attractions because they’re set among dense secondary forest.
The Tabacon Hot Springs’ entrance, reception area, and main restaurant sit on the top level of the property. A set of stairs adjacent to the restaurant leads down to the property’s lower level, which is where change rooms, lockers, bars, a spa, and the on-site pools and hot springs are located.
The majority of the Tabacon Hot Springs’ property is taken up by the on-site spa (access is restricted to paying clientele) and Tabacon’s notorious free-flowing hot spring river, about 150 meters of which is accessible to visitors. Bathers leisurely walk around the place, moving from one area of the river to another every so often for a change in scenery and a chance to soak in water that’s a different temperature. Since the thermal water here flows naturally from the area’s mountain, the highest part of the river (located closest to the volcano) is the warmest. Sections of the river that sit further downstream (as well as the water that fills the attraction’s on-site pools) offer slightly cooler temps. The hottest water available is found within the adult-only area known as the Shangri-La Gardens, a space that’s private to guests of the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa and is inaccessible to day pass visitors.
Tabacon Hot Springs popularity
The Tabacon Hot Springs are one of the most popular hot springs attractions in La Fortuna. Though the popularity of most La Fortuna hot springs properties fluctuates throughout the year (mid-December to April and mid-June to mid-August are typically the busiest periods), the Tabacon Hot Springs receives visitors on the regular year-round. This is in part because the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa delivers a steady stream of bathers in the form of hotel guests.
Tabacon Hot Springs pools and rivers
The Tabacon Hot Springs’ primary attraction is its free-flowing hot spring river, though 5 additional thermal-water pools exist on the property. Together, they range in temperature between 24 and 40 degrees Celsius.
Nearest to the entrance to the Tabacon Hot Springs (and down a flight of stairs) are a set of swimming pools (including a kids’ pool) accompanied by chaise lounge chairs, tables with umbrellas, and a bar with an Indigenous, rancho-style roof. A curvy waterslide spits swimmers into the biggest pool of the bunch. A few feet away are a set of change rooms (complete with lockers) and the entrance to Tabacon’s free-flowing, thermal-water river. From the entrance, a series of stone and concrete paths twine around partly cleared forest and lead to several river entry points, crossing over 9 small footbridges along the way. Beautifully landscaped, colorful gardens bursting with ornamental plants, ferns, tall grasses, heliconias, and flowers fill the area. Soft lighting illuminates the paths after dark and sets a blissful evening mood.
Are the Tabacon Hot Springs natural?
The Tabacon Hot Springs are natural in the sense that the property’s mineral-rich thermal water comes from the area and is heated in part by the Arenal Volcano. The thermal-water is contained on-site in a free-flowing river and man-made pools.
Additional on-site features and amenities offered by the Tabacon Hot Springs
Extra features and amenities you’ll find on-site at the Tabacon Hot Springs
- The Shangri-La Gardens (an adult-only section of the Tabacon Hot Springs that provides access to a private part of the thermal-water river, private seating areas including lounge beds, and a private bar; access to the Shangri-La Gardens is free but is limited to guests of the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa)
- A spa (spa services not included in the cost of the hot springs pass)
- A hotel (overnight stays not included in the cost of the hot springs pass)
- Restaurants and bars (food/drinks not included in the cost of the hot springs pass, except in cases when a hot springs pass including a meal is purchased)
Pool-area features and amenities you’ll find at the Tabacon Hot Springs
- Small waterfalls
- A waterslide
- Poolside tables and chairs
- Wet bars with in-pool stools
- In-pool steps and railings
- An informative map near the change rooms that indicates the location of Tabacon’s pools, restaurant, lockers, spa, and Shangri-La Gardens
Tabacon Hot Springs atmosphere
Built as an idyllic resort, the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa is rife with swanky offerings, luxuriant touches, and attentive customer service. Its on-site hot springs, the Tabacon Hot Springs, are equally first-rate, which casts an aura of sophistication over the attraction. This is one of the most romantic hot springs properties you can visit in La Fortuna, thanks to the free-flowing hot spring river that tumbles through the property, creating a series of beautiful waterfalls. If you plan to visit with a significant other, and especially if you’re on your honeymoon, you’ll particularly love the romantic ambiance that wafts around the Tabacon Hot Springs, most notably during the evening when it’s easy to give in to the peaceful sound of running thermal water and the warmth of its rejuvenating mist.
Dining at the Tabacon Hot Springs
The Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa has 2 on-site restaurants: the Los Tucanes Restaurant (the resort’s main restaurant which serves hotel guests) and the Ave del Paraiso Restaurant (located at the Tabacon Hot Springs and open to hotel guests and day pass visitors). It also offers 4 on-site bars. Lunch and dinner (if purchased with the hot springs pass) are served at the Ave del Paraiso Restaurant, an open-concept establishment that sits just beyond the entrance to the Tabacon Hot Springs and overlooks the property’s main pool. Lunch is served at the Ave del Paraiso Restaurant between 12:00pm and 4:00pm daily. Dinner is served at the Ave del Paraiso Restaurant between 5:00pm and 9:30pm daily. If you’re parched before 12:00pm, between 4:00pm and 5:00pm, or after 9:30pm, head to the Tabacon Hot Springs’ poolside bar (formally called the “Arenal Pool Bar”). It’s open between 10:00am and 10:00pm daily.
Staying overnight at the Tabacon Hot Springs
The Tabacon Hot Springs are the resident hot springs of the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, a non-all-inclusive resort in Costa Rica’s Arenal region that offers contemporary and luxurious guest rooms and suites. Unlike a few other La Fortuna hotels that offer private hot springs on-site, the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa welcomes non-hotel guests (a.k.a., members of the public) to access their hot springs via the use of a day pass.
If you’re looking to have a high-quality resort experience in La Fortuna, one of the best properties you can stay at is the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa. In addition to its hot springs, the resort impresses with modern, contemporary-style rooms; 2 restaurants; 4 bars; a full-service spa with open-air bungalows; a gift shop; and its private, adult-only (and hotel guest-only) relaxation center called the Shangri-La Gardens.
Towels and lockers at the Tabacon Hot Springs
The Tabacon Hot Springs offer both a towel rental service and a locker rental service. The optional towel rental service requires payment of a $20 (plus 13% tax) per towel deposit. The optional locker rental service requires payment of a $50 (plus 13% tax) per locker deposit. Guests of the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa are welcome to use towels and lockers without providing a deposit.
Parking at the Tabacon Hot Springs
Secure parking in a gated lot across the street from the Tabacon Hot Springs is accessible and offered free of charge to Tabacon Hot Springs day pass visitors. Guests of the Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa are provided with valet parking on-site at the hotel. A complimentary, 1-minute shuttle service transports hotel guests to and from the Tabacon Hot Springs for free. It commutes between the hotel and the hot springs every few minutes. A reservation is not required.
Tabacon Hot Springs 4×4 requirement
A 4×4 vehicle is not required to reach the Tabacon Hot Springs.
Alternative names for the Tabacon Hot Springs
The Tabacon Resort Hot Springs
The hot springs at the Tabacon Resort
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to the Tabacon Hot Springs? How would you review the hot springs experience?