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Hotel Shawandha Lodge 3.0

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Province of Limon, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Spacious bungalows with elegant interiors, front porches, and one-of-a-kind mosaic bathrooms
  • Large, gorgeous garden pool area features a waterfall fountain
  • Free healthy breakfast includes a mixed fruit platter, eggs, toast, coffee, and tea
  • Quiet strip of beach along Playa Chiquita is accessible via a private jungle pathway
  • On-site restaurant, which is open to the public, serves delicious, sophisticated meals for dinner
  • Regular animal sightings on the property, including howler monkeys
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout
  • Free parking
  • Free beach and pool towels
  • One of the area's oldest and largest Ceibo trees serves as a property landmark

Cons

  • 12-minute drive away from Puerto Viejo town center
  • Five-minute jungle walk to the beach (a pro for some as it is quite beautiful)
  • No TVs or air-conditioning
  • Restaurant closes for lunch
  • Guests have complained of Wi-Fi being spotty everywhere except in the lobby
  • No mosquito nets over beds

Bottom Line

The 12-bungalow, mid-range Shawandha Lodge is an ideal locale for small groups that want to be surrounded by nature without sacrificing tropical vacation staples. The hotel is located in a quiet area about six kilometers away from the lively town center of Puerto Viejo -- where there are shops, restaurants, live music, and bars -- and close to Cahuita National Park. Sprawling out across nearly five acres of jungle along Playa Chiquita, the property boasts a variety of flora and fauna. The sand and surf of uncrowded Playa Chiquita is a five-minute walk away from the hotel. In addition to spacious and elegant bungalows with artistic bathrooms (but without TVs or air-conditioning), Shawandha is well-known for its fine dining at Wandha Restaurant, its garden pool, and the 400-year-old Ceibo tree growing on the premises. 

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Scene

Aztec-inspired jungle lodge

The drive up to the front gate of Shawandha Lodge is a strong indicator that the stay will be primarily dictated by nature. Thick jungle foliage juts out from above the entrance walls and lines the concrete pathways weaving throughout the property. Housing, lounging, and dining areas here consist of Aztec-themed bungalows and open-air ranchos with palm leaf roofs and woody toned interiors. With only 12 bungalows and ample space between each one, it's a mostly serene and quiet stay, save for the howler monkeys that serve as alarm clocks at the crack of dawn. Nature seekers can check out the earth-grown landmark residing right on the hotel grounds: a huge 400-year-old Ceibo tree stands up 70 meters tall. In addition to monkeys swinging in the overhead canopies, agouti, frogs, sloths, lizards, butterflies, and exotic birds prove to be added perks for nature lovers. 

Location

Along a quiet stretch of Playa Chiquita, away from Puerto Viejo's central area

Shawandha Lodge is an escape from the lively center of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The lodge is nestled along Playa Chiquita, nearly six kilometers away from all the main village's shops, bars, restaurants, and nightlife. However, there are a few small eateries, supermarkets, and convenience stores scattered along the main road. Access to the uncrowded Playa Chiquita beach from Shawandha is a journey all it's own. In order to reach the tree-lined sand and surf, guests must walk four minutes across the street and along a narrow jungle trail with tiny water channels and high walls of plants. Other key attractions in the area include the Jaguar Rescue Center, Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, Cahuita National Park, and, with a little extra driving, the Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita. The main international airport in San Jose is four hours away by car or shuttle.

  • Three-minute drive to Parada Jaguar Rescue Center
  • Seven-minute drive to Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge
  • 28-minute drive to Cahuita National Park
  • 40-minute drive to Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita
  • Four-hour drive to Juan Santamaria International Airport

Rooms

Spacious bungalows with elegant wood interiors and artistic, custom bathrooms

The 12 cottages vary in size and decorative details, but are generally spacious and airy with screened windows and ceiling fans. Woody interiors have a simple elegance about them with African and Aztec wall art and carved wood closet doors. Geometric shapes are etched into the furniture and used in fabric on the cushions. 

Queen-size beds are topped with embroidered or patterned blankets, two standard pillows each, and two accent pillows. Some bungalows come with extra twin-size beds in the same room that can also double as couches. There are no-air conditioning units, TVs, or mosquito nets in any of the rooms. The bathrooms here are the true standouts. Each one is individually designed by French artist Filou. Each sophisticated mosaic tile masterpiece -- which date back to 1995 -- stretches from the descending stairway all the way up the wall and into the stand-up shower, bearing his signature somewhere within the artwork. Bathrooms are stocked with oatmeal soap bars and trays that holds shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner. Hairdryers, another closet, and a safe are also in each bathroom. Outside, front porches feature cushioned benches, tables with ashtrays, leafy potted plants, and hammocks.

Features

A dinner restaurant and a gorgeous pool 

There are enough quirks and perks at the hotel to keep guests happy and occupied. Wandha Restaurant -- which serves colorful fruit platters, eggs, toast and coffee/tea during the free breakfast -- is known in town for its fine dining. Wandha opens its doors to outsiders, so guests can expect company during dinner hours; the real downside is that between breakfast and dinner, it is totally closed. Shawandha's large garden pool is another high point here, surrounded by lush jungle and blooming flowers. There are lounge chairs on either end of pool, which has a mini waterfall flowing down the center. A circular stone path leads from the pool through the grass and back onto the paved hotel pathway.  There is no spa at Shawandha Lodge, but in-room massage services can be requested. In addition to breakfast, hotel freebies include spotty Wi-Fi and parking. 

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Address

Playa Chiquita, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca 7304, Costa Rica