Sustainable luxury on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, at one of the most nature-immersed ecolodge experiences in the world
Lapa Rios was built by pioneering founders John and Karen Lewis, more than 20 years ago when eco-tourism existed in few travellers’ minds. Named after the ‘River of Scarlet Macaws’: Lapa (meaning scarlet macaw) Rios (river), it bears witness to the beautiful birds that stream across the rainforest canopy between the lodge and the ocean, affording stunning views.
Lapa Rios is a 930 acre private nature reserve located at the southern-most tip of the Osa Peninsula, Central America's last remaining lowland dense tropical rainforest. On the western Pacific coast of Costa Rica, it acts as a wildlife corridor to Corcovado National Park. It is home to 2.5% of the biodiversity of the whole world, probably - it is not even known exactly how many unidentified species there may be, the primary forest being so dense. Costa Rica is certainly known for its living laboratory of nature with its 850 species of birds (319 in Lapa Rios!), 200 mammal species, reptiles, trees and plants.
The Lapa Rios Reserve (all primary forest) is exclusive to registered guests, with amazing wildlife-watching from its bungalow balconies, restaurant terrace and incredible canopy rooftop look-out gallery, and even from the paths, where you might spot monkeys, toucans and sloths.
Kick back and relax in a hammock, the natural spa or swimming pool, take a yoga class or massage, or choose an active experience that supports Lapa Rios’ original and ongoing vision of education and exploration. Take a hike along the miles of trails and absorb spectacular waterfalls, or embark on an expert staff naturalist-led interpretive guided tour, showcasing not just rainforest species but also the interrelatedness of all the biodiversity, or enjoy a visit to the local community.
Be an Earth Changer:
Visit Lapa Rios to support Osa Peninsula conservation and local culture
At Lapa Rios, you’re not just a visiting tourist. You become an integrated part of the ecotourism experience. It’s perfect for wildlife, relaxation and romantic honeymoons. More details below.
A stay of a minimum of four to five nights is recommended to enjoy all Lapa Rios has to offer.
You can reserve with Booking.com but less money goes to the destination. We connect you directly to the destination so locals benefit more:
Costa Rica’s first ecolodge to gain a coveted 5 Leaf rating for Sustainable Tourism.
Luxurious bungalows have stunning views over the rainforest and ocean.
Immerse in private nature reserve of precious primary rainforest ecosystem.
Supports conservation, education and local community extensively.
Incredible tours, activities & wildlife to experience including on-site sustainability.
The 17 private luxurious bungalows and shared areas are all designed in harmony with surrounding forest and beaches, and built with locally harvested materials. Open-air, but protective, screens allow you to experience the sounds, sights and smells of the rainforest and the ocean from the moment you wake until you fall asleep.
Each bungalow has a king or 2 queen beds, ceiling fans (no air-conditioning), inside and outside showers, balcony deck with incredible privacy and beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean or Golfo Dulce, even from your bed!
Due to the fragile eco-system, Lapa Rios ask that you use the biodegradable, locally-made products provided, or bring your own biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner.
To retain tranquility and responsible resource management, please note, bungalows do not include phones, TV, radios, hair dryers, air conditioning or offer room service. Wi-fi is provided in a small shared area.
NB. With limited capacity, bungalows tend to be booked up 2-6 months in advance. Please book or register interest as soon as possible.
+ Eating & Drinking
All meals are included and an incredible local culinary gourmet experience is on offer. Community and staff plant and promote Central American endemic fruits and vegetables, and recipes are developed based on cultural tastes and local and home grown produce.
Complimentary local coffee is even delivered to your bungalow in the morning, and the evening turndown service will make you smile!
On-property tours are all included in your stay, which help to support ongoing maintenance and land preservation of the Osa Peninsula biodiversity and local community employment.
Four full-time experienced naturalist guides give authentic local interpretation of the natural beauty of the rainforest reserve making sure you get the most out of your experience and learn about the rainforest interconnectedness. Provided are:
- Walking sticks
- Stainless steel water bottles
- Rubber Wellington boots
Sustainability tours: Unusually, the lodge takes pride in transparently showing guests the ‘back of the house’ systems and operations to demonstrate and teach about their sustainability. This Twigs, Pigs and Garbage tour of the lodge premises is not to be missed, to witness the commitment to a more sustainable way of life, a unique experience highly praised by guests with suggestions of how guests’ own ways of living could be enhanced. You can also plant a tree and contribute to reforestation.
