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Places You Will Want To Stay (longer :-)


We'd like to introduce you to some places that represent the nicest accommodation and best hosts in Costa Rica today. But don't take our word for it, check them out at the top hotel ratings web site.  We have stayed at 100's of places in Costa Rica but a few stand out as places we will or do return to again and again.

What's important to us about these places? First and foremost is that the owners are on-site and have a sense of humor - we know that this leads to a wonderful attention to detail and a laid back atmosphere for guests and staff.  Next we want to connect with good food at the end of a long Costa Rican drive (they all are!).  Great food and a nice comfy place to relax are as important as anything - it may cost a few bucks/dinars/rupees more but that's what we want when we travel.  We get out about once a month to experience new places in Costa Rica, so we want to be sure our recommendations are only for "places we would stay".  We want our guests to to be able to fully experience the areas they are going to (our guests are VERY inquistive types) - so knowledgeable Innkeepers are a huge plus. You can't go wrong with few days at any of these; our friends in Costa Rica.  

TORTUGUERO - out on the Caribbean coast - great wildlife, turtles or lazy beach days

Turtle Beach Lodge
N. Caribbean Coast
This is THE place to experience something very special . . . mama turtles laying or baby turtles hatching on the beach at night. That . . . and an amazing variety of animals and jungle flora that is second to none in Costa Rica. You can do an overnight if you like but we'd much recommend the 3 day 2 nights stay.

We took the night turtle tour after an exciting "fast boat" along pitch black canals (don't miss it in turtle season). There's an early morning canal tour to visit with caymans, turtles, birds and bats. Recommended and we'll be back.

Snag a kayak or two and take yourself on a jungle adventure.

Yes, the pic is from our most recent trip on the canals.  The Lodge has the canals on one side and the beach on the other and is as far into nature as you may get.

And Turtle beach will do a pickup from the Pura Vida and van/boat you all the way to your lodge and back - this is a great way to start your Costa Rican vacation.

Phone: (506)2248-0707
Fax: (506)2257-4409

WEB: Turtle Beach Lodge

SOUTHERN NICOYA - does it get any better at the beach in Costa Rica?

Ylang Ylang Beach Resort
Montezuma, Southern Nicoya

This hidden gem is set in lush tropical gardens edging a white sand beach. A secluded romantic getaway for travelers who want a casual resort and love the sounds of the ocean! Ylang Ylang Beach Resort has 20 units spread throughout the property. You can choose from your own romantic bungalow with air conditioning, a family suite with a loft, or a unique tent cabin. Strolling along the path to your room, you're likely to see a variety of wildlife such as white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, agoutis, iguanas and coati mundis. Get a massage in the Spa nestled in the jungle, dip into the waterfalls in the tropical pool, or enjoy Happy Hour on the Restaurant terrace. Breakfast and candlelit dinner are included. If you’re looking to get away, this is the getaway place . . .

The resort is located a 10-15 minute walk on the beach from Montezuma, a small beach town only 30 minutes from the local Tambor airport. Check in is at the Sano Banano Restaurant in the center of Montezuma. Since no driving is allowed on the beach without a permit, the hotel driver will transport you and your luggage on your arrival and departure days.

US Phone: +1-415-692-5294
CR Phone: +(506) 2642-0636


MONTEVERDE - in the cloud forests of Monteverde about 3 hours from the Pura Vida

El Sol
Just south of Monteverde

Just 2 log cabinas crafted with love - a big one and a smaller one situated on the sunny side of Santa Elena.

If you go to our tour site ( and click on the big yellow box ("the road less travelled"), you will see the view from our cabin. You will never forget your visit to the sunny smiles of El Sol.

Every guest is touched in some way by the experience at El Sol - we recommend a few days up here and don't miss a trip with Javier, Elisabeth's son and "native of the region."  His horseback rides are a delight and his local knowledge will make all the difference to your trip.

Host: Elisabeth
Phone: (506)2645-5838
Fax: (506)8645-5042

WEB: El Sol

MONTEVERDE - in the cloud forests of Monteverde about 3 hours from the Pura Vida

Arco Iris
Santa Elena, Monteverde
Getting to Monteverde is all part of the adventure.  Most people arrive from the Arenal side down the bumpy road and into the Arco Iris which is a great surprise.  A lovely lodge right in downtown but in a compound that seems to be right in the cloud forest.

