If you’re heading to La Fortuna, Costa Rica during your travels, visiting a hot spring is one of those must do bucket list items that everyone will suggest to you. We completely agree! Visiting a hot spring in the Arenal area is so cool, but did you know that there are La Fortuna hot springs which are guaranteed to wow you while still being very affordable? It’s true!
Going to La Fortuna is one of our favorite long weekend trips from our home in San Jose. The first time we visited the area we knew we really wanted to visit a hot spring, but everything seemed so fancy and out of our price range. After doing some (actually a lot) of research we came up with a list of three La Fortuna hot springs options that seemed to be affordable and amazing.
On that first trip we checked out our three budget hot spring options and ended up spending several hours (I’m talking until they closed at night) at two of them. We quickly became hot springs addicts and now take every person who visits us to these places.
Anyway, enough rambling, here are the great La Fortuna hot springs you should visit!
La Fortuna Hot Springs – Termales Los Laureles
Termales Los Laureles is my favorite hot spring in La Fortuna because I like the very open feeling and the amazing view. I mean, could you imagine a better view while sitting in a warm pool? I can’t!
Children under the age of 3 have free entry, children from ages 3 to 10 years old pay ¢4,000 (about $8), adults from 10 to 65 years old pay ¢6,000 (about $12), adults over 65 years old pay ¢4,000.
9am to 9pm
Termales Los Laureles is about a fifteen-minute drive from downtown La Fortuna. Just enter Termales Los Laureles in your GPS and you’ll be good to go! You’ll know you are in the right spot by a large nice looking archway that says Termales Los Laureles.
Follow their long driveway to the end and an attendant will come to your car to collect payment and give you a wristband.
– There is a really nice picnic area with tables and covering overhead. There are several grills if you want to grill (but they are not at every picnic table, only some).
– There are multiple bathrooms and changing rooms for visitors.
– The hot spring consists of various hot and cold pools at different sizes. There is also one pool with a big water slide. In total there are seven pools.
– Can we take a moment to appreciate this ↑ sign? They have these signs all over and they always crack me up. So, just remember, no love scenes guys!
– They do have a campground and small cabins for rent. If you’d like more info you can contact them through their website.
– There is a small place where you can buy food. It is pretty basic (fries, burgers etc.)
– There are lockers but you have to pay a few dollars for a key.
La Fortuna Hot Springs – Termalitas del Arenal
Termalitas del Arenal is Thomas’s favorite hot spring. He loves it because it has a more jungle feel to it and at night it is all lit up with colorful lights.
Yes, we do always disagree about which hot spring to go to when we are in La Fortuna. If you guys have a chance to check out both, report back on your favorite.
I can not find an exact price online, but I know that adults are about $9 per person.
The directions here are basically the same as to Termales Los Laureles. Just enter Termalitas del Arenal into your GPS and it will lead the way! It will take about ten to fifteen minutes to drive here from downtown. The hot spring will be on the right-hand side of the road. If you see Baldi Hot Springs on the left side of the road you have gone too far.
When you enter into Termalitas de Arenal an employee will come to your car, collect payment, and give everyone in your group a wristband. You will then be directed to the parking lot ahead.
– There are TONS of picnic areas here. They don’t all have grills, but most do.
– There are changing rooms and bathrooms for customers
– Again, no love scenes guys!
– If you come here on a weekend it can be ridiculously crowded with large families. We suggest visiting during the week if you want a more relaxed experience. Thomas and I were here on a Tuesday night once and there was nobody around.
– No splashing! ↑
– Each picnic areas has an outlet so you can plug whatever you need to in.
– There are public trash barrels, no need to carry all of your trash out.
– There is a small place where you can buy food, but as with Termales Los Laureles it is pretty standard (fries, burgers etc).
– There are various hot and cold pools and one large pool with a waterslide.
– Apparently, they now have a few rooms for rent. If you are looking for an affordable place to stay at a hot spring you can contact Termalitas de Arenal over their Facebook page.
La Fortuna Hot Springs – Free Hot Spring
If you want a completely free experience, just head to the free hot spring! This stream comes from runoff from Arenal Volcano. It’s really neat because the temperature changes between hot and cold depending on where you sit. There are also lots of rocks which make little pools and great sitting spots. The water from this stream is used at Tabacon Resort’s hot spring, so basically your getting a high-class water experience for free!
