The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds

Last Updated: September 22, 2019

If you’ve done some research on Costa Rica, then you have probably read about the country’s famous volcanoes and soothing hot springs. Flocks of visitors come to destinations like La Fortuna and Rincon de la Vieja to soak in naturally heated pools and gaze up at volcanic peaks. But not all of Costa Rica’s volcanoes hold the same acclaim. The Miravalles Volcano, for example, offers similar features, but has only a few small villages in its surrounds. Here, tourism is hardly noticeable and an authentic Costa Rica experience awaits. In this post, we’ll describe what makes the Miravalles area unique and help you plan a visit. 

Miravalles Costa Rica - Hot Springs, Volcanoes, and Zero Crowds

Location

The Miravalles Volcano is located in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province. Though situated inland, it is only about 1.5-2.5 hours from popular beach towns like Playa Hermosa, Playa Conchal, and Playa Tamarindo. Two small towns, Guayabal and Fortuna, sit on the southwestern side of the volcano. These towns offer a glimpse of local culture, with mostly undeveloped land, rolling farm fields, small neighborhoods, and of course a soccer field or two.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
Miravalles Volcano

The Miravalles Volcano itself has some interesting attributes. Towering at 6,654 feet (2,028 meters), it is the tallest volcano in the Guanacaste mountain range. Though now considered dormant, the volcano generates an abundance of thermal energy. In fact, the Costa Rican government’s electric institute (ICE) has several industrial plants here that turn the volcano’s underground heat into geothermal electricity. You will likely see some of the steaming tubes as you drive around town. There are also many wind turbines nearby, helping to add to the country’s sustainability goals.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds

Activities

Although the Miravalles Volcano area can be visited as a day trip from many of the beach towns in Guanacaste, there are enough sights to stay for a night or two.

Thermal Hot Springs

Probably the biggest draw of Miravalles are the thermal hot springs. There are several casual hot spring options as well as one upscale resort.

Yoko Termales

Yoko Termales has five simple hot spring pools that reach temperatures of 100˚F (38˚C). The property is more spread out, with some shaded sitting areas, picnic tables, and a wet bar and waterslide. Many of the pools are in direct sun so a lot of people prefer going at night when it is cooler. Yoko is especially popular with local Ticos. Admission is a bargain at ₡5000 ($10) for adults and ₡4000 ($8) for children under 10.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
The pools at Yoko Termales

Colinas de Miravalles

Colinas de Miravalles doesn’t have as many pools, but we preferred the atmosphere. It has one giant pool with a manmade waterfall and two smaller, more intimate, ones. (See cover photo, above, which shows the larger pool.) The springs serve the guests of the hotel, but we saw a lot of locals coming for the day. The views of the volcano are outstanding and the landscaped property is very nice as well. You can make a day of it by grabbing lunch at their restaurant, or bring a cooler with food and drinks. Admission: ₡4,000 ($7). 

Thermomania

If you have kids, Thermomania is a fun spot. This is an over-the-top waterpark with cartoon-character-inspired thermal pools, waterslides, and play structures. There is a huge onsite restaurant and bar where the adults can grab a drink. The resort is very popular with local families. Thermomania was badly damaged after a hurricane a few years ago and is still recovering so all the play areas may not be open. Admission: ₡5000 ($9). Open on weekends and holidays only.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
One of the fun thermal pools at Thermomania

Las Hornillas

Las Hornillas is a private property that offers hot springs as well as a variety of other activities. See below for a full description.

Rio Perdido

You wouldn’t expect it from its remote location, but the Rio Perdido is a gleaming high end resort hidden deep in the tropical forest. At the end of a bumpy dirt road near Fortuna, you will come to this well-manicured resort. Although primarily a hotel (see below), the Rio Perdido is a destination for day trippers as well. It has eight registered hot springs, which you can enjoy in a natural riverbed setting with jungle surrounds, or at the two elegant pools adjacent to the spa.

Day passes are $40 for entrance only or $65 with lunch included. If you would like to book a pass, please contact us through our Tour Booking Service page or email bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com and let us know your preferred date and the number of people in your party (adults and children). We’ll then make all the arrangements for you. Booking through us costs the same and helps support our website!