Walking: With easy-to-challenging guided hikes, you can immerse yourself in the hidden treasures of pristine primary and secondary forest, see breath-taking views of the coast, enjoy three stunning beaches and experience the magic of the rainforest at night uncovering nocturnal creatures and habitats. Alternatively, go at your own pace following the marked trail accompanied by a biologist’s guide book.
- Explore the Golfo Dulce: On dolphin tours you may see any of the three species of dolphins (common, bottled-nosed or spotted), whales and turtles. Go snorkelling, sea and mangrove kayaking, horse riding, take surf lessons, waterfall rapelling and tour the rainforest canopy zip-lining!
- Visit the local primary school built and sponsored by Lapa Rios Eco lodge, an excellent opportunity to share and learn with the local community. Further afield, explore the Corcovado National Park by land or even by plane!
- Osa is the only place in Costa Rica where you’ll find four species of monkey - squirrel, spider, white-face capuccin and howler monkey.
- One of Central America’s best locations for bird watching. As well as the scarlet macaws which flash over the lodge canopy view, spot rare and exotic birds in early morning and sunset tours.
- Learn about the marine biology of the Golfo Dulce, one of only four tropical fjords in the world. See land crabs, starfish and sea cucumbers.
Located in the tropics and close to the equator, you'll find warm temperatures and sunshine throughout the year.
There are two well-defined seasons:
- Dry Season: December – April: hot and dry. A good time for kayaking and snorkelling with a flatter, clearer sea.
- Rainy Season: May – November: 'warm' rains during the afternoon and evening. A good time to see reptiles on hikes and whale watch as whales migrate from April to November.
Temperatures vary little year-round:
- April is the hottest month: average maximum temperature is 34°, average is 28°, and average minimum temperature is 23°.
- December is the coolest month: average maximum temperature is 31°, average is 26° and average minimum temperature is 22°.
Be aware the climate in capital San Jose is often very different to coastal regions with cooler nights: A fleece jacket is recommended.
From conception, about local people and community as stewards of the land.
Authentic, cultural, participatory experiences, as tourism is about people.
More than 90% of 60+ employees are from local communities.
Extensive support for positive social and cultural impacts for local community.
Founder presented 2005 Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence.
+ The Staff
More than 90% of the 60+ employees are from the nearby communities and are hired for personable guest interaction.
Opportunities for guests to participate with the local community are encouraged and promoted, such as visits to an employee’s farm, being taught typical dancing, supporting the school, beach cleaning and meeting local artisans selling crafts and other products.
When travellers encounter the local community their experience becomes real.
+ The Community
As a result of the lodge's sustainability purpose and actions, locals are beginning to value their pristine land and materials. They know how to use best practices, providing ongoing sustainability to the region.
With the wider community, Lapa Rios helps raise awareness and support for positive social and cultural impacts and empowerment of local people, such as:
- Organising anti-drug programmes.
- Environmental education and skills training on best practices and certified distributors.
- Construction of suspension bridge (walking) to cross the Carbonera River.
- Organising Osa Peninsula recycling centre & dump.
- Advocates and provides tools for community beach clean-ups.
- Road maintenance and repair (5km) from erosion, landslides, potholes, tree falls, river crossings, etc.
Environmental awareness, construction and job training has given confidence to people to imagine a better future in the remote area where there were few skilled tradesmen but where ranching, subsistence farming and mining were the only opportunities back in 1990.
For the work at Lapa Rios, founder Karen Lewis was presented with The 2005 Secretary of State's Awards for Corporate Excellence by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, at the State Department in Washington D.C., to recognize the important role that US businesses play in advancing good corporate governance and democratic principles worldwide.
“A tree left standing is worth more than one cut down”
Being sustainable equates to honouring the Earth by enabling people.
The mission intends to help decision-making.
Experiences and insights create sustainability and prove the mission real, doable and accomplished.
Certification adds a third party authenticating voice to facilitating measurement, monitoring and improvement against standards.
Numerous initiatives support positive social and environmental impacts, build cultural awareness and respect, create funds for conservation and empower local people, all while providing incredible experiences for visitors and hosts.
+ On the Reserve
- Architecture and construction honours place, using local and renewable materials such as bamboo, wood and local vines.
- Erosion channels and retention walls are constructed with stacked flat rocks instead of rebar and concrete blocks.
- Solar for all water heating and lighting needs.
- Wind and breezes used to cool buildings, pump water and produce power.
- Locally sourced food reduces the need to transport common ingredients and creates the opportunity for guest education on cultural difference and acceptance.
- Buying fresh produce rather than canned, avoiding non-recyclables.
- Food scraps fed to pigs creates methane gas to fuel the staff kitchen stove.
- Better use of plants controlling erosion, improved humus from compost production.
