Rainforest Respite


Costa Rica is an area of biological diversity and splendor known for its mineral-laden thermal springs. Throughout the ages, people would flock to places like this to “take the cure.” History repeats itself at Tabacon Resort & Spa, a carbon-neutral, five-star property near the Arenal Volcano in the northwest-central part of the country.

Tabacon is a place where everyone smiles, the food is divine and the Costa Rican slogan Pura Vida (translates as “pure life”) gets real. Here’s an example of Pura Vida: it’s the joy and exhilaration you get when you overcome a fear or challenge. So, get your Pura Vida on with the outdoor must-dos of this region—ziplining, horseback riding up steep, rocky trails or climbing the 270-foot La Catarata de la Fortuna waterfall. But the reward? Certainly, that feeling is nice, but it’s nothing compared to a victory soak in the steaming thermal waters of Tabacon. 

Don your cushy robe and head out to take your reward (it’s appropriate to wear a robe just about anywhere on property…check!)  As the only 100% natural network of thermal springs in Costa Rica, the underground Tabacon River feeds an intricate maze of 26 pools—heated by the magma of the Arenal Volcano. These pools are a series of discoveries, unfolding as you walk uphill through lush tropical environs where fluorescent-hued plants seem to grow into and around and on top of each other. The higher you are, the warmer the magmatic waters get as you move closer to the volcano itself. The topmost spring, called Shangri La Gardens, is a secluded (Tabacon guests only) adult section with six separate pools, a full bar, private cabanas and a romantic atmosphere that is really hard to leave—especially when the Guaro (Costa Rica’s most famous sugar cane-based liquor) starts flowing. Caution advised…with the Guaro, anyway.

Also tucked into the springs is Tabacon’s Spa. Eleven completely private spa bungalows, used for everything from massages to meditation, blend seamlessly into the surroundings. Each one has a thermally heated Jacuzzi tub and shower. Accompanying the gentle breeze that flows through each bungalow is a real-life soundtrack of tropical birds and chirping bugs, harmonizing to nature. 

There are two international restaurants on the property, two bars and a lobby lounge. The food is thoughtful, even conceptual, at Los Tucanes, where the chef and his team combine artistry (think checkerboard of salmon and tuna crudo) with delightful light fish and pasta dishes as well as one sure-fire people pleaser: a giant steak that arrives tableside, still sizzling on a cooking stone. 

Delta offers daily flights to San Jose International Airport in Alajuela. The road to Tabacon Resort & Spa takes you northwest through scenic villages, vast fields of Dracaena and sugar cane to the happy land of Pura Vida.