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
A hot spring pool just steps from the Rio Perdido Spa

Las Hornillas Volcanic Activity Center

If you want to experience what it’s like to stand in an active volcanic crater, then head to Las Hornillas. Carved into the side of a hill, this is an area at the base of the volcano where the energy emerges from the ground. A short trail brings you past volcanic steam vents and bubbling mud pots. The smell of sulfur fills the air but is all part of the experience. Visitors can apply mineral-rich volcanic mud to their skin and then soak in the thermal pools afterwards.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
The volcanic landscape at Las Hornillas

Las Hornillas also has some hiking trails, which lead to stunning waterfalls. The guided hike starts with a tractor ride and then crosses some rustic hanging bridges. From the bridges, you can see all the way to the Gulf of Nicoya (Pacific Ocean).

Llanos de Cortez Waterfall

About 35 minutes from the Miravalles Volcano is one of Guanacaste’s most stunning waterfalls. Llanos de Cortez is located right off Highway 1 and is a popular stop for those making the trip between Miravalles and the Guanacaste coast. The beautiful waterfall, with it wide, wispy streams of water, flows year-round. Because it is only a short (but steep) walk down from the parking area, this waterfall is very popular. Read our post Llanos de Cortez Waterfall for more information.

Accommodations

Since the towns near the Miravalles Volcano are very small and rural, most of the lodging is quite simple. Below we give a couple of these options as well as the upscale Rio Perdido Resort for those looking for more amenities.

Colinas de Miravalles

Colinas de Miravalles is a small, locally run lodge with onsite hot spring pools and five spacious cabins. In addition to its volcano views, the property itself is scenic, with tropical landscaping that attracts birds. We stayed here recently and really enjoyed it. The cabins are large and spaced out enough to provide privacy. The onsite restaurant is also very good and uses a lot of local ingredients (farm-raised chicken, cheese, and homemade jams). Since there are few restaurants in town, we ate here quite a bit. Best of all, though, was the friendly family who runs it. $100-140/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
Our cozy cabin at Colinas de Miravalles

Paraiso Volcano Lodge

Paraiso Volcano Lodge consists of a handful of cabins located in Guayabal at the base of the Miravalles Volcano. The small lodge is probably best known for its owner, who makes sure that each guest receives personalized attention. Meals are fresh and cooked to order. This is great choice for budget travelers and families trying to save some money. Around $50/night (double occupancy). Check Rates and Availability Here.

Rio Perdido Resort

The Rio Perdido is a destination in and of itself. Located near the town of Fortuna in a remote and seemingly untouched area, this high-end resort has 20 modern bungalows set in the thick forest. Guests can enjoy the 26 km (16 miles) of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as the zip line for some adventure. There is also ample opportunity to just relax with a soak in the natural hot springs, a rejuvenating yoga session, or some pampering at the spa. For those looking to disconnect from it all, the Rio Perdido is the perfect place to do so. $200-400/night. Check Rates and Availability Here.

The Untapped Miravalles Volcano: Hot Springs, Nature, and Zero Crowds
Bungalow at the Rio Perdido

Miravalles is a little-known destination in Costa Rica with a lot to offer. If you prefer off-the-beaten-path travel, but still want to experience volcanic hot springs, this area offers the perfect mixture of both.

Last Updated: September 22, 2019

Have a question about visiting the Miravalles region? Ask it below.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you book a hotel using one of the links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read our Privacy Policy for more information.

Looking for more information to help plan the perfect Costa Rica vacation? Check out these articles:

Bijagua: A Gateway to the Rio Celeste – Less than 1.5 hours from Miravalles, this is another rural town that offers some stunning attractions and a bit of culture. The nearby Rio Celeste Waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful.

Rental Car Discount – If you’re visiting Costa Rica’s lesser known towns, you will probably want a rental car. Use our discount to save 10% or more and get other perks.

Playa Hermosa (Guanacaste): Costa Rica’s Northern Beauty – Translating to Beautiful Beach, Playa Hermosa lives up to its name with a gorgeous cove. This is one of the closest beach towns to Liberia Airport, and its location allows for easy day trips to places like the Miravalles Volcano.  

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36 Comments

  1. What’s the easiest way to get from Paraiso camping lodge or any other place near Miravalles Volcano on highway 164 to Bijagua? It doesn’t look like there’s a road to cut across to highway 6? Are the roads all paved? I was thinking of staying near Miravalles a couple days to hike the valcano and try the hot springs and then head over to Tenorio Volcano National Park but is Miravalles a major detour? Thanks!

