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“Best of Costa Rica” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat

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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
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500 meters south of Super Kiki, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 21012, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
GreenLeadersSilver level
Calgary, Canada
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Best of Costa Rica”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

The website does not do this place justice. This was by far the best place we stayed at in Costa Rica and remains one of my favourite hotel experiences. We booked the Congo house and arrived to find it very clean, comfortable and private. The wall facing Arenal volcano had big windows and an amazing view of the volcano (when it was not covered in clouds). There was a sloth in a tree right next to one of the houses one morning. The food is very good and breakfast was particularly good with fresh fruit and great coffee. In terms of activities, I highly recommend getting up early to milk the cows. We also booked horseback ride to the waterfall. It's hard to beat riding a well trained horse through the rainforest to waterfall. While getting there requires a 4X4, it's a beautiful drive and the start of a great vacation.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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523 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (126)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2012

There is not much that I can add except everything is true! We brought our 3 boys - 9, 14 & 18. We spent 4 nights at L&L, then 6 nights in Manual Antonio and then 4 more in Playa Conchal. We LOVED L&L best! We were hoping for a more authentic experience (vs. staying at a large "americanized" resort) and we weren't disappointed. The open dining was beautiful and the food fresh. Shout out to Enrique for the best horseback ride to the waterfalls - the boys had a blast. I totally recommend L&L. Thanks Debbie & Steve!

Room Tip: We were in Monkey Cabin - loved it! Great location.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surrey, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2012

Our first visit to Costa Rica and I booked L&L after reading tripadvisor reviews and I was not disappointed. It is not like a typical hotel - you feel like you are in the real Costa Rica! We stayed in Heliconia House which had more than enough room for the 5 of us. Birds galore around the house. Food was wonderful, and the view from the dining room outstanding. All the staff were friendly and helpful. The horseback riding to the waterfalls was our best day of the whole trip. You do need a 4x4 vehicle, but if you really aren't up to navigating the roads yourself L&L can provide transport too. Don't hesitate about booking this place - you won't be sorry!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Windham, New Hampshire
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2012

The area around Arenal is very special and Leaves and Lizards celebrates all the best parts of it! We chose to stay here because of TA reviews and because it fit our travel style. We wanted something small with private cabins, volcano views and a authentic and genuine feeling. Leaves and Lizards definitely delivered on all counts. The best part of L&L is the view from the cabins. Waking up in the morning and seeing a blue volcano emerge from the mist (all while not leaving bed!) was something I will always remember.

You must have a 4X4 to reach Leaves and Lizards. The road is particularly steep and bumpy (both going to L&L and AT L&L) but no part of the journey feels unsafe. When we arrived at Leaves and Lizards and were greeted by Oscar (Debbie and Steve were away during our visit) who helped get us settled. Oscar seemed knowledgeable about the area for sure. We had the Monkey cabin (which has 2 double beds and a set of bunk-beds) which has a great view of Arenal. The room was clean and we had no particular problem with bugs (but don't leave the bathroom light on or they will congregate in the sink by morning!!) The bathroom was a bit cramped and hot compared to other places we stayed in CR. They provided games in the room and the dining room and there was WiFi at the restaurant.

The restaurant also has a stunning volcano view and we particularly enjoyed breakfasts when the birds come to visit the feeders there. Dinner was good though not particularly memorable. Only small disappointment was not having my birthday recognized by the staff or during our dinner/stay even though they knew about it before our arrival. We were four out of the six guests that night so it seemed like it would have been nice to do something (sing the song, put a candle in the dessert, etc) to recognize a special event but I wasn't heartbroken by any means.

One thing to note about Leaves and Lizards is that it is FAR from most of the activities in the area so you need to allow at least 45 minutes-1 hour of driving to get to anywhere. Also, there is no pool which normally I don’t mind but in CR it is awfully nice to have a pool to dip into after a hot, long hike. It did not strike me that there was much to do right at the resort or in the immediate surrounding area.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 14, 2012

This is what we keep talking about: horseback riding to the falls, hunting for eggs, fantastic food, Debbie and Steve (who are as welcoming as everyone says), mojitos made with limes from the tree outside the dining hall, Beenie and Sam (canine greeting committee), the birds at the feeders in the morning, the views from the cabin, ponies and the bacon egg breakfast sandwiches. I don't think we could go back to Costa Rica without visiting Leaves and Lizards again.

Room Tip: I don't think there is cabin with a bad view. Stay in the Toucan and wake up to the volcano righ...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, FL
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2012

My family and I stayed at Leaves and Lizards for 4 nights at the end of June. My daughter is 16 and my parents are in their 60s. We all had the most wonderful time! We chose not to rent a car and instead hired drivers for the 2 days we went on excursions off the LL property. The walk from the Toucan cabin to the dining room was about 10 minutes away, going downhill, then uphill to arrive. My daughter, father and I had no trouble with the walk (I actually really enjoyed the brief exercise before and after meals), but my mom found it a little difficult. Ultimately, she did fine – we just had to slow down and allow her a little extra time. Even though I’ve seen a recent comment about the rough walk, I had a different experience. Twice I ran back to the cabin for exercise and didn’t have any trouble with my footing whatsoever, although I did keep an eye out for the loose rocks and was careful.

