Last updated on January 6th, 2021 at 12:01 pm EST
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We soak in Costa Rica hot springs more often than we should probably admit
We are hard workers. That truly goes without saying. But every now and again we like to treat ourselves to dips in local hot springs. Though we’ve done so outside of the La Fortuna region, including in the Rincon de la Vieja, Orosi, and Chirripo vicinities, Costa Rica’s best hot springs cluster around La Fortuna in the Arenal area of the country. Since we lived in and built our business from La Fortuna, we often put difficult workdays behind us by melting into the thermal-water pools that surrounded us. Given our familiarity with the various hot springs options, we’re qualified (and happy) to answer your Costa Rica hot springs questions.
Have a question about the hot springs that we don’t answer in the post below? Feel free to submit your question to us as a comment (see the comment box at the end of this post) and we’ll answer it asap.
Our answers to your Costa Rica hot springs questions
What do you do at the hot springs?
Simply put, you sit in pools filled with thermal water. Each hot springs attraction offers a variety of pools to wade in, each at varying water temperatures, and you’re free to roam from one pool to the next. Some hot springs, including the Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, the Los Laureles Hot Springs, the Los Lagos Hot Springs, the Tabacon Hot Springs, the Termalitas del Arenal Hot Springs, and the Termo Arenal Hot Springs have one or more waterslides to help pass the time. In addition, the Baldi Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, and the Los Laureles Hot Springs offer an aquatic playground to keep children entertained. The Los Laureles Hot Springs has a soccer field, basketball court, and beach volleyball court, the Los Lagos Hot Springs runs an on-site canopy (zip-lining) tour, and the Springs Resort Hot Springs has an on-site adventure center (called the Club Rio Outdoor Center) where you can participate in on-site adventure tours like horseback riding and river tubing. Beyond use of these additional (and optional) hot spring activities, the Costa Rica hot springs experience encompasses little else beyond enjoying a relaxing soak.
Do all of the hot springs properties offer the same number of pools?
No. Pool quantity varies by hot springs attraction.
Hot springs pool numbers by property:
The Baldi Hot Springs: 25 hot spring pools
The EcoTermales Hot Springs: 6 hot spring pools
The Tabacon Hot Springs: 5 hot spring pools
The Springs Resort Hot Springs: 18 hot spring pools
The Paradise Hot Springs: 7 hot spring pools + 1 jacuzzi
The Titoku Hot Springs: 8 pools
The Los Lagos Hot Springs: 10 pools
The Kalambu Hot Springs: 5 hot spring pools
The Los Laureles Hot Springs: 9 hot spring pools
Do the hot springs have lockers?
Yes. The Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, the Los Lagos Hot Springs, and the Los Laureles Hot Springs all charge its guests for the use of an on-site locker. If you plan to visit the Los Laureles Hot Springs, you may bring your own padlock for use at the hot springs attraction. The Paradise Hot Springs, the Titoku Hot Springs, and the Tabacon Hot Springs charge its guests a refundable deposit for the use of an on-site locker. The EcoTermales hot springs does not charge its guests a fee or a refundable deposit for use of an on-site locker.
Do the hot springs provide towels?
Yes. The Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Tabacon Hot Springs, the Paradise Hot Springs, the Los Lagos Hot Springs, the Titoku Hot Springs, and the Kalambu Hot Springs all charge its guests a refundable deposit for on-site towel use. Alternatively, you can bring your own towel to any hot springs property. The EcoTermales hot springs does not charge its guests a fee or a refundable deposit for on-site towel use. The Los Laureles Hot Springs do not offer an on-site towel service; you must bring your own towel if you plan to visit this hot springs attraction.
Are advance reservations for the hot springs recommended?
Most hot springs attractions require advance reservations so they have an idea of how much food and staff they’ll need each day. Smaller properties, such as the Tabacon Hot Springs, the EcoTermales Hot Springs, the Titoku Hot Springs, and the Paradise Hot Springs, enforce maximum capacity limits so advance reservations are recommended, if not required. To secure hot springs pass availability, especially if you plan to travel during Costa Rica’s high, peak, or shoulder seasons (see our related blog post When To Go To Costa Rica According To Cost, Weather, Wildlife, And More for more information about Costa Rica’s travel seasons), advance reservations are strongly recommended.
When are the Costa Rica hot springs open?
Each hot springs property sets its own operating times. Although operating times are subject to change, the following are the most current hours of operation we have on record for the top 12 hot springs properties in the Arenal area.
