When it comes to lodging options in Costa Rica, the selection is about as wide-ranging as the country’s incredible biodiversity. Travelers can go the all-inclusive route at a big beach resort, or brave canopy life at a rustic tree house hotel. Surfers and yoga lovers have retreat after retreat dedicated to their respective pursuits, and hot springs seekers can try the healing waters at dozens of resorts with on-site thermal springs. And for those who dream of finding a sweet little bungalow to call their very own, there are plenty of hotels whose room choices include private porched casitas. Whether tucked into the solitude of the jungle or steps away from a pretty beach, these are some of the most enchanting bungalows we’ve come across in Costa Rica.
Travelers looking for luxury accommodations with lush rain forest surrounds can't do better than Tulemar Bungalows & Villas, where homey bungalows come with kitchenettes, daily housekeeping, and floor-to-ceiling windows with ocean views. Some of the units are older and individually owned and rented out, but a strict homeowner's association and small army of full-time staff ensure that every nook and cranny of the property is perfectly pristine. The resort is spread out on 33 hilly acres by the Pacific Ocean, and offers everything from two hiking trails to four swimming pools and a beach. Nature lovers will like meandering the roads and searching for monkeys, sloths, butterflies, and birds in the trees. Even at full capacity, there's still an air of seclusion and crowds are rarely a problem.
Off the beaten track and oozing Tican charm, this free-spirited hotel is set at the end of a scenic beach, within walking distance of Montezuma -- an area popular with surfers and dreadlocked expats. The property stretches across a lush rain forest nature preserve, where monkeys and exotic birds are common (so carry a camera at all times). Add in healthy breakfasts and dinners (both meals are included in the rates) and an outdoor pool, spa, water sports, and an open-air yoga studio facing the sea, and it's clear that there isn't another place in Nicoya Peninsula like Ylang Ylang. Some of the 22 simple accommodations are standalone, air-conditioned bungalows. Beach Front and Garden Bungalows are best suited for romantics, with one queen-sized bed and a rounded layout.
Set along a quiet stretch of Santa Teresa's gorgeous surfer beach, the oceanfront Latitude 10 was a private vacation home until 2011, when the owner converted his getaway into a boutique resort. It's managed by the Cayuga Collection, and similar to the company's other properties, it focuses on environmentally sustainable stays. Expect locally sourced ingredients in the restaurant, a chlorine-free pool, and no plastics. The resort's casitas are scattered throughout lush, jungle-filled grounds interwoven with stone pathways, palm trees, and blossoming flowers. Rooms are set apart from one another and feel secluded. All include private balconies and amazing open-air bathrooms, but keep in mind that they aren't air-conditioned and there are no TVs. Generous freebies range from tasty breakfasts to yoga and Pilates classes to boogie boards, bikes, and snorkeling equipment.
Alma del Pacifico Beach Hotel & Spa is an upscale beachfront hideaway with a laid-back vibe and attention-grabbing design -- its rooms, restaurant, spa, and pool area all exude oodles of color and character. The 20 bungalows and villas are laid across four acres of well-kept grounds, and all have dazzling, open-plan layouts that include wet bars and private terraces. Sofa beds, kitchenettes with coffeemakers and minibars, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi are all standard. The hotel's lawn eventually gives way to the gray-black sands of Playa Esterillos. There are few other hotels found on this long beach, which means guests often have it completely to themselves (in addition to the hotel's side-by-side swimming pools with pretty mosaics, and small whirlpool). The hotel's restaurant and bar, Mosaic, is quite romantic, with an open side that offers wonderful ocean views.
The Aztec-inspired Shawandha Lodge is ideal for small groups who want to be surrounded by nature without sacrificing certain hotel staples. The 12 bungalows have ample space between them, plus one-of-a-kind mosaic bathrooms and front porches with cushioned benches and hammocks. They 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. Some bungalows come with extra twin-size beds in the same room that can also double as couches. There is no-air conditioning, TVs, or mosquito nets in any of the rooms. Shawandha Lodge is well-known for its fine-dining restaurant (healthy breakfasts are included in the rates), and the property also features a large garden pool with a waterfall and a 400-year-old Ceibo tree.
Costa Paraiso is a small property with low-lying buildings that blend into the stunning natural scenery. There are just five available rooms: four bungalows with limited ocean views, and a suite, Toucan Nest, with awesome views of a rocky peninsula and crashing waves. Each room has green or yellow painted exteriors and green roofs; shared front porches are hung with hammocks and set with wooden furniture. Inside, the decor is a bit basic, but amenities include kitchenettes, coffeemakers, air conditioners, and jugs of drinking water. In keeping with the natural ambience, the rooms don't have TVs. Costa Paraiso's ¿Por Que No? is one of the most popular restaurants in the area (breakfast is extra).
