Costa Rica Travel Guide
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Experience Green, Clean Living at These 10 Costa Rican Eco Lodges

Green living is easy at these Costa Rican lodges.

The “eco-” prefix gets bandied about a lot in Costa Rica. While no one has ever copyrighted the term or set standards for its use, one thing is undeniable—this country excels in its selection of green accommodations. Fortunately, you can go green and comfortable at the same time. Whether you kick back with a good book within the confines of your lodge or partake in activities outside of it, any of these choices fit the bill for a relaxed, nature-filled base for your trip.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal
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Arenal Observatory Lodge

WHERE: Arenal

This is the closest you’ll get to a volcano summit—you’re less than 2 miles away—although, admittedly, northern Costa Rica’s Volcán Arenal has settled into a less-active phase these days. With the best views of the volcano around, Arenal Observatory Lodge sits amid an 870-acre private reserve perfect for nature walks. Plus, the folks here take active steps to protect the environment and participate in local community projects.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge
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Dantica Lodge & Gallery

WHERE: San Gerardo de Dota

Small, luxurious white stucco houses decorated in tropical colors are scattered around Dantica’s forested grounds, where you have ample opportunity for hiking and a very good chance of spotting a resplendent quetzal, the holy grail of bird-watchers everywhere.

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PHOTO: Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort/Facebook
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Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort

WHERE: Heredia

One of the Central Valley’s most sumptuous lodgings is on a hilltop amid a working organic coffee plantation. Although you are in the San José metro area, the capital seems far away; the only reminder is the restaurant’s spectacular view of the city lights below. Finca Rosa Blanca’s Gaudi-esque main building and neighboring structures have spacious rooms decorated with local art.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Harmony Hotel
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The Harmony Hotel

WHERE: Nosara

Green goes chic at this holistic retreat on the north Pacific coast. The majority of guests come to Harmony for the yoga—one complimentary class is included in your stay—and the spa treatments. Smaller rooms surround a garden; larger duplex bungalows scatter down toward the beach. All are splendid and serene. The restaurant’s menu abounds with health-conscious options, and even the desserts manage to strike a pose between decadent and wholesome.

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PHOTO: Sergio Quesada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)/Flickr
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Hotel Sí Como No

WHERE: Manuel Antonio

“Sustainability” is the watchword at Sí Como No, a hip and trendy green hotel with environmentally friendly practices at its core. In addition to its nine buildings on the forested hillside grounds, Sí Como No operates its own Greentique Nature Reserve, a great opportunity to observe wildlife.

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PHOTO: Laguna del Lagarto Lodge/Facebook
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Laguna Del Lagarto Lodge

WHERE: Nicaraguan Border

One of Costa Rica’s smaller and more remote nature lodges sits in its own 1,250-acre rainforest reserve in the far north of the country. Laguna del Lagarto’s cabins are on the rustic side with single beds, and meals are set up buffet-style on the porch. Birding (almost 400 species have been sighted here), hiking six miles of trails, horseback riding, and taking a boat trip to the border of Nicaragua will keep you busy.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Lapa Rios Lodge
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Lapa Ríos

WHERE: Corcovado National Park

Costa Rica’s original green lodging, Lapa Ríos, pioneered the concept of the sustainability tour. Sign up for the whimsical Twigs, Pigs, and Garbage tour, and you’ll leave feeling educated about ways you can help conserve nature. The screened, open-air bungalows sitting amid a private 1,000-acre reserve and a hillside restaurant with stunning ocean views aren’t bad either.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, Golfito
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Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

WHERE: Golfito

As one of the country’s top green lodgings, Playa Nicuesa’s commitment to sustainability shines through, from use of fallen wood and recycled materials in construction to the bounty of the land and sea served up family-style at dinner. Boat access is the only way in on this stretch of the Golfo Dulce, that water indentation separating the Osa peninsula from the southern Pacific mainland.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Rancho Naturalista
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Rancho Naturalista

WHERE: Turrialba

A perfect perch for accessing Costa Rica’s premier bird-watching location on the fringes of the Central Valley southeast of Turrialba, Rancho Naturalista has upscale rustic rooms and resident birding guides available during the high season. Hiking and horseback riding will also keep you occupied.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Tortuga Lodge & Gardens
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Tortuga Lodge

WHERE: Tortuguero

A riverside lodge known for its nature packages, Tortuga sets itself apart from other area accommodations in both location and service. Comfy cabins and buffet-style meals are the order of the day. Packages include charter flights to Tortuguero, where guides take you on nocturnal turtle-watching excursions; other wildlife-viewing excursions take you by boat through the network of rivers and canals.