Hot springs hours of operation by property:
The Baldi Hot Springs: 9:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Sunday
The EcoTermales Hot Springs: 10:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Sunday
The Tabacon Hot Springs: 10:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Sunday
The Springs Resort Hot Springs: the regular pools open at 8:00am and close at 11:00pm Monday through Sunday; the Los Perdidos Hot Springs open at 10:00am and close at 10:00pm Monday through Sunday
The Paradise Hot Springs: 11:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Sunday
The Titoku Hot Springs: 10:00am to 8:00pm Monday through Sunday
The Los Lagos Hot Springs: 9:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Sunday
The Kalambu Hot Springs: 10:00am to 6:00pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 10:00am to 8:00pm on Fridays; 10:00am to 9:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays; closed Mondays and Tuesdays
The Los Laureles Hot Springs: 9:00am to 9:00pm Monday through Sunday
Can you bring food onto the hot springs property?
Generally, no. Most Costa Rica hot springs sell their own food and beverages at on-site restaurants, cafes, and/or bars and do not allow visitors to bring their own food onto the property. Exceptions include economy-quality hot springs that cater to locals who use the hot springs as a gathering place for family reunions, group get-togethers, and staff outings, including the Los Laureles Hot Springs, the Termalitas del Arenal Hot Springs, and the Termo Arenal Hot Springs. These properties offers individual picnic-style ranchos (some are equipped with electricity and/or barbecues) where you can prepare and serve your own food purchased off-site. Since the Rio Chollin Hot Springs are merely a public swimming hole comprised of thermal water, you’re welcome to bring your own food to the site.
Can you eat on-site at the hot springs?
Yes. The Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Tabacon Hot Springs, the Paradise Hot Springs, the EcoTermales Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, the Los Lagos Hot Springs, the Los Laureles Hot Springs, the Termalitas del Arenal Hot Springs, and the Termo Arenal Hot Springs have food and beverages available for purchase on-site at restaurants, cafes, and/or bars. Though the Titoku Hot Springs does not have a restaurant on-site (it only has a bar on-site), its off-site sister property, the resort-quality hotel Arenal Kioro, welcomes hot springs visitors to dine at an on-site restaurant called the Heliconias Restaurant.
Are meals included with Costa Rica hot springs visits?
This depends on the hot springs property you choose to visit and the details of the hot springs pass you purchase. Some tour operators, travel agencies, and hotels automatically include a meal with the hot springs packages they sell and others do not in order to make their packages appear less expensive. Hot springs passes for the Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, the Paradise Hot Springs, the Los Lagos Hot Springs, the Titoku Hot Springs and the EcoTermales Hot Springs may be reserved and purchased with or without the inclusion of a meal. At the Tabacon Hot Springs, a meal is automatically included with each of their hot springs pass options. At the Los Laureles Hot Springs, the Termalitas del Arenal Hot Springs, and the Termo Arenal Hot Springs there is no option to include a meal with the hot springs pass, however, food purchased may be purchased on-site or you’re welcome to bring your own food and drinks onto the grounds.
How do I get to the hot springs?
We created the below map to show where each La Fortuna hot springs attraction is located. Included on the map are the following sites:
- Baldi Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- EcoTermales Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Tabacon Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Springs Resort Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Paradise Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Titoku Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Los Lagos Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Kalambu Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Los Laureles Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Termalitas del Arenal Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Termo Arenal Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
- Rio Chollin Hot Springs (marked by a water icon)
Arenal Hot Springs Map
How long does it take to get to the hot springs?
This answer depends on which hot springs property you choose to visit and where you plan to depart from. Since hot springs properties exist all around the La Fortuna / Arenal area, the drive time could be anywhere from seven minutes to twenty minutes assuming the drive is made from downtown La Fortuna. If you have a specific Costa Rica hot springs property in mind, as well as a specific departure location, please post these details as a comment at the bottom of this page and we will respond with an approximate driving duration for the route.
Can I drive myself to and from the hot springs?
Yes. All hot springs properties in the Arenal area are accessible by car and have parking available on-site, with the exception of the Rio Chollin Hot Springs (limited street parking is your only option). You do not need a 4×4 vehicle to reach any of the hot springs attractions discussed in this post.
What should I bring to the hot springs for my visit?
