by Candyce H. Stapen
Situated on nearly a 1,000-acre private nature reserve that sweeps down the mountain to the Pacific, Lapa Rios, one of Costa Rica’s most notable eco-lodges, made Conde Nast Traveler’s 2009 Gold List. The main lodge and its 16 bungalows sit on ridgetops, 350 feet above the sea. Needless to say, there are many steps. The lodge welcomes families, but children should be at least 5 years old for safety.
Our Editor Loves
- Private nature reserve
- Families welcome
- Conde Nast Traveler's 2009 Gold List
by Jeannie K
This place is amazing. We (myself, my spouse and our two school-aged kids) spent four nights here, as part of a trip to Costa Rica, and it was such an incredible, educational, unforgettable experience.
Lapa Rios is an ecolodge in southern Costa Rica, on the Osa Peninsula. It is literally in the middle of a rain forest, and also a short walk to the ocean (Golfo Dulce). The nearest town, Puerto Jimenez, is about 45 minutes away. The lodge is based on the premise of conservation of the rain forest and supporting the local communities. They do this by purchasing the food and other goods they need to run the lodge from the local community, and also by hiring only local staff. Everyone who works at Lapa Rios is from surrounding communities. Every thought is given to recycling and protecting the environment. For example, uneaten food from the restaurant is fed to pigs, which ultimately produce biogas that they use for some of their cooking needs. They are also very committed to using as little plastic as possible in their operations.
Lodge rooms are open, with only screens separating you from the forest. Every morning, we were woken by the sound of howler monkeys and sacadas. Monkeys, parrots and toucans hang out in the trees by the pool. Scarlet macaws, once endangered, sit in the trees as you swim in the ocean. The rooms have beds with mosquito netting, an indoor bathroom and shower, and an outdoor deck area with another shower, and a hammock - so relaxing! Everyday we would see hummingbirds in the plants on our deck!
Throughout each day, there are a number of wilderness tours, led by their staff. We took a tour of several waterfalls on the property, a tour of the forest and wildlife surrounding the beach area, and a tour of how the hotel runs. There was also an early morning tour, a night tour, the opportunity to plant a tree in the forest, and many other activities each day. All of these were included in the cost of the lodge room. They also had external activities that were extra, such as surfing lessons, and a dolphin/whale watch - we did these too and they were amazing.
During our visit, we saw 4 types of monkeys, sloths, toucans, macaws, parrots, hummingbirds, hawks, pelicans, vultures and several varieties of butterflies. Many could be seen just by sitting on the deck or at the pool - no strenuous hiking required.
The staff were incredible - everyone spoke excellent English and were so welcoming and knowledgeable about the area. The food was delicious and plentiful. One guide heard that my kids really wanted to see a sloth so he went out of his way to find one in the trees during one of the hikes. They are not easy to find, but somehow he managed to. My kids were beyond delighted.
I recommend bringing several bathing suits with you, clothes that dry easily, and shoes with which you easily walk through water.
Coming home, I'm struck at how quiet our urban neighborhood is, compared to the animals in the rainforest - I miss hearing the monkeys. This was such a special place. A once-in-a-lifetime experience. Come here if you can.
What a fantastic setting, with plenty of wildlife.
The rooms were very comfortable and we loved hearing all the wildlife whilst in our room.
The majority of staff were incredibly friendly and were keen to please.
We did find the choice of food a bit limiting on a 4 day stay, but understood this before we booked, and appreciated the limitations due to the location of the hotel, and we certainly didn’t go hungry.
We were staying for our anniversary, and the hotel kindly offered us a private dining experience, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.