    1. Hi Michelle, There is no good road that cuts across and m connects Route 164 to Route 6, but it’s still only about an hour to get from Miravalles to Bijagua. The fastest way is to go south on Route 164 to connect to 1, then to take Route 6 up to Bijagua. All of these roads are paved and in good condition so it’s not a bad drive.

  2. Miravalles sounds amazing. Travelling in Feb’18 w/husband and 5th grade son who just studied volcanoes. Would love to see a few during our trip and value your assistance. Is it crazy to try to visit Poas as well as the Miravalles and Rincon de la Vieja areas all within maybe 2nights/3days before heading to Manuel Antonio, then Tamarindo? When I’ve been to Arenal, saw nothing due to clouds – is it a real ‘miss’ if we do not visit it, over the other less-visited volcano sites? Thanks so much. Really appreciating your blog from here in Boston!

    1. Hi WJR, Poas is closed right now due to activity and is not expected to reopen anytime soon so you can take that off your list. With only 2 nights, we would probably pick one volcano to see, maybe Miravalles (your son would probably think the fumaroles and mud pots are cool at Las Hornillas). You probably don’t need to do that and Rincon since the volcanic features are similar. If you have time either at the beginning or end if your trip, you could visit Irazu from San José. We heard that with all the rain we’ve been having, it has its green crater lake back (hopefully it remains). I don’t think you’re missing out by not seeing Arenal. February is not a great time to see that volcano because the weather is actually the opposite of typical Pacific slope weather (September and October are said to be the best times). Hope that helps!

  3. Hi, thank you for such an informative site! I am planning a trip to CR for February 2018 for a little over 2 weeks. So far I’m thinking of staying at Bijagua, around La Fortuna (maybe first at a Tree House and then Tobacon?), Monteverde, and ending the trip at Playa Hermosa. I am trying to decide whether it makes sense to add another stop at Rio Perdido. I don’t like switching hotels too much. Is this resort (and the area) worth staying for a couple of nights, or is the area easily accessible from Bijagua? We will have a car. Or on the opposite – should we stay in this area and visit Bijagua area on day trips? Any other comments are very welcome too! TIA!

    1. Hi Anna, We wouldn’t add another destination if you don’t like changing hotels because you already have 4-5 planned. What you have sounds good and will show you a good mix of the country. You could stay in either Bijagua or the Miravalles area and do the other as a day trip (it isn’t a bad drive so possible as a day trip). If Bijagua appeals to you more, stay there and go to Miravalles as a day trip. Las Hornillas is a cool experience!

  4. Hi, I would be happy to reserve a car through your site. Expecting to arrive in Liberia but leave out of Alajuela/SJO a week later. Is it possible to get the car in one place and drop off in another? How much extra do they charge for that? Thank you.

    1. Hi Joan, Yes, it is possible to have different pick up and drop off locations as long as the rental period is at least 3 days. Adobe has a page on their site with the fees. For LIR and SJO, it looks like it’s $50. Thanks for renting through our site!

  5. We will be coming 2/10-17. . Staying in a private home in Guanacaste. 4 adults, 9 yo and 14 yo. Trying to plan our week.
    Do not want to spend days driving to a volcano but still like to see one.
    We are looking at river cruise, zip lining ,sport fishing, Monteverde, Las Pumas Rescue Center,

    Our house is called Sleepy Hallow and does have a manager..

    Your web site is excellent and any information would be appreciated… I am thinking we may have to go back again to see everything… Very excited about our family trip as we celebrate our 50th anniversary… I am hoping to zip line but not sure due to possible difficulty..
    Thank you, SPloszaj

    1. Hi Sandra, If you’re already doing Monteverde, you might not want to have another day trip that involves a lot of driving. We’d pick either Monteverde or a volcano – unless you did Rincon de la Vieja. This isn’t a large volcano that you can see like Arenal or Miravalles, but it does have cool volcanic features like bubbling mud pots, fumeroles, etc. And it’s much closer to Guanacaste. If you left early enough, you could do it the day you go to Las Pumas since they are somewhat near each other. Happy anniversary to you and your partner!

