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“Wonderful place!” 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, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Wonderful place!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

We stayed in the Heliconia House at L&L on March 26-28 and had a great experience. The house itself is probably not as nice as some of the other accommodations L&L offers (it is the least expensive and a little run down), but we liked that it had two separate bedrooms. You don't spend very much time inside at this place anyway. The house has a large private back porch which is nice for drinking coffee in the morning and a nice sized front porch with a volcano view. We took the L&L cooking class with a couple of ladies from the kitchen and what a blast that was! They don't speak a lot of English and I don't speak a lot of Spanish, but we had a wonderful time and ate like royalty afterwards. The food at this place is amazing - organic, homemade, flavorful and all around excellent. The seating at dinner is family style with other people staying there and it's a fun way to compare notes about activities and meet new people.

In addition to the cooking class we did the horseback ride to the private waterfall, the Mundo Aventura ziplines (scary, but fun), the Desafio canyoneering (also scary, but fun) and hiked the Arenal Volcano area trails. We decided not to rent a car so Steve and Debbie arranged our transportation for us and I think we ended up saving money that way. I know we saved major confusion and disorientation. On our last day, Debbie arranged for a driver to take us to the Arenal Volcano, the canyoneering trip and then to San Jose. No way we could have done all that on our own because we wouldn't have wanted to drive after dark.

The only very slight negative was that the wi-fi is mainly available only in the dining hall and office (though we could sometimes get it on the front porch.) This didn't bother me in the least, but my 14-year-old would have liked better access. Again, you are out and about so much at this place that sitting inside looking at the Internet should not be a priority.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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496 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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 (115)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

My family (including 14 and 11 year old sons), spent 4 days in March 2013 at Leaves and Lizards and loved our experience. We stayed in the Toucan cabin (newly equipped with an outdoor, in addition to indoor, shower) with a spectacular view of the surrounding forest and Arenal volcano from our porch (equipped with 2 hammocks, rocking chairs, and a beautiful wood table and chairs). Between activities, we enjoyed just sitting on our porch with binoculars looking at a variety of birds (including toucans) and, one day, a sloth.
Debbie and Steve made sure all our needs were taken care of. We corresponded with them by e-mail prior to our trip and they arranged all of our activities and transportation for us. We took a horseback ride to their private waterfall with the very knowledgable Enrique. We had never ridden before and Debbie and her staff members gave us a great introduction to riding (and the history of the horses we were engaging with). The next day, we did a Zipline experience with Mundo Aventura - this is not to be missed. The longest ride (in the series of 11) was close to 1 km long with the Fortuna waterfall looming behind. Even the acrophobic in our group (Dad) enjoyed it. We then took a brief tour of the base of the Arenal volcano with the knowledgable Rafael. Our last day, we did a rafting trip (class II/III) down the Balsa, which included an authentic Costa Rican meal (with spirits) at the end.
The food at Leaves and Lizards was amazing. As an organic farm, much of the food is home grown. Breakfast always included eggs (from their hens) scrambled (revuelto) or fried, fruit juice (usually with pineapple and guava, we think), coffee (with milk from their cows), and rice and beans or pancakes. Their was always a healthy plate of fruit as well. The pineapple we had here (and as snacks on our excursions) was the best we've ever had. For dinner you have to sign up in the morning (so they can prepare the food) and have the choice of three meals that vary daily (one always vegetarian). There is also additional American-like kids options (like burgers, mac and cheese, etc) or a pizza option. We always chose to have dinner there and were never disappointed.
Regarding transportation, the location is a bit more remote than other "resorts" near the tourist town of La Fortuna (it is about 30 minutes away). It seemed that about 80% of people staying there had rented a car (4x4 is a must in that case due to bumpy, unpaved roads), but we chose not to. Debbie and Steve took care of all our transportation needs (including sending someone to drive us the 2 hours from Liberia Airport and 3 hours to our next destination - thank you, Lily) and we were glad we did it that way. While the cost may be a little higher in the end, the stress of navigating some of the local roads (most without names) here (and in other parts of Costa Rica) may have been too much for us. If you do rent, again get a 4X4 and make sure you have GPS.
Leaves and Lizards will probably be the most memorable place we have ever stayed. If you are looking for a "resort" with all the amenities (like A/C, TV, blue pools, and linen sheets), then this is not the place for you. But, if you want a down-to-earth, genuine experience with welcoming hosts and staff (that feel like a part of your family while you are there), Leaves and Lizards should be your only choice!

  • Stayed March 2013, 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hartford, ct
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013

Stayed here 4 nights with family and we all loved it. A small number of cabins, each far enough from the rest that you feel you are alone in the rain forest. Saw 3-toed sloth just outside our cabin immediately on arrival. Great views (although clouds covered top of volcano during our stay), great owners, friendly staff, friendly guests that one meets at meals, activities, and happy hour. Horse ride to waterfall is really unique and a highlight for our kids (10 and 12), and the recommended raft trip and lunch with Wave Expeditions was great. Yes, there are bugs, but hardly any inside unless you are silly enough to leave the lights on and door open at night. Location is good -- a 15 minute bumpy ride from the main road near the Springs and Tabacon -- so both the far reaches of La Fortuna and the Park are within 30 minutes drive, but you feel very far from the dense tourism of La Fortuna proper.

Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
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Dieppe, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2013

We stayed for 3 nights in early March with our boys (aged 7 and 10) and really enjoyed our stay here! The Monkey cabin, located a couple minutes walk from the outdoor dining area, was perfect for the family -- clean, spacious, quiet and has a beautiful view of the volcano and surrounding forest. It has a great porch in front of the large windows for hanging out, reading and watching birds. Steve and Debbie are excellent hosts as they make sure everyone's needs are well taken care, including accommodations, food, and activities. The staff are extremely welcoming, friendly and really do care about the ranch where they work. They are proud of their country and will go out of their way to ensure that your stay is as enjoyable as possible. Meals are fine, especially the fresh fruit, juice and coffee you get for breakfast.

The ranch is located on a large beautifully landscaped property -- take a couple minutes to talk to Steve and Debbie, walk the trails, or read the book in the cabin and you'll quickly see the astounding amount of work that went into developing this property after years of hard cattle pasturing.

For weather, expect rain and clouds, as you're in the rainforest (even in the dry season), and take advantage of dry, sunny weather while it's there! For tours, we did the horseback tour to the waterfall. We saw monkeys, sloths and a wide array of birds and had a great little picnic at the waterfall. Feels like you're in Jurassic Park! The horses are gentle and well-trained and we definitely recommend this tour. We also visited Proyecto Asis, animal rescue, which we also definitely recommend.

Thanks Steve and Debbie for a memorable vacation in Arenal!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Calgary
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2013

We stayed at Leaves and Lizards in February 2013 for 5 nights with our kids (9 and 11) and had the most memorable time. The Coco cabin was absolutely lovely and had a stunning view of the rainforest and the Arenal volcano (which was unfortunately most of the time clouded over). Steve and Debbie are the perfect hosts, really care about what they do and pay a lot of attention to detail. Our daughter loved the early morning cow milking and egg collecting. The restaurant offers excellent food. Breakfasts were our favourite. The tours on offer are of a very high quality too. We went on a trail ride to the nearby waterfall (tranquil and magical day trip), went zip-lining (the most exhilarating and spectacular fun) and hired a tour guide for the day to go to the Cano Negro Nature Reserve near the Nicaraguan border (incredible amount of wildlife to see). One tour was better than the next. Leaves and Lizards is quite isolated and you definitely need a car to get around. But we found that this was part of the magic. This was our second stop after a couple of days at the beach in Tamarindo and all in all this Costa Rica trip was by far our best family vacation yet. The countryside is stunning and so varied, the temperature perfect, flora and fauna incredible, we felt safe at all times and didn't come across any scary creepy-crawlies in the wild (our kids were very nervous about seeing poisonous snakes and spiders)... it is such a fantastic destination for families with tweens, I can't recommend it enough.

  • Stayed February 2013, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2013

We spent a few nights at Leaves & Lizards and it was fantastic! The 4 of us arrived from Tamarindo and we were pleasantly surprised; the views are amazing, the property is remarkable and the cabins are so quaint. Debbie & Steve (the owners) are very hands on & they are the real deal. We talked with them at dinner one night (food is so good!) and their hearts are so pure. We learned about the programs that they support (therapeutic horse back riding & bringing inner cities youth to the countryside) & it was so refreshing.

The property is located 20-30 mins from the town of Fortuna but it is so worth it! The views on the way are fantastic and once you arrive you will fall in love!

My wife loves animals and she woke up early one morning to help milk the cows, feed the baby chicks and visit with the pigs. (They also have a few dogs, a parrot & horses). We also loved the fact that they grow much of what they serve in their restaurant-

We love love love Leaves & Lizards and you will too!

  • Stayed March 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Walpole, New Hampshire, United States
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2013

We began the first leg of our Costa Rican adventure at Leaves and Lizards and loved every second! The day we arrived, Steve suggested that we drive down to the river for a swim. We did, and met a couple of local girls who showed us how and where to climb the bank and jump in! We had a blast with them! There was a rodeo in Monterrey all week-end and we were excited to see some of the local culture. The first night we ate dinner in town at La Pollera which was excellent and inexpensive. Then we walked over to the bull ring and watched three high school teams compete against each other in all sorts of competitions. We were the ONLY Americans in town. Absolutely perfect to see something of the real Costa Rica. We went back the next day for the horse parade which was a sight to see. Cowboys and cowgirls and horses everywhere! So cool. We hiked in Rio Celeste which was a beautiful hour drive away, but a bit rigorous at 4-hours for us. I loved every second of it, but my boyfriend and kids (ages 10 and 12) wished it had been two hours shorter. You are no longer allowed to soak in the hot springs or swim in the river there which would have been a treat. We did the horseback ride to the waterfall which was beautiful. Debbie is incredible with her horses and made us all feel so at ease. We got the two-day pass to The Springs Spa which was an affordable option and allowed us to soak our weary bodies after all the hiking and riding.

We (our family of 5) stayed in the Hummingbird Hacienda. Beautiful views. Great to have the laundry facilities. You do need a car to be here or I think you would feel a bit isolated and tired if you had to walk everywhere. We loved feeling as though we were off the beaten path and out of the touristy town of La Fortuna.

Breakfasts were great every morning. The girls loved the parrot and with the help from the incredibly lovely Dora, learned how to feed her watermelon seeds end get her to say "Hola" to them. My boyfriend is a Dairy Farmer here in New Hampshire. He and Steve loved talking cow, and Steve took him down the road to visit a local milk parlor. Steve and Debbie were warm and welcoming the entire time!

The volcano was incredible. We felt like we were living in Land of the Lost. Absolutely perfect!

  • Stayed February 2013, 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
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, 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
#3 Family Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#4 Business Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#4 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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