One of the greatest assets that Costa Rica has is its beautiful beaches. My buddy Mike and I started out one morning at our hotel and decided just to go beach hopping the whole day along the Nicoya Peninsula until sundown.
From the touristy beaches of Playa Hermosa and Playa Flamingo, to a more secluded Playa Conchal, there is a beach that suits so many different tastes. My personal favorite of the day was Playa Conchal. It was different experience to get to the beach be driving down multiple dirt roads and driving right on the beach. The water was very warm and calm, which was great for swimming and wading. Tamarindo was a different story.
We finally reached Tamarindo at sundown, and it was a beautiful site to see. Tamarindo does not only have an awesome beach for swimming and surfing, but a whole lively beach town to go with it. They have everything any surfer could ever want and dream, from any budget range. From nicer full service restaurants, to little sodas on the side of the road, any one can enjoy a full day at Tamarindo.
During my family trip to Iceland, I really wanted to see the Blue Lagoon again. I went there on my previous two trips to Iceland and loved every pricey second of it. After further research, I found out that they do not allow children under the age of two in, as well as children under eight have to wear inflatable armbands. As my child was under two, we could not experience the Blue Lagoon together as a family. What could we do?
As I was on the side of the road in Gullfoss debating whether to still go to the Blue Lagoon or call it a day, I found out about the local swimming pools in the Reykjavik area. One of the more popular ones that was a couple of blocks away from our Airbnb was Laugardalslaug.
Laugardalslaug is a local swimming pool in Reykjavik that also uses geothermal waters. One of the biggest differences one would see right away is the entrance prices. A ticket to the Blue Lagoon is €40, which at this time is about 5,654ISK. The entrance price to Laugardalslaug is only 600ISK, about €4.24 or $4.59! Sure, the local swimming pool doesn’t have the bells and whistles or silica mud, but to hop in some warm water you can’t beat the price! Another good selling point for us was that there was no age restrictions for Laugardalslaug, very good for families with kids of all ages.
Laugardalslaug does not allow photography once you enter the locker rooms and in the swimming area. Once you enter and pay your fees, which include swimsuit or towel rentals, you come up to an area where you take off your shoes and leave them on a rack before you enter the locker room. In Iceland, it is always proper to shower off before and after you hop in the water completely nude. If you think you can try to slip past without showering, good luck, there is an employee staffed in the showers to make sure everyone does in fact shower off.
When you finally pass the showers and get your swimwear on, Laugardalslaug is an amazing place. There are 5 different “hot pots” with water heated to different temperatures, an Olympic sized swimming pool, a children’s pool, and another pool with a huge water slide! We spent most of our time in the children’s pool with my daughter and she had a blast! I did split off for a bit to check out the hot pots. The coolest one starts out at 36 degrees Celsius, then increases to 38, 40, 42, topping out at a hot 44 degrees Celsius! The pots are very small lining up along the Olympic sized swimming pool.
If I were to go back to Iceland or heard about a friend going to Iceland soon, I would highly recommend Laugardalslaug over the Blue Lagoon if they had to go to only one place. Laugardalslaug is full of locals and it is easy to be a part of the Icelandic culture at a local swimming hole than a big and pricey tourist destination. More information and hours can be found here: http://www.visitreykjavik.is/laugardalslaug