Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula & South, Costa Rica
Book from GBP Book from £636 per night

Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula & South, Costa Rica

The perfect rainforest experience in Osa Peninsula: gorgeous cabins with spectacular ocean views, fine food and wonderful guides

The perfect rainforest experience in Osa Peninsula: gorgeous cabins with spectacular ocean views, fine food and wonderful guides

The pioneer ecolodge, and still the shining star of all Costa Rica’s sustainable tourism projects, Lapa Rios is an idyllic retreat from modern life. Poised high on a hillside, each of its 17 bungalows and villas looks down over a thickly jungled valley of primary rainforest and the deep blue Pacific beyond. Awake to a chorus of tropical bird calls, and watch monkeys as you lie in the hammock on your secluded balcony.

Lapa Rios is absolutely serious about involving guests of all ages in its impressive sustainability programme, yet there’s nothing worthy about the superb food, the gorgeous beaches, or the warm friendliness of its staff. The genius of this place is that everyone who works here shares the owner’s vision: protecting the surrounding pristine nature, and welcoming guests as friends. Experience the full wonder of the rainforest as expert guides take you on marvellous hikes through the hotel’s private reserve. In the early morning light, watching a flock of scarlet macaws alighting on a tree, you'll reflect that this is a truly wondrous place. A complete experience of Costa Rica: if you choose just one place to visit in the country, make this it.

Highs

  • Unique and privileged location in one of the world’s most precious biospheres: primary forest hosting amazing wildlife including 375 species of birds; access to a 1,000 acre private rainforest reserve adjacent to Corcovado National Park
  • Comfort in the wilderness: great beds, lovely pool, beautiful beaches, excellent organic food, even cocktails! No suffering for your sustainability here
  • The staff couldn’t be kinder. Way beyond professional service, they create a very special and welcoming atmosphere
  • Impressive sustainability credentials, particularly in social responsibility; a great place to bring your kids
  • All on-site activities and excursions are included in the rate

Lows

  • Some cabins are quite a walk from the main building, giving you a bit of a hike for breakfast. Guests with limited mobility can stay a bit closer
  • It might seem pricey, but consider that all your meals, a bunch of excellent guided walks and activities, plus the transfer from Puerto Jiménez are all included
  • Not for everyone – rooms have fans but no air con (except the Matapalo Suites), and you might find the odd bug, despite screened windows.

Best time to go

From May to December it rains more than the rest of the year, (generally in the afternoon) but it can sometimes rain for 3 days in a row. However, this is rainforest and walking in the rain doesn't ruin the experience. October is pretty bad, since the creeks rise and even the Land Rover can’t get through them. There are few people staying at Lapa Rios, though, so it’s much more intimate and it should still be dry enough to do the waterfall hike in the morning. January to April are the drier months, when it’s idyllic here. The busiest time of year is the second half of December, when you need to book a year in advance.

Our top tips

Make sure you do the sustainability tour which explains the lodge's impressive efforts to make a minimal environmental impact.

Look out for the card by your bed at night, wishing you a deep sleep: ‘Enjoy the sounds of nature! Don’t be afraid of the howler monkey’s screams that might awake you in the early morning. Be gentle with any animals or insects: they won’t harm you. Remember, us humans are only guests here'.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
Family
Beach
Foodie
  • Jungle Lodge
  • 17 rooms
  • All meals included
  • 6 yrs+ welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 17 bungalows and villas are spread down a steep path leading from the main restaurant building, with secluded decks and balconies looking out over the forest and gulf so that each feels utterly private.

There are 9 Deluxe Bungalows – with either one kingsize or two queensize beds, draped in white mosquito nets. All are spacious, with high pitched ceilings of palm thatch, giving a beautiful romantic feel. Eco-fans and open-sided walls keep the place cool, screened with mosquito netting to keep bugs out; bamboo slatted blinds can be lowered at night or during rain. Floors are varnished wood, walls and bespoke furniture are of (sustainable) bamboo.

There are 2 sinks behind the half wall which acts as a headboard for the bed, and a shower room with 2 showers – one solar-heated and one rainhead shower of cold water from Lapa Rios’ own spring, regularly tested for purity.

