If you’re wondering where to stay in Costa Rica this list of 9 unique eco lodge experiences will have you dreaming and packing your sustainable travel bag!
Costa Rica is a world leader in dedication to environmental regeneration and conservation. It’s also one of the most exciting travel experiences in wildlife immersion. Every step in this lush landscape is a journey shared with fascinating tropical plant and animal life.
Sustainable eco lodges are designed to minimize environmental impact while offering travelers a way to participate in social and environmental preservation. Be an animal rescue volunteer, contribute to pollinator research, enjoy the fruits of labour (literally) at a working permaculture farm or agroforestry plantation, or simply bask in the unique biodiversity of Costa Rica.
Here are our favorite sustainable eco lodge experiences for a thrilling and intimate way to travel Costa Rica.
Where To Stay in Costa Rica
Where To Stay in San José Province: Rancho Mastatal
Rancho Mastatal is a sustainable eco lodge & permaculture farm in the heart of Costa Rica. It's a lodge that gives you lots of choice about the type of visitor you’d like to be. Exchange your work at the farm for an incredible life experience, explore opportunities to be a permaculture student, or be a straight-up traveler stopping in a while on your journey. This is a place where locals ride their horses to the bar in the evening, and hundreds of birds are your wake-up call each morning. Located outside Cangrejo National Park, Rancho Mastatal is a traveler destination, a sustainable education centre, a farm, a lodge, a homestead, and a charitable organization supporting the local community.
The 300 acre property is home to incredible species of plants and wildlife. Visitors have access to over 10 kilometers of trails. Here you will find yourself casually hiking past capuchin monkeys, sloths, toucans, fruit trees, and multiple varieties of orchids covered in gigantic Blue Morpho butterflies.
The rainforest setting and the team at the Ranch make this an incredibly unique place to explore, and learn. At Rancho Mastatal’s working eco lodge, owners, staff, and guests contribute to the daily operations at the heart of the farm. Want to see some of the wild activities you might be taking part in during your experience working and playing as a guest or student on this sustainable eco lodge? Learn more about Rancho Mastatal in this Featured Experiences post.
Where To Stay in Osa Peninsula: Finca Kobo
Halfway down Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is Finca Kobo, a chocolate farm (organic cacao plantation) and sustainable eco lodge on the Golfo Dulce. This is an Eden of natural beauty.
Surrounded by a tropical garden, the Finca Kobo 2-storey wooden lodge houses six simple bedrooms on the upper level, each with bathrooms, fans, and mosquito netting. The main floor’s central, outdoor, open-air living area allows for breezes that float the most delicious smells of the rainforest and fruit farm around you. The wide porch has comfy chairs and hammocks extending out to tropical trees. There is also a resident massage therapist. This is an excellent spot for bird watching and monkey spotting. While I was visiting a few years ago the most stunning scarlet macaw captivated me as it seemed to simply step off the branch of a tree, instantly expand its blue, yellow and red wingspan, and soar away.
The activity that Finca Kobo is most famous for? Its 2-hour guided tasting hike around the farm’s 44 acres. The farm has jungle paths weaving through it to provide you a true insider experience during the tasting tour. There’s nothing more delicious and satisfying than enjoying fruit cut directly from the trees, served to you on the end of the knife that chopped it down.
This eco lodge grows a variety of species of pineapple, vanilla, bananas, oranges, lemons, star fruit, watermelon, soursop, cinamon, acai berries, mango, guanabana, chino mamon, and of course its primary crop, cacao (chocolate beans). You will get to try them all. The hike ends with a demonstration of the chocolate making process from tree to plate.
Mena believes it's not necessary to destroy Costa Rica’s forests in order to grow crops. Rather than remove the forest to plant a farm, he planted a forest to house the farm. The trees’ canopy creates the perfect growing conditions for Finca Kobo’s crops, and also creates a home for many species of birds and wildlife. The jaguars and puma that sometimes call this forest home keep pests that could harm his crops in check.
Where To Stay In Nicoya Peninsula: Wild Sun Rescue
Wild Sun Rescue Center is a sustainable eco lodge in Cabuya on the tip of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. It is also a non-profit wildlife rescue centre, and educational facility, dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of local wildlife. Wild Sun’s goal is to rescue animals from the illegal pet trade, and to treat injured or orphaned animals.