The cabins are very nice, spotless too and the hospitality excellent.  We rarely have found a place like this so close to town and yet so seemingly in the forest.

The Arco Iris makes a great base to start your explorations of the area - most people try out the Monteverde Reserve but ask the front desk for places they like such as the night walk or a jungle horseback ride.

Maybe you can get a peek at Susanna's most interesting veggy garden growing most of the greens for the hotel.   Hmmm and tell us when was the last time a "downtown cabin" looked like this one?

Phone: (506)2645-5067
Fax: (506)2257-5022

WEB: Arco Iris Lodge

ARENAL - most visited Volcano (or for that matter any destination) 3 1/2 hours from the Pura Vida

Leaves & Lizards
Near La Fortuna
This secluded lodge is one of our favorite visits - great hosts Debbie and Steve make it #1 for hospitality and the volcano view from your bedroom is just perfect! Well it helps they happen to have the perfect volcano.

They recently added an nice restaurant and a couple more huge cabins.  The place is more like a rural farm than a hotel but you won't mistake the hospitality for anything but home.

An excellent surprise was a delightful visit to Cano Negro - this is a day trip into the jungle by car and by boat, just south of the Nicaraguan border. We met with cayman, bats, toucans, howler monkeys and a whole lot more you'll spend a lifetime trying to see.  There are 3 really amazing spots with huge animal life and this is one of them.  It helps there are no roads and few people.

While you are there, try to get out on one of their little herd of amazing horses - the photo is of one of the great local guides (and conservationists) with a poison dart frog from the forest.

Hosts: Steve & Debbie
TollFree: 1-888-828-9245 1-888-828-9245
Local: (506)2478-0023
Fax: (506)2672-0227

WEB: Leaves and Lizards

MANUEL ANTONIO - most visited beach location just 3 1/2 hours from the Pura Vida

The Falls Resort
On the road to Manuel Antonio Park and Beach
This is a beautiful remodeled intimate hotel that we enjoyed immensely.

They recently built a new restaurant which we were very happy to dine at.  Good choices and very fresh ingredients to make sure you have all you need on the property.

The location is very convenient not too far from the beach end of the Manuel Antonio road though we always would recommend a car - and easy parking right in front of the hotel.  The management and staff was super friendly and it always makes a difference to have onsite owners - the only way we recommend hotels.  If you need ideas for day trips and things to do the front desk will be happy to help set you straight - we spent the day in kayaks paddling off shore - tired and relaxed, the bar was ready with an excellent margarita on our return.

The last 10 years we have searched Manuel Antonio for a "place we would like to stay" and this is finally the one we enjoyed - and we stayed at a number of them.  Boutique, great service, good food and most of all, good people.  We'd not only recommend, we'd guarantee it :-).

Hosts: Scott & Tracy
TollFree: 1-888-655-6776
Local: (506)2777-1332
Fax: (506)2777-0432

WEB: the falls resort

TAMARINDO - Guanacastican beaches about 5 hours from the Pura Vida

Villa Alegre
Guanacaste Coast
A favorite place when we need a beach break with our good friends Suzye and Barry, the owners and long time Tamarindo experts.

Villa Alegre offers Spanish style villas built within walking distance to the beach of Playa Langosta.Last time we stayed in the one called Russia - very nice.

This is what we think a tropical B&B is all about - great location on the beach, 38 different breakfasts (maybe more?), beautiful beach with usually nobody on it, the wildlife strolling by (the iguana is a local resident) and funny hosts.

Oh and did I mention great pool and you are steps to the beach.

Don't miss a day at Avellanas beach when you are in the neighborhood.  Oh, and shhhhhhhh, pls don't mention that the Pura Vida sent you or Barry might not treat you as well as real guests :-).

Hosts: Suzye and Barry
Phone: (506) 2653-0270
Fax: (506) 2653-0287
Toll free (US/Canada): (650)860-6317
WEB: Villa Alegre

FYI: this year Suzye and Barry raised $25,000 through their "Have a Heart" golf tournament all being donated to local schools in the vicinity of Tamarindo.  Great job guys!

PLAYA JUNQUILLAL - Guanacaste beach, great turtle watch & 5 hours from the Pura Vida

Hotelito Si Si Si
Guanacaste Coast
Joan is a good friend and the host at Hotelito Si Si Si - a small upscale bed and breakfast with 3 modern rooms and 1 bedroom casita.  It is not on the beach but a short drive with good access to Playas Junquillal, Negra and Avellanas, the "community club" offers guests pool, tennis and gym facilities.

Nice visit, very rustic little beach town "the way Costa Rica was."

Host: Joan
Phone: 506-2658-9021
Fax: (506) 2658-9041
WEB: Hotelito Si Si Si

CENTRAL NICOYA - lovely beaches, nice village, turtle nights

Costa Rica Yoga Spa

Costa Rica Yoga Spa is set on the mountain of a private ranch in Nosara, Guanacaste on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica. The resort looks out on both the Pacific Ocean and Ostional National Wildlife Park, where hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles come to nest and a wide variety of birds call home.

In a word, it's breathtaking. Due to the location of the facilities, the natural habitat and ocean view will never change. As they say "We are truly a natural oasis of health and wellness."

Nice people too.

Phone: (506) 2682-0192


SOUTHERN PACIFIC - an adventure in the jungle

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
Just north of Golfito in the Jungle

We have visited many a jungle lodge but none quite as interesting.  You are 1/2 an hour by boat from anywhere and maybe 8 hours drive from anywhere else (or a short 1 hour flight from San Jose) and though deep in the jungle we much enjoyed the food and accommodations as well as the team at Nicuesa.  Don't miss a kayak ride to the Orchid man!  For a jungle experience we'd very much recommend our friends at Nicuesa.

From our friends at Playa Nicuesa:  Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is an environmentally sensitive lodge set on a 165-acre private preserve in the undeveloped Pacific Coast Osa Peninsula/Golfo Dulce region of Southern Costa Rica.  The lodge embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment and caters to travelers interested in ecotourism, nature, adventure and sports.

Their goal is to provide guests with an experience that they will always remember: Excellence, friendly service, hi-end accommodations, exceptional “edible landscape” cuisine, educational opportunities and unique, well run adventure activities, and to provide this experience while operating the lodge in the most environmentally friendly manner possible.

Contact: Marcela

US/Canada phone: 1-866-504-8116  Costa Rica: (+506) 2258-8250
WEB: Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

UVITA - less than an hour south of Manuel Antonio - the best views

Shelter From The Storm

Yes, another great place we take a break at . . . almost no time for Innkeeping with such nice places to visit.  If you are not one for the crowds of Manuel Antonio just keep on driving another hour and you'll reach the turnoff for Shelter From The Storm.  A few of the best appointed Villas with 180 degree views of the Pacific are perched on a hill in just about the middle of nowhere.  Well except for the fact that you probably won't find places as detailed or as nice anywhere in Costa Rica.

Then there are the hosts, good friends Daryl and Donna - yes that is Daryl in the Santa suit leading a bunch of elves to the indigenous Borucans and their annual Christmas party.  If you go do try and bring some gifts for the party - every year they bring gifts for over 400 kids.  If you are at the lodge in December join us on the trip!  Boruca is one amazingly lovely village and center of the Borucan mask making in Costa Rica.

Oh and Daryl and Donna are the funniest Innkeepers anywhere. . . you'll want a 4WD when exploring the area.

Host: Donna y Daryl
Phone: (506)-2787-8262
Fax: (506)-2787-8262

WEB: Shelter From The Storm

SOUTH PACIFIC - the rain forest to the end of the road in the Osa

Luna Lodge
Entrance to Corcovado - Carate

The Luna Lodge is located on the "Osa Peninsula" near Carate - the hotel is as close as you can get to the most bio-diverse place in Costa Rica - the Corcovado National Park.

One of our favorite lodges anywhere on the planet. Excellent service, good food and a great host. Great animal watching on the border of the Corcovado park.  The hikes are amazing . . . our first and only anteater sighting, hummingbird nests so tiny, insects the size of small dogs (ok, so pretty big anyway :-) and all of them were friendly.  This place is the work of a very committed and determined environmentalist called Lana who some years ago carved this lodge out of the jungle.  It is worth the long journey on many counts and our trip was an eye opener as to what can be done as far away from civilization as you can go in Costa Rica.

Host: Lana
Phone: (506) 2380-5036
WEB: Luna Lodge

The Osa (Pueto Jimenez) and The Southern Caribbean (Cahuita/Puerto Viejo)

Our friends in both places moved on, we are seeking the best owner managed hotels or B&B's in these locations - do tell us!