Costa Rica is known for its adventure activities. But did you know that there are family-friendly water parks too? In 2019, we spent an action-packed week and a half in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, and we had so much fun. From hiking the Arenal volcano to playing in the water at Kalambu Hot Springs, it was definitely a trip worth writing home about!
La Fortuna is a town in north-central Costa Rica. It sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano, and has a wealth of activities for visitors to do. During our time in La Fortuna, we enjoyed activities like taking a river float down the Peñas Blancas River. We even took a chocolate workshop! But of all the things we did, one of our favorite activities was visiting the hot springs near the Arenal volcano.
This post was updated on May 21, 2020.
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Costa Rica’s Arenal hot springs
The Arenal Volcano is surrounded by an abundance natural hot springs. These Arenal hot springs come from an underground river that is geothermally heated by the Arenal Volcano. While the underground river spreads throughout the areas surrounding the volcano, most of the often-visited hot springs are those near La Fortuna.
Many hotels have sprung up (no pun intended!) in areas where there are hot springs. There are also spas and parks that visitors can come to and spend a day soaking in the hot springs water. The one free and public La Fortuna hot springs is located under a bridge across from Tabacon Resort. However, it is often full of people. And if you’re visiting hot springs with kids, you’re better off heading to one of the more private hot springs resorts.
Our favorite of the La Fortuna hot springs is Kalambu Hot Springs. They invited us to spend a day at their park and enjoy the hot springs. If you’re planning to visit the hot springs with kids, it’s the best family-friendly option, in my opinion.
Kalambu Hot Springs – the perfect La Fortuna hot springs for families
We’re always looking for family-friendly places to visit when we travel. They don’t necessarily have to be resorts and theme parks, but they definitely have to be something that’s appealing to the kids.
When we decided to visit Kalambu Hot Springs, we knew we wanted to visit some place that would allow us to swim and partake in some action-packed water activities. Kalambu Hot Springs certainly did not disappoint.
Created in 2014, Kalambu serves between 100 to 1,000 visitors, depending on the season. There are at least 7 pools (four of them were under maintenance during our visit). And there are also two sets of slides (one of the sides was underdoing maintenance as well). There is also a pool dedicated to kids and toddlers, complete with a splash tower!
Kalambu Hot Springs are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 8pm, and Saturday through Sunday from 9am to 9pm. Admission into the hot springs for Costa Rican nationals are 6,000 colones (roughly $10) for just park admission, and 8,500 colones (roughly $15) for park admission and a meal. For foreign nationals, admission for just the park is 10,000 colones (roughly $17). Admission for the park plus a meal for foreign nationals is 12,500 colones (roughly $21).
Our visit to Kalambu Hot Springs included a meal consisting of the typical Costa Rican casado. It was nice to have a meal during our day at the park. The rest of our time at Kalambu Hot Springs was spent splashing in the kids’ pool, soaking in the grown-up pools and sliding down the slides. It was certainly the life!
My five tips for enjoying Kalambu Hot Springs
For families planning to visit hot springs with kids in Costa Rica, a trip to Kalambu should definitely be on your list. We loved how clean the pools were, and the variety of swimming activities that we could do as a family. If you’re planning a visit to Kalambu Hot Springs, here are my tips for how to make your visit enjoyable and fun.
Tip #1: Practice water park safety
Just like at any water park, it’s important to follow the rules. They are in place to help keep you safe. The big slides have minimum height requirements, so be sure to check those before you go. And young kids should always be accompanied by an adult when swimming in the pools. Additionally, the paths can get slippery. So make sure you walk carefully to avoid slipping and falling.
Tip #2: Visit during an overcast day
Most people will visit water parks on hot and sunny days. While this is fine to do for Kalambu Hot Springs, since the water is pretty warm from the hot spring, you’ll still have an enjoyable time even on an overcast day. The benefit of coming on a day when it’s not sunny is that you won’t have to deal with too many crowds. It rained during our visit, but we didn’t mind because the pools were still nice and warm.
Regardless of the weather, though, it’s still best practice to wear environmentally-friendly sunscreen to prevent getting sunburned. You can get a burn even on a cloudy day!
Tip #3: Arrive right when the park opens
Another tip I have for families visiting hot springs with kids is to come right when the park opens. We arrived about an hour after we opened, and were still one of the few people at the park. That meant we could have pools and slides all to ourselves!
Tip #4: Give yourself the day to enjoy the park
If you really want to enjoy the benefits of the La Fortuna hot springs, plan to spend the whole day at the park. There’s a restaurant at Kalambu Hot Springs, where you can enjoy a nice meal a la carte and some drinks. If you buy the ticket that includes the meal, then you’ll be treated to a typical Costa Rican meal of casado, meat accompanied with rice and beans, salad, vegetables, and plantains.
We liked being able to swim for a bit in the morning, take a break for lunch, and then head back in the water after lunch. I think we ended up spending over five hours at the hot springs! If you don’t want to buy food at the restaurant, you can always bring your own snacks. But they’ll need to stay at designated eating areas, where there are tables and chairs. You’re not allowed to have food or drinks near the pools.
Tip #5: Keep an eye on your belongings
As with any tourist place, theft may happen. If you’re visiting any of the Arenal hot springs, it’s best to keep an eye on your belongings as you’re taking a soak in the hot springs. Kalambu Hot Springs has lockers that you can rent for the day. That way, you can put your clothes, wallet, and other valuables in the lockers, and just walk around the grounds with a towel.
Visiting the hot springs with kids
We loved spending our time at the hot springs in La Fortuna. It was so relaxing, and a great way to connect with the kids. They are such water babies! Even at the end of the day, they didn’t want to leave.
If you’re planning on visiting La Fortuna, Costa Rica with your kids, you should definitely consider taking a trip to one of the many Arenal hot springs in the area. But if you want my personal recommendation, I say skip all the other hot springs and head straight to Kalambu Hot Springs!
Have you visited any of the La Fortuna hot springs in Costa Rica? Share your favorite one in the comments.
Note: This is a sponsored post. My family and I received complimentary admission to Kalambu Hot Springs in exchange for this blog post. However, the views and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.
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