One place in Costa Rica we were really looking forward to was La Fortuna, the town closest to Arenal Volcano. Because of the volcano, the area is know for hot springs and thermal baths, and this sounded like the perfect ending to our 4 weeks in Central America. Here’s how we spent 3 days in La Fortuna relaxing in hot springs as well as suggestions for where to stay in La Fortuna.
A spa-like setting at a hostel in La Fortuna
Andy and I left Monteverde a day early since our guesthouse there was so bad, and we weren’t really enjoying ourselves anyway. Since we had already booked a fancy place for two nights as a splurge, we found a backpacker hostel for one night.
But this wasn’t just any hostel. Arenal Hostel Resort had two pools, including one with a small swim-up bar, hammocks all around for relaxation, and a good buffet breakfast. The pool with the swim-up bar was heated, though not a thermal pool. Andy and I had our own room and bathroom, but there were dorm options for anyone who wanted to save even more money. This was the kind of place where you could get a little of the hot springs resort feel without the high costs. There were several places to eat within walking distance.
We paid $77 for one night at Arenal Hostel Resort. If you’re on a budget and backpacking in Costa Rica, but you still want to experience the resort feel of La Fortuna, this is a great option. The staff were really helpful, and they even had discounted tickets to Baldi Hot Springs, which I’ll talk about more below.
A fancy resort to end our trip
Even though we’ve been staying at nicer hotels over the past couple of years, resorts still aren’t really our thing. It’s too expensive to travel that way all the time. But a little splurge for two nights at Hotel Arenal Springs seemed like a reasonable choice.
We wanted to experience the thermal pools most hotels in La Fortuna have, and we wanted a couple of days to simply relax without the pressure of sightseeing and activities.
The hotel was set up as rows of bungalows instead of a multi-level building. Our room was much bigger than a normal hotel room and even had a hammock out on the patio. The rooms with king sized beds were already booked up when we decided to book our stay there, so we ended up with a room with two queen sized beds. Every room in the hotel has a view of the Arenal Volcano, which was an amazing view to wake up to.
There were several pools at different temperatures, and the most pleasant one had a swim-up bar. We lounged around relaxing and enjoyed a few drinks shortly after checking in. One night we even had our dinner there because the main restaurant was a bit too fancy for our tastes. Burgers and fajitas and cocktails while sitting in a thermal pool? Yes please!
We paid $506.24 for two nights at Hotel Arenal Springs. We really enjoyed staying here, and I highly recommend it for a splurge that doesn’t completely break the bank. A huge buffet breakfast was included, but lunch, dinner, and drinks were not. There were a few different restaurants to choose from on the property.
Experiencing Baldi without staying there
Baldi Hot Springs is the most famous resort in La Fortuna. With 25 thermal pools, it claims to be the biggest hot springs resort in the world. But staying at their hotel is rather expensive, well above the price we paid for the resort we stayed at a few miles away. Staying there wasn’t really an option for us.
But Baldi sells day passes to use their thermal pools. The ticket gives you 12 hours of access to the pools and your choice of lunch or dinner. Baldi’s website lists these passes at $57 per person, but somehow the hostel we stayed at had discounted tickets. We only paid $45 per person. And the buffet was really good food. The passes do not include the cost of renting a locker for your things, which was about $6.
Andy and I hopped from one pool to the next, experiencing the varying temperatures, some almost too hot to sit in for more than a couple minutes, but others that were much more pleasant. A couple of pools had cold sections too, so you could submerge yourself in the hot water and then take a refreshing (or borderline shocking) dip into some cold water. Several of the pools had swim-up bars, so we enjoyed a few drinks along the way, too. I think we spent about 4 or 5 hours there, and that was plenty for us.
If spending several days lounging in thermal pools sounds like the perfect vacation for you, consider booking a few nights at Baldi Hot Springs Resort.
Getting to La Fortuna
This region of Costa Rica isn’t the easiest for getting around due to the windy roads and mountainous terrain. We were coming from Monteverde, and one option we kept reading about over and over again was a route that involved a boat across the lake.
It turns out this is a popular option because the lake is pretty, it has great views of the volcanoes, and it’s much more relaxing than taking a van or bus all the way around. A van picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the lake where we got on a boat, and on the other side, they split us into shuttle vans based on where we were staying. Then it was just a quick drive to our hotels.
We paid about $54, or $27 per person, for the jeep-boat-jeep transport option from Monteverde to La Fortuna. We used a company called Aventuras el Lago. You can book in either direction, and your hotel or guesthouse should be able to help you arrange it.
There are so many things to do in Costa Rica, but La Fortuna is a must, and you can enjoy the hot springs at any budget. We loved the thermal pools, and it was a relaxing end to 4 weeks in Central America. If you’re looking for a little activity, you can also sign up for volcano hikes, horseback riding, zip lining, waterfall tours, and more. There are so many things to do in La Fortuna and the Arenal area, you won’t get bored.
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- How We Spent 4 Days in Panama City
- Things to do in Antigua That Don’t Involve Volcanoes
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua)