10 Best Resorts in Costa Rica for Your Next Trip

Tumbling waterfalls, dense jungles, winding rivers, smoldering volcanoes, and secluded beaches make Costa Rica an idyllic destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in nature. What’s more, over the past few decades, Costa Rica has prioritized protecting its natural beauty in a country that once had some of the world’s highest deforestation rates. Today, Costa Rica continues to lead the way on sustainability: Nationwide, it runs on 98 percent renewable energy and is working to decarbonize its economy by 2050.

Sustainable practices have taken hold at the country’s best hotels and resorts. These retreats offer travelers unforgettable experiences in protected natural areas, and they go the extra mile to operate responsibly within their environments and communities.

As part of AFAR’s Hotels We Love series, we’ve chosen the 10 best retreats across the country. Whether you prefer a safari-style tented camp with volcano views or a beachfront paradise with decent swells, these Costa Rican retreats deliver sublime experiences in nature while offering something for everyone.

1. Nayara Tented Camp

  • Location: Arenal Natura Ecological Park
  • Why we love it: A family-friendly, safari-style adventure in Costa Rica
  • Loyalty program: Leaders Club (Leading Hotels of the World)
  • Book now

This tented camp in the La Fortuna area couldn’t be further from roughing it. The 37 spacious glamping accommodations of Nayara Tented Camp come with private hot-spring-fed pools with views of the active Arenal volcano, king-size beds, massive bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, indoor and outdoor showers, and a personal butler. This newest retreat by Nayara is located on the same 62-acre rewilded estate as sister properties Nayara Gardens (currently being renovated and set to reopen January 2024) and Nayara Springs. The camp offers several multi-bedroom tents that are especially convenient for traveling families.

Activities that appeal to various age groups include naturalist-led bird-watching, frog-spotting walks, and visits to the farmers’ market in La Fortuna town and to the wildlife-filled Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. Learn about Nayara’s sloth habitat protection efforts through an on-property experience called the Secret Life of Tony the Sloth, where guests learn about a sloth that has called Nayara home for many years. Several sloths live on the property, thanks to the resort’s reforestation efforts that planted more than 1,000 cecropia trees, which the mammals depend on for food.

Post-adventure, enjoy one of the resort’s six cantilevered hot spring pools in the jungle, dine at the new on-site Mediterranean restaurant Ayala, or visit the treetop spa and yoga platform at Nayara Springs. From $1,221

2. Origins Luxury Lodge by Mantis

  • Location: Bijagua
  • Why we love it: An off-the-grid rain forest estate
  • Loyalty program: Accor Live Limitless
  • Book now

Visitors are drawn to the quiet town of Bijagua for access to Tenorio National Park, home to the active Tenorio volcano, the Rio Celeste waterfall, and resident wildlife, including tapirs, howler monkeys, and sloths. Here, the Origins Luxury Lodge by Mantis, which sits along a hill in an adjacent 111-acre rain forest estate, offers a stay that is both luxurious and eco-conscious. The resort, reachable via private heliport or a roughly two-hour drive past small villages, consists of six circular one-bedroom luxury lodges and one three-bedroom treetop villa. Accommodations blend into the landscape, thanks to green roofs and natural materials like wood, bamboo, adobe, and stone. Each lodge has its own private hot tub, canopy bed, and an indoor-outdoor shower.

Guests will notice other eco-friendly initiatives: You won’t find single-use plastic anywhere, and the large on-site organic garden and 25 beehives supply ingredients to the spa and restaurant. Meanwhile, fragrant organic bath products are made with wild ylang-ylang growing on the property. Behind the scenes, the hotel operates its own composting stations, solar water tanks, and a treatment plant for soapy water that’s reused for watering plants. One of the highlights of a stay here is a naturalist-led walk on the wildlife-rich property—keep your eyes peeled for tree frogs and toucans. From $1,175

3. Kurá Boutique Hotel

  • Location: Uvita
  • Why we love it: A romantic getaway in the green Osa Peninsula
  • Book now

This adults-only, eight-suite retreat on the Pacific Coast north of the Osa Peninsula is owned by a Costa Rican architect and biologist who envisioned a hospitality experience that’s both stylish and sustainable. The furnishings are made from responsibly sourced teak wood, and you won’t see any single-use plastic. The resort sits on a hillside overlooking Marino Ballena National Park and its famous Whale’s Tail sandbar, where migrating humpback whales can often be spotted. Accommodations feature floor-to-ceiling windows and two-person hammocks on open-air verandas (the Master Suite has a private pool).

