Discover the Fountain of Youth in Coamo
The Coamo Thermal Springs (Piscinas Aguas Termales de Coamo) is another one of those natural wonders that makes Puerto Rico a pretty cool place. Located along a cold river in the town of Coamo, hot water springs naturally from the earth. For hundreds of years people have been enjoying these natural hot springs, which are said to have healing powers. And now, with the recent completion of a refurbishment of the public area, everyone can enjoy the springs in clean pools while enjoying other amenities.
The hot water has been found to be due to a dormant volcano way under the ground, that still contains super hot magma. The water from the river finds its way through cracks and faults and gets heated by the magma and mixes with natural minerals and chemicals. As it works its way back up to the surface, it is naturally filtered and comes out as hot, sulfurous water.
The Taino and proto-Taino cultures enjoyed these springs for many hundreds of years. When the Spanish came, the Tainos told the Spaniards about these healing waters. Supposedly, Ponce de Leon misunderstood where the springs were located, and set off to sea to find the Fountain of Youth elsewhere.
Through the years, people have traveled far and wide to partake in these springs. In the mid 1800′s, the spring was diverted through pipes and a hotel and some pool structures were built to better enjoy the heated water. Today, the hotel is Parador Baños de Coamo, but I don’t know the condition of their thermal pools since we’ve never been there.
Over time, these public pools had deteriorated, and were muddy and dirty. In August 2010, the town of Coamo completed the refurbishment of the public thermal pool. They are now lovely and clean.
Our Morning at the Thermal Pools
After hearing some less-than-flattering stories about the old thermal pools, and knowing they have been refurbished, I was so relieved to see the new area. There are now two pools both about 2½ feet deep. The water in both pools are in constant circulation — fresh water comes from the thermal springs and water from the pools overflows to the river downstream. Because of this, the water remains clean and at a constant temperature.
Of the two pools, the water in the smaller pool is hotter. The water comes directly from the thermal springs, so the water coming in is hot (but not too hot) and has a slight sulfur smell to it. But the water is clean and clear. This pool is rectangular, with benches all around the sides.
The water in the second pool is diluted with cooler water, so this pool is warm, not hot. The water flows into this pool from two pipes above the waterline, and people seemed to enjoy sitting under them getting a warm massage. This pool also has benches, on the deeper end. This one had lots of handrails and small steps — it appeared to be the more accessible of the two pools.
The benches in the pools and around the pools are nice since they allow people to sit and chat while enjoying the waters. From speaking to some of the other people in the water, they all believed it did help them feel better.
One lady said she had been coming to the pools for the last three months to sit in the water, but she also takes some water home to drink (yuck!) and washes her face with it. She said she no longer needs her pain medication. Well, I can’t say it really is the fountain of youth or that the waters have medicinal powers, but it was a nice way to spend some time and we met some nice people.
Unless you want to see if the waters can help your aches and pains, I don’t know if the drive is worth the visit, but if you are in the area, it is a nice stop for a couple of hours.
I spent some time talking with a couple of the employees about the facilities. The pools are cleaned everyday. There are restrooms are clean, with changing rooms, small lockers with locks (as for key at the ticket desk), and a place selling (non-alcoholic) drinks and fruit. There is a cool outdoor shower by the pools for rinsing before (required) and after going in the pools. They have rules they enforce in order to maintain a clean, safe and family-friendly environment. There are about 10 picnic table sets around the pools and grounds where you can relax and enjoy a snack.
If you want to go into the thermal pools, the cost is $3/person, kids are $1.50 and 65+ are free.. Parking is free and on the street.
The Coamo Thermal Springs are open 7 days/week (including most holidays). Monday – Sunday 7am – 9pm.
The recommendation is that you spend no more than 15 minutes at a time in the thermal pools. After that, you should get out and cool off. Remember to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Allow a least 1 hour, or more if you depending on how long you want to spend there.
You can call 787-825-6668 for more information.
Driving directions from the San Juan area: Take Route 52 South to exit 76 (for Coamo). Get onto Carretera 153 North, and follow to Carretera 546, where you’ll make a sharp left (there’s a sign for a resort on the corner). Follow Carr. 546 to the end.
Allow about 1¼ hours to drive from the San Juan area.
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