A natural and therapeutic hot thermal spring is the ultimate calling card of Costa Rica, the world’s most coveted wellness destination. If soaking in a natural spring, surrounded by sensational tropical wilderness, is your dream, then trust that you won’t find a better destination.
Blessed by over 200 separate volcanic areas and five active volcanoes, and endowed with an impressive infrastructure, Costa Rica is home to a host of geothermally heated thermal pools and volcanic mud baths which, unlike the standard ‘spas’ one finds at home (which are no-doubt relaxing) are proven to have beneficial health benefits.
Not all spas are created equal…
At times, there can be confusion in regards to the terms ‘hot spring’ and ‘spa’ and you may have seen them used interchangeably to mean either an establishment (anywhere) offering treatments based on natural products or an establishment actually located at the source of where those minerals emerge. Technically speaking, however, a true spa is only the latter but as times change the more used term to denote a naturally-occurring therapeutic source is hot spring.
For a hot spring to be considered genuine, it must satisfy three basic conditions: the spring must be mineral-infused, natural (organic) in nature and thermally heated.
The stunning benefits of therapeutic hot springs
Most countries boasting high volcanic activity have been indulging in therapeutic springs since time immemorial. The combination of heat and minerals have been proven to improve circulation, treat skin conditions and cure a wide array of ailments. In countries like Costa Rica, hot springs are used as cures and health treatments (not merely for relaxation) and cooled spring water is also sometimes suitable for drinking. But not always! Make sure you always ask before ingesting any – usually way too hot – spring water.
Costa Rica – the world leader in natural hot spring treatments
Given its unique geology, Costa Rica is a world-leader in genuine hot spring treatments and offers a vast array of options in all of its most popular destinations. What makes this country so very special in this regard, is the sheer number of luxury resorts centered on naturally-occurring springs and mud pools, as well as of-the-beaten path destinations where you can safely soak in an untouched natural hot-spring pool.
Here are our favorite:
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal-Resort – Arenal Volcano National Park
The most established luxurious resort in the Arenal region, Tabacon is the queen of spas in Costa Rica and the one by which all others are measured. That’s because the spring in Tabacon are 100% naturally utilized from Volcano Arenal, with the resort not using any kind of pump to supply the water from a nearby source or element to reheat their pools. Ranging in warmth from 80 to 122F, the springs at Tabacon are divided, offering you the option of family-friendly or adults-only pools. What makes this place so very special, it must be said, is the native wilderness which frames the springs and has been left to thrive and shelter the pools. This marriage of premier luxury and unspoilt wilderness is arguably what makes Tabacon the most sought-after resort in the whole country.
Baldi Hot Springs – Arenal Volcano National Park
One of the most popular and visited hot spring resorts in the country, Baldi is set on the flanks of Arenal Volcano and boasts no less than 25 hot springs for you to choose from. As the resort gives day passes at very reasonable prices, and given its sheer size (Baldi is touted as the largest hot spring resorts in the world) this is one of the busiest to boot and particularly beloved by local and visiting families. There’s LOADS to do here, with exhilarating slides for kids and adults alike, kids’ programs, sauna and food services designed to keep you entertained and soaking, all day long.
Whilst Arenal can claim to have the monopoly of best-established and most popular hot-spring resorts, there are certainly plenty of hidden natural spring treasures all over the country.
Vandara Hot Springs – Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Rincon de la Vieja is one of five active volcanoes in Costa Rica and the Vandara hot springs its wonderful side-kick. A man-made pool filled with spring water is a fantastic playground and the options in the park include mud and mineral treatments amongst a host of active pursuits. Fabulous as a full-day visit when passing through the region. If you wish to stay a little longer (like, forever!) and enjoy this incredible, fun-filled national park, then check out the gorgeous Borinquen Resort, a great base for active pursuits and, naturally, boasting plenty of hot spring action as well.
Rio Perdido – Miravalles Volcano
The turquoise spring waters of the Rio Perdido are immensely enticing, combining with breathtaking luscious wilderness to create what must be one of the most picturesque settings of all. A relative newcomer to the scene, the Rio Perdido hot springs offer a much wilder and less polished experience which, for many, can be even more appealing. Here in the Guanacaste region, the hot spring resort offers a world of adventure in combination to wellness treatments, and just enough luxurious comfort to make an extended stay absolutely rewarding. Beautifully appointed forest bungalows bring you at one with the beautiful and dramatically rocky nature, and a selection of massages, yoga classes and walking trails allow you to soak up the surrounding gems, from mountain top to mineral springs.
If you’re a fan of spa treatments then there’s no doubt Costa Rica will appeal. And why not? With the kind of natural assets and magnificent wilderness the country possesses, not indulging in the local favorite passion would be a travesty!