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Your Costa Rica Hot Springs Questions Answered!

Your Costa Rica Hot Springs Questions Answered!

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on November 6th, 2017.

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WE SOAK IN COSTA RICA HOT SPRINGS FAR 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. Although we have done so outside of the La Fortuna region, as hot springs exist elsewhere in the country too–such as around the Rincon de la Vieja and Orosi regions–the majority of the country’s most notable hot springs (and its most visited hot springs) are located in Arenal, and we crafted the below information with these specific hot springs in mind. Since we lived in and built our business from the town of La Fortuna / Arenal, it is no secret that we put difficult work days behind us by melting into thermal waters around us. It should not come as any surprise then, that so many travellers turn to us for help getting their Costa Rica hot springs questions answered given our familiarity with each.

If you’re planning to visit the hot springs in Costa Rica, you may be asking yourselves many of the same questions that other travellers wonder about, too. On the chance that you are, we have compiled the below list of the most popular Costa Rica hot springs questions that we receive, including our answers to each. Need to know about the temperatures of the pools? What it means to be a “real” hot spring? Whether hot springs reservations are required? Which hot springs offers the greatest number of pools? No problem! We’ve got you covered, and remember, if we haven’t yet answered your Costa Rica hot springs question below, you can always leave your question as a comment for us below and we’ll add it (as well as our answer) to our list.

NOTE:

OUR ANSWERS TO YOUR COSTA RICA HOT SPRINGS QUESTIONS

What do you do at the hot springs?

Primarily, Costa Rica hot springs visitors sit in pools filled with thermal water. Each hot springs attraction offers a variety of pools to wade in (at varying water temperatures) and visitors are free to roam about their chosen hot springs property hopping from pool to pool at their leisure. Some hot springs, including the Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Kalambu Hot Springs, the Los Laureles Hot Springs, and the Tabacon Hot Springs offer onsite waterslides to help pass the time. In addition, the Baldi Hot Springs and the Kalambu Hot Springs offer an aquatic playground to keep children entertained, and the Los Laureles Hot Springs offer an onsite soccer field, basketball court, and beach volleyball court. Beyond use of these additional (and optional) hot spring activities, the Costa Rica hot springs experience encompasses little else beyond enjoying a good soak.

Do all of the hot springs properties offer the same number of pools?

No. Each Costa Rica hot springs attraction offers a different number of pools.

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 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, and Los Laureles Hot Springs all charge its guests for the use of an onsite locker (note that at the Los Laureles Hot Springs, visitors are able to bring their own padlock for use at the hot springs attraction if they prefer). The Paradise Hot Springs and the Tabacon Hot Springs charge its guests a refundable deposit for the use of an onsite locker. The Ecotermales hot springs does not charge its guests (a fee or a refundable deposit) for use of an onsite 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, and the Kalambu Hot Springs all charge its guests a refundable deposit for onsite towel use (alternatively, visitors are able to bring their own towel to the hot springs if they prefer to do so). The Ecotermales hot springs does not charge its guests (a fee or a refundable deposit) for onsite towel use. The Los Laureles Hot Springs do not offer an onsite towel service (travellers who plan to visit this Costa Rica hot springs attraction must bring their own towel).

Are advance reservations for the hot springs recommended?

Yes. All Costa Rica hot springs attractions prefer that travellers make reservations in advance (this helps them plan for the amount of food to prepare during each meal). Smaller properties (such as the Tabacon Hot Springs, the Ecotermales Hot Springs, and the Paradise Hot Springs) absolutely require advance reservations as they enforce maximum capacity limits. To avoid problems with availability, if you plan to travel during Costa Rica’s high, peak, and/or shoulder seasons, we recommend making advance reservations for Costa Rica hot springs attractions regardless of the specific hot springs property you choose to visit.

When are the Costa Rica hot springs open?

This answer depends entirely on which Costa Rica hot springs property you plan to visit. Although hot springs properties are subject to change their operations at any time, the following are the most current hot springs operation times we have on record.

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 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 offer their own food and beverages available for purchase onsite at restaurants, cafes, and/or bars and do not allow visitors to bring their own food onto the property. An exception to this rule is the Los Laureles Hot Springs, which offers individual picnic-style “ranchos” (many of which include barbecues) where offsite food may be brought onto the hot springs property to be prepared and served.

Can you eat onsite 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, and the Los Laureles Hot Springs all offer their own food and beverages available for purchase onsite at restaurants, cafes, and/or bars.

Are meals included with Costa Rica hot springs visits?

This depends entirely on the Costa Rica hot springs property chosen and the specifics of the hot springs pass reserved/purchased; some tour operators and hotels will automatically include a meal with their hot springs packages and others will not so it is important to double-check. At the Baldi Hot Springs, the Springs Resort Hot Springs, the Tabacon Hot Springs, the Paradise Hot Springs, and the Ecotermales Hot Springs, hot spring passes may be reserved/purchased with or without the inclusion of a meal. At the Kalambu Hot Springs, a meal is automatically included with each of their hot springs pass options. At the Los Laureles Hot Springs, there is no option to include a meal with the hot springs pass, however food may be purchased (or brought in and prepared) onsite.

How do I get to the hot springs?

