Free Hot Springs in La Fortuna

We arrived at Tabacon before they opened and decided to walk across the street to the infamous “free” hot springs (comments) often touted by budget minded travelers. Apparently, the hot water from the resort drains under the bridge, which is probably public property allowing public access.  We first heard about the “free” springs while taking a tour with Red Lava out of La Fortuna in 2015.  The tour ended with everyone being dropped off on the side of the road to go swimming before heading home.  Unfortunately, (maybe fortunately) the night was dark and stormy, so no one on the tour wanted to chance going down the trail.

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The trail to the river is easy to locate from the main road, paved and short, but that is where civilization ends.  As you can see above, the trail ends at the river bank  and access down is steep and slippery, so I suggest you prepare for it.

Also, there are no aesthetics at the “free” place.  It looks a like like a dump with trash and graffiti.

It seems bathers need to head left under the bridge to enjoy the hot water since there appeared to be no easy access going right downstream.

Once you cross under the bridge, there is an attractive location to soak.  I am not sure what the etiquette is here since there are many other people in various states of dress and embrace that make it awkward to step over them to find a private place to settle.  I understand people get quite frisky here when the sun goes down. A future trip for me will be trying to see how to make the most of this place.

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Here is a view down from the north side of the bridge at the people enjoying the hot water. There may even be a way to get down to the upper pool from this direction, but it was not obvious.

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Here are two of my favorite CR guides documenting their trip to the “free” springs: TravelCostaRicaNow video

I could not find any public transportation from La Fortuna to this hot springs.  There are no local buses except the one that runs infrequently to Tilaran which would be problematic flagging down to get back  There are employee buses that travel to the springs but non-employees are not allowed on.  So here is the taxi driver we used to get us from La Fortuna and back who I would recommend.

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More Hot Springs Info and more

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3 thoughts on “Free Hot Springs in La Fortuna

  1. […] Tabacon is a wonderful place to enjoy the beauty of Costa Rica.  There are three Tabacons – the hotel, the spa and the hot springs, but I was only interested in the hot springs. The hotel and spa were out of my price range with rooms running from $400 to $1000 a night, and I wanted to try the place without paying full price.  So I was excited to discover we could buy a day pass to the hot springs at an affordable rate.  The usual rate for tourists is $105 per person including lunch and dinner, but we paid only $65 per person because we are legal residents of Costa Rica.  Note, there is a “free” hot spring downstream, across the street and under the bridge for the budget minded. Free Hot Springs in La Fortuna […]

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  2. […] One of the annual events my wife and I are starting to enjoy is a visit to La Fortuna (LF) during the low season in September, which is also the green or rainy season.  September and October are two of the rainiest months in CR, which means there are fewer people and better deals.  In 2015, we took the bus from San Ramon to La Fortuna for a couple of days of R&R link.  The inexpensive bus from San Ramon to LF runs four times a day and provides quite a scenic ride; however, if you tend to experience motion-sickness, I recommend you take a Dramamine tablet when you board the bus. We stayed in a hotel for $30 a night and took a few adventure tours which were half the usual high-season rates.  So we enjoyed a $35 half-price guided tour of Arenal.  At the end of the tour, the sky opened up and we experienced the full force of mother nature and were drenched.  We learned from that experience that the rain is not all that bad and we could live with it for the discounted prices being offered.  We also learned there was a free hot spring enjoyed by the locals and budget minded Free Hot Springs in La Fortuna. […]

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