  6. Hi We would like to stay at or near some hot springs the last two days before our flight home from Liberia on March 2, 2018. I stayed at Yoko once and took the prearranged taxi to the airport. Is there another good place with moderate prices that also has hotter pools? Yoko only goes to 100 and it was not quite hot enough. 102 is about right. Any ideas? And thank you!

    1. Hi Karyn, We really enjoyed our stay at Colinas de Miravalles, but honestly, don’t know exactly how hot their springs were. They were definitely at least 100 and could have been hotter because our son, who was around a year at the time, was shocked by the water and did not like them at all!

  7. Hello! Your website is a great resource! My boyfriend and I are visiting CR Mar 2-8, 2018 flying into and out of Liberia. I’m planning to rent a 4×4 through your discount link, thank you. I’ve reserved first 2 nights at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel. Wanting to go to Arenal, Monteverde and Beach area, too. Will it be doable to get a taste of Arenal on the way to Monteverde? Maybe I should have booked one night at Rio Celeste, one night near Arenal, 2 in Monteverde and 2 in beach town. I realize I may be trying to squeeze too much in our too short of visit! Any info/suggestions are appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Hi Lezley, Sorry if we are too late, I know you are coming soon. With only 6 days, we would recommend the 2 nights in Bijagua, 2 nights in either La Fortuna or Monteverde (and not both), and 2 nights at the beach in Northern Guanacaste. This is a lot of traveling but it’s doable. Adding anything else would be too much with drive time.

  8. Hello. Thank you very much for a lot of helpful article!
    3 of us (include our 7 yrs old) are visiting Costa Rica for 2 weeks at the end of summer(August), Flying in/out San Jose and planning to visit Manuel Antonio(5 or 6 nights), Miravalles (2,3 nights) and La Fortuna(2,3 nights).
    We definitely need to rent a car, but do we need 4×4 for these route? The main route seems paved according to your article, but I would like to visit volcano and hot spring at Miravalles.
    If we need 4×4, I am thinking of the option that picking up the car when we leave MA (as we are staying there for 5,6 days) drop off at San Jose to save some days of rental. Maybe stop over for the Crocodile river tour on the way from MA to Miravelles (if so, I would be happy to book through you!)
    Your opinion or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Ats, No, you shouldn’t need a 4×4 for that route. Almost all the roads in those areas are paved. The road to Rio Perdido is dirt but fine without 4×4, if you were thinking there for the hot springs. If you’re planning to visit the Rio Celeste at any point, we do recommend it then. But you don’t need it for Miravalles for the volcano or the hot springs. Be sure to check out our Rental Car Discount to save some money on the car.

      Let us know if you decide to do the crocodile tour. We’d be happy to help you with the booking. They do have secure parking available too, which is great if you are stopping en route with your bags. Hope your family has a wonderful trip!

  9. Hello! I have a question about road conditions: when you get off the route 164, is the road to the park paved? How far is the parking from 164?

    1. Hi Julia, There is not a national park at Miravalles Volcano. You can only see the volcano from the main road and have to hike in on trails. It’s not a common hike to do but it is possible if you go through a local guide.

  10. Hello, My wife and I have only three days in Costa Rica before going to San Juan del Sur. We are flying into Liberia and we would like to do a hike 6-8mi then soak in a hot springs. We like to get away from people and tourist traps, yet it look like an unguided trip is difficult to find. Initially I booked Hacienda Guachipelin, yet found that Rincon de la vieja is closed on Monday, the only day we have to hike, May 7th. I’m looking at Paraiso Camping Lodge and may try to get a private guide to hike Volcan Miravalles. Any thoughts? Also, for renting a car can I arrange Adobe to have a drop off at Penas Blancas? Thanks

    1. Hi Travis, We don’t know much about the summit trek to Miravalles other than that it’s supposed to be intense, but if you’re looking for that kind of experience, it’s a good option since the area sees few visitors. The volcano is not an official national park with well maintained trails so that’s why you need a guide. Other than that, getting in that kind of mileage is tough around Liberia if you’re looking for something more off-the-beaten path. You could look into doing Lomas Barbudal from the Miravalles area. This park sees few visitors but it doesn’t have very long trails so not sure it’s a good fit. We do know of a little-known hike out of La Fortuna/Arenal that you might like and this checks the hot springs box too. This area is touristy but not if you stay outside town along the lake. You have to do the hike with a guide, but it’s brand new and only one company is using the trail right now. It’s more challenging – it goes to a very remote area of jungle and visits a waterfall, some natural hot springs, and volcanic mud deposits (to do a mud bath). The trail is rustic so you are climbing over roots and rocks, and going through streams. Wildlife that can be seen includes monkeys, snakes, poison dart frogs, different birds, etc. It’s around $115 per person and is a full day tour (includes transportation from your hotel, guide, lunch, and water). We’re a travel agency and can book tours so let us know if you’re interested in this and we can send you an email.

