Ever been to a hot springs resort? If you’re looking to plan a vacation that isn’t just a trip, it’s also an adventure, then you need to look beyond the typical tourist destinations, historical cities, beach towns and ski resorts. You need to seek out interesting sites and experiences that can restore you, invigorate you, amaze and inspire you. And hot springs might be just what you need to enjoy a truly memorable vacation. A hot spring is basically what it sounds like—a natural body of hot water. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, “hot spring, also called thermal spring, spring with water at temperatures substantially higher than the air temperature of the surrounding region. Most hot springs discharge groundwater that is heated by shallow intrusions of magma (molten rock) in volcanic areas. Some thermal springs, however, are not related to volcanic activity. In such cases, the water is heated by convective circulation: groundwater percolating downward reaches depths of a kilometer or more where the temperature of rocks is high because of the normal temperature gradient of the Earth’s crust.” Sounds very scientific, but the main takeaway is that these bodies of water are not man-made, are naturally warm, and are really really cool to see.
And while dipping into a hot tub might not seem all that special, and sharing a warm bath with tons of strangers might feel a bit strange, trust us when we say that these hot springs destinations are worth visiting, and they can seriously change your perspective, your attitude, your body and your vacation experience. Here are 8 surprising hot springs resort destinations you need to check out on your next trip.
Read Related: Wanderlust: Slick Vacation Ideas for 2016
1. Steamboat Springs, Colorado The very name of this city mentions the hot springs that Steamboat is so famous for. The Old Town Hot Springs in downtown Steamboat is a family-friendly complex that is a must-see on your next ski vacation or summer trip. You can enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs or get a little more playful with the water slides, obstacle course, kiddie pool and more. The Strawberry Park Hot Springs are a bit more of an excursion from town, but you can arrange a private tour and soak in the relaxing thermal pools all year long.
2. Banjar Hot Springs, Bali The turquoise water and beautiful beaches of Bali are enticing enough to make you want to visit this tropical destination in Indonesia, and the hot springs are a pretty spectacular treat as well. These hot springs are centuries old, but have been updated over the years to maintain their beauty. There is a mystical feel at these hot springs, as they are located right near the Brahmavihara Arama Buddhist monastery and the naturally hot water comes from eight ancient dragon spouts in each pool. The surrounding gardens are breath taking, and the water is therapeutic and relaxing.
3. Cascate del Mulino, Tuscany, Italy When you think of Tuscany you typically think of wine, beautiful hillsides, perfect Italian cuisine and beautiful people. You rarely think of hot springs, and yet some of the most beautiful springs in the world are located in Southern Tuscany. The Cascate del Mulino is off most tourists’ radars, which is what makes them so special. These springs include natural waterfalls that release water into pools that have been carved over the years from the surrounding travertine rock formations. The surrounding countryside is gorgeous, remote, relaxing and the hot springs feel like an oasis in a beautiful part of Italy.
4. Blue Lagoon, Grindavik, Iceland Perhaps one of the most talked-about hot springs is the Blue Lagoon located in the fishing village of Grindavik in Iceland. And it’s kind of crazy that such a gorgeous hot spring, with naturally hot water, be located in a destination like Iceland, which is, well, freezing. This hot spring, which is one of the 25 natural wonders of the world is not just naturally warm and loaded with therapeutic benefits, it’s also gorgeous to see with its bright blue color (hence the name.) According to the website the geothermal water originates 2,000 meters below the surface, where freshwater and seawater combine at extreme temperatures, and as the water rises to the surface it picks up minerals, silica and algae, which is what gives it the uniquely blue appearance.
5. Lava Hot Springs, Idaho Idaho and potatoes go hand in hand, but you might be surprised to know that one of the coolest hot springs parks is in Idaho, and is a must-see. These geothermal hot springs, which range in temperature from 102˚ to 112˚, are open year round and offer everything from lap pools to lounge pools to water slides and kiddie parks.
6. Banff Hot Springs, Alberta, Canada These hot springs have been exciting tourists and locals in Banff for over 125 years and for good reason. The springs, which are the highest hot springs (with an elevation of 5,200 feet) in Canada, are beautiful and relaxing to soak in early in the morning or at night. When you look around you’ll see beautiful mountain peaks as you soak, providing the perfect environment to relax, unwind, and enjoy.
7. Arenal Hot Springs, Costa Rica Located in the Costa Rican rainforest, with views of the Arenal volcano (that’s where the name of this hot springs resort comes from), these hot springs are gorgeous, relaxing, tranquil, and truly spectacular to see and experience. You can choose from a range of water temperatures and lagoons, waterfalls or springs, all with views of the volcano and surrounding forest where you can relax, unwind, and escape.
8. La Gruta Hot Springs, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico Located just outside the charming city of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico there are hot springs that are well worth the short trip. These springs have likely been around (and enjoyed by locals) for centuries, but they were only recently discovered and transformed into a tourist destination. According to Budget Travel, “the area around San Miguel de Allende features thermal, alkaline, sulfur and fresh water springs, though the first two are most popular for bathing. Despite legends that these waters have “age-reversing” effects, most bathers come to relax under the heated falls and soak up the generally therapeutic natural minerals.”