It rains in Arenal. A LOT. But nobody really minds. Rain is to be expected when you’re in Costa Rica’s rainforest. And the Arenal Volcano is surrounded by rainforest.

So why go?

For the volcanic hot springs.

Tabacon Thermal Resort

Tabacon’s hot springs boast a series of pools, waterfalls and a lush rainforest setting

Costa Rica is incredibly diverse, and visitors typically explore several places within the country in one trip.

A three-night stay in the Arenal Volcano area is perfect for breaking up an active trip with an opportunity to relax and soak in the hot springs.

Nature rocks here too – and ziplining (yes, you can still zipline after 50!), white water rafting and nature hikes in the rainforest are all popular activities. If you want to keep busy in Arenal, you won’t lack for choice. (And soaking in steamy waters will feel all the more delicious after an active day out in the rainforest.)

Tabacon Thermal Resort

The Arenal Volcano can be seen from Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa (Credit: Janice and George Mucalov)

Luxury hot springs at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa

There are several natural hot springs in the Arenal area. Some are quite huge. Baldi Hot Springs with over 30 pools, for example, is the biggest in Costa Rica – and it’s quite affordable.

But when you’ve reached a certain age and want luxury digs with a more intimate atmosphere (no rowdy swim-up bar), you’ll prefer Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa.

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa

Like all rooms, this Senator Suite looks out over the rainforest

Tabacon has 103 large, modern rooms and suites, housed in several two-storey buildings spread out over lush tropical grounds. Artwork and furnishings are by local Costa Rican artists. The setting is quite romantic as you’re totally surrounded by rainforest. And pssst, if you’re celebrating a special occasion like your Silver wedding anniversary (congratulations by the way; you’ve been married for 25 years!), the resort will prepare cute room decorations upon request.

Tabacon’s private hot springs are even more romantic though. A short distance away, the springs consist of a series of natural and man-made pools, lined by volcanic boulders and black sand. Waterfalls splash down from pool to pool, which are connected by winding streams.

Flowering red ginger and broad-leaf palm trees abound, and the whole scene is a “Garden of Eden” vision (in a classy not kitschy way).

Guests in bathrobes walk to Tabacon Hot Springs’ exclusive Shangri-La Gardens (Credit: Janice and George Mucalov)

Relaxing in one of the many intimate pools at Tabacon Hot Springs

What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler

  • Tabacon Thermal Resort is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World; you have the comfort of knowing you can count on certain standards of luxury.
  • Even though the hot springs are only a short walk away from the resort, a shuttle van travels constantly between the resort and the hot springs. It’s super convenient to hop into the van wearing  your bathing suit, robe, and slippers or flip-flops and not have to worry about changing at the hot springs. And if you’re feeling tired or have jelly muscles after soaking in the hot springs, the van will whisk you back to the resort in a jiffy.
  • Hardly anyone uses the resort’s beautiful, outdoor, hot swimming pool! (Everyone goes to the hot springs.) If you want total peace and serenity, make your way here (but not at mealtime, as the pool is outside the restaurant).
  • As a guest at Tabacon, you get unlimited access to the hot springs as well as exclusive access to the springs’ private Shangri-La Gardens.
  • As we age, it’s even more important to look after our health so we can stay active for as long as possible. Soaking in mineral-rich volcanic hot springs is reported to have many health benefits, including boosting  blood circulation, alleviating skin conditions, easing the pain of arthritis and reducing stress.

Take note

  • The resort is quite isolated; it’s about a 20-minute taxi ride ($18 USD each way) to the restaurants in the nearest town, La Fortuna. Your only real option for dinner is Tabacon’s Los Tucanes restaurant, which you may tire of if staying for more than three nights. (Your other option is the buffet in the hot springs restaurant, but it’s used by tour groups and is a less attractive dining venue.)
  • Depending on where your room is, you may have a longish walk to get to the restaurant. If it’s raining, or you don’t feel like walking, call the front desk to take you by golf buggy. Also ask for a room in the building housing the lobby and front desk – it’s quite close to the restaurant and pool.
  • Tabacon has no elevators. Staff will help you with your suitcase(s) if staying in a second-floor room. But if you have difficulty climbing stairs, you’ll want to reserve a ground-floor room.
  • There are a few steps to enter most of the pools at the hot springs. Use the handrails to get in and out, and use care moving about in the pools, so as not to stub your toes.
Tabacon Thermal Resort

Tabacon’s exclusive Shangri-La Gardens are open only to Tabacon resort guests


  • Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa website
  • You don’t have to stay at Tabacon to enjoy its hot springs. If you’re just passing through the area or staying elsewhere, a half- or full-day pass can be purchased (ranges from $85 to $150 USD and includes lunch, dinner or both meals).

You get a great view of the Arenal Volcano from Tabacon’s hot swimming pool (which hardly anyone uses)

Be sure to get the whole scoop on Janice’s visit to Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa on TravelAge West!

Hotel Review: Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa                                        

*All photo credits except where noted: Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa


The author’s stay with her husband at Tabacon was partially hosted.