Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our (Quasi) Secret Hot Springs

My friend Jimmy, Janet and I all realize we have to keep some things a bit of a secret. While my recent blog shared Playa Samara as our favorite beach and 2-3 day excursion from San Ramon ... the hot springs is our most popular day trip and even better overnight stay. We talk about our favorite hot springs and while we enjoy sharing it with newcomers, we also don't want it to get over commercialized and overrun.

Just an 1 1/2 hour drive from San Ramon, near Ciudad Quesada, is this magical and relaxing place. I have visited about 15-20 times in the last 6+ years. After checking in, you hike about 10 minutes down through the jungle on a stone path and on handmade bridges until you hit the pools. The setting, the hike and the water immediately slow down your mind and relax your body. Within minutes, aches and pains are gone and you feel fresh and clean.

The hot springs consist of 5-6 different areas each one successively hotter than the last. The pools are in a natural setting of forest plants and trees carefully developed and maintained by one family for decades. The hot springs are open from 7AM until 9:30PM . I think it's best to catch both the day and the night. The sounds change and the experience shifts when the sun goes down.

There are drinks and cerviche available at the springs. But, after sitting in the springs for hours, driving home the same day breaks the mood so an overnight is recommended. The restaurant up by the rooms is excellent. We love the Corvina -Sea Bass with garlic sauce (under $6) after a long day of soaking. They literally blow the flavor out the exhaust of the restaurant and we've never been disappointed. In the morning, there is a complimentary breakfast which includes fruit, gallo pinto, eggs, and coffee. The service is friendly and welcoming.

There are a few well known (and more expensive) hot springs near La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano. Among these are Tabacon Resort (, Baldi ( and others. Tabacon is beautifully tiled, landscaped and requires little walking. I find what is gained in comfort takes away from the powerful natural environment and few locals consider this a native experience. For less than the price of daily admission for two at Tabacon, we get a hotel room, great breakfast, dinner and 2 days at the springs.

So with a little bit of research, we hope the people who will really appreciate this special place will find it. It's hard not to feel the power of our (quasi) secret hot springs.