- Dedicated support to local suppliers of regional culture: food, renewable plant/tree growers, indigenous artists and tour operators.
- Education for staff on sustainability issues, teaching best practices for the workplace and home.
+ In the Community
- Searches, endorses and promotes certified organic produce, chicken, eggs, and biodegradable products.
- Provides and invites guests to greater staff and community involvement, eg. beach cleaning, endemic tree species planting for reforestation (over 10,000 to date), helping collect data for Osa Conservation’s Wild Cats program by installing and reviewing camera traps, visiting the sea turtle project, village walking tours, interactive farm visits, fish shoring, woven palm ornament making etc.
- Supports community-based tour providers for hiking, boating, kayaking and surfing, who share environmental stewardship and travellers’ philanthropic efforts.
- Has constructed, donated & maintained a 4-building primary school complex since the lodge’s beginnings in 1991, as well as carrying out ongoing maintenance of other primary schools in the Osa, and equipping most regional schools with student supplies and books, all funded through guest donations of time, talent, materials and financial gifts.
+ In the Wider Community
- Supports a national network of certified sustainable businesses, sharing hospitality knowledge for: Better pool ionization, Costa Rican-made solar water heating, alternative energy sources, certified wood products, harvest-certified renewable materials, locally manufactured or harvest-certified products, certified biodegradable products, organic produce and Osa-endemic plants.
- Verifies supply chain distributors for environmental standards such as no plastic wrap, packaging and willingness to use recyclable containers and cooperate with single stop delivery: In 2005 Lapa Rios encouraged Osa businesses to consider alternatives to only plastics when a beverage supplier refused to transport refillable bottles.
- Local renewable building materials harvesters know Lapa Rios only purchases legally permitted materials.
If you reserve with Booking.com less money goes to the destination. We connect you directly to the destination so locals benefit more.
Options & Rates
Once in Costa Rica, to reach Lapa Rios, fly Sansa or Nature Air to Puerto Jimenez (1 hour).
Lapa Rios staff will welcome you and take you to the office, next to the airstrip, for a cool beverage, restrooms and wi-fi should you require. To Lapa Rios it's then a —albeit bumpy! —50 minute trip in a comfortable 4×4 vehicle. Your drivers will point out birds, monkeys and other wildlife along the way.
- Lodging in an ocean-view bungalow sited atop a forest ridge with housekeeping service twice/day
- 3 served meals per day plus non-alcoholic & non-mixed drinks
- Arrival and departure day transfers: Puerto Jimenez - Lapa Rios - Puerto Jimenez
- Selection of on-site guided tours such as: Early & Sunset Bird tours, Wild Waterfall, Local Medicine hike, Rain Forest Ridge Walk, Osa Trail, Matapalo Tour, Night Walk, and “Twigs, Pigs and Garbage”
Rates are per person, per night, based on double occupancy:
6 Jan – 31 March 2018 from $515
1 April – 30 April 2018 from $438
1 May - 31 October from $390
For honeymoon, family or 4 days/5 nights special packages, please enquire for details.
Awards & Accreditations
2018 Winner, People Award, World Travel & Tourism Council Tourism for Tomorrow Awards: (& Jicaro Island Nicaragua, Cayuga Collection)
2014 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List
2014 Conde Nast Traveler – Readers’ Choice Awards: Best Hotels in the World
2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence
2011 1000 Places to See Before You Die
2008 National Geographic – Top 50 Ecolodges
2007 Rainforest Alliance - Corporate Sustainable Standard-Setters
2005 USA Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE)
2003 5 Leaf Rating Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) - the first lodge to attain the Costa Rica programme distinction.
2000 4 Leaf Rating Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST)
Terms & Conditions:
- Rates are available for single occupancy or additional guests (4 adults max per bungalow)
- Child rate applies for children 6-11 years old; children 12 years and older pay the adult rate.
- Tours not taken may not be exchanged nor reimbursed.
- Above rates do not include government taxes (13%)
- Rates do not include international flights to Costa Rica or onwards domestic travel to Puerto Jimenez.
You can reserve with Booking.com but less money goes to the destination. We connect you directly to the destination so locals benefit more.
Reservations must be paid in advance unless other conditions are specified. Cancellations accepted up to 60 days before arrival (90 days before arrival in holiday season) without penalty. Thereafter Lapa Rios will attempt to re-sell the space; if sold, there is no charge and a full refund given. If not sold, space cancellation charges may apply.
Lapa Rios welcome children aged 6 years old and above for safety reasons.
Bungalows require stair and path walking, so please provide advanced notification at time of booking if you have any medical conditions or inability to climb steps.