If you do not plan to wear your bathing suit to the hot springs property you choose to visit, bring it with you while you wear clean and dry clothes to the site. If you plan to wear your bathing suit to the Costa Rica hot springs property, make sure you bring a pair of clean and dry clothes (including undergarments and footwear) with you for use at the end of your visit and/or for use while dining. Many hot springs properties will not allow you to dine while wet, while wearing bathing suit attire, or while wearing flip-flop footwear, so you’ll need to have access to dry clothes and shoes if you plan to eat on-site.
If you plan to visit a hot springs property that charges a fee for towel rentals (or requires a security deposit for towel use that you don’t want to pay), bring your own towel to the hot springs. If you plan to visit a hot springs property during the day, bring a hat and sunscreen for protection while you lounge in the sun. Beyond any other necessities you may need to bring with you, such as prescription medication, your hotel room key, your wallet, etc., keep your belongings to a minimum. Hot springs lockers are typically small, and having to drag a bulky bag around with you from pool to pool is a pain.
Do all of the hot springs offer the same pool temperatures?
No. Pool temperatures vary across hot springs properties.
Temperature ranges of the hot springs by property:
The Baldi Hot Springs: 90 to 152 degrees fahrenheit
The EcoTermales Hot Springs: 98 to 105 degrees fahrenheit
The Tabacon Hot Springs: 77 to 122 degrees fahrenheit
The Springs Resort Hot Springs: 83 to 103 degrees fahrenheit
The Paradise Hot Springs: 81 to 104 degrees fahrenheit
The Los Laureles Hot Springs: 77 to 113 degrees fahrenheit
I’ve heard there are free hot springs in La Fortuna. Is this true?
Somewhat. A thermal-water river flows near the property of the Tabacon Hot Springs that provides runoff from the resort’s hot springs. This river is what’s known as the Rio Chollin Hot Springs (you may also see the hot springs referenced as Tabaconcito or mini-Tabacon). Many locals opt to visit this site for their own personal hot springs use. Some foreign travelers, typically backpackers and other individuals on a tight budget, choose to visit the river as well. Though access is free, this hot springs site is unsupervised and not particularly safe. There are no change rooms, lockers, or places to store personal belongings. The river hides under a bridge off the main road that runs between La Fortuna and Lake Arenal (Road 142). There is no lighting in the area after dark. Nighttime visits are not recommended and can be dangerous.
For additional information regarding the free hot springs in La Fortuna / Arenal, don’t miss our related blog post:
I’ve heard that Tabacon is the only natural hot springs. Is this true?
No. The majority of Costa Rica hot springs are natural in the sense that their water comes from (and is initially heated by) the volcano. Specifically, the Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Paradise Hot Springs, the EcoTermales Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, the Los Lagos Hot Springs, the Titoku Hot Springs, the Los Laureles Hot Springs, the Termalitas del Arenal Hot Springs, and the Termo Arenal Hot Springs all pump water from the volcano into their property. For this reason, the hot springs are often referred to as “pools” since the water is pumped up from the ground and contained in pool-like craters you can soak in. In contrast, the Tabacon Hot Springs provides several man-made pools as other hot spring properties do, however, Tabacon also has a free-flowing hot spring river that runs throughout its property. Some people call the river natural because it flows freely above ground, but each of the other hot springs attractions in the La Fortuna area are also natural with respect to their mineral advantages and geothermal existence.
Is Tabacon’s free-flowing river better or worse than the other Costa Rica hot springs pools?
In our opinion, it is neither better nor worse, it is simply different. Regardless of the mechanisms used to fill a pool (i.e., via a free-flowing river or an underground pump), the essence of the hot springs experience–soaking in a warm body of mineral water–is similar across all Costa Rica hot springs attractions. Some people prefer the river-esque experience that Tabacon offers and others dislike the river’s slippery, sometimes algae-covered bottom. To each their own, we suppose, but regardless of where the hot springs experience is had, it is always relaxing and rewarding.
Do I need to be able to know how to know how to swim in order to visit the Costa Rica hot springs?
Not really, unless you opt to visit the Tabacon Hot Springs or the Rio Chollin Hot Springs whose thermal-water rivers can have strong, fast-moving currents. Being able to swim will likely help you feel more comfortable in and around water, however, and that level of comfort may heighten your overall hot springs experience regardless of which property you choose to visit. Most hot springs in Costa Rica offer pools of a variety of depths, so it’s possible to only soak your feet or wade in pools waist-deep. Though knowing how to swim is not required (so long as you exercise common sense in and around the water), parents/guardians should keep a close eye on children who do not know how to swim. These children should avoid hot springs features that require going underwater, such as rides down waterslides.
