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“Amazing 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 21012, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
GreenLeadersSilver level
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
“Amazing Place!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2010

My girlfriends and I stayed at Leaves and Lizards for 5 nights on our stay in La Fortuna.
This place is absolutely amazing!! The view from the cabins is breathtaking, with a large picture window encompassing one whole wall facing the Arenal volcano.
Steve and Debbie make you feel at home, and will help you make any arrangements you need for your trip.
The food in the restaurant is excellent. Breakfast is included, and if you want to have lunch or dinner you just need to let them know ahead of time. We enjoyed both lunch one day and dinner one night, and were glad we did.
The staff is so friendly and helpful, and clearly love Steve and Debbie.
Don't miss their horseback riding tour to the waterfall, it was a highlight of our trip!
The cabins are about 30 minutes from town up in the mountains, so you will need a 4 wheel drive to get there. We thouroughly enjoyed this, although we did do alot of driving back and forth, as we also wanted to enjoy some of the nightlife in La Fortuna.
We enjoyed ziplining, white water rafting, rappeling, hiking, and horseback riding.
So if you don't mind being slightly "away from it all"...in fact, that is probably what alot of people are looking for...you can't find a better place to stay!!

  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with friends
    • 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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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
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English first
Hereford, Arizona
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2010

After deciding on a Costa Rican honeymoon and doing our research on where to stay, we finally settled on Leaves and Lizards and what a great choice it was – I honestly do not think we could have stayed anywhere that we would have liked better. What a wonderful place Debbie and Steve have! We took advantage of the 6 day Stress Free Getaway package and were so glad we did, since neither of us felt like dealing with Costa Rican roads or traffic on this trip. The drivers who picked us up and returned us to San Jose were great, with the driver on the return trip going out of his way to help us find the Harley Davidson Costa Rica store before dropping us off at the airport.

Since Alan was recovering from cancer treatments, we needed to make some adjustments to the package itinerary. Debbie was so helpful to us in this respect, and came up with some really good suggestions as to which trips might make good substitutions. Everything we did and the guides we went with were just exceptional. These guides are really very knowledgeable about their country and it’s obvious they love what they do.

We took the horseback ride to the waterfall and we were especially appreciative of the quality of the horses – which says something, coming from being horse owners ourselves. If I could have taken my dancing horse home with me I would have done it in a heartbeat!

We stayed in the Mariposa cabin which was beautiful. The hike up and down the hill to the restaurant was a challenge for us but each day it got a little easier. And the food....!! It was SO good....!! Every meal was something to look forward to and the open-air setting was perfect.

The entire staff at the resort, from the housekeepers to the kitchen staff to the guides and horsemen were all exceptional, friendly and welcoming.

Kids of all ages can enjoy the working farm atmosphere, and travelers can enjoy the company of other travelers from around the world. Every day, new and interesting people would arrive from far-off places.

I could just go on and on about Leaves and Lizards, there’s not a thing bad I could say about it. If you are looking for a non-touristy Costa Rican experience, don’t even think about staying anywhere else! Thank you Steve and Debbie for one of the best and most special vacations we have ever had!

  • Stayed March 2010, 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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London
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 23, 2010

After a reasonably easy drive up from San Jose (about 4 hours, depending on whether your satnav works or wants to take you on detours!!), we arrived at Leaves and Lizards. The hill up to the main reception was a bit scary (steep and rough) but it was well worth it, because behind it was a peaceful haven where we stayed for 3 nights and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Leaves and Lizards is close to Fortuna/Arenal, and so close to all that the area brings - volcano, national parks, white water rafting, etc etc! We found it was a great base and close to all that we wanted to do and see. The walk around the volcano area was amazing, with all the willdlife and fauna on the walk, and then walking through the old lava to see what it looks like, and then finally the stunning volcano Arenal from the viewpoint. We were lucky to see the volcano on a clear day and through binoculars we could see the lava rocks being spewed out of the volcano and crashing down the mountainside. Amazing! You can hear it quite clearly too! The guide was excellent too, organised through Debbie and Steve (the owners) and he talked us through everything and was very knowledgable. When night was starting to fall, we made our way to another viewpoint where you can see the lava light up the side of the mountain at night. Unfortunately that was the last we saw of the volcano because for the 3 days we were there after, the clouds came down and we saw nothing. But at least we saw it!!