The centre is home to a number of recovering monkeys, such as Howler Monkeys and Capuchin, and birds, such as Scarlet Macaws and parrots. Their philosophy is to get the animals and birds rehabilitated and returned to the wild as soon as possible.
You can stay at the centre’s Wild Sun Jungle Resort. With Wild Sun you can be a visitor, a volunteer, or a student intern, but everyone stays at this eco lodge. It has an infinity pool and a yoga deck, both beautifully positioned to ensure that Costa Rica’s tropical landscape is front and centre in your activities. You can cook your own food in a shared kitchen, or have meals prepared by chef Randal Santamaria. True to its sustainability goals, Wild Sun does not serve beef or pork due to the environmental impacts of the cattle and pig industries. Chef Randy serves a delicious variety of chicken, seafood, and vegetarian/vegan options, and of course local fruits and vegetables are plentiful. Hammocks, tranquility and stunning wildlife surround your stay.
Wild Sun Rescue is close to the touristy towns of Montezuma and Mal País offering lots of fun and exotic activities to fill your time. There are hikes to waterfalls, swimming holes and natural jacuzzi pools surrounding the Wild Sun property. 60 year old Doña Nena’s Marmalade and Bird Farm is definitely worth a visit! Nearby Los Cedros Beach is one of the best surf spots on the Peninsula. While surfers angle for waves, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful sandy beaches around. The activities available to you from your location at Wild Sun are too numerous to mention but rest assured, here you can explore islands and beaches, witness sea turtle release, horseback riding, and snorkeling, and be surrounded by the wild beauty of Costa Rica.
Where To Stay In Monteverde Cloud Forest: Monteverde Lodge & Gardens
It can be hard to know where to stay in Costa Rica’s famous Monteverde mountain region because of the vast amount of choice. Nestled in the lush cloud forest, Monteverde Lodge & Gardens is one of our favorite eco lodges. This sustainable eco lodge ranks high for us because of its awesome tours and its genuine commitment to preserving Costa Rica’s natural and cultural treasures. It's one of the rare properties in the town of Monteverde that’s surrounded by forest, but is still just a short drive or walk to many of the local attractions.
This comfortable eco lodge offers outstanding authentic Costa Rican meals served with South America’s best wines. Their signature rum cocktail is a Jigüiro which they make with fresh local guava juice. Accommodations are beautiful with all rooms having a private balcony from which to enjoy the jungle’s intoxicating sound of birds and monkeys, reminding you what a stunning and unique environment you’re staying in.
From here you can easily experience everything this cloud forest region is famous for: organic coffee farm tours, horseback riding, butterfly and hummingbird conservation centres, ziplining thru the clouds, and orchid gardens. But it's Monteverde Lodge and Gardens' own nature tours that make it our favourite.
You know when an eco lodge has a section on its website dedicated to their tour guides’ personal history, that you’re in for something special. These guides are expert local naturalists, born in Costa Rica, descendent from the settlers of this mountain region. They are all dedicated to studying the forest and its biodiversity. They know the secret hidden places, the wild landscape and its inhabitants, and their stories are intimate as well as informative.
Monteverde Lodge and Gardens also has a whole page on its website dedicated to its commitment to sustainability outlining its community and social responsibility, its environmental conservation efforts and the sustainable practices in its lodge operations.
1 Truly Unique Sustainable Travel Organization in Costa Rica: Earthwatch
Want to know where to stay in Costa Rica but you don’t want to be an ordinary tourist? Instead you want to dig deep, literally, into the country, getting to know the heart of its people and landscape? Here we introduce you to an organization called Earthwatch and in particular its 5 expeditions in Costa Rica.
Earthwatch is an international environmental organization that funds scientific research projects all over the world. You will work hands-on directly with researchers, scientists, and professors and can choose from projects in wildlife conservation, ocean sustainability, climate change, and archaeology.
In Costa Rica, Earthwatch travelers stay in some incredible eco lodge settings and research centers all over the country. You could be staying high in the Monteverde mountains, or at the edge of a sweeping wild Pacific surfing beach.
Through organized 7 – 14 day expeditions you can be part of a small volunteer research team collecting data and working directly with the wild animals or environmental focus of the project you choose.
Follow any of these amazing titles and find yourself exploring Costa Rica like an insider, deep in the heart of its mysterious, wild and stunning country: