Ecolodge options in Costa Rica range from tent camps with no electricity, cold-water showers, and communal buffet-style meals to some of the most luxurious accommodations in the country. Generally, outstanding ecolodges and wilderness resorts are set apart by an ongoing commitment (financial or otherwise) to minimizing their effect on surrounding ecosystems and to supporting both conservation efforts and the residents of local communities. They should also be able to provide naturalist guides and plentiful information. All of the following do.
- Arenal Observatory Lodge (near La Fortuna; tel. 2290-7011; www.arenalobservatorylodge.com): Originally a research facility, this lodge has upgraded over the years and features comfortable rooms with impressive views of Arenal Volcano. Excellent trails lead to nearby lava flows and a nice waterfall. Toucans frequent the trees near the lodge, and howler monkeys provide the wake-up calls.
- Monteverde Lodge & Gardens (Monteverde; tel. 2257-0766; www.monteverdelodge.com): One of the original ecolodges in Monteverde, this place has only improved over the years, with great guides, updated rooms, and lush gardens. The operation is run by the very dependable and experienced Costa Rica Expeditions.
- La Paloma Lodge (Drake Bay; tel. 2293-7502; www.lapalomalodge.com): If your idea of the perfect nature lodge is one where your front porch provides some prime-time viewing of flora and fauna, this place is for you. If you decide to leave the comfort of your porch, the Osa Peninsula's lowland rainforests are just outside your door.
- Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge (Osa Peninsula; tel. 2735-5206; www.bosquedelcabo.com): Large, comfortable private cabins perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by lush rainforest make this one of my favorite spots in the country. There's plenty to do and great guides here.
- Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge (Golfo Dulce; tel. 866/504-8116 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2258-8250 in Costa Rica; www.nicuesalodge.com): This lodge is by far the best option on the Golfo Dulce. Set in deep forest, the individual bungalows here are a perfect blend of rusticity and luxury.
- Tortuga Lodge (Tortuguero; tel. 800/886-2609 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2257-0766 in Costa Rica; www.costaricaexpeditions.com): The canals of Tortuguero snake through a maze of lowland primary rainforest. The beaches here are major sea-turtle nesting sites. This is not only the most comfortable option in the area, but also another of the excellent ecolodges run by Costa Rica Expeditions.
- Selva Bananito Lodge (in the Talamanca Mountains south of Limón; tel. 2253-8118; www.selvabananito.com): This is one of the few lodges providing direct access to the southern Caribbean lowland rainforests. There's no electricity here, but that doesn't mean it's not plush. Hike along a riverbed, ride horses through the rainforest, climb 30m (100 ft.) up a ceiba tree, or rappel down a jungle waterfall. The area has fabulous bird-watching and nearby Caribbean beaches.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.