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“No rumbles!” 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
Cirencester, United Kingdom
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“No rumbles!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2013

We spent a week at Leaves and Lizards with our kids aged 10 and 14 and had a fabulous time.

We had a huge cabin with walls decorated with toucans painted in bright colours. The cabins (not that you'd know there are any others) are on a slope and our huge veranda overlooked the top of some secondary forest and of course the Arenal volcano. We could watch the sunrise over Arenal without even getting out of bed thanks to the huge windows all along the front of the cabin. One of the first things we saw each day was a flock of parakeets and a pair of woodpeckers. A sloth lived in the tree outside, and we heard howler monkeys.

The owners, Steve and Debbie, and their manager Oscar, were very welcoming, making a special effort with wheat free food for the kids. I've never had so much fun at breakfast - they put out baskets of food to attract the birds and you hardly know where to look, there are so many. Parakeets an aracari and honeycreepers have been the prettiest. Steve brings his tame parrot into the dining area (I hesitate to call it a room as its missing a wall) and we fed her with watermelon seeds.

We hired a car in San Jose and drove ourselves, which meant we could reach the various local attractions very easily. We went zip-lining, visited Arenal Volcano park, had a great day trip down the Coco River on the border with Nicaragua, and went horse riding.

The horse riding was the best I've ever experienced. Our hack went through knee deep mud, rivers, rain forest paths and more open cattle fields full of tussocky grasses. We rode for about 2 hours to a waterfall, swam for about half an hour in the deep pools, had lunch (tortillas with cheese and ham) and then went 'the long way' back. The horses were fantastically well behaved and surefooted. Debbie has trained them using Natural Horsemanship techniques, with an emphasis on working with horse psychology and I'm a convert!

Room Tip: We had Toucan cabin which was about 15 minutes walk from the main dining area. We enjoyed the walk...
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  • Stayed December 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
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499 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 (118)
Date | Rating
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English first
Cambridge
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

I stayed with my two sons, 19 & 23 at Leaves and Lizards for 3 nights. It was fabulous.

As someone desiring a rest time with family, it fit my needs. Sitting on the porch early in the morning, listening to the birds and reading while the boys slept. In the evening, on the same deck, learning to play poker, telling stories, laughter, and of course, naps on the hammock.

For my two sons, there was also time to relax, but also wonderful experiences. The Costa Rican horses and ride to the falls is a memory that will stay for ever. The trust and teaching by the guides, the welcoming of the people.

Staff was attentive to needs and of course, were most able to help with suggestions when you shared what you were looking for.

I recommend signing up for dinners, to enjoy the company of fellow travellers and for the quality of food.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, Texas
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2013

My wife and I stayed four nights in February and can confirm all the positive reviews--lovely rooms, terrific views, great service, etc.
We found the isolated location to be no problem even without a rental car because
1) L&L arranged to pick us up at the airport and be driven there. The driver (Lilly) and her daughter were absolutely charmingly. They explained the sights throughout the drive. Far
better than driving a rental car on a unfamiliar route. Cost was reasonable compared to car
rental.
.2) Debbie set us up with two incredible guides. Our kayak trip to Canyo Negro with Leonardo was our best day in CR. I had been skeptical but Debbie assured me we would love it; she was right. We also had a great tour of El Silencio with Donald; Debbie found other people so we could split the cost. In short, if you explain what you are interested in doing, Debbie can direct you to an excellent day.
The breakfasts were absolutely wonderful, both the food and being served by the ever-smiling Dora. She is a real gem.
To be totally honest, the dinners were varied: some very good some just average. But I would never choose to drive into town and back out after dark. The happy hour drinks were excellent.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
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Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

My husband and I stayed in the Congo cabin for 3 nights in May 2013. We started off our trip with a delayed flight and a missed connection meaning that we were worried we would not be able to get from San Jose to Leaves and Lizards for our first night. We were angry and frustrated and still in Milwaukee! A quick call to Leaves and Lizards calmed a lot of our frustration-- they graciously offered to pick us up late at night at the San Jose airport and drive us to Leaves and Lizards so we could stay our first night there! Once we arrived in San Jose, we learned that all of our luggage was lost -- our driver brought us to a grocery store on the way so we could buy toothbrushes, etc.. much appreciated! We arrived in the dark and had no idea what the surroundings around us looked like. When we woke up, we had a gorgeous floor to ceiling view of the volcano in front of us. The cabin was beautiful-- much nicer than the pictures had suggested. I loved the porch, hammock, rocking chairs and views of the plants, flowers and volcano!
For activities, we did the horseback ride to the waterfall with Enrique and his son. I had never been on a horse before and had no issues. Enrique was a fantastic guide and great person. After spending the entire day with us, Enrique invited my husband and I to go with his family to a local festival. We had a great time and really enjoyed getting that local experience. I would recommend the waterfall ride to everyone! Make sure to bring your swimming suit along. Ask Enrique to go on the vine swing! The second day, we went with another couple (took their rental car) to Cano Negro. It was about a 1.5 hour easy ride to this river near the Nicaraguan border. We picked up a different guide, Diego, on the way. He was again a fantastic guide!! Both Enrique and Diego were extremely passionate about wildlife and Costa Rica. Cano Negro was great! We saw 3 types of monkeys, an albino monkey, Jesus Christ lizards, sloths, bats, caimans, turtles and BIRDS! This would be especially fun if you are into birds! We took a large covered boat (that could seat ~80 people, even though there were only 4 of us plus our guide and boat driver) and enjoyed a nice lunch on the boat. If we had more time I would have loved to take advantage of the morning and night hikes around Leaves and Lizards. At breakfast we heard about the night hike and it sounded like they spotted a ton of animals right on the resort grounds. We did have time to milk the cows which was another awesome experience!
We ate all of our breakfasts and 1 dinner at the resort and enjoyed it all. We truly enjoyed spending time getting to know the other guests-- it was a ton of fun sharing stories about what we did all day with everyone. I had many offers from other guests to lend us clothes, etc because we did not get our luggage until the morning we left (day 4)!!
Of note, we did not have a rental car. This was not a problem; however, we would not have gone to Cano Negro had the other couple who had rental car not been going. So, it would be nice to have if you really want to go there. You can also hire a private driver for the day but it is pricey. If you don't have a rental car, plan on eating all of your meals there (why not, it's great!). I would also really recommend the Congo cabin because it is very near the dining hall. Some of the other rooms are a good hike from the dining hall and many people drove.
In a nutshell: GO! you won't regret it!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marietta, Georgia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 27, 2013