This answer depends entirely on which Costa Rica hot springs property you plan to visit and where you plan to depart from. Please see our related blog post The Best Arenal Hot Springs In Costa Rica: Comparing 7 La Fortuna Hot Springs for interactive Google Maps images for 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, and the Los Laureles Hot Springs.

How long does it take to get to the hot springs?

This answer depends entirely on which Costa Rica hot springs property you plan 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 eight minutes to twenty-five 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 Costa Rica hot springs properties have parking available onsite.

What should I bring to the hot springs for my visit?

If you do not plan to wear your bathing suit to the Costa Rica hot springs property, 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 (most Costa Rica hot springs properties will not allow visitors to dine while wet or while wearing bathing suit attire/flip flop footwear, so dry clothes/shoes will need to be changed into during lunch and/or dinner). If you plan to visit a hot springs property that charges for towel rentals (or requires a security deposit for towel use which you wish not to pay), bring your own towel. If you plan to visit the hot springs during the day, bring a hat and sunscreen as you may want to lounge in the sun. Beyond any other necessities you may need to bring with you (such as important medication, your hotel room key, your wallet, etc.), keep to a minimum what you pack for the day; hot springs lockers are not overly large, and having to drag a bulky bag around from pool to pool would be a pain.

Do all of the hot springs offer the same pool temperatures?

No. Each Costa Rica hot springs attraction offers different pool temperatures.

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. There is a thermal water river situated across the street from the Tabacon Hot Springs (nicknamed “Tabaconcito”, or “mini-Tabacon”) that provides runoff from the hot springs. Many local Costa Ricans opt to visit this site for their own personal use. Travellers (typically backpackers and/or those on a tight budget) sometimes visit the river as well. Although free, the site is unsupervised; there are no change-rooms, lockers, or places to store personal belongings. Given that the river is located under a bridge off a main road, there is also no lighting and the area should not be visited after dark as doing so would be dangerous.

For additional information regarding the free hot springs in La Fortuna / Arenal, don’t miss our related blog post:

Local Free Hot Springs La Fortuna / Arenal Site

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, and the Los Laureles 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 and contained in pool-like craters that visitors soak in. In contrast, the Tabacon Hot Springs make use of pools as the other hot spring locations do, however their pools are filled via a hot spring river that flows throughout the property. Some people like to label the river as “natural” because it is free-flowing (the Tabacon Resort loves to skew travellers’ opinions through its slanted use of the term), however each of the other hot springs attractions are “natural” in terms of 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 (e.g., via a free-flowing river or a pump), the hot springs experience itself–in its basic form, the act of soaking in a warm body of mineral water–is very similar across all Costa Rica hot springs attractions. Some travellers prefer the river-esque experience that Tabacon offers and others dislike the river’s slippery bottom that can be algae-covered. To each their own, but regardless of where the hot springs experience is had, it is both 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?

No. Being able to swim may help you feel more comfortable in and around water, and that level of comfort may heighten your overall hot springs experience. But, most Costa Rica hot springs offer pools of a variety of depths, so it is possible to visit the hot springs with the intention of only soaking your feet or wading in the pool waist-deep. Although knowing how to swim is not required (so long as common sense is exercised in/around water), parents and/or guardians should keep a close eye on children who do not know how to swim; these children should avoid hot springs features that require underwater submergence such as hot spring 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
Extreme hypertension
Malignant tumors and cancerous conditions
Liver, kidney, or circulation disorders
Conditions presenting the risk of hemorrhaging
Anemic conditions
Pregnancy
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 others that you feel may put you at risk), the Costa Rica hot springs property will not know so; it is up to each and every traveller to act responsibly on behalf of his or her own health. Health checks are not provided by Costa Rica hot springs property staff, and proof of medical clearance is not required upon reservation or entry. When choosing to visit any Costa Rica hot springs property, please prioritize your health.

Is there a minimum age limit to visit the Costa Rica hot springs?

Generally, no. Travellers are left to use their own discretion as to whether or not their child should visit.

Will I see wildlife during my Costa Rica hot springs visit?

Probably not. Although wildlife-spotting is unpredictable and could occur at any location at any time, we have very rarely encountered wildlife during our hot spring visits. Sometimes monkeys can be heard in the distance, a gecko, lizard, or iguana might make an appearance, and often birds and butterflies fly by, but beyond these haphazard sightings, Costa Rica hot springs visits are best not considered “wildlife-spotting” activities to avoid disappointment.

What happens if it rains the day of my Costa Rica hot springs reservation?

Given that Costa Rica is part rainforest, rain is inevitable. For this reason, the majority of tours and activities–hot springs visits included–run rain or shine. However, 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 the following day (provided there is availability at the property to offer the change, and assuming your travel itinerary would permit it).

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have a Costa Rica hot springs question that we haven’t yet answered above? Leave it for us below!

Pura vida!

If you’re more of a visual learner, take a moment to view our gallery photos below from some of our Costa Rica hot spring adventures (note that unlike the hefty photo galleries we offer for our other tours/activities/experiences, we have very few hot springs photos on file given that we rarely opt to bring our camera with us each time we visit a hot springs property in order to avoid risk of damage or theft).

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