mahabis travel // geothermal retreats
Sometimes you want your holiday to be all about relaxing, but you don’t necessarily wish to be cooped up indoors at a spa. Luckily, there are a selection of places around the world where you can laze in natural geothermal waters whilst admiring spectacular scenery.
Read on to discover four of our favourite geothermal getaways around the world.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
One of the most visited attractions in the whole of Iceland (some visitors fly in for a couple of days solely to soak in the geothermal waters), the Blue Lagoon is conveniently located just 20km from the international airport, in the midst of an awe-inspiring lava field.
Upon first glance, the pale blue waters are a sight to behold, contrasting against the harsh black landscape. Surprisingly, the lagoon isn’t a natural occurrence, being formed in the late Seventies following operations at a nearby geothermal power plant. People began to bathe in its waters and noticed that the silica mud improved many skin conditions.
In 1999, the lagoon reopened as a tourist resort, offering a relaxing retreat where visitors could soak in the warm, soothing waters and cover their skin with the silica mud, shrouded by the enveloping mist that rises above the lagoon. You can even enjoy a relaxing massage and a cocktail from the warmth and comfort of the water.
photo: go iceland
Rotorua, New Zealand
Although upon first impressions, the smell of sulphur may be overpowering, Rotorua (situated on New Zealand’s North Island) is a haven for those who seek geothermic activity and natural spas. The array of spas and sights can be overwhelming, and there is plenty to see and do over several days in Rotorua – even the hostels feature natural hot pools in their basements!
Hell’s Gate Geothermal Mud Bath Spa is not to be missed, featuring natural wonders such as the biggest mud volcano in the country and an impressive hot waterfall, alongside natural spa treatments including outdoor mud baths and sulphur spas with impressive views over the colourful geothermal scenery. There are also hot and cold springs to discover at nearby rivers, and thermal springs located right beside the lake, where you can slide right into the cold lake water to cool off.
One of the most unique sights in the entire world, Pamukkale mineral-bath spa was formed by hot calcium-laden water cascading down a cliff, cooling to form the distinctive white travertine basins and petrified waterfalls that the site is famed for. The pale blue geothermal waters stay around a toasty 35 degrees, making them ideal for a relaxing soak.
Climb among the pools, taking a dip at each different level to gain a new viewpoint over the entire structure, before drying off to visit the numerous archaeological sites in the surrounding area. After viewing the ruins of temples, cathedrals, arches and a necropolis, ease yourself back into the pleasantly warm waters of the Antique Pool.
photo: your amazing places
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan
Visit Jigokudani in winter, when the hot springs are surrounded by snow and the steam rises thickly from the pools. Located in the mountainous Shimotakai District of Japan, where you can also ski nearby in between soaking in the traditional Japanese onsen, these hot springs are famed for their unique visitors: hordes of snow monkeys who descend from the slopes to relax and warm up in the hot waters.
Although you can’t swim with the monkeys, it is definitely worth visiting their springs to watch them pampering themselves, before retreating to the town of Yamanouchi where you will be rewarded with a selection of traditional onsen in which to soak yourself.
photo: hoppo spa