There can be no argument that Costa Rica is the biodiversity capital of the world thanks to its abundance of national parks filled with thousands of acres of dazzling rainforest. Costa Rica is well aware of the precious gem that is its rainforest system and, as a result, eco-lodges have boomed in popularity, springing up all over the nation and promoting sustainable and eco-friendly living. We have trawled through the country and come up with our top 10 favourite eco-lodges as part of our effort to promote more sustainable tourism in the world’s most beautiful country.
1. Lapa Rios, Puerto Jimenez
The Lapa Rios is breathtaking in every way. Consisting of 17 bungalows hidden away within the leafy canopy of the 1,000 acre property, Lapa Rios is a dream come true for nature-lovers seeking to admire the beauty of Costa Rica and indulge in a bit of luxury while they’re at it. Each open-air bungalow features a large private deck complete with seating, allowing guests to make the most of the staggering ocean views on offer. Locally-made, biodegradable toiletries are provided along with a daily mug of fresh Costa Rican coffee. The lodge has a clear vision for sustainability along with a comprehensive list of the actions they are undertaking in order to accomplish it from the use of local guides to support local economies to a reforestation program guests are invited to participate in.
2. Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge, San Gerardo de Dota
Located on a hill in a 20 hectare private reserve in the valley of San Gerardo de Dota, the focal point of the beautiful Dantica is the floor-to-ceiling windows which line the sides of the rooms, giving guests the sensation of being completely integrated with the forest that surrounds them. Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge has several trails through its grounds for those looking to get a bit more intimate with the rainforest and it’s situated in close proximity to the Los Quetzales National Park, a must-see purely for the opportunity to witness the majestic resplendent quetzal in its natural habitat.
3. Hotel Belmar, Monteverde
Composed of two beautiful wooden chalets set within 9 acres of dense, temperate cloudforest, Hotel Belmar is a beacon of beauty and sustainable living. On clear days the views are second to none, overlooking much of Monteverde’s mountainous landscape all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The grounds include a walking trail for guests to explore, a waterfall and a vegetable and herb garden as well as evidence of the lodge’s efforts towards sustainability such as equipment for harvesting rain water and solar panels.
4. Laguna Lodge, Tortuguero
Squeezed on to the narrow strip of land between the glistening canals of Tortuguero and the majestic Caribbean Sea, Laguna Lodge stands out for both its location and its charm. Its wooden rooms are basic but beautiful and have been built sustainably to ensure the least impact on the environment. The lodge also has its own fleet of eco-friendly boats, which chauffeur guests through Tortuguero’s snaking waterways. One final feature of note is the onsite restaurant which has been constructed using driftwood found on the beach and which serves up delicious buffet meals three times a day.
5. Pacuare Lodge, Limon
Pacuare Lodge has the enviable privilege of overlooking the Pacuare River, said to be one of the most scenic in the world by the National Geographic and renowned for its white water. The rooms look out across miles of dense vegetation and are decorated with palm thatched roofs, which were created by local Cabécar Indians. In keeping with its natural setting, the lodge is dedicated to maintaining an exceptionally high level of sustainability. Food and goods are sourced locally and, where possible, organic and showers are heated using solar power.
6. Selva Verde Lodge, Sarapiqui
Tropical paradise is the only description that does Selva Verde justice. This wooden lodge is built on stilts so that it sits in the canopy of the lush rainforest. The separate parts of the accommodation are connected by walkways which also serve as observation platforms, offering guests the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the natural beauty around them in an unobtrusive and accessible manner. The lodge caters for all tastes with adventure tours available to thrill-seekers and a pool for those looking to observe the wildlife in a more relaxed setting.
7. La Palapa Ecolodge, Portalon
Situated near the world famous Manuel Antonio and Los Quetzales national parks, La Palapa makes a perfect base for those seeking to explore some of the most beautiful parts of Costa Rica. The lodge is set amid 150 acres of virgin tropical rainforest, the thatched buildings are both conscientious and sustainable so as to co-exist harmoniously with the environment. The rooms are bright and breezy and open up in to the spectacular tropical gardens, which the staff has diligently maintained in compliance with their ‘forest preservation best practices’ policy.
8. Villas Gaia, Ojochal
A true paragon of eco-friendly living, the Villas Gaia is lauded by visitors for its notable efforts towards sustainability. Practices include heating the water provided for showers and baths using solar energy and sourcing food locally, which in turn supports the local community. The location of the hotel, near the village of Ojochal, is unique in itself as it offers travellers the rainforest and the beach as well as a generous selection of nearby national parks, including the awe-inspiring Marino Ballena park.
9. Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge, Drake Bay
The Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge sits on the fringes of the stunning Corcovado National Park and offers easy access to guests who wish to explore its leafy interior. The lodge has been awarded a top tier rating for sustainable tourism and wins recognition for its efforts to reduce impact on the local environment. Unlike most hotels, this accommodation can only be accessed by a 90 minute boat trip, during which guests often bear witness to a variety of exotic wildlife. Upon arrival visitors are instantly absorbed into a perfect atmosphere of tranquillity and beauty.
10. Cerro Escondido, Montaña Grande
Buried deep in the heart of the Karen Mogensen Reserve, the Cerro Escondido Lodge, which translates as hidden hill, is a gorgeous, rustic wooden lodge perfectly situated for those seeking to completely immerse themselves in the beauty of the Costa Rican rainforest. The main feature of the reserve in which the lodge sits is the Catarata Velo de Novia waterfall which drops down a staggering 55m and is just a short hike from the accommodation. When it comes to eco-tourism, a visit to Cerro Escondido is a must.