It goes without saying that Costa Rica is a traveler’s dream.
Beautiful coastline, lush rainforests, exciting weather (especially for us "Cali folk" - we experienced thunder storms like we've never seen before!), and the BEST overall vibe (Pura Vida baby!).
We decided to take a risk and pass on some of the more popular tourist areas, and instead spend the majority of our trip at the base of the Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna. We chose to stay at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, having heard that there were life-changing hot springs on their property, and that it was part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection (one of our favorite hotel collections EVER!). Needless to say, we were really excited to explore Tabacon, and had high pretty high expectations for the property and surrounding area. And it definitely did not disappoint!
We flew into Liberia Airport with Alaska Airlines, which was a dream (more to come on that experience). We rented a car, which we highly recommend, and made the slow, windy drive to La Fortuna. The drive is about 80 miles (totally doable!), but slow, and we definitely advise against driving in the dark. If you go in the summer (their rainy season), you’re likely to get hit with some weather and it may be a little rough. Plus, during the day the views are AMAZING, with lush green rainforest, lakes, and volcanoes to look at!
After the three-hour trek, we were so thankful for the lovely welcome at Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. Within minutes of arriving, we were in our room with a welcome-drink in hand, being encouraged to put on our robes and head down to the hot springs for a late-night dip. Did we just check into HEAVEN?! We’re obsessed with robe-life, so obviously we took the advice. Outfitted in our robes, we had a quick dinner (there's something about eating dinner in a lush robe - can we say #vacationgoals?) at the lovely Ave del Paraíso before heading to the hot springs.
The hot springs at Tabacón are indescribable. They're everything we had hoped they'd be and SO much more. We met a couple at dinner who described the springs as “A labyrinth of streams that you may not see all of”, which was a fantastic representation of what it was. Even at night, in the pitch black, we were totally in awe of the hot springs.
One thing you may wonder is how hot they are? Between 77 and 122 degrees!!! But don’t worry, it honestly feels totally refreshing. Even though it was probably 80+ outside most of the time, the springs we spent the most time in (with temps around 95-100) felt SO good. Alli is never one to sit in jacuzzis very long, but she could sit in the springs for hours!
Insider tip: A lot of people stay at other hotels and then spend the day at Tabacon Hot Springs, but we want to let you in on a little secret. First of all, the springs are included in your room rate if you stay at Tabacón (non-guest day pass is between $70-105). Second, if you’re a hotel guest, then you need to take advantage of the time that only hotel guests can use it (between 8-10am). We would go before breakfast in the morning and have the place completely to ourselves. Combine the cooler morning temperature with the normal rain showers, and the hot springs are straight up heavenly. Our mornings in the hot springs ended up being one of the highlights of our trip!
The rooms are amazing and spacious! We enjoyed the honeymoon suite and had a view of the Arenal Volcano! Sort of… One downside to the rainy season is that your views may be blocked by clouds. So, while we knew Arenal was back there, we never actually saw it. Which is the PERFECT excuse for us to return!! ;)
When we weren’t in our room, we were either exploring the nearby town, frolicking in the springs, getting massages (Alli here - I had one of the best massages of my LIFE at Tabacón! Highly recommend!!), or indulging in the restaurants at Tabacón. The breakfasts here are phenomenal. Each day we did the breakfast buffet, which has everything you can imagine, and comes with LEGIT Costa Rican coffee (we even brought some home)!
Although it is hard to leave a resort like Tabacón, we love experiencing the culture of a new destination by visiting the nearby towns. We went into La Fortuna, about 15 minutes from Tabacón, nearly every day. We had great coffee, had some of the best meals of our trip, and enjoyed sitting outside and simply observing... Watching the storms roll in, the local vendors selling their goods, and seeing kids walking in their school uniforms while we just sip on coffee and ponder how different life looks in different parts of the world.
All in all, we were totally impressed with this area of Costa Rica. Without a beach in sight, we were in awe of the natural beauty, the people, and the food. There is SO much to do there, three days barely scratched the surface. We will definitely be back to try and see Arenal and soak in the amazing hot springs of Tabacón! ... And get another massage. ;)