Lapa Rios Ecolodge & Wildlife Reserve Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Eco-conscious hotel amid 1,000 acres of rainforest
  • 16 bungalows feature fabulous ocean views and huge private decks
  • Bungalows have thatched roofs, mosquito netting, and gorgeous woodwork
  • Large bathrooms feature 2 showers (1 rainfall shower)
  • Amazing nature and wildlife right outside guests' doors
  • Lots of outdoor activities can be organized
  • Beach access, a 10-minute walk away
  • Outdoor pool with gorgeous ocean views, wooden deck, and lounge chairs
  • Massage and yoga available
  • Restaurant serves local fare with jungle views

Cons

  • No phones, Internet, or TVs (a pro for some)
  • Not easy to reach (a pro for some)
  • One outlet per room, and no curling irons or hair dryers allowed (to avoid straining the hotel's diesel generators)

Bottom Line

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.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

A luxurious jungle lodge in the rainforest

Front Desk of the Lapa Rios Ecolodge and Wildlife Reserve
Front Desk of the Lapa Rios Ecolodge and Wildlife Reserve

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.

 Location

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.

  • 40-minute flight from San Jose airport to Puerto Jimenez airstrip; 45-minute drive to airstrip
  • 10-minute walk to Matapalo Beach
  • 15-minute drive to Carate and Corcovado National Park
  • 45-minute-drive to Puerto Jimenez, the nearest source of civilization

 Rooms

Gorgeous bungalows with private decks completely surrounded by nature

The deck of Bungalow # 6
The deck of Bungalow # 6

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.

  • Spacious and airy bungalows with private decks and spectacular views of ocean and jungle
  • Huge bathrooms with two showerheads, plus an outdoor shower
  • Screened windows; mosquito netting on beds
  • Eco-friendly bamboo furniture includes chair, ottoman, and desk
  • Ceiling fans
  • Bay window with seat next to showers
  • No TV, phones, or Internet

 Features

1,000 acres of nature and wildlife -- and a beautiful pool overlooking the ocean

The Pool at the Lapa Rios
The Pool at the Lapa Rios

 Bottom Line

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.

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 16
Pool: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Address: Highway 245, Costa Rica
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