Warm, mineral-rich waters that bubble up from the earth provide therapeutic relief and contain healing properties that have been sought after for millennia. Not only are hot springs incredibly soothing, but often, their natural beauty alone is enough to lower one’s blood pressure. Here are some places where we have the opportunity to plunge into these restorative waters.
Iceland | View Itineraries
So numerous are Iceland’s hot springs that they provide the major source of geothermal heating energy for residents of Reykjavik. Iceland is very young in geological terms (20 million years old, or so), and the Nordic island boasts some 30 active volcanoes that regularly erupt, adding plenty of mineral-rich, hot bubbles to the landscape. Our journeys take us through prime locations for soaking in rejuvenating waters. On our Iceland: Off the Beaten Path adventure, we enjoy a thermal soak at Mývatn baths, a remote and much more local version of Reykjavík’s “Blue Lagoon.” And in Krauma, on our Iceland Expedition, we even have a chance to relax in the waters that flow from Deildartunguhver, the highest flowing hot spring in Europe.
Japan | View Itineraries
A country bursting with volcanic activity, Japan is full of steaming vapors rising above thermal waters. The Japanese term “onsen” means hot spring, but it is so widely used that it can also mean the bathhouses and traditional inns that have been built around the springs. In Kinosaki on our Temples, Treasures, and Teahouses journey, we have our choice of onsen from open-air along the river to Romanesque indoor baths. Our Castles, Samurai, and Legends adventure has us soaking up Japanese heritage by day along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, and soaking in a sea-breezed beachside onsen by night. And, of course, we wouldn’t miss a visit to Jigokudani, where we go on our Snow Monkeys and Winter Cranes trip. In these famous hot springs, Japanese snow monkeys appreciate the healing waters as much as we do!
Deception Island, Antarctica | View Itineraries
In stark contrast to the icy blue glaciers in the surrounding seas of Antarctica, Deception Island keeps heat packed beneath its black sand beaches and layers of volcanic ash. You don’t have to strip down to your skivvies to feel the warmth, you can just dig your toes into the sand! But if you do decide to take a dip in this penguin-dotted landscape, it’s guaranteed to be a wild awakening you won’t ever forget!
Baranof Island, Alaska | View Itinerary
The state of Alaska, wild and full of natural wonders, is home to abundant mammal and bird populations, glorious pine-covered and snow-capped mountains, hundreds of glaciers, and more than 70 thermal springs sprinkled throughout the land. Many of those are concentrated along the volcanic Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian chain, and a large number are scattered in southeastern Alaska in places only accessible by boat or seaplane. On our Alaska: Journey to Sitka adventure, we have the privilege of boating to the scenic hot springs of Baranof Island. In this sublime spot where thundering waterfalls plunge into the sea, we soak in natural pools of hot water next to the roar of the glacier-fed white waters while eagles soar by and whales swim in the bay. Truly, it can’t get much better than that!
Italy | View Itinerary
The ancient baths of Bormio, Italy, nestled in the Alps, date back more than two thousand years to the Middle Ages when Roman aristocracy traveled there to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the renowned waters. Today, the springs are classified as “sulphate-alkaline-earthy-mineral” water, or…just plain awesome. On our four-country odyssey of hiking, wine-tasting, and enjoying seasonal cuisine from Bergamo to Innsbruck, we have the pleasure of resting up at Hotel Bagni Vecchi, perched on a mountainside, where the age-old tradition of soaking in soothing waters is nothing short of spectacular.
Costa Rica | View Itinerary
Costa Rica is a land of cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests, sandy beaches, and five active volcanoes that heat up magma, rocks, and groundwater, resulting in steaming, sultry springs. Our Costa Rica Wildlife journey takes us on tropical trails in the Arenal rainforest to natural thermal pools where the sounds of waterfalls and birdsong are the only noise around. “Pura Vida” takes on a whole new meaning in this natural wonderland!
Azore Islands, Portugal | View Itinerary
The volcanic archipelago of the Azores is enchanting, richly diverse, and gurgling with thermal waters. On our Hiking in the Azores adventure, we hike past lake-filled calderas, along crater rims, across ancient pathways to the sea, and yes, we even recharge in pools of mineral-rich water. At our hotel on laidback São Miguel Island, we can step right out of our room and into the garden for a soak in nature’s spa. All this, just a five-hour flight from Boston!
South Island, New Zealand | View Itinerary
Plunging into hot springs and mud pools is a popular sport in this land of two colliding tectonic plates along the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire—ideally situated for those who love soaking in stunning, geothermally active spots! New Zealanders have been using thermal waters for medicinal purposes for generations, especially for skin and rheumatic issues. On our newest hiking adventure along the Te Araroa Trail on the South Island, we spend a night at Maruia Springs Resort where we can soak in natural springs beneath a star-filled sky, flanked by native beech forest and high mountain peaks. Our experience may not necessarily be medicinal, but it promises to be magical!