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La Kukula Lodge 3.0

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Province of Limon, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Quiet, peaceful grounds surrounded by the sounds of nature and away from the touristy crowds
  • Prime jungle location for spotting a multitude of native animals 
  • A five-minute walk to the pleasant Playa Chiquita beach
  • Rooms and bungalows all come with private terraces and hammocks
  • A small pool with a sun deck and loungers
  • Free ample breakfast including local dishes
  • Free Wi-Fi and parking
  • Local seafood dinners (available upon request)
  • Laundry service (for a fee)

Cons

  • Isolated location with little to do in the immediate area (pro for some)
  • Rooms are plainly decorated
  • Rooms can get noisy at night with jungle sounds
  • Wi-Fi can be spotty
  • No air conditionin
  • No TVs or mini-fridges in rooms
  • No spa, gym, or business center

Bottom Line

La Kukula Lodge is a mid-range eco-hotel housed in the middle of the thick Playa Chiquita rainforest, three miles away from Puerto Viejo's touristy town center. The hotel's 10 rooms are plainly decorated with private terraces, hammocks, and garden views. They lack TVs and air-conditioning, but are built to maximize air circulation. Various jungle animals and exotic birds can be spotted on the grounds, but that wildlife can be disruptive to light sleepers at night. There aren’t many facilities on-site, no gym or spa, but there is a small pool and an ample free breakfast each day. Travelers looking for lodging with more spirited design could try the neighboring mid-range Tree House Lodge.

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Scene

A hidden eco-lodge embedded in surround-sound nature, away from the town's touristy spots

Nature enthusiasts and escapists will find pleasure in the jungle hideaway that is La Kukula Lodge. Six rooms, two bungalows, and one house are secluded and tucked away off Puerto Viejo de Talamanca's main road, surrounded by thick, high greenery on all sides. The lodge itself isn't upscale, but its cheerfully decorated. The open-air lobby with poured concrete floors and a wood-beamed, palapa-fringed roof holds clusters of seating like long picnic tables with pillowed benches, wire rockers, and wooden cable spools topped with colorful cushions. La Kukula took care not to disturb the natural ecosystem when constructing the hotel, so sloths, howler monkeys, exotic birds, frogs, kinkajous, agoutis, lizards, and more can roam freelythroughout the treetops and grounds of the property. Aside from the chirps and chatter of animal noise, the atmosphere at La Kukula is still and quiet with a little guest interaction occur during mornings in the lounge that also doubles as the breakfast hall. 

Location

A quiet, secluded stretch of forest along Playa Chiquita, away from the central town of Puerto Viejo

La Kukula Lodge has a certain middle-of-nowhere ambience due to how far it feels from the area's tourist hub. The lodge is located off a dirt path in the small village of Playa Chiquita, three miles from Puerto Viejo's town center. Puerto Viejo has a wide array of restaurants, craft shops, bars, and nightlife options. But there's a quaint strip of eateries within walking distance of La Kukula, too. As the name of the small village suggests, the Playa Chiquita beach is a short five-minute walk away from the hotel. Travelers can also check out the neighboring surf-friendly beaches like Playa Cocles and Punta Uva, each around a six-minute drive away, or an extended 30-minute walk. Other nearby attractions include the Gandoca - Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and the Jaguar Rescue Center, both less than 10 minutes by car. Cahuita National Park is about a 30-minute drive away, and there's a host of other areas nearby often explored by arranged tours. Juan Santamaria International Airport, the major entry point into the southern coast of Costa Rica, is an unavoidable four-hour drive away in San Jose.

Rooms

Plainly decorated eco-friendly rooms provide the bare necessities

Since La Kukula Lodge is situated in the heart of the jungle, it makes sense that their rooms are designed in line with their commitment to be environmentally responsible. Accommodations range from Double Rooms, Triple Rooms, Suite Doubles, Bungalows, and the huge Casa Kukula, but none of the categories have air-conditioning. Instead, houses are built on raised platforms with high ceilings to maximize the flow of air and minimize lingering heat. Additionally, windows are screened and glassless, allowing both breezes -- and significant animal noises -- to come into rooms. 

Functionality aside, rooms are pretty barebones from a decor standpoint. A painting or map will appear here and there, but spaces are primarily plain wooden walls and terra-cotta-tile floors. Bright fuchsia and lime-green bed spreads and pillowcases offer a pop of color in predominantly brown rooms. In lieu of closets, freestanding wardrobes with a few hangers give a spot to store clothes. There are no TVs or mini-fridges, but there are safes. The bathrooms vary in size and come with stand-up showers that get their warm water from solar panels. Patios are slightly more decorative. Bamboo couches and wooden chaises and chairs are adorned with bright accent pillows. Hovering paper lanterns come in various colors. Tropical landscape artwork and frame sketches add a bit of oomph to these outside walls. Rooms in lower categories are more sparsely furnished, but all rooms have hammocks hanging from front porches. The lodge's largest accommodation, La Casa Kukula, has its own swimming pool in the front yard (which is more well-kept and inviting than the hotel's main pool), a full kitchen, and a very spacious den area with a mini library.

Features

A jungle pool with a sun deck and simple freebies like breakfast, Wi-Fi, and parking

La Kukula Lodge's charm lies in its location and surroundings, not so much its amenities. Don't expect to find those resort-like facilities such as a spa, gym, or any sort of business center. (There is free Wi-Fi, but it is spotty and weak outside of the reception area.) However, there is a tiny pool smack dab in the middle of a thicket. Although it has several deck chairs, it's not the most spacious or luxurious lounging option, as dense trees attract bugs to the moist area and leaves are occasionally pepper the wooden-plank deck and the pool's surface. Another perk at La Kukula is the free breakfast. Each day, meal options include gallo pinto (traditional Costa Rican rice and beans), omelets, sandwiches, sweet or savory crepes, oatmeal, granola, cereals, fruit, fresh squeezed juice, coffee, and tea. For those who'd like to curl up with a good book while on vacation, La Kukula has a reading nook with books and cushioned chairs and stools underneath the palm thatched roof reception area. Additionally, there is free parking, a gift shop, and laundry services are available for a fee. 

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Address

Playa Chiquita, Puerto Viejo 73000, Costa Rica, Carretera a Manzanillo, km 6, Puerto Viejo 73000, Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca 7300, Costa Rica