Three premier resorts that provide a civilized take on sustainable tourism and off-grid accommodations
Costa Rica is the leading destination in the America’s for tropical ecotourism. It’s also home to some world-class beaches, many of which haven’t yet seen a high-rise resort. Instead, you’ll find smaller properties with unique personalities, some truly rustic, others that maintain their off- grid and sustainable principles while also providing a full range of creature comforts. From this list, we’ve selected three truly memorable lodges that combine a beachfront setting with a jungle backdrop to create a thoroughly unforgettable stay.
Tree House Lodge, Punta Uva
When it comes to original and eclectic, this property stands alone. Sitting on 10 wooded acres facing Punta Uva Beach and the Caribbean Sea, the Tree House Lodge has just four self-catering guest cottages. Calling these accommodations mere cottages, however, doesn’t do them justice. There is a Swiss Family Robinson style tree house, set 20 feet off the ground and reached by a wooden suspension bridge. Other aspects of the property are similarly whimsical, with rooms built entirely from fallen trees, kitchen counters emerging from curvilinear adobe walls, and a bathroom set into a Daliesque dome dappled with a multitude of tiny, multi-colored glass windows that create a kaleidoscopic effect in the sunlight. Open air showers and cloistered hot tubs are tucked into hidden alcoves, while sleeping areas are left open to expansive views of forest or ocean (but can be curtained if so desired). The entire compound is built from sustainable materials and fed by solar power, with a portion of guest revenue going to fund a green iguana conservation program. For recreation, there’s snorkeling, surfing, sunning and beach volleyball, kayaking in nearby mangrove lagoons, and the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, which offers a full range of land adventures.
Tiskita Jungle Lodge, Playa Pavones
When Costa Rica native Peter Aspinall moved to a remote parcel of land on the Pacific coast, near the country’s southern border, his intention was to create a personal homestead and grow fruit. To accommodate visiting friends and family, a guest cabin was added to the homestead. Fast forward 30 years and that first cabin has grown to nine, with a total of 17 guest rooms, and the Aspinalls now manage a full-fledge eco resort. But the original vision was not lost as the business evolved. Today, Tiskita is not only a lodge, but also a private biological reserve that protects some 800 acres of tropical rainforest, and supports an organic orchard where 125 types of tropical fruit are harvested. Guests can wander wooded trails in a forest that is home to more than 275 species of birds and endangered endemic species such as the Central American squirrel monkey. The property overlooks the Pacific, and is not far from the famous surf break known as Pavones. Guests no longer have to ford jungle streams to reach the property, thanks to improvements in roadway infrastructure, and there’s also a private airstrip nearby that can accommodate charter flights from San Jose. No longer an entirely off-grid outpost, Tiskita now offers a reasonable range of creature comforts, and yes, there’s WiFi for those who can’t unplug.
Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge, Drake Bay
The Osa Peninsula is Costa Rica at its wildest and best. Vast tracts of this jungle wilderness, the largest remaining lowland rainforest in Central America, are under the protection of the Corcovado National Park. Guests at the Casa Corcovado are in a prime position to explore the natural attractions of the park, and are also just steps away from pristine stretch of palm- fringed Pacific beach. Perched on a low hilltop that takes advantage of sea breezes and provides views of both land and sea, the lushly landscaped grounds of the resort incorporate a collection of well-appointed bungalows that can provide privacy for couples or comfortable accommodations for families. Eco-minded guests can take comfort in the fact that this off-grid property engages in a wide range of sustainable practices, while those who also appreciate their comforts will be reassured to know that a combination of solar and hydropower ensures 24-hour electricity to power those little indulgences we all appreciate. With airy beamed ceilings and architectural details hand-crafted by local artisans, rooms have an earthy and spacious feel that blends with the surroundings and frames the sights and sounds of the rainforest.