Vandara Hot Springs Guide and Review

Vandara Hot Springs is an enticing tourist spot offering a range of activities. Visitors can enjoy a canopy tour, water slides, hiking trails, and bathing in the thermal hot springs. However, the horseback riding adventure may not meet expectations.

If you’re seeking a thrilling day of adventure and relaxation in Costa Rica, Vandara Hot Springs is the perfect destination. It’s located amidst the rainforest on the slopes of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. Vandara offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and exciting activities. Known for its thermal springs and commitment to sustainability, Vandara Hot Springs is an ideal spot to immerse yourself in nature and adventure.

Key Takeaways 

  • The Vandara hot springs offer a variety of activities, including water slides, mud baths, hot springs, cultural trapiche tours, and canopy tours.
  • The Vandara hot springs offer two types of passes: the Vandara Explorer Pass, priced at $95 for adults (above 11 years) and $75 for children (5–11 years), and the Vandara Nature Pass, priced at $65 for adults (13 years and older) and $52 for children (5–12 years).
  • Some essentials to bring along when visiting the Vandara hot springs include a swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, a water bottle, insect repellent, and cash.

In the rest of this article, I’ll provide directions to Vandara Hot Springs, outline the activities available at this destination, and share my personal experience there. Let’s dive in!

Find out how to get to Vandara Hot Springs.

Getting to Vandara Hot Springs is straightforward, as it’s situated in Guanacaste, northwestern Costa Rica. Vandara Hot Springs is reachable by road from Liberia International Airport, Tamarindo, and La Fortuna. Whether you prefer driving yourself or using shuttle services, it’s easy to access with GPS directions. To locate the resort, simply input “Vandara” or “Vandara Explora Costa Rica’s Nature” on Google Maps.

Vandara is easily accessible from various parts of Costa Rica. If you’re coming from Tamarindo, shuttle services or private transfers are available. Similarly, if you’re coming from the Arenal area near La Fortuna, you can find transportation options to Vandara Hot Springs.

Activities you can do at the Vandara Hot Springs

Vandara Canopy and Horseback Riding Experience: 

The Vandara Canopy Tour provides an exciting adventure, zigzagging across the Titzate Canyon amidst waterfalls and lush tropical vegetation teeming with wildlife. The tour utilizes safe technology and equipment, featuring new cables and spacious landing platforms for a secure and exhilarating experience. 

For those interested in exploring the countryside on horseback, Vandara offers a Costa Rica horseback riding tour that lasts 1 to 1.5 hours. A knowledgeable Guanacasteco wrangler and a nature guide led this experience.

The ziplining tour at Vandara consists of 8 cables, none of which are extreme, making it perfect for beginners and those with a fear of heights who want to try ziplining. 

The ziplining was extremely friendly and fun during my visit, which added a lot to the overall experience. The ziplining itself was quite easy, consisting of 6-7 runs with dual cables, no longer than 400 meters, and a gradual incline. 

However, my horseback riding experience at Vandara Hot Springs was disappointing. The horses appeared emaciated and neglected, with many bearing painful sores from the ropes used on them. Witnessing such poor treatment of the animals was disheartening and frankly disturbing. Despite the enjoyable aspects of the visit, the condition of the horses significantly marred my overall impression of the experience at Vandara Hot Springs.

Water Slide: 

At Vandara Hot Springs, you can enjoy a thrilling 1,300-foot water slide experience. Equipped with safety gear and helmets, you’ll receive instructions on optimal positioning for speed control. Natural spring water powers the slide, which winds through an orchid-filled field and ends in a refreshing swimming pool.

You must wear a waist tube and rubber elbow guards for safety and comfort. Despite the provision of a tube, I advise women to wear shorts over their bikini bottoms to avoid friction burns.

The slide itself is concrete and empties into a large pool. It’s important to heed the advice to sit up rather than lay back on the slide to maintain a manageable speed through the turns and ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.

Hiking Rincón de la Vieja Trails: 

Vandara Hot Springs offers a network of scenic walking and hiking trails that meander through its expansive property. You can explore diverse landscapes, including citrus groves, orchid gardens, and an organic farm, during your visit. The countryside trails are home to many bird species, iguanas, monkeys, sloths, and other fascinating creatures.

Vandara Hot Springs: 

The highlight of my visit to Vandara Hot Springs was undoubtedly the natural hot spring pools, which provided a deeply soothing experience. You can indulge in volcanic mud treatments, relaxing massages, or nature-inspired spa therapies at the open-air spa.

To reach the hot springs, a pleasant 10-minute walk includes crossing a hanging bridge over the river. I recommend starting with the mud bath for skin cleansing and exfoliation, then a leisurely soak in the warm waters amidst the fresh rainforest air, all while sipping on delicious cold drinks.

Vandara features two sections of hot springs: one large pool with a swim-up bar and another more secluded pool nestled in the forest along the river. Both pools offer a natural ambiance that enhances the overall experience.

I enjoyed a 10-minute soak in the hot springs, followed by a mud application and a refreshing rinse under a waterfall. I then floated in the hot springs for about an hour and a half.

Vandara provides lockers with locks for personal belongings and offers towels for guests. Each pool maintains a different temperature, catering to various preferences.

I also had the opportunity to swim in the pristine Tizate River, where we were delighted by the sight of a couple of playful monkeys in the nearby trees. 

