In this Daily: Visiting Hot Springs from Guanacaste
The coolest time of year is approaching in Guanacaste, with temperatures in September and October reaching their annual lows of around 71F over the course of the next two months. Up in the mountains temperatures at this time of year can even reach down into the low 60s, which makes the next two months ideal to visit some of the nearby hot springs.
The Active Volcanoes in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has seven active volcanoes: Poás, Rincón de la Vieja, Irazú, Turrialba, Arenal, Orosi, and Miravalles. These volcanoes are distributed across the country’s three volcanic ranges, the Guanacaste Range, Central Volcanic Range, and Talamanca Range, which also feature anywhere between 50 and 200+ dormant or extinct volcanoes and other features.
Costa Rica sits off the edge of the Ring of Fire, a 25,000 mile long arc in the Pacific ocean where the collision of tectonic plates leads to an increase in volcanic activity. Compared to some parts of Ring of Fire, Costa Rica’s volcanic activity is very mild. Eruptions are rare, occurring once every few decades, and in recent history have been limited to brief periods where steam, hot gas, and ash billow into the air before dissipating.
However, this mild volcanic activity results in numerous hot springs throughout the country, which can be found dozens of miles away from the center of an active volcano.
How Hot Springs Occur
Hot springs in Costa Rica occur when this thermal activity throughout the country heats ground water, which rises to the surface and pools aboveground.
The earth’s crust, the outer level of bedrock, stone, and dirt that we usually think of as the ground, is by nature uneven. In certain parts of the world, this unevenness allows the magma of the next layer, the mantle, to influence the earth’s surface. Cracks in the crust can allow this magma to flow up onto the surface, creating volcanoes, while in other cases the crust is simply thin enough that this magma creates hot spots. When these hot spots closely coincide with underground bodies of water known as aquifers, the water is heated and can manifest aboveground as hot springs or geysers.
In Costa Rica, the same collision of tectonic plates that cracks the earth’s crust and creates volcanoes also creates numerous hot spots. Combined with the plentiful groundwater found near these volcanic ranges, there are an abundance of hot springs.
On the surface, hot springs can manifest in many ways, bubbling up through the ground, pooling in small stone ponds, coinciding with rivers, and interacting with topography in a number of different ways.
Below, we take a look at a few of the ways that hot springs manifest on the surface, and the places to see them for yourself.
Four Hot Springs to Visit For Those in Guanacaste
Río Perdido Hot Springs
In Río Perdido, underground hot springs that are rich in natural minerals blend into the waters of the river. The result is a fresh, warm river that reflects vibrant colors of emerald green and turquoise as it flows through the rare dwarf forest that surrounds it. About two hours away from Las Catalinas, Río Perdido collides with Río Blanco, creating a spot where two canyons meet, hot and cool water blend, and two ecosystems merge.
The surrounding area is all a part of Río Perdido Hotel & Thermal River, an area which also includes over 20km of mountain biking trails, a mix of single track and volcanic terrain areas with a wide range of difficulties, as well as food and lodging. Visitors have the opportunity to explore dwarf forest and the volcanic mountainside on a bike, before settling in to relax at one of the most geologically and environmentally unique places in the country.
Sensoria Thermal Pools, Rincón de la Vieja
Located on the northern side of Guanacaste’s Rincón de la Vieja volcano, the thermal pools at Sensoria overlook 35 foot waterfalls and merge with mineral springs, all surrounded by Pilón trees (Suradan Hardwoods) and flowing waters of the rivers. Built to be “A Land of the Senses”, Sensoria is a multipurpose retreat with seven vibrantly colored pools and waterfalls surrounded by distinct habitats spread throughout their forest reserve.
For visitors, there are hiking trails through the forest that connect the pools and waterfalls, as well as Sensoria’s forest therapy tours, in which guests are invited along the way to open up their senses and become more in tune with nature.
A retreat in Guanacaste a little under three hours away, suited for both a longer day trip as well as a short stay over the weekend.
Arenal Hot Springs, Arenal Volcano
As the country’s most active volcano, Arenal features a wide variety of hot springs. Ranging from naturally occurring rivers and mud pools to upscale spas and resorts, this area has one of the most comprehensive hot springs offerings in the country.
The park is located almost 4 hours from Las Catalinas, so for those in Guanacaste, Arenal is more suited to a weekend trip. The nearby town of La Fortuna, as well as several smaller resorts and properties provide a lively town where visitors can relax in mineral-rich waters, explore a tropical rainforest ecosystem, and return after a weekend away feeling refreshed.
Buena Vista del Rincón, Rincón de la Vieja
Another set of springs located in the foothills of Rincón de la Vieja, the hot springs of Buena Vista del Rincón are one of the closest options for visitors traveling from Guanacaste for a day trip. Also less than two hours away from Las Catalinas, these hot springs are accessible by foot and by horseback through the rainforest. It’s quite common to see toucans at this property during hiking, riding, and even during bathing, helping add to this spot’s blend of immersion in nature and relaxation.
A day trip designed for the whole family.
There are countless hot springs in Costa Rica, and many have given rise to creative experiences tailored to each one. The ones featured above are a few of the best to visit from Guanacaste, ranging from lively day trips to a more active weekend trip further inland.
With the two coolest months of the year coming up, Concierge can help organize transport and planning for a trip to each of the hot springs listed above, and also provide more information as to the many options available around the country.