These serene river hot springs are powered by the Arenal Volcano, the main focal point and attraction of this region of Costa Rica. There are no bathrooms, lounge chairs or cafes on site at this river flowing through the forest.
La Fortuna Hot Springs, also known as La Choyin, are just off of the main road (Ruta 142). Tabacon Hot Springs, a high-end spa, is fed by the same water source as La Fortuna. But for those interested in a raw and rustic vibe, follow the dirt path off of the main road that leads into the woods.
It opens up to a creek surrounded by lush trees. Find a watering hole and let yourself relax in this naturally-occurring hot tub. Birds, butterflies and other pleasure seekers abound. There’s also some tunnels decorated with graffiti that the river flows through.
If the free hot springs aren’t crowded, it’s easy to pass the trail entrance. So if you’re coming from the Tabacon parking area, you will walk 100 feet across the bridge to an opening on the left. The path’s marker is a sign advising visitors not to leave their stuff, especially phones and keys, on the rocks that surround the river because of the potential for theft.
While it’s always been popular with locals, the springs have become a tourist hot spot so it’s best to visit early mornings during the week. There’s also likely to be less traffic at that time because the one lane road gets pretty busy during peak midday hours. But if you’re looking for more of a communal vibe, it gets pretty packed on the weekends especially in the evenings around sunset. Bring water, drinks and snacks as well as a garbage bag to bring all of your trash. A good rule of thumb is to leave it better than you found it.
Know Before You Go
It’s free and there are no set hours because it’s nature! But it’s not advisable to go after dark because of the terrain or potential robbery. Don’t leave any valuables in your car because the parking guides are not security guards. Bring a waterproof pouch to carry your keys and phone around your neck because you’re totally going to want to take photos.
The hot springs are a 15 minute drive from downtown La Fortuna where there are tons of restaurants, however, there are a few sodas (local restaurants) on the main road into town. There are also numerous hotels of various price points surrounding El Choyin along Ruta 142.