Kurá’s most alluring attraction, aside from its beach-meets-rain forest setting, is its infinity pool, complete with an underwater sound system. It’s surrounded by a bar and restaurant serving ingredients sourced nearby, like seafood and grass-fed meat from local farmers. Some produce is grown in the property’s organic greenhouse, and the resort composts all food waste on site. Off property, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the village of Uvita and the whale coast, and it can arrange for waterfall hikes, paddleboarding and snorkeling, and horseback riding. From $880

4. Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection

  • Location: Pérez Zeledón, Nicoya Peninsula
  • Why we love it: An idyllic escape for wellness seekers
  • Book now

The soothing views of the green Talamanca Mountains from the private plunge pools and terraces of Hacienda AltaGracia’s 50 one- and two-bedroom casitas feel like a wellness experience unto themselves. That’s not surprising, given that nature-based wellness is the focus of the 180-acre property. It might be experienced via freshly squeezed juice or coffee with ingredients from the resort’s farm. Or selecting a horse from the stables and riding through the green hills nearby. Or climbing to the top of the rain forest canopy by rope.

Hacienda AltaGracia also features a 20,000-square-foot outpost of the Well, an integrated wellness center and spa with a flagship in New York City that offers holistic health treatments and consultations. Spend time in the hydrotherapy tub, heated tepidarium, and healing garden, or take part in an outdoor movement class like aerial yoga or qigong. The Well hosts multi-day retreats around various topics, usually led by a visiting expert. Classes have included journaling with Laura Rubin of creative journaling company AllSwell and breathwork with Nicholas Pratley, a neuro-linguistic therapist. Off property, the resort can arrange a visit to an Indigenous Boruca village or a rafting trip on the Pacuare River. Not to be missed: A meeting with a local family for a glimpse at life on their farm in the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the world’s five Blue Zones—where people are healthiest and live the longest. From $2,225

5. Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

  • Location: Peninsula Papagayo
  • Why we love it: Top-notch service on the beach, with accommodations ideal for multi-generational groups
  • Book now

Located on the Pacific coast, in the northwest corner of Guanacaste Province, the 1,400-acre Peninsula Papagayo is easy to access: It’s only an hour’s drive from Liberia Guanacaste airport. And when it comes to lodgings, the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo is the peninsula’s crown jewel—plus, it reopened in November 2023 after a refresh. The 182 enormous rooms, suites, and private residences are equipped with contemporary furnishings in natural hues, while floor-to-ceiling windows let in ample light. Guests can relax by any of four pools or in a cabana on the beach at the new Virador Beach Club, which features a restaurant and lounge, infinity-edge pool, and private cabanas, all set against the scenic coastline.

Younger children have access to the Kids for All Seasons club, recently renovated to reflect the area’s flora and fauna, while teens can check out the Tuanis Teen Center—a rarity in the resort world with a basketball court and social spaces for meeting new friends. Other family-friendly on-site pursuits include surfing lessons with the resort’s women-run SurfX surf school and golfing on the 18-hole Arnold Palmer–designed course, which recently updated several features, including a precision irrigation system that reduces water use by 20 percent, a larger teeing area with 12 acres of native vegetation, and a new golf pro and tennis retail shop. The spa added a new Wellness Shala, an indoor-outdoor structure inspired by the Guanacaste winds, that hosts yoga, meditation, and other health workshops.

Head off property on a rain forest excursion to spot the three local monkey species, traverse the swinging bridges, rope obstacles, and zip lines of the nearby Palmares aerial park, hit the water on a water bike or paddle through a mangrove forest, or go off-roading on a UTV around the Palmares estuary. Guests can also join a coral restoration project where they help clean, catalog, and restore the area’s fragile coral reefs. From $1,440

6. Finca Rosa Blanca

  • Location: Central Valley
  • Why we love it: A retreat built for coffee and food obsessives and travelers who want a dose of farm life
  • Book now

Costa Rica is famous for its high-quality coffee beans from eight different growing regions, which produce only 100 percent Arabica. And for a glimpse at the growers of these coveted beans, Finca Rosa Blanca is the place to stay. Located in the highlands an hour’s drive outside of the capital city of San Jose, this family-owned coffee plantation practices sustainable, organic agriculture. The inn occupies a building that was the family’s original home in 1974, and today the interiors celebrate local art and culture as much as coffee and food. The 14 individually designed suites feature hand-painted murals by Oscar Salazar, a local artist. Accommodations also feature free-form hot tubs, wooden furnishings crafted locally, and of course, all the coffee you can drink—much of it grown on site.

The hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant serves such dishes as coconut milk soup with root vegetables and braised beef tenderloin with stewed plantains. Ingredients often come from the property’s fruit orchards and organic vegetable and herb greenhouse. The organic coffee tour and cupping is a must: Guests can learn all about coffee making from plant and fermentation to roasting and drinking. When not caffeinating, linger by the chemical-free infinity pool, surrounded by a garden filled with orchids, bromeliads, and palms and has views of Costa Rica’s green Central Valley and its two active volcanoes. From $499

7. Lapa Rios Lodge

  • Location: Osa Peninsula
  • Why we love it: An ideal base for active travelers seeking both ocean and rain forest
  • Book now

Lapa Rios Lodge offers both rain forest and ocean adventures in one of the last remaining coastal lowland tropical rain forests in Central America. The luxury lodge on the wild Osa Peninsula is adjacent to biodiverse Corcovado National Park, and it has preserved more than 1,000 acres of rain forest since it opened 1993. The 17 bungalows feature hardwood floors and large private verandas with their own plunge pools. Guest activities include volunteer work to help restore Golfo Dulce’s coral reefs, bird-watching walks where macaw and toucan sightings are common, and waterfall hikes.

Sustainability tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the renewable building materials used to construct the lodge, as well as a tutorial on how the 240 solar panels, 10 water turbines, and 48 energy storage units provide renewable energy and purified water. Guests also visit the lodge’s organic gardens and pig pens, where food waste from the restaurant feeds the resident pigs.

Much of the food grown in the gardens end up on the menu at Brisa Azul Restaurant, which offers a menu with entirely plant-based dishes and another featuring sustainably sourced meat, dairy, and seafood. From $1,350

8. Nantipa

  • Location: Santa Teresa, Nicoya Peninsula
  • Why we love it: A sustainable retreat in a UNESCO-designated Blue Zone
  • Book now

The Nicoya Peninsula is one of UNESCO’s five Blue Zones, designated areas around the world where people live the longest and are healthiest. It’s where travelers will find Nantipa, a boutique hotel that’s shaded by trees and faces an idyllic beach. The hotel is composed of 19 suites and bungalows. The two new beachfront villas have three bedrooms, kitchens, and indoor-outdoor living areas with private pools.

Nantipa is home to the Numú Wellness Center, where guests can take part in various healing and fitness classes and workshops like sound healing, life coaching sessions, and Ayurvedic therapy. Meanwhile, Manzú Restaurant, right on the beach, serves dishes with both international and Caribbean influences.

When not at the pool or on the beach, guests can go on excursions, including rain forest hikes, surfing lessons, horseback riding, fishing trips, and a boat tour to Tortuga Island to spot marine wildlife. In February 2023, the hotel was awarded a Certification for Sustainable Tourism by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, thanks to such policies as the omission of single-use plastics, gray water irrigation, and solar-heated water. From $350

9. Casa Chameleon

  • Location: Las Catalinas
  • Why we love it: A nature escape for gourmands
  • Loyalty program: Always Be Expected (Relais & Châteaux)
  • Book now

As a recent inductee into the culinary-focused Relais & Châteaux hotel collection in 2023, Casa Chameleon is recognized for its commitment to sustainability, personalized service, and exceptional cuisine. Set on a hill overlooking Las Catalinas, a coastal town north of Tamarindo, the hotel features panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The 21 contemporary-feeling private villas each feature an infinity-edge saltwater plunge pool.

The culinary options here are truly impressive. Casa Chameleon’s Sentido Norte Restaurant showcases Costa Rica’s food heritage and flavors in an open-air setting with uninterrupted ocean views. Grotto 12 is the newest restaurant, offering a selection of global wines in a wine cave with only 12 seats. The Green House is an intimate dining spot that celebrates Costa Rican cuisine with dishes made from ingredients grown on site. Meanwhile, La Pampa Grill features slow-cooked sea- and farm-to-table feasts, including fall-off-the-bone ribs prepared on the open-fire barbecue. From $1,160

10. El Silencio Lodge & Spa

  • Location: Bajos del Toro
  • Why we love it: People looking to immerse themselves in Costa Rican culture
  • Loyalty program: Always Be Expected (Relais & Châteaux)
  • Book now

El Silencio Lodge is set within a 500-acre cloud forest reserve on the slopes of Poás Volcano, about halfway between La Fortuna and San Jose; a gurgling creek runs through the grounds. The retreat’s 16 spacious suites and villas are heated by gas fireplaces and face the nearby Poás Volcano, the largest active volcano in Costa Rica. The on-site Esencia Spa is a true sanctuary, with open-air treatment bungalows, a yoga deck, and the Conical Room, designed to channel the Costa Rican cloud forest’s essential energy. The spa offers treatments that highlight local ingredients, like a chocolate massage, a volcanic clay wrap, and a fruit flake facial.

A private trail leads to the property’s three waterfalls, paths for horseback riding and mountain biking, and an adventure park for ziplining and rappelling. The resort also offers cooking and mixology classes, bird-watching and night frog walks, coffee and wine tastings, tree planting, and traditional oxcart painting classes. After a long day, guests can drink and dine at Las Ventanas Restaurant and Toro Bohemio Bar, which use vegetables and herbs from El Silencio’s 5,000-square-foot organic greenhouse, fresh eggs from resident free-range chickens, and trout from on-site ponds, where guests can even fish for their main course. From $540

This article originally appeared online in 2020; it was most recently updated on December 14, 2023.

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