Hot Springs Hopping in Arenal
Delighting visitors with its thunderous rumbles and fiery lava displays, Arenal is one of the Earth’s most active volcanoes. This premiere vacation destination is synonymous with adrenaline-fueled adventure tours replete with ample opportunities to defy gravity, whether zip-lining above the rainforest canopy, or rappelling down a tropical cascade.
With its impressive lineup of outdoor pursuits, I wasn’t expecting to be pampered during my visit to this bustling town. Conquer my fear of heights while careening 500 feet above ground? You bet. But melting into a state of utter bliss was an unforeseen surprise.
In addition to mineral hot springs, Costa Rica’s adventure capital boasts a nice selection of luxury spas. While my friends filled their itineraries with horseback rides, rainforest hikes, and the ubiquitous canopy tours, I opted to de-stress on my holiday, and indulge in some of the numerous rejuvenating treatments at my resort's onsite spa.
A coconut exfoliating body scrub followed by a hot stone massage set the scene for many treatments to come. My favorites included a warm chocolate cream wrap that smelled as good as it felt, and a four hands massage where two therapists gently kneaded all the tension from my body. Take your choice of an outdoor treatment bungalow or one with floor to ceiling views of Arenal volcano looming in the distance.
The highlights of my visit were undoubtedly the volcano-fed hot springs – there are four thermal resorts – each appealing in its own way. At Tabacon, I wandered the steamy walkways where vibrant blossoms bloomed sweet scents and the setting was one you’d imagine in the Garden of Eden. The hot spring pools, which are heated by magma, are tucked into the foliage and seclusion is the name of the game. I loved that Tabacon was completely natural, where water flows by gravity alone to form waterfalls, hidden pools and relaxing sanctuaries throughout the resort.
Next on the circuit was The Springs Resort, which had 18 inviting pools bubbling with healing mineral waters. Fruity cocktail in hand, I strolled to a succession of free form pools, with temperatures ranging from 76-103 ºF, set amid lush jungle and winding trails. It catered to a more reserved upscale crowd, which made my trip to the boisterous Baldi that much more of a contrast. A visit to Baldi’s hot springs is more like a trip to Disney Land, where zippy water slides, constant salsa music and a young crowd dominate the resort’s many pools. It was a great spot to meet other travelers and swap stories while enjoying a waterfall massage.
Not to be outdone, Eco Termales rounded out my hot springs adventure with a fabulous buffet dinner and intimate setting. Geared toward privacy, it allows just 100 visitors at a time to enjoy its four thermal pools and refreshing cascade. I met people of all ages soaking in the steaming waters, and appreciated the cozy atmosphere provided in this family-run project.
Whether you’re seeking a natural oasis of peace or prefer a happening party scene, Arenal’s hot springs cater to all travel styles and tastes. Paired with the area’s decadent spas, and you have the ultimate destination for pure relaxation.