Costa Rica excels in its selection of boutique hotels, tasteful bungalows, and bed-and-breakfasts, which offer a high degree of personalized service. Because they're generally small, you may have to book one or two months ahead, and up to six months in the high season, especially around Christmas or Easter. Reserving through an association or agency can significantly reduce the time you spend scanning the Internet, but you can often get a better deal and negotiate longer-stay or low-season discounts directly with the hotel.

Nature lodges in the South Pacific may be less expensive than they initially appear, as the nightly rate usually includes three hearty meals and sometimes even guided hikes. Internet access isn't a given, even if a place has a website. Many have an eco-friendly approach (even to luxury), so air-conditioning might not be included. Consider how isolated you want to be; some lodges are miles from neighbors and have few rainy-day diversions. The voluntary "green leaf" rating system evaluates eco-friendly lodgings. A listing can be found at www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr.

The lodgings we list are Costa Rica's cream of the crop in each price category. When pricing accommodations, always ask what's included and what costs extra. Keep in mind that prices don't include 16.4% service and tax. Smoking is prohibited in all hotels, both in rooms and public areas.

Apartment and House Rentals

Rental houses are common all over Costa Rica, particularly in the Pacific coast destinations of Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Ocotal, and Jacó. Homes can accommodate whole families, often for less money and at a higher comfort level than a hotel. Properties are often owned by foreigners, most of them based in the United States, with property managers in Costa Rica.

Resort communities with villa-style lodgings are also growing. Escape Villas Costa Rica lists rentals in Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Jacó, Playa Flamingo, Tamarindo, Nosara, Sámara, Arenal, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, and the Central Valley. Villas & Apartments Abroad has a good selection of rentals on the North and Central Pacific coasts. For the southern Nicoya Peninsula and Playa Hermosa on the North Pacific coast, check Costa Rica Beach Rentals.


A number of quintessential bed-and-breakfasts—small and homey—are clustered in the Central Valley, generally offering hearty breakfasts and friendly inside information for $60 to $120 per night. You'll also find them scattered through the rest of the country, mixed in with other self-titled bed-and-breakfasts that range from small cabins in the mountains to luxurious boutique-hotel-style digs in the North Pacific region. The service Airbnb brokers many lodgings and homestay experiences in Costa Rica.

Home Exchanges

With a direct home exchange, you stay in someone else's home while they stay in yours. Some outfits also deal with vacation homes, so you're not actually staying in someone's full-time residence, just their vacant weekend place.

Home exchanges are an excellent way to immerse yourself in the true Costa Rica, particularly if you've been here before. Drawbacks include restricted options and dates. Many companies list home exchanges, but we've found Home Exchange, which lists a handful of jazzy houses around Costa Rica, to be the most reliable.

Previous Travel Tip


Next Travel Tip


Trending Stories


Find a Hotel


Fodor's Essential Costa Rica

View Details