Last Updated: Feb 02, 2013
With over 200 volcanic formations, Costa Rica is a literal hotbed of relaxing mud baths, mineral pools, and thermal hot springs. Celebrated as one of the country’s best ways to be pampered, hot spring facilities range from rustic, natural pools to manicured grounds with well-maintained springs.
Hot springs are generally defined as springs produced from geothermally heated groundwater. There are several sources for earth-heated waters, but in Costa Rica, there is but one: volcanoes. Adjacent to underground lava and hot rocks, spring water travels through the ground, often picking up dissolved solids. Homeopathy and local traditional medicine have long held that, because of their high mineral content, Costa Rica’s hot springs have healing and restorative properties. After soaking in the steamy water, you’ll be hard pressed to disagree.
Well distributed around the country, the country’s hot springs are usually found within a few miles of an active volcano. Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja and the Miravalles Volcano are the country’s most popular destinations for thermal soaks, boasting highly-rated hot springs, mud baths and spa facilities.
Natural hot springs, or warm thermal pools located adjacent to cool-water rivers, are an option for adventurous travelers and hikers. Generally located within national parks or private reserves, these pools are rustic and offer few amenities. Most notable are those in Rincon de la Vieja National Park and Tenorio Volcano National Park. Miravalles Volcano offers fantastic mud baths, promising a natural salve for both skin and the soul. Horseback rides and hikes can be arranged to these secluded locations.
Resorts throughout Costa Rica have harnessed the restorative powers of volcanic hot springs, rerouting waters into luxurious facilities. Hot spring retreats boast lush grounds, landscaped gardens and pampering day spas. Visitors can enjoy mineral soaks in secluded pools of varying temperatures.
Due to a thriving tourism industry and nightly lava shows, the Arenal Volcano area is the current hot springs champion of Costa Rica. Four major facilities offer hot springs retreats – Tabacon, The Springs Resort, Baldi and Ecotermales – while smaller resorts offer entrance to their own thermal pools.