The free hot spring are located just next to Tabacon Resort. You will see a bunch of cars lined up along the side of the road right before a bridge. There is usually someone working who will direct you to park and ask for a few dollars in exchange for watching your car.
After you pay them (sometimes they ask for money before and sometimes after) walk on to the bridge. You will see a trail through the woods which leads down to the hot spring.
Do not attempt to go down to the hot springs on the path before the bridge. It is much better to enter the hot springs from the path on the bridge. If you go down before the bridge you will have to walk through the entire stream to get to a spot you like.
We entered before the bridge once and Thomas abandoned me. He claims he thought I was right behind him, but I think he ran away from my bad coordination as I walked like Big Foot through the stream. 😉 Some nice man had to save me when I slipped and fell in the water (story of my life).
The trail down to the stream from the middle of the bridge is still steep, but I have done it with flip flops on and have been fine.
Just make sure to get back up to your car before it gets dark outside. It’s not fun to try to walk up the path in the dark.
La Fortuna Hot Springs – Bonus Free Swimming Hole
Here’s a little bonus swimming spot for you all. This is not a hot spring, but just a cool swimming place. This spot is called El Salto and is a popular hangout spot with locals. There is a rope swing here that you can use to leap into the water.
El Salto is only about a 5 minute drive from downtown La Fortuna. Drive from the center of town like you are going to the La Fortuna waterfall but instead of turning onto the road to the waterfall continue to go straight. You will immediately cross a bridge. This is El Salto. There are usually some other cars there, so just pull over on the side of the road safely and walk down to the water.
If you put “Salto” into Waze it will direct you to the spot.
This is not the safest activity so if you have bad balance or just, in general, do not feel comfortable with possibly slippery rocks we suggest avoiding this. You will have to walk a small but steep hill to get to the water. We suggest wearing something on your feet like Keens to help with stability.
Also, you don’t have to try the rope swing. You can just cool off in the water instead. That’s what I do (because I’m wimpy and a disaster)!
The water can be really cold, so prepare to be shocked. It feels really nice on hot days or after a long hike though!
La Fortuna Hot Springs – Our Tips
– Both Termales Los Laureles and Termalitas del Arenal have grills (as I mentioned above). We always take advantage of this and grill. It is a fun way to take make use of the space and enjoy a full day at the hot spring.
However, if you are trying to keep a tight budget it may actually be cheaper for you to bring a simple picnic or bring food from a nearby restaurant instead. If you opt to grill you will have to buy charcoal, any condiments you need, something to eat off of (plates, forks), cooking ingredients etc. We have the luxury of bringing these items from home, but you will not.
If you do opt to grill, there is a small grocery store called Super Christian #4 which will be on the left side of the road as you head from downtown La Fortuna to the hot springs.
Also, as I mentioned, both hot springs have a small food stand, but it is basic food and not really the best. If you want a better food experience I suggest either picking up some food at Organico Fortuna in town or grabbing a pizza from down the street at Que Rico (about a five minute drive from both hot springs) and bringing it with you to the hot springs.
– As always, don’t leave anything of value in your car while at the La Fortuna hot springs. This especially applies to both free options. Having a dry bag to put all your valuables in to keep with you is really helpful.
– Don’t forget suntan lotion and bug spray! The second the sun goes down here the mosquitos come out in full force.
– We highly suggest packing a microfiber towel for your travels in Costa Rica. We swear by our microfiber towels because they dry fast and in the jungle or on the beaches, nothing ever dries. The humidity here is hardcore!
– It is worth asking at your hotel is they have any special deals with any of the hot springs. It seems that a lot of the hotels in the area partner with Baldi Hot Springs to give you a cheaper rate which includes dinner or lunch. Even with the discount we still find the rate to usually be more than we are willing to pay, but depending on the time of year you may be able to get a really good price for a bit more luxurious experience.
Do you know of any other La Fortuna hot springs that are budget friendly? We’d love for you to share them in the comment section below. If you have any question about any of these budget hot spring in La Fortuna definitely ask in the comment section and we will help you out!
Also, don’t forget to let us know after visiting if you liked Termales Los Laureles or Termalitas del Arenal more! We like to compete so your input helps fuel our competitive nature. 🙂
You might also like our Complete Budget Travel Guide to La Fortuna
LIKED THIS GUIDE TO LA FORTUNA HOT SPRINGS ON A BUDGET? WE’D LOVE IF YOU’D PIN IT!