      For the rental car, we don’t think Adobe does drop offs at Penas Blancas. You could look at Alamo, we think they have an office near there.

  11. We are 3 old ladies Can we walk to the volcano bottom and are the hot springs regulate somehow so were not scalded. Love your blog Thanks wE HAVE 3DAYS Could you give us an itinerary for these days We hired a Hyundai 4x4And where we can srat for 2 nights thanks agian

    1. Hi Lesley, The hike to the volcano itself is hard- it’s a summit hike. But you could visit Las Hornillas and walk around there to see the volcanic features like bubbling mud pots and steam vents. The hot spring pools there and at the hotels and resorts we discuss above are regulated so that they don’t get too hot.

      For itinerary ideas, you could modify our One Week Itinerary or use our Our Top 10 Itineraries book. Hope you three have a good visit!

  12. Hi – I’m going in late September and deciding btwn two tour companies. One has a day trip to Miravalles and the other to Rincon, both have very similar activities for the tour
    I’m staying at the RIU Guanacaste. Which would you say is closest and more worth the trip?

    1. Hi Jessica, Miravalles and Rincon have similar features but the experiences are different. We actually just booked some of these one-day tours from Guanacaste for someone. We’d happy to help you figure out which company is best and which tour as well. Just reply to this thread and we can send you an email. Thanks!

      1. Thank you! The one going to Miravalles is Alex on the beach and the Rincon tour is Tourguanacaste.com

        Both have good reviews and around the same price. I dont want to feel rushed doing activities while at the volcano since its a packed day.

  13. We just started our research of Costa Rica and your website seems most informative and interesting.
    Thank you for that!
    Br&Sr

  14. Hi, we have a trip planned for February 2019.. I have been trying to do some searching for some volcanic mud bath/hot spring area we could do a short hike to. I saw photos of Mirvalles, but couldn’t find a hike that we can do ourselves. Is las hornillas our best bet??

    1. Hi Jayne, Yes, there aren’t really tours up the Miravalles Volcano itself. Las Hornillas is your best option for hiking and the mud baths. The Rincon area also has mud baths and hot springs, with different options for hikes too.

  15. Hello! What great information posted here. I am planning a trip to CR April 21st – April 26th. My 3 friends and I are trying to figure out what activities we are going to indulge in. We definitely want to visit a volcano and Miravalles was on our list. We are staying at a house in Playa Panama. How far is this volcano from our area? Is this the best choice as far as the area we are staying. We want to get the most out of our trip without missing too much or over doing it. It’s hard to pinpoint activities when you’re not exactly sure how far you are from everything. any suggestions would be great. Thank you!!!!

    1. Hi Patrice, It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Playa Panama to the Miravalles area, so would be a good option for visiting a volcano area. Your other choice would be Rincon de la Vieja, which has the national park and some resorts with a lot of different adventure activities. The main difference between the two is that Rincon is more touristy and Miravalles is lesser known.

  16. Hi, We are staying at Rio Perdido for 2 nights before heading to Arenal. Should we also visit Las Hornillas (we will have our own car), or will we basically see/experience all we need to on-site at Rio Perdido? I think my kids would love to see the volcano/volcanic activity, so we could take the drive there if it is worth the trip.
    Thanks!

  17. Just found your site. My husband and I are planning our excursions in Costa Rica for the week of May 4th. We didn’t think this through before booking our hotel and I feel we’re too far from the action! We are staying at The Westin Playa Conchal. What should we do closer to that area? We also want to stay one night in Arenal and do an excursion or two there (guided or on our own). Volcano, horseback riding, zip line, water falls. Is the Rio Celeste worth the trip also? Suggestions appreciated! Thank you!

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