There are some critters around (insects, frogs, a couple moths) so just be aware. I’m not a super outdoorsy kind of person, but I wanted an escape to nature for my vacation and this was just perfect for me.

Rooms
Spacious, comfortable, and cute! The shower is excellent with lots of room, beds are super comfortable, and the decorations are pretty, including the gorgeous/huge flower arrangement on the table. There was good coffee in the room which was kept fully stocked, which is very important if you are a coffee fanatic. I’m picky about my coffee and give it two thumbs up.

Food and Dining Service
We ate breakfast there every day, and enjoyed one packed lunch and one dinner. The food was wonderful and I couldn’t resist the fresh fruit drinks! The restaurant was very well staffed and we had excellent service. Dora was especially amazing and we owe her a huge thank you for brightening up our breakfast each morning with her infectious smile and charming personality.

Tours
Proyecto Asis was so much fun! You could do a tour or do a tour + volunteer. If you like animals, you won’t want to miss the volunteer part. We cut up fruit and slapped together some “tortillas” which took about 10 minutes, then went to all the animal cages and fed them! We got to touch all the animals during the volunteer part and that made the experience 10X more special.

We hired a guide for the Hanging Bridges and Arenal Park tour. Roberto was our guide and Yosimar was our driver. They were fabulous company! Yosimar knew a lot about the animals and surroundings and has an awesome howler monkey call! I think the howlers were actually trying to talk to him. He really served as driver, secondary guide, and a friend, all at the same time. We all adore him!

The next day we went on the horse riding tour to the waterfall. None of us ride and initially we thought the trip might be a little long for inexperienced riders, but going on the tour was one of the highlights of our 3 weeks total in Costa Rica … and this is saying a lot since every day was amazing! We were also thrilled to meet Chito, Yosimar’s dad. He was one of the guides and a horse expert. He was a lot of fun, warm, welcoming, and so enjoyable to be around. We were delighted that Yosimar also went along as a guide on the horse tour. Did I mention that we love him? They are both amazing people with outstanding personalities. They made our time at Leaves and Lizards so memorable.

One evening we went to Tabacon and had dinner. It was nice, dinner was okay, but the hot springs were poorly lit and it was hard to get around and see the many, many pools throughout the property. Next time I’ll try Ecotermales.

Steve and Debbie are incredibly hard working people and did such an outstanding job putting together a unique retreat for people who want to get away from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with nature. I didn’t want to leave and could have easily spent a week there. The hammocks on the huge deck/patio area look out over the beautiful trees and flowers and I could have spent an entire day hanging out on the patio, eating meals at LL and playing the many board games they have stocked in the room with my daughter. Leaves and Lizards is definitely high on my list of favorite places. I can’t wait to return!!!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
annapolis, md
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2012

We arrived at the airport and found L & L waiting for us. The drive took about 3 hours, but our driver was helpful and gave us time to practice our spanish.

Off a beaten path, L & L offers quaint and immaculately clean cabins with outstanding views of the Arenal Volcano. The hosts, Debbie and Steve, are generous, accommodating, and personable. The food is fantastic and changes nightly; if you want something a little lighter for dinner than a full entrée, homemade pizzas are available if ordered by the early afternoon.

The first morning, we did the nature walk. Oscar is a very knowledgeable tour guide and presenter; try to take advantage of the free nature walk w/ him at 6:15 am.

We rented a car from Alamo and they were nice enough to pick us up. (it's a soild 20 minute ride from town.) We did rafting on the Balsa river the first day and this was great. After rafting, we ate a large meal on a 100 year old "Tico" farm and learned how sugar cane is made, w/out machinery.

The next day, we did the horseback riding to the water fall.Their horses are enjoyable for people of all ages and while riding through the area to the private waterfall, you will likely see Howler monkeys, sloths, poisonous dart frogs, toucans, and an array of other birds and plants
It is 3 hours of riding, that was a bit long for my liking, but everyone else loved it....

We were short on cash and opted for the free Tabacon hot springs. W parked in a open parking lot and walked down. There were mostly locals here, but the springs are very nice. Not sure we could've stayed for 4 hours at the pay resorts.

The only negative, and this is small, but after dinner, there's no activities. We found ourselves going to bed between 8:30 and 9pm, but after long days, this was needed. Since the rooms have no TV's, maybe a movie playing in the restaurant.

Overall, a great place for couples or families, well worth it.

Room Tip: Coco cabin is closest to restaurant.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat

Address: 500 meters south of Super Kiki, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 21012, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#4 Green Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Family Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Business Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#6 Romantic Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This secluded resort is located on 26 acres with spectacular viewing of the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna. Enjoy the panoramic vista of Arenal and Cerro Chato from a hammock on your porch or from your comfortable, orthopedic, queen sized beds with Egyptian cotton sheets. Meals prepared using locally grown ingredients at the Lava Lizard on-site dining facility. Guests are invited to help with daily 'chores' on this working farm. Milk a cow, collect eggs for breakfast or groom a horse. Enjoy private horseback riding, professional guide service, on site spa and 2 km of on site nature trails. The vision at Leaves and Lizards is to create the perfect blend of adventure, discovery and tranquility for each guest. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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