Do I need to be in good physical condition in order to visit the Costa Rica hot springs?
Yes. You do not need to have perfect health, but most Costa Rica hot springs properties warn against soaking in hot springs pools when the following conditions (and possibly others) are present.
Visits to Costa Rica hot springs should be avoided if any of the below conditions are present:
Conditions involving high fevers
Malignant tumors and cancerous conditions
Liver, kidney, or circulation disorders
Conditions presenting the risk of hemorrhaging
Congestive heart failure, recent stroke, or recent heart attack
Bathing under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Recent surgeries or procedures that could be affected by sudden slips or falls
If you suffer from any of the above conditions (or other conditions you think may put you at risk), it is up to you to act responsibly and avoid visiting the hot springs for your own health. Health checks are not conducted by Costa Rica hot springs property staff, and proof of medical clearance is not required when you reserve a hot springs pass or enter a hot springs property. Please, prioritize your health.
Is there a minimum age limit to visit the Costa Rica hot springs?
Generally, no. It is up to parents/guardians to decide whether or not their child(ren) should visit.
Will I see wildlife during my Costa Rica hot springs visit?
Probably not. Though wildlife-spotting is unpredictable and can occur at any location at any time, we rarely encounter wildlife during hot springs visits. Sometimes monkeys can be heard in the distance; a gecko, lizard, or an iguana might make an appearance; and often birds and butterflies fly by; but beyond these haphazard sightings, Costa Rica hot springs visits are not wildlife-spotting activities.
What happens if it rains the day of my Costa Rica hot springs reservation?
Costa Rica is part rainforest and rain is inevitable. For this reason, the majority of tours and activities–hot springs visits included–run rain or shine. Since visits to hot springs require you to get wet anyway, rain hardly hinders the experience. In the event of extreme weather, such as significant wind or lightning that would make entering the hot springs pools dangerous, most Costa Rica hot springs properties will allow the reservation to be changed to another day if availability and scheduling permits.
General La Fortuna hot springs recommendations and tips
If you plan to visit a hot springs attraction while in Costa Rica, we recommend knowing the following information first.
The smaller the hot springs property, the faster it fills up.
Smaller properties have capacity limits. These limits can limit availability, especially during the high season. During busy periods, large hot springs properties provide an advantage–additional pool space to spread out in so you don’t feel like you’re sharing the place with other people. On the other hand, during less popular periods, smaller hot springs properties can feel like they provide more intimate settings. Please see our related blog post When To Go To Costa Rica According To Cost, Weather, Wildlife, And More! for an explanation of Costa Rica’s high, low, peak, and shoulder seasons and how these seasons correspond with busy and non-busy times.
If you plan to visit La Fortuna’s hot springs several times, consider staying at a La Fortuna hotel that offers thermal-water pools on-site.
La Fortuna has several accommodations that treat guests to thermal-water pools, including the Arenal Springs Resort, Volcano Lodge, El Silencio Del Campo, Arenal Manoa, Royal Corin, Montana De Fuego, Arenal Paraiso, and Arenal Kokoro. If you choose to stay at one of these accommodations, we still recommend visiting an off-site hot springs attraction (such as the Springs Resort Hot Springs or the Tabacon Hot Springs) during one day or evening in order to obtain the full hot springs experience, but it’s nice to have other thermal-water pools you can relax in at your hotel during the remainder of your time in La Fortuna.
Don’t miss our related blog posts featuring La Fortuna and Arenal accommodations that offer hot springs on-site:
When a meal is included in the cost of the hot springs pass, more often than not, the lunch or dinner served is a buffet.
A few hot springs properties also offer a la carte menu options, but in some cases, meals ordered off the menu are charged separately and do not qualify for the meal automatically included with a hot springs pass. Some hot springs properties decide to offer a la carte menu options on a day-to-day basis according to the number of visitors.
Most hot springs in Costa Rica will not allow visitors to eat dinner at their on-site restaurant while wearing bathing suit attire.
Be sure to bring a dry change of clothes with you to wear when you’re ready to dine. You may also want to plan your hot spring visits around the hours that the meal is served at the hot springs property, to avoid changing out of your bathing suit into dry clothes to eat, then changing back into your bathing suit to continue enjoying the pools.
La Fortuna hot springs photos
Click on a photo below to scroll through the photo gallery.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have a Costa Rica hot springs question that we haven’t yet answered above? Leave it for us below!