Each bungalow has a spacious terrace with sunrise, jungle and ocean views, with an outdoor shower, as well as recliners and a hammock.

The Matapalo Suites are similar; a little larger and more contemporary, with a separate bathroom for extra privacy. They don't have the impressive wall-to-wall windows on all sides like the Deluxe's but do have the benefit of air-conditioning. They're also closest to the main lodge which is ideal for less mobile guests.

We're yet to see the stunning new Lapa Villas and Premier Villas for ourselves, but they have wraparound terraces and kingsize beds, floor-to-ceiling windows to maximise those rainforest and ocean views, and ample living areas with a day bed. Ensuite bathrooms have solar-powered rain showers plus there's an additional outdoor shower on the deck. The four Lapa Villas are higher up with excellent views, and are larger with capacity for up to five guests, and have a plunge pool.

Thoughtful touches include water bottles you can refill from the tap, wind-up torches and chocolates on the bed – organic, locally made and absolutely delicious. There are plentiful organic and biodegradable toiletries, which are guaranteed not to harm the fragile surrounding ecosystem.

Features include:

  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • In room treatments available
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

All meals are included in your tariff, and are eaten in the spacious main palenque - a traditional building with a soaring thatched ceiling and wide veranda overlooking the valley below.

Wake up to complimentary coffee/tea or hot chocolate delivery to your casita in the early morning. Breakfast is served from 7-9am (with an earlier little breakfast prepared for early birders) and includes freshly squeezed juice, a generous platter of fresh fruit, homemade granola and yoghurt, and a selection of homemade pastries with guava jam. Hot dishes are either international - pancakes, French toast, eggs and bacon - or Costa Rican favourites like corn cakes and papusas. These were wonderful: rice, beans, plantain and fresh corn tortillas with locally made cheese.

Lunch might be a packed lunch eaten on a hike - and the sandwiches really are out of this world, with piles of fruit to follow. Alternatively, you can have a light lunch in the restaurant.

Dinner starts with drinks in the bar; try one of the special cocktails as you sit and watch a slide show about the local wildlife. Dinner always has 3 courses - you will have selected from a choice earlier that day: part of the kitchen’s commitment to saving waste is to prepare exactly the right amount of each dish. We started with black bean shrimp and calamari fritters (delicious) and a salad of macadamia nuts with feta in a zingy dressing. Then we moved on to fillets of tilapia (fish) with a sensational sauce of limes, chilli and coriander. The melting organic chocolate hot cakes which followed were amazing.

A plant-based menu for lunch and dinner is on offer for non meat eaters. All food is organic, and most of it is sourced locally to support farmers and growers in the region, though sadly some has to be brought from San José. This is the only negative you could find in an otherwise impressive kitchen. The waiting staff are all exceptionally friendly and kind, and bring considerable ceremony to an otherwise informal dinner, by producing courses at the same time on massive trays.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Kids' meals
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian options
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

You’ll be invited to sign up for a whole variety of walks and hikes: all on-site activities and excursions are included in the rate, plus you can do the sustainability tour. Some excursions are off the premises, but once here you won’t want to venture far; there’s so much in Lapa Rios’ own 1,000 acres.

