Lapa Rios Ecolodge

Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula & South, Costa Rica Book from US$680

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 16 cabins 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.

Highs

  • Unique and privileged location in one of the world’s most precious biospheres: primary forest hosting amazing wildlife and 375 species of birds
  • 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
  • A complete experience of Costa Rica: if you choose just one place to visit in the country, make this it

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 in rooms 1 and 2, which are closer
  • It might seem pricey, but consider that all your meals, 2 excellent guided walks and the transfer from Puerto Jiménez are all included
  • Not for everyone - rooms have fans but no air con or hairdryers, and you might find the odd bug, despite screened windows
  • One of the nearby bars sometimes plays loud music
  • Lapa Rios is not yet entirely self sufficient for energy, and although pigs generate methane for cooking, there’s a reliance on generators (soon to be replaced by water turbines)

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
Family
Great Outdoors
Beach
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Jungle Lodge
  • 16
  • All meals included
  • 6 yrs+ welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 16 thatched cabins are spread down a steep path leading from the main restaurant building, with secluded balconies looking out over the forest and gulf so that each feels utterly private.

There are 14 identical cabins - with either 1 kingsize or 2 queensize beds. There are also 2 smaller cabins, one with a wider deck (perfect for honeymooners) and the other with a wraparound deck and 2 sofabeds in addition to the kingsize bed.

All the cabins are spacious, with high pitched ceilings of palm thatch, giving a beautiful romantic feel. Two fans keep the place cool, and walls are open on 3 sides, screened with mosquito netting to keep bugs out. Floors are varnished wood, walls and bespoke furniture are made of (sustainable) bamboo, and the lighting is excellent. There’s a desk right by the window inspiring you to write, and 2 armchairs with a small table create the full effect of being explorers in the jungle.

Beds are romantically draped in white mosquito nets and are extremely comfortable, with white cotton sheets. There are 2 sinks behind the half wall which acts as a headboard for the bed, and a further shower room with 2 showers - one hot and one rainhead shower of cold water. Water comes from Lapa Rios’ own spring and is regularly tested for purity. There are bamboo slatted blinds on all windows which you can lower at night (it gets light before 6am) and during rain to keep the interior dry. There’s also a small hanging space and shelves (you’re encouraged to keep bags off the floor and keep suitcases zipped up so that creatures don’t get in), plus a safe for valuables.

Each room has a spacious terrace with jungle and ocean views, with an outdoor shower, as well as 2 stylish recliners (which look like bamboo but are made of recycled plastic!), a hammock, bamboo chairs and a table. Creature comforts come in the form of white fluffy towels and plentiful toiletries - organic and biodegradable, which you’re encouraged to use rather than your own, as these are guaranteed not to harm the fragile ecosystem of the surroundings. Water is heated in solar panels and 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.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries

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.

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.

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
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

You’ll be invited to sign up for a whole variety of walks and hikes: 2 are free, 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 - a miraculous sight

  • 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. They're the best way to get right into the primary rainforest. Your guide interprets the whole chaotic 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. Bliss

  • Arrange for a lesson in shore fishing on the beach, take the boat out to catch yellowfin tuna, giant snappers and roosterfish (naturally 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

Only children aged 6 years and upwards are accepted at Lapa Rios due to the lodge being situated on a steep ridge in the rainforest, and there are hazards such as steep drops and high decks attached to the cabins. Children, especially young ones, must be supervised at all times.

That said, 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. Note there are no electronic amusements provided, but who needs them when you're surrounded by jungle?

Check the rates page for 4 night/5 day family packages, which include some activities.

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. Cabins sleep up to 4.

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:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Lapa Rios Ecolodge