It's hard to find an experience quite like the one offered at Samasati Retreat and Rainforest Sanctuary in Puerto Viejo. Situated atop a mountain with scenic views overlooking the town and beach below, the 10 bungalows and private houses are totally surrounded by the high trees and lush greenery of the undisturbed rain forest with monkeys and sloths. Each bungalow includes a private terrace with a hanging hammock, wide doors that let in lots of light, and sweeping views (note that some units require an uphill climb to reach). Bungalows are comfortably sized and have screened windows (though bugs still find their way inside) and private bathrooms with hot water. The focus here is on nature and spirituality, so there aren't any phones, TVs, or Wi-Fi in the rooms. The tranquil and self-sufficient hotel offers three free buffet-style meals a day, all of which are healthy, vegetarian-friendly, and made from locally grown foods. Samasati's early morning and evening yoga and meditation classes are a highlight of the hotel.
Perched on Tamarindo's periphery, this intimate hillside boutique hotel caters to guests who want to be close to the town's buzz without having to deal with its noise and congestion. Narrow stone paths, often dotted with lounging iguanas, meander through the property, leading guests to their bungalows and to a gate that opens to a gravel path that rambles to Tamarindo. The hotel has five bungalow-style rooms set in rustically stylish one-story buildings with vaulted ceilings, thick tree-trunk columns, and terra cotta tile roofs. Bungalows come equipped with double beds and colorful rope hammocks off their private stone terraces. Costa Rican art, pottery, and colorful paintings complete the look of the rooms. Other amenities include flat-screen TVs, Cuisinart coffeemakers with packages of Britt coffee, and minibar selections that include small bottles of Chilean wine and snacks.
This three-bungalow hotel is located in the quiet town of Cahuita, off an isolated road with almost nonexistent traffic. Coral Hill's three standalone, wood-carved units and owners' house -- the outside of which also doubles as the lobby/breakfast area -- are surrounded by rich garden grounds on all sides. Trees, high ferns, and colorful flowers arch over the hotel's pathways, and sloths, monkeys, and exotic birds call the dense greenery home. Since each of the three rentable bungalows have a maximum occupancy of two people, there are minimal chances of being disturbed by any noise (other than howler monkeys in the morning) or interacting with fellow guests other than at breakfast time. There isn't a full restaurant or pool here, but breakfast is included in the room rate and Playa Negra beach is about a five-minute walk from the property.
Puerto Viejo's three-pearl Korrigan Lodge is a one of the area's better spots for jungle seclusion. Housed within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, the bed-and-breakfast's four quaint bungalows and open-air reception area are totally surrounded by high trees, bright flowers, thick shrubbery, and fauna such as monkeys, sloths, exotic birds, and frogs. It's just a five-minute walk from the white-sand beach of Punta Uva, one of the best stretches in the area and a snorkel haven. The restaurants, shops, bars, and nightlife in central Puerto Viejo are a 15-minute drive, and it's under a 10-minute drive to the Parada Jaguar Rescue Center.
Dedicated to saving the rain forest, this 200-plus-acre farm hotel has a mellow collection of large plantation-style houses and small bungalows. Rooms are large but relatively spartan, without the modern comforts that are now standard in most hotel rooms. In most cases, expect a ceiling fan instead of AC, no fridge, safe, or Wi-Fi, and definitely no TV (the hotel is focused on promoting guests' connection to nature, not Hollywood). A few guests have complained about the water temperature in the showers not getting hot enough. But guests who love birding and farming don't mind Finca Luna's creature-comfort shortcomings.
Arenal Green Hotel is a quaint, bungalow-style hotel with decent views of the rain forest and Arenal Volcano (30-minute drive away). The hotel delivers clean, rustic, rain-forest-inspired lodging, and little else. Heavy use of local teak and mahogany define the nine freestanding bungalows. It's a bit like staying at summer camp, if your bunkhouse featured free Wi-Fi, wet bars, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and mini-fridges. A small, private terrace attached to every room provides more space to spread out, plus limited volcano views. A single Family Bungalow upgrades to a spacious, house-like layout with a large, private terrace, a fully equipped kitchen, and three bedrooms, each with a queen bed.
For those who want to spend the majority of their vacation near Manuel Antonio National Park and the beach, it's almost impossible to beat La Posada Private Jungle Bungalows. The pleasant budget hotel has an unbeatable location directly next door to the park entrance, and a three-minute walk to the public beach via a marked path. This is a smaller property with only eight units available, so it tends to book up. Four bungalows with thatched roofs, brightly painted walls, and furnished terraces face the pool. The Parrot Bungalow includes a king bed, flat-screen TV, coffeemaker, microwave, and small refrigerator. Rates are low for the area, and include a free daily breakfast buffet, Wi-Fi, and limited street parking.