Top ecolodges in Costa Rica

Costa Rica strives hard to retain its status as one of the world’s greenest countries. And staying in accommodation designed to have minimal environmental impact can help preserve its unique biological diversity. Here is our guide to the top ecolodges in Costa Rica.
Room with a view at Lapa Rios Lodge. Photo: Press release
Room with a view at Lapa Rios Lodge. Photo: Press release
As an international leader in green tourism, Costa Rica is home to numerous ecolodges where you can better appreciate its abundant wildlife and breathtaking natural beauty. Read on for our pick of the best of them. 

Stay deep in the rainforest

If you’re interested in exploring the rainforest, head off the beaten path to Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, in Costa Rica's northern lowland region. This remote ecolodge offers rustic rooms and serves buffet-style meals. The main attraction is its setting, in 505 hectares (1,250 acres) of rainforest, that are home to hundreds of species of birds. As its name suggests, there is also a lagoon that supports lagartos (caimans). There are around 10km (6 miles) of hiking trails to explore, plus horseback riding, canoeing, and opportunities for boat trips up the Río San Carlos to the Nicaraguan border.

Nearby, the Maquenque Ecolodge is a more luxurious destination, offering high-roofed cabins, a swimming pool, and an excellent restaurant set around lakes in the 60,000-hectare (148,000- acre) Maquenque Wildlife Refuge. Both the above lodges sit amid some of the last remaining nesting sites of the increasingly endangered great green macaw.

In the middle of rainforest. Photo:  Lapa Rios Lodge

Corcovado without a tent

A pleasant alternative to sleeping in a tent in Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is to bed down at one of the nearby ecolodges. At one end of the scale is Lapa Ríos, set in its own primary forest preserve, with high end thatched-roof bungalows perched on a hillside overlooking the ocean. It’s as luxurious as it gets here, but like all lodges that endeavour to reduce their carbon footprint, there's no air-conditioning, few cellular connections and limited Wi-fi access. You can experience a stay at this rustic, luxurious location for yourself as part of Insight Guides' Costa Rica Eco-Adventure trip

Nearby Bosque del Cabo is just as luxurious, and a favourite hangout for abundant wildlife including monkeys. In Carate, within walking distance of Corcovado National Park's entrance, cheery, laid-back Lookout Inn is right on the beach, with guaranteed sightings of scarlet macaws, while Luna Lodge, famous for its yoga retreats, contemplates the park from a mountain perch. The closest you can stay to the park's entrance, and in some comfort, is at La Leona Eco Lodge, in a tent pitched on a platform, with an attached private bathroom. Guests at the upscale Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge can hike directly into the bordering park. Near the new El Tigre park entrance, rustic Bosque del Tigre Lodge in Dos Brazos has some of the best birding and hiking in the Osa, while nearby, the affordable Danta Corcovado Lodge offers simple but comfortable rooms, as well as private cabins in the woods.

Volcano Arenal. Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

A volcanic eco-experience

One of the most enchanting, and least visited, national parks is Tenorio Volcano National Park. The country's most beautiful river runs through it: the Río Celeste, which lives up to its name with heavenly blue water. Here, you can hike through primary cloud forest to a waterfall and swim in cool pools. Along the river there are also pockets of hot springs and volcanic mud, which you can smear on your skin for a natural beauty treatment. Colourful butterflies, birds and wildlife abound, including snakes that enjoy sunning themselves on sunlit paths, so be sure to wear hiking boots and look where you are treading. You can stay overnight nearby at Heliconias Rainforest Lodge, an eco-friendly establishment run by a local cooperative, near the village of Bijagua. Simple cabins and comfortable private bungalows overlook Lake Nicaragua and Miravalles Volcano in the distance, and there are miles of birding trails running through the surrounding forest.

Alternatively, big-hitter on the tourist trail Volcano Arenal is another destination with plenty of eco-conscious places to stay. Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa Hotel offers sweeping views of the surrounding landscapes and sustainability initiatives including an on-site water treatment facility, natural hot springs and a comprehensive recycling programme. You can enjoy a luxurious stay here as part of Insight Guides' Beaches & Volcanoes trip.

Close to nature. Photo: Lapa Rios Lodge

Ready to plan a trip to Costa Rica?

Our local experts can help you to plan and book fantastic tailor-made trips to Costa Rica. Simply contact us to let us know your ideas for the trip and when you would like to travel. We will then prepare a personalised itinerary based on your preferences, which you can amend until you're totally happy with every detail before booking. Seek inspiration in our existing Costa Rica itineraries, and keep in mind that all our planned itineraries can be fully tailored to suit your specific needs.

Updated 12 July, 2019