I knew even less about our next destination, La Fortuna, except for the fact that it was situated at the base of a giant volcano. I would soon learn that the town’s name was actually a nod to the 1968 eruption of said volcano (Volcán Arenal–the most active lava spewer in Costa Rica) which destroyed everything to the west but left La Fortuna (“the fortunate”), which sits to the east, untouched. The town–originally named El Borio–was renamed following the eruption.
I also soon learned that I had no desire to partake in many of La Fortuna’s tourist activites; they all seemed to involve a lot of physical exertion (8 hours of hiking through the jungle, for instance) or a lot of money (Costa Rica, why so ‘spensive?!) so I decided to spend a relaxing couple of days getting work done instead and maybe, just maybe visiting one of the thermal spas in town, because when in Rome and stuff.
Not to mention our hostel, Arenal Hostel Resort, was lovely and the weather in La Fortuna considerably warmer than our previous location, so chillin’ out with a cocktail by the pool just seemed like the right thing to do.
When it came to deciding which spa to hit up, we garnered opinions from the hostel staff and were nudged gently in the direction of the charmingly named Baldi Spa. The price of admission to this extravagant hot spring was a bit steep. After all, this wasn’t your average hole-in-the-ground-filled-with-hot-water type of spa; this was Baldi Spa, the most expansive hot spring facility in the Arenal area–with a concierge, swim-up bars and fancy cocktails, waterslides, and a buffet dinner in one of their two on-site restaurants between the hours of 5-7pm.
Per our initial understanding, the buffet dinner was included in the price we’d been quoted. Something was obviously miscommunicated, however, because when we arrived and were informed the buffet would actually cost an additional $20 on top of the admission fee (not including drinks), I nearly choked on my spit.
“Thanks but no thanks, just admission for us, then!” And $38 later, we were in.
It was a sight to behold, indeed. “Tropical paradise” would be an apt description of this place, but I’m certain I’m going to fail spectacularly in any further attempt to describe the opulence of Baldi, so instead I’ll just show you some pretty pictures. Prepare to be wowed.
We arrived in the late afternoon and planned to spend a couple of hours exploring the complex and basically just chilling–hard. I was skeptical that I would enjoy soaking in hot water all day (some pools were far hotter than others, but there were cold pools to cool down in as well) given that the ambient temperature was so hot, but once I got settled in it did feel quite relaxing.
One of the perks of traveling to a tourist hotspot like Costa Rica during the low season is that you can have places like this almost entirely to yourself. We stumbled upon a “Members Only” section but quickly realized that no one was there to enforce this rule and further, no one was even inside to question our member status, so we strolled right on in.
After exploring most of the complex and hitting the water slides a few times, we headed to one of the swim-up bars for the last splurge of the day, one outrageously overpriced drink. Mine was a fruity concoction that went straight to my dehydrated brain.Night began to settle in and we were pretty overheated by that point, so we hung out in some of the cold pools before finally deciding to make our way back to the hostel.
There are plenty of perks to traveling during the off-season, and getting to enjoy a place like Baldi Spa without massive crowds of people is definitely one of them. If you’re thinking of traveling to Costa Rica, I’d say its definitely worth it to avoid peak season. It does rain most days starting in May and lasting until October, but often only for a few hours at a time. And the cloud cover won’t hinder your ability to catch a tan, I promise.
How do you decide what to splurge on while traveling? Would you visit Baldi?