Arenal’s free hot spring: You can’t beat the price

April 22, 2015
6 Comments

ARENAL, Alajuela — If you’ve been to Arenal, you probably know there are multiple resorts that offer luxurious and pricey hot springs, some of them complete with swim-up bars.

But did you know about the big, hot, fast river that’s completely free?

 

Mini-waterfall at Río Chollín — you might want to walk around this one.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

Right next to Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, where the well-heeled go to get their bath on, runs a river heated by magma to the temperature of bathwater where Ticos and savvy tourists go to soak, swim, frolic and barbecue, all for free.

It’s called Río Chollín — though some may tell you it’s called Río Tabacón, or even Río Arenal. It’s easily the best deal in these parts.

To get there, drive west from La Fortuna to Tabacón (www.tabacon.com), where you can’t miss the resort’s signs, and look for the Guatemalan ladies with the roadside tapestry stand. You can park along the road or in the marked spaces for free, but you might want to tip the guy watching the cars.

 

The bridge under the road — troll-free, but watch your step.

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

Walk downhill to the river, and you’ll find yourself at the bottom of a bridge where you can go left or right. There are good spots in both places.

Most people seem to go left, climbing over the waterfall created by the concrete at the base of the bridge. You can also wade across the shallows, walk uphill a bit and find the hole in the fence.

 

It's free, it's hot, it's wet. What's not to like?

Karl Kahler/The Tico Times

 

Soon you’ll be at a “hot spring” that is probably unlike any you’ve ever seen. Río Chollín is a rushing river of hot water, with rapids and waterfalls, that looks like it would make a frigid (and dangerous) whitewater rafting adventure.

For the ultimate treat, fight the heavy current into the rapids (try crab-walking backwards upriver), find a boulder to anchor yourself, lower your head into the water and enjoy a vigorous hot-water massage.

Free stuff doesn’t get much better than this.

Contact Karl Kahler at kkahler@ticotimes.net.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Reader photos: Beauty at Jacó Beach
Photos & Video
147 views
Photos & Video
147 views

Reader photos: Beauty at Jacó Beach

The Tico Times - January 19, 2019

At The Tico Times, we love great photos of Costa Rica. Share your favorite original photos with us at: alejandro@ticotimes.net.  Reader Naomi shared…

Tico Times: Letters to the Editor (Jan. 18, 2019)
Op-Ed
5128 views
Op-Ed
5128 views

Tico Times: Letters to the Editor (Jan. 18, 2019)

The Tico Times - January 19, 2019

The Tico Times is proud to be an independent, English-language news source in Costa Rica. Our readers regularly submit editorials…

Costa Rica soccer announces squad to face United States
La Sele
427 views
La Sele
427 views

Costa Rica soccer announces squad to face United States

AFP and The Tico Times - January 19, 2019

Costa Rica’s new men's national soccer team manager, Gustavo Matosas, summoned a revamped lineup without most of its best-known figures…