What To Look For in La Fortuna
- Where to stay
- Thermal Pools
- Admire the jungle!
Why La Fortuna x Monteverde?
Good question. La Fortuna has more of a tourist vibe, although even then, it was very laid back. I was drawn to La Fortuna for the thermal pools (a result of the nearby volcano). Pretty much everything else (adventuring, ziplines, hanging jungle bridges) you can find in both locations. However, from locals and other travelers, I’ve come to understand that the adventuring and ziplines is better in Monteverde (Monteverde has the famed “superman” ziplines.
Regardless, we were quite happy with our decision.
Where to Stay?
- The nicest spot is Tabacon Resort ($300-$400 per night).
- There’s also Hotel Arenal Springs Resort & Spa which is beautiful.
- We stayed at Arenal Glamping which I highly recommend. It’s a new place, run by a family, and is gorgeous, luxurious, super accommodating, and has a great breakfast. The best part is the outdoor yoga/dance/movie studio. They’ll light you a bonfire (and provide marshmallows) if you ask as well. They’re about $150 a night (book through booking.com for the best deal). They have units for couples and several units with two separate beds.
Arenal Glamping – highly recommended. We saw a snake and sloth while we were there.
La Fortuna Thermal Pools
There are lots of different pools of varying levels of quality and price. Below is an easy guide to navigating them.
Tips at the hot springs:
- Go at night. The lighting and atmosphere are amazing.
- Go in the rain. This is probably the only activity in Costa Rica that is better in the rain.
The Best: Tabacon Hot Springs
The best location is the Tabacon Resort. I personally did not go here but it is clear from pictures and testimonies that it is the best.
Things to consider at Tabacon:
- You need to book in advance as they often fill up.
- It’s about $80 per person (it’s possible that it’s cheaper for the evening slot, from 6pm onwards).
- They have lockers and towels for free.
The Second Best: Eco Termales
This place is stunning. It has about 4 different pools of various temperatures that cascade downwards (the lower ones are cooler). You can order drinks and food there and they just scan your bracelet (you pay after) so there is no need to bring money.
Things to consider at Eco Termales:
- We didn’t need to book in advance
- It’s about $45 a person for the evening session (from 5pm).
- The bottom pool has black volcanic sand for a good exfoliator.
- They have lockers and towels for free.
The Free: Natural springs below Tabacon
These springs flow from the same source as Tabacon. It’s amazing to be in a natural hot springs under the jungle. The river flows and at times forms little waterfalls. People have stacked rocks so you can have your own little pool. Lots of black, volcanic sand too for exfoliation.
Things to consider at the free hot springs:
- People want 5000 colons to give you free parking on the road and watch your car. We sheepishly paid the full price. I assume you can haggle. Other beaches in the area with a similar parking arrangement cost us 2000. 5000 seems very steep.
- There’s no where to hide your phone or belongings, so keep whatever you can in the car.
- It’s not as warm as the paid resorts. The higher you hike up the warmer the water gets.
- Lots of smoking and drinking (which might be a plus as you can neither smoke nor bring your own drinks to the established springs).
- It’s a real party vibe here.
The Third Best: Paradise Hot Springs
I cannot speak to any of the others, but we went to Paradise Hot Springs. It was really lovely, with a bar in the spa. There were three pools of varying temperatures with lots of hot tubs around ranging from cold to super hot.
I’m sure there are other great thermal pools in the area. We did not go to them. If you want to just pick and forget, any of the ones mentioned here will be amazing.
Things to consider at Paradise Hot Springs:
- We paid $27 per person for the evening session (from 5pm). It was $35 with dinner included
- Lockers and towels were provided.
- Go to the upper spring and look behind the fence, it’s just gorgeous farm land, cows, and jungle.
There are several main attractions:
- Canyoning, repelling
- Whitewater rafting
- Horseback riding
We did the combined course including 7 ziplines (the longest one being 800m), a 200m repel down a crazy cliff next to a waterfall, and a horseback ride back. We did this with Mondo Adventures and were very pleased with it. Honestly, the repel was the best part.
We did not do the whitewater rafting. You can choose to do a class 2/3 rapid or a class 3/4 rapid.
Overall, it cost us $130 for two people.
Sky Adventures also has a good reputation. We met some fellow travelers who loved the tour they did with Maquique. Whatever you do, I would see to it that you do a long zipline (700m+). It’s phenomenally thrilling.
Where to eat?
We can’t really speak to the quality of food as we eat kosher, but we had great coffee and smoothies at this awesome organic restaurant. Plenty of good ceviche to be had as well at the local fish restaurants.