My husband and our three kids (ages 8, 14, and 15) took our first trip to Costa Rica. We stayed here 5 nights after spending 3 nights at the beach, and loved it. Our cabin, which was one large room plus a bathroom, had 2 beds plus a roll away bed. Being used to living in a house where everyone has their own bedroom, one would think we'd find this to be close quarters. But it was exactly these close quarters (and the welcome lack of Internet access or TV in our cabin) that created the fun, family atmosphere. (well, for the majority of the time, anyway). ;-) Our beds faced the huge floor to ceiling windows looking out at the Arenal Volcano. Every morning we woke to the sounds of Costa Rica: a variety of birds calling, a cow lowing, and the buzzing cicadas.

We ate most of our meals in the dining lodge here. Mornings were spent watching the myriad hummingbirds feeding a scant 10 feet from our table. (one wall of the dining hall is open air). At dinner time we enjoyed meeting other families and travelers. It created a real sense of community and camaraderie. The wait staff was very friendly. Meals were homemade and fresh daily.

Owners Debbie and Steve are very personable and obviously have a passion for Costa Rica and their farm. Some highlights for us, and truly there are many, include my daughter getting to milk the cows in the morning and collect the eggs, having Debbie teach us about horses and how they interact with humans (sort of a horse whisperer thing), the following half day private horseback ride where we were taken to a secluded waterfall where we were able to swim and were fed lunch, my daughter getting to see their new foal at approx 5 hours after its birth. I could go on and on. If you are looking for an authentic experience and aren't afraid of no air conditioning, or doing a little walking, if you're looking for a place that leaves behind the crowded tourist feeling and embraces nature instead, if you want to be treated like a member of the family (minus the responsibilities) then look no further.

Room Tip: All cabins are great.
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  • Stayed April 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
    • 4 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.
Atlanta, Georgia
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2013

This was our second trip to Arenal and we've stayed at several area hotel. This is by far our favorite and we'll be back. Believe all the other reviews, this is a great place to unplug, relax and appreciate the awe of CR. If you're looking for a slick, mainstream tourist resort this place isn't right for you. It feels way more authentic and natural than any resort we've stayed in. We stayed in the Toucan cabin and the view was insane. I sat on the back deck in the hammock for hours watching parrots noisily loiter in the treetops at sunset with the volcano as a backdrop. The open air communal dining room was great with really good food and even better conversation each night. As everybody says, don't miss the horseback ride to the waterfall -- it's awesome in every sense of the word. I'm not a horse person at all but this was a great experience. And yep, my 10 yr old son did the cow milking, egg gathering one morning and loved it. It's close enough to the Arenal/Fortuna area for trips into town and other attractions but far enough away from the Tour-bus scene to make it feel a bit more remote. This will likely be the only place we stay when we come to CR from now on. Can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
brainbckt
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 16, 2013

This was our first visit to Costa Rica. We stayed 3 nights at Leaves and Lizards and 4 nights in Playa Flamingo. In retrospect, we probably would have stayed 4 nights at L&L to fit in all the activities. While there, we did the zipline tour, horseback ride to the waterfall, and night hike on the property. We were very pleased with all of these excursions. We stayed in the Mariposa cabin. All of the cabins have views, but from what I could see, Mariposa and Heliconia house are probably the least desirable locations. Our view of the volcano was off the side of the porch, and we could also see the road and electrical wires. Not a big deal, but just be aware when booking. These are cabins in the jungle, so don't expect 5-star luxury. That's not a complaint, by the way (especially at the price point). We personally wanted an authentic experience. Which is to say, expect some musty smells and bugs. That said, the rooms were very clean and nicely appointed w/ mini fridge, hairdryer, shampoo and soap, etc. (they advertised an iPod docking station, which we didn't get). No TV, which was fine with us. Dinners were pricey and a bit hit or miss, but I don't begrudge them for trying to make a few bucks on food given the room rate. I'm not a big breakfast fan, but I found it to be exceptional (fresh juice, fruit, eggs, etc.) and cheap ($4). They advertise a "happy hour," but we found that just entailed coming early for dinner seating (there's no bar). We took a 10-year-old and the property is great for kids. Ours went to see the animals every morning and milked the cows. The workers in the barn were very friendly. I can't say I had any major complaints (I was mildly annoyed that when we were shown the cabin, the guy didn't offer to help with the bags as I was schlepping them in, but that's probably nitpicking). As a final aside, I find the fuss about driving in Costa Rica a bit overblown. Aside from Ticos tending to walk and bicycle on the roads, it's not much different from driving in rural America. Although you will need a 4x4 for L&L, as the final few kilometers to get there is a real gut buster.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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.
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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
#5 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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