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by Ben the Grate
April 2, 2003
Years ago, Tabacon had only developed the portion of the river upstream of the road, changing the course of the water into waterfalls and hot pools. There is a restaurant and swim up bar. It's the perfect place to watch the natural fireworks atop Arenal on a clear night.
At that time, those of us who couldn't afford the pricey entrance could just walk DOWNSTREAM of the road and play in the hot whitewater for free. But now, Tabacon has developed the downstream side, too, but charges less than the astronomical $20 they want to frolick in the upstream water.
Downstream you pay $8 to bathe in lovely pools and sit under waterfalls. It will be crowded during the day, but at night you just might have the place to yourself.
BE CAUTIOUS of the pool beneath the first big waterfall. The current is very swift and it can drag you over the dam and onto sharp rocks below. If you are brave and strong, you can duck BEHIND this waterfall and find a cave-like space to relax in and watch the hot water thunder over the lip of the falls.
The area closes at 9pm.
From journal Costa Rica 101
Victoria, BC, British Columbia
February 1, 2003
Standard rooms at Tabacon are large, modern, and nice. There are about six or seven buildings spread out around the property each holding 10 – 20 rooms. There is a very nice tiled bathroom with large shower. And although they are reluctant to put more than three people in these rooms, we were very comfortable with four. All of the rooms at Tabacon have beautiful views and this is probably their best feature. The volcano generally erupts at around 10pm and then on the hour from then on, so it’s nice not to have to leave your room at 3am to see this spectacle. You can even request a wake-up call for exceptional eruptions.
The restaurant here is also highly rated, although it is expensive and we
therefore decided to eat dinner elsewhere. Breakfast is, however, included and
one of the best I’ve ever had. The buffet included most everything you can
imagine, including cooked to order omelets and smoothies. There is also a less
formal restaurant located at the Hot Springs.
Most people come to Tabacon Resort for the Hot Springs - and rightfully so.
This is a fairly large area of well manicured hot springs along the river that
sit under the volcano. It’s incredible here at night watching the eruptions.
There is also a swimming pool here with swim-up bar. The large complex sits a
few hundred meters down the road from the hotel (an easy walk or free shuttle) –I would recommend going in the mornings to avoid the crowds which can apparently be bad in the on season. There is also a nice pool and hot tub on the hotel grounds reserved exclusively for guests.
Remember when booking at Tabacon, the Hot Springs are included in the rate –
both for the day you arrive and leave. So booking for one night is actually the
best value as you get two days of the hot springs included (normally $20 / person/day). This adds up to fairly good value as most people who come to Arenal visit the Tabacon Hot Springs anyway (and pay $20).
I can’t comment on the spa services because I did not try any of them -
prices were high, similar to those in the U.S. or Canada. I have heard better
treatments can be had for much less outside the resort.
If you can afford the price tag, take my advice and stay at Tabacon.
From journal 6 months in Costa Rica