Vandará’s Cultural Trapiche Tour: 

You can tour the Costa Rican Trapiche Rancho, where you can immerse yourself in local traditions and taste traditional fare cooked over a wood fire. During the tour, you’ll witness the fascinating process of transforming sugar cane into tapa dulce using an ox-pulled molino, showcasing an authentic production method.

After exploring the sugar cane processing, you can enjoy sampling local favorites like chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) and aguardiente liquor, experiencing the rich flavors of Costa Rican cuisine. A freshly prepared lunch or dinner, featuring classic Costa Rican dishes, follows this experience.


The lunch at Vandara Hot Springs was simple yet delicious, offering traditional Costa Rican cuisine with generous portions. Two lunch options were available: an international choice and a traditional Costa Rican meal. I opted for the vegetarian option, which included a classic Costa Rican casado featuring rice, beans, vegetables, plantains, and salad—all prepared with fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor.

The meal was satisfying and provided enough variety to accommodate everyone’s preferences. 

Vandara Hot Springs activity packages

There are various activity packages available at the Vandara Hot Springs for you to choose from.

You can choose from different activity packages at Vandara Hot Springs, each designed to cater to various preferences and interests.

The Vandara Explorer Pass:

The Vandara Explorer Pass offers a comprehensive, all-inclusive day pass to fully experience Vandara Hot Springs. This package is suitable for ages 5 and up, and it can last up to 8 hours.


Adult (Ages 11+): $95 

Child (ages 5–10): $75

The Vandara Explorer Pass includes the following activities:

  • Horseback Riding
  • Tizate Canopy Tour (zip-lining)
  • Vandara Water Slide
  • The Trapiche Cultural Tour (including sugar cane processing)
  • Thermal Hot Springs
  • Volcanic Mud Treatment
  • Hiking on designated trails
  • Organic Garden Visit
  • A traditional Costa Rican lunch

The Vandara Nature Pass

The Vandara Nature Pass is an excellent choice if you want to immerse yourself in Vandara’s stunning natural environment while enjoying relaxing amenities and cultural experiences. It’s suitable for all ages and takes up to 8 hours.


Adult (Ages 13+): $65 

Child (Ages 5–12): $52 

Child Under 5: Free

The Vandara Nature Pass includes the following activities:

  • Thermal Hot Springs
  • Volcanic Mud Treatment
  • The Trapiche Cultural Tour (including sugar cane processing)
  • Hiking on Vandara’s Trails
  • A traditional Costa Rican lunch

What you should bring along

When packing for an adventure to Vandara Hot Springs, you must bring a few key items to ensure you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here’s a list of things to consider packing:


Don’t forget your swimsuit! Whether you’re soaking in the hot springs or taking a dip in the pool, you’ll want to be ready to dive in.

Sunscreen and sunglasses: 

Costa Rica’s tropical sun can be intense, so bring sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. With sunglasses, keep cool and shaded from the sun.

Insect Repellent:

Unfortunately, I forgot a bug spray the first time I visited this hot spring; it was not a great experience, so you must ensure you have yours. Bring along some insect repellent to ward off any pesky bugs.

Hiking Shoes:

If you plan on hiking the trails around Vandara, pack a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or sneakers for comfort and support.

Reusable water bottle: 

Vandara Hot Springs has fresh, clean water refill stations, so come with your water bottle to stay hydrated.

Camera or smartphone: 

Don’t forget to capture all the unforgettable moments of your trip! Bring a camera or smartphone to snap photos of the stunning scenery and wildlife you encounter.


Having some cash on hand for tips and other expenses is always a good idea.

Additional Tips to Make the Most Out of the Experience:

Arrive early to beat the rush.

During my visit to Vandara Hot Springs, arriving early in the day allowed me to beat the crowds and enjoy the hot springs and surrounding attractions without feeling rushed. Plus, there’s something magical about starting your day with a relaxing soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters.

Embrace the Unexpected Weather:

Costa Rica’s weather can be unpredictable, so checking the forecast before your visit is always a good idea. At Vandara, I experienced everything from sunshine to sudden rain showers. I packed a lightweight rain jacket and quick-drying clothes, which came in handy!

Respect nature and the environment:

Vandara Hot Springs is committed to sustainability and preserving the natural environment, and visitors must also do their part. During my visit, I stayed on designated trails, disposed of trash properly, and respected the wildlife and vegetation around me.

Take your time to relax and explore.

One of the best things about Vandara is the opportunity to relax and unwind in a beautiful natural setting. I took my time soaking in the hot springs, exploring the jungle trails, and taking in the breathtaking views. You should savor every moment and fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Try something new and step out of your comfort zone.

Vandara offers various activities, from zip-lining to horseback riding to mud baths. Challenge yourself to try new things and step out of your comfort zone. 

Plan your transportation ahead of time.

During my visit, I found it super helpful to plan transportation in advance. I booked a shuttle service from my hotel, making the journey stress-free. If you’re driving, just make sure to map out your route beforehand and maybe even download some offline maps, just in case you lose signal in those lush Costa Rican jungles!

Keep safety in mind, always. 

Whether you’re hiking the trails or zip-lining through the canopy, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or listen closely to any safety instructions from the friendly Vandara staff. 

Wrapping Up

The variety of experiences Vandara offers, from sliding down the thrilling water slide to enjoying a tranquil soak in the natural hot springs, captivated me during my visit.

I learned the importance of respecting nature and embracing new experiences while savoring every moment in this paradise setting. However, I recommend that you go somewhere else for horseback riding; this is one activity I wish I had avoided. Every other activity was quite fulfilling. 

Rate this post


Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

Leave a Comment