Nestled among lush tropical gardens at the base of Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano, Tabacón is a rare place. This hot spring isn’t just a side trip for your Central American vacation — it’s a worthy destination in itself.
First off, there are the hot springs. A stretch of a river with crystal clear water warmed by Arenal’s thermal activity is enhanced by a series of small waterfalls and deep plunge pools surrounded by exotic trees. A gentle temperature gradient ranges from soothingly hot (102 degrees F) near the top to pleasantly warm (99 degrees F) downstream, while the sound of tumbling water and bird song permeates the entire property.
Yes, there is a swim up bar and a water slide at the main pool, but what separates Tabacón from other hot springs in the area is how private and out of this world luxurious the whole place feels. The spa is discreetly located right next to the river and just a few steps away from the main pool, surrounded by lush plants with the river rushing by makes it feel completely isolated. The same goes for the labyrinthine footpaths that crisscross the property, allowing guests to discover any number of small hidden pools and indulge in the mineral rich water with no one else around. Some pools, like those found within the adults-only area, called The Sanctuary, have bar servics where friendly servers happily bring guests cold beer or margaritas while they soak.
The resort itself is a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World group. The natural, subdued but stylish vibe of the hot springs remains, with spacious bathrooms and large four-post beds draped romantically in sheer linen with beautiful local and indigenous art on display in every room. The luxurious amenities and attentive staff make every guest feel like they’re on a honeymoon, while the abundant local wildlife like toucans, iguanas and a host of other tropical creatures call the jungle property home.
The surrounding area of Arenal is rife with adventure possibilities like kayaking on the volcanic lake, zip lining through the canopy, horseback riding and whitewater rafting nearby. That’s if you can pull yourself away from the hot springs…something we found incredibly difficult.