Costa Rica has been at the forefront of the green tourism movement for many years now, so it's no surprise the country plays host to some spectacular ecolodges. These ten represent our pick of the best ecolodges in Costa Rica.
Lapa Rios, Puntarenas
Costa Rica’s best-known luxury ecolodge has the maximum five stars in the government’s Certificate of Sustainable Tourism, principally for its low-impact presence and protection of lowland tropical rainforest packed with rivers and waterfalls. The lodge has sixteen bungalows with sensational views of the forest and Pacific. It's top of our list and definitely one of the best ecolodges in Costa Rica.
Pacuare Lodge, Limón
The most thrilling way to arrive at this lodge is by rafting the Pacuare River – one of the best white-water rivers in Central America. The lodge consists of thirteen cat-tail-thatched wooden cabins (made by local Cabécar Indians) in the heart of the Talamanca Mountain Range, where you can explore the rainforest on foot or on horseback. Pacuare supports primary-school programmes and has helped to reintroduce howler monkeys to the forest.
Pacuare river rafting, Costa Rica © Dartamonov/Shutterstock
Luna Nueva Lodge, La Fortuna
Just 16km from the Arenal Volcano, this good-value ecolodge on an organic herbal farm is at the edge of a 200-square-kilometre conservation area of primary rainforest. Climb up an observation tower for views of the volcano, then join guided walking and horse-riding tours into the rainforest (including day-tours outside of the Arenal volcano area). Afterwards, return for a soak in the natural spring-fed swimming pool or solar-heated hot tub before an authentic Costa Rican dinner looking out over the lush tropical gardens.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica © Bos11/Shutterstock
La Cusinga Lodge, Uvita
La Cusinga offers eleven simple, elegant cabins bordering 2.5 square kilometres of private rainforest reserve and the Ballena Marine National Park, established to protect humpback whales. There are locally guided trips into the forest while at the coast you can go snorkelling, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving or dolphin- and whale-watching.
Whale breaching in Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica © Claude Huot/Shutterstock
Finca Rosa Blanca Country Inn, Central Valley
Sustainability and conservation go hand-in-hand at this luxury inn above the forests of the Central Valley, just half an hour from San José. The nine artistically decorated rooms, including two villas, have views of the coffee plantations and spring-fed swimming pool below. The Finca’s certified guide, Manolo, runs naturalist walking tours; other activities include horse-riding and white-water rafting.
El Silencio Lodge, Bajos del Toro
Just south of Bajos del Toro, on the road to Sarchí, is El Silencio Lodge. Nestled at the foot of a thick wall of cloudforest, the ultra-stylish suites and villas (two of which are wheelchair accessible, and sleep up to six) at this tranquil eco-retreat have bamboo-shrouded outdoor jacuzzis and wooden terraces that enjoy glorious jungle views. There's a bevvy of treatments available at the therapeutically sited spa, and various guided hikes head off into the lodge's private reserve. Profits help fund a local social programme.
Horseriding is just one of the ways to enjoy Costa Rica's forests © CREATISTA/Shutterstock
Danta Corcovado Lodge, Osa Peninsula
The highlights here include the Osa Peninsula rainforest and the Golfo Dulce (a tropical fjord). Run by a local family, this simple lodge is sited within a farm in Guadalupe, just 8km from the Los Patos sector of Corcovado National Park, and the closest place to the Guaymi Indigenous Reserve. Activities include kayaking through the mangroves and jungle walks by night.
Costa Rica Treehouse Lodge, Puerto Viejo
An intricately designed treehouse – built for up to six people – in and around a sangrillo tree behind Punta Uva beach, just south of Puerto Viejo in the province of Limón. Guests can explore the wilderness of the Gandoca-Manzanillo wildlife refuge by dugout canoe with indigenous guides or just lie in a hammock perched among the trees and admire the ocean views, surrounded by nature.
Punta Uva beach © Pavel Tvrdy/Shutterstock
Cerro Escondido, Nicoya Peninsula
The best way to arrive here is to arrange a horseback ride from Montaña Grande. Deep in the Karen Mogensen Reserve on the Nicoya Peninsula, this lodge has four simple teak cabañas from where guests can try guided birdwatching tours and excursions to the spectacular waterfall at Velo de Novia (“Bride’s Veil”).
Rancho Margot, El Castillo
The main reason for coming to El Castillo is to visit the extraordinary Rancho Margot, an organic farm, wildlife rescue centre and scenic accommodation option that is well on the way to becoming the poster child for ecotourism in Costa Rica. The expansive property, set in a valley of the Río Caño Negro, is a byword for sustainability: a water-powered micro-turbine generates the ranch's electricity, the outdoor pool is heated using a biodigester that converts animal waste into energy, and most of the food served in the excellent buffet-style restaurant is grown or raised on the property. You can go horseriding, kayaking and hiking. There are also yoga teacher training sessions, and courses on sustainable living.
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Top image: Ecolodges with a view of Lake Arenal in central Costa Rica © Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock