Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A luxurious jungle lodge in the rainforest
The 16-room Lapa Rios is built on three ridges overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Only a miniscule part of the 1,000-acre private reserve is developed. Stairs and wooden bridges connect the main lodge (which houses the restaurant and lobby area) to the wooden bungalows that sit more downhill.
Everything at Lapa Rios is made with sustainability and respect for the fragile rainforest ecosystem in mind. Traditional tropical construction methods using available local materials form the backbone of the lodge’s infrastructure. All of the hotel’s bungalows and the main lodge housing the restaurant/bar and lobby area were constructed using wood from fallen trees. Thatch roofs are made from locally sourced palm fronds. In an effort to remain sustainable and dissuade locals from destroying the forests in their quest for palm fronds, however, the roof of the main lodge has been recently replaced with synthetic roofing material that looks very much like real thatch.
Of particular note is the fact that there is no TV, phone, or Internet connection here, so that guests can truly unplug and connect with nature.
Pulling up to Lapa Rios for the first time feels very much like walking into a scene in Jurassic Park (minus the dinosaurs). The soaring thatch roof and high observation tower dominate the main lodge’s impressive architecture. A covered walkway leads from the main entrance to the front desk. Just beyond lie the restaurant/bar and a winding wooden staircase leading to the observation platform and a bird’s eye view of the surrounding forest and the ocean beyond. The restaurant also features an outside dining area with another observation platform.
Just a few steps away lies the wood deck pool area, also with impressive ocean views. The path continues downhill to the various wooden bungalows housing Lapa Rios’s rooms. Along the way, guests can easily spot toucans, scarlet macaws, three-toad-sloths, poison dart frogs and four species of monkeys. Although there are numerous walking tours scheduled daily, guests need not even leave the property to spot impressive amounts of wildlife.
At night, the social hub is the main lodge. Drinks and snacks kick off at 5:30 p.m. at the bar, and dinner -- gourmet fare served in a candlelit setting -- begins an hour later.
About 45 minutes from the nearest town, Puerto Jimenez, and on its own 1,000-acre hillside forest preserve overlooking the ocean and bay
Lapa Rios sits in a buffer area for the larger Corcovado National Park protecting thousands of acres of tropical rainforest in Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula, in the southeastern part of the country. The lodge overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean.
Lapa Rios was designed in harmony with the surrounding forest and beach environment. The main lodge and bungalows line three ridges and are connected by walking paths and steps. Built over 350 feet above the sea, Lapa Rios catches the cooling tropical ocean and forest breezes. The main lodge and the Brisa Azul restaurant soar 50 feet above the sea and, like the 16 private bungalows, are built of locally harvested materials and have intricately woven palm thatched roofs. Climb the lodge’s three-story circular stairway to overlook the forest canopy and breathtaking ocean vistas. Comfortable, locally made bamboo furniture and huge private decks aid relaxation amidst pristine nature.
The nearest town is Puerto Jimenez, featuring banks, services and an airstrip that connects it to San Jose (Costa Rica’s capital). The flight to San Jose takes about 40 minutes. The village of Carate is the gateway to Corcovado National Park and lies some 20 kilometers down the road. Other than that, there’s not much else out here.
Gorgeous bungalows with private decks completely surrounded by nature
The 16 thatched-roof, wooden bungalows are screened in to prevent unwanted visits from jungle critters, and mosquito netting provides a graceful touch to the beds while providing further protection from insects. The beds, incidentally, are somewhat on the squishy side and might not be the favorite feature of those who prefer firm mattresses. There's no air-conditioning, but it's usually not necessary -- the ceiling fans and cool ocean breezes keep the bungalows at a comfortable temperature.
The decor reflects the natural surroundings, with lots of wood, big screened windows (no glass), and plenty of open space. The bathrooms are quite spacious as well, with two sinks flanking the entryway to the toilet/shower area. The showers are screened in (some have ocean views) and feature two showerheads: one cold-water rain showerhead over a rock floor area, and a more traditional showerhead with hot and cold water over a tile floor. Hotel policy forbids the use of hairdryers and curling irons, as they zap too much power from the hotel’s diesel generators (this is an eco lodge, after all). There is one outlet in the room for charging cell phones and camera batteries. There are no TVs, no Internet, and no phones.
Each bungalow has a spacious furnished private patio with beautiful ocean and jungle views -- plus a shower surrounded by a garden.
1,000 acres of nature and wildlife -- and a beautiful pool overlooking the ocean
Lapa Rios, located in the remote coastal rainforests of the Osa Peninsula, is Costa Rica’s original luxury eco lodge. This is the opposite of a Cancun-style beach resort -- guests come to the upscale Lapa Rios to enjoy the spectacular surroundings, learn about sustainable tourism, and re-connect with nature. The 16-bungalow lodge sits amid 1,000 acres of rainforest filled with wildlife, but it's far from a no-frills jungle camp. There are many comforts here, including a pool overlooking the ocean, a splendid restaurant serving sumptuous cuisine, and rustic-luxe rooms with private decks. This is a place to get in touch with nature without roughing it.