  • Lapa Rios is in a unique position on the migration corridor of enormous numbers of birds: just sit on the observation deck and borrow a pair of binoculars. And first thing in the morning, at the forest's edge, you’ll see a ceaseless stream of pretty little creatures starting their day. Lapa Rios’ bilingual guides' enthusiasm is contagious when they spot rare ones and you’re almost guaranteed to see scarlet macaws
  • Follow The Osa Trail and Ridge Hike. These more challenging hikes are offered on alternate days, and take around 6 hours each, depending on your pace, and are the best way to get right into the primary rainforest. Your guide interprets the incredible ecosystem for you, while you marvel at the extraordinary variety of trees, fungi, butterflies and birds. Spider monkeys flinging themselves through the trees and red-capped mannequins were my personal highlights
  • Head to the beach. Just 15 minutes walk from reception (though there's a shuttle on offer) are the most beautiful beaches – and hardly anyone’s on them. The tides are strong for swimming, but perfect for surfing. Staff will arrange lessons if you like. Just ask for a box lunch and spend a few hours under the florblanca trees.
  • Arrange for a lesson in shore fishing on the beach, take the boat out to catch yellowfin tuna, giant snappers and roosterfish (only certified sport fishing operations that follow catch and release practices are supported), or go on a sea kayak mangrove tour in the Golfo Dulce area, which is bursting with marine life
  • The swimming pool is not chlorinated, but kept clean with salt. It’s surrounded by loungers and has beautiful views over the forest and bay. After your swim take a yoga class or ask reception to arrange a massage
  • Enjoy horse-riding through the rainforest – the excursion finishes with a gallop on the beach – or take a dolphin tour to see stingrays, turtles and bottle-nosed and pan-tropical spotted dolphins
  • The diverse Corcovado National Park is well worth a visit, but it’s expensive to get to. Access is either by road to Carate (40 minutes from the hotel), from where you walk 6 hours to a biological station at La Leona, or via light aircraft to Sirena, from where you walk to Catare with your guide, camping overnight. It's an unforgettable experience, apparently, with fabulous wildlife and diverse ecosystems

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Children over 6 will love Lapa Rios and are made very welcome here. There are plenty of things to amuse them, from scarlet macaws and spider monkeys in the rainforest to sustainability walks, family-friendly activities (many included in the rates), and kind and knowledgeable guides. There are no electronic amusements provided, but who needs them when you're surrounded by jungle?

Children under 6 are not accepted at Lapa Rios due to the lodge being situated on a steep ridge in the rainforest, and hazards such as drops and high decks attached to the cabins. Children, especially young ones, must be supervised at all times.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

An extra bed can be added to most rooms and families will be accommodated in rooms nearest to the main building, so they don’t have so far to walk. Bungalows sleep up to 4, and the Lapa Villas sleep up to 5.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

Children's meals:

Children are well catered for in the dining room, where staff are especially attentive. There’s a children’s menu of international and Mexican favourites.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Unfenced saltwater pool
  • 'Pigs, twigs and garbage' sustainability tours
  • Tree planting

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Family waterfall hikes
  • Surfing lessons
  • Birdwatching hikes
  • Fishing
  • Sea kayaking
  • Dolphin watching tours
  • Horse riding

Families Should Know:

There are steep drops along the pathways and a 40 foot circular stairway in the main lodge. Cabins have high decks. You'll need mosquito repellent. Light sleepers might be kept awake by the sounds of the jungle. Bring everything with you - the nearest shop is a drive away. The pool is designed for adults, although children are allowed to swim in it.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes (Puerto Jimenez, which has connecting flights from San Jose)
  • Hospital: 30 minutes
  • Shop: 30 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Lapa Rios Ecolodge is 18km south of Puerto Jiménez at Playa Carbonera, on the south-eastern tip of the Osa Peninsula. This is on the south end of Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

By Air:
Puerto Jiménez (18km) is the closest airport. Most guests take an internal flight from San José Juan Santamaria International (370km), although some will have arrived into Liberia (460km) on a charter flight from Europe or North America - links on internal flights aren't quite as frequent from there though. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
You’ll be met at Puerto Jiménez's airstrip by Lapa Rios’ charming staff, and offered a cold drink and use of the bathrooms, as well as the chance to make any important phone calls "before you leave civilisation behind"! This transfer is included in the rates if you go by shuttle bus, but extra if you want a private vehicle - see Rates.

By Car:
You could drive here from San José, but it would take around 8 hours and the last stretch is very rough. You won’t need a car while you’re here, so a flight and transfer really is the best option. If you're determined to drive yourself as part of a fly-drive around the country, please see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Costa Rica and getting around

Airports:

  • Puerto Jiménez International 18.0 km PJM
  • Puerto Jiménez International 370.0 km SJO

Other:

  • Beach 1.0 km
  • Shops 18.0 km
  • Restaurant 18.0 km

Rates for Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Arriving on: