Costa Rica has always been at the top of
Fiona Forbes’ bucket list, so when the
opportunity came up for a whirlwind trip to
the central american destination’s Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa, she took it, even
though it was for just 48 action-packed hours.
Getting there is part of the adventure, and I am always one to enjoy the journey. From Vancouver, transiting through Dallas-Fort Worth, I landed at Juan Santamaría International Airport (just outside San José) late in the evening, and was met by my driver Josue, who whisked me off on a three-hour trek to Tabacon.
Josue is the quintessential tour guide, and despite the fact we did this winding drive after dark, he proudly described the people, the culture, the vegetation and the wildlife of each area we were passing through – including the Continental Divide – so by the time we arrived at the five-star resort, I was excited to explore what this island paradise had to offer.
The eco-friendly and carbon-neutral Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa is spread across 900 acres of the world’s most bio-diverse rainforest reserves near the base of the Arenal Volcano in the small Costa Rican village of La Fortuna. I woke up in my luxurious room, filled with furnishings handcrafted by local artisans. After a well-needed rest from my full day of travel, I took a morning meander through the lush and tranquil walkways of this glorious, private rainforest reserve.
What makes this resort unique is that it’s built on the largest and only completely natural network of thermal mineral springs that flow through the property, fed by the Tabacon River and naturally heated by the magma from the Arenal Volcano. The wildlife on the resort roam free, so don’t be surprised if you see toucans, tree frogs or howler monkeys during your stay!
Whether you choose to relax in the healing waters of the numerous naturally heated river pools, waterfalls, or the Shangri-La Gardens that feature six natural pools, cocoon-shaped hanging cabanas and a full bar, the private jacuzzis with water heated naturally by the springs or the swimming area, you will experience a tranquil and relaxing slice of heaven.
One could argue that staying at Tabacon and enjoying the healing properties of the natural springs is like a spa unto itself. If you do make this lush oasis your home away from home, be sure to treat yourself to one of their outdoor massages in one of the luxurious open-air rainforest bungalows. Enjoy a pre-treatment preparation dip in the hot-springs-fed Jacuzzi followed by a deeply relaxing Swedish massage tucked away among the natural springs, trees and gardens. The resort also offers yoga classes in one of their secluded bungalows.
Being surrounded by a tropical paradise is the most calming environment to get your downward dog on – Namaste!
Tabacon has a wide array of dining options located right on the property, featuring two open-air restaurants and four bars. The resort’s Los Tucanes and Ave del Paraíso restaurants cater to guests from around the globe, and have tons of delicious bites to nosh on, from international fare to a plethora of local delights. The standouts for me were a fresh and delicious watermelon salad at Los Tucanes and a tender steak served on top of giant lava rocks that are heated up to 350 degrees at Ave del Paraíso.
There is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy in the Northern region of Costa Rica. Although my trip was short and sweet, we got out there and got active. After our lunch in Don Rufinos restaurant in La Fortuna, we hiked down to the base of the stunning La Fortuna waterfall, situated at the base of the dormant Chato volcano. This is a great spot to unwind and do some swimming and relaxing in the fresh, crisp waters. Vancouverites, make sure you prepare for this one – it’s a like mini Grouse Grind!
Horseback riding through the rainforest to the El Silencio observation point to check out the dried lava from previous eruptions of the majestic Arenal volcano was another standout.
This trip was the perfect combination of relaxing and adventuring. I’ll definitely be back, but next time, I’ll plan to stay longer!