We also went white water rafting, which we arranged separately with Wave Expeditions, and we had to go to a meeting point where we were picked up in a bus. Fantastic day out - we did class 3/4 rapids on the Toro river, and although it may have been a little challenging for a first time try, we still thoroughly enjoyed it and would love to do it again. Just make sure you put tons of suntan lotion on - even after putting factor 30 on twice, we got sunburned quite badly. Afterwards they took us for lunch at a simple Tico place on the way back where everyone shared their stories about the day.

We also wanted to take advantage of the hot springs, but didn’t really want to pay for a whole day when we only wanted to soak for about half an hour. So we went to the free springs which were on the main road going around the volcano, passed Tabacon Hot Springs on the left. Park your car, and then go down the slip road on the right to get in. They were fantastic and exactly what we needed!

The rest of our time was spent around Leaves and Lizards itself, which was so big, and lovely to walk around and see all the farm animals too. Debbie and Steve were very welcoming and when my husband fell sick, they tended to him very sweetly, and the lovely girls in the kitchen made him some very interesting concoctions, but they seemed to work!! We stayed in the Congo cabin, which was relatively new and was incredibly spacious. Because of the sickness, we spent quite a lot of time around the cabin, and it was so quiet, restful and comfortable. There are two queen beds, and a large bathroom, and the most incredible balcony overlooking Arenal (at least that’s what we think - but it was cloudy!!!) The hummingbirds comes to feed off the flowers in front of the balcony, so that gave hours of fun - particularly trying to photograph them! The horses wander around too, you can hear the howler monkeys in the forest and there is so much nature to just watch.

The restaurant was also just a short walk up the hill and did breakfast, lunch and dinner (or whichever you need). It was very tasty, home-cooked style food, which is lovely on holiday. The ingredients are all quite local, as is the food, so you get to try some Tico food too.

Really, we can’t recommend Leaves and Lizards enough - it was a gorgeous place, quiet and beautiful, and you are looked after very well by Steve and Debbie, who have put a lot of hard work into the place and their guests, and are doing an excellent job.

  • Stayed March 2010, 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.
Brooklyn, New York
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2010

We absolutely loved this place. We stayed in the Volcano cabin and the shower in the cabin would have been enough reason to have stayed at the retreat, ha. It's about the same size of the bedroom, which is a good thing. The entire cabin was incredibly private and romantic. Would have stayed there if it had been our honeymoon. You have hammocks and a rustic fallen tree table and chairs set on your private balcony over looking the volcano. Toucans, parrots, sloths - all in view. In spite of it pouring and being incredibly foggy the entire time we were able to have the best time. Still went on the horse bike riding tour. Did the waterfall repelling with Pure Trek (YOU HAVE TO DO THIS). And went to eco thermales hot springs - because there was a slight drizzle we had the ENTIRE place to ourselves, super romantic place at night. The restaurant onsite has amazing meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - absolutely worth the money. We made great friends on our trip that were also staying at Leaves and Lizards. We still keep in touch with them after all returning back to Brooklyn.

Important note - you MUST have a 4x4 to get here. 100% need a car. I don't recommend driving in from San Jose I would have in hindsight taken a smaller plane to Arenal from San Jose via Nature Air or the other airline. That in mind - DON'T RENT FROM DOLLAR. Our first car broke down in the middle of nowhere and the second one was funky the entire time.

Another important note - don't get directions from Steve and Deb's helper at the front when it comes to getting to the Peninsula. He sent us around the Lake and we ended up in the middle of nowhere and lost half a day traveling. That said we also lost half a day when our first car broke down and Steve and Deb didn't charge us for the night we missed. Very very sweet.

  • Stayed February 2010, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minnesota
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2010

I stayed at Leaves and Lizards for a first time vacation to Costa Rica. What a great experience! Driving in from San Jose, I didn't know what to expect when we finally got there. I was in for a great surprise!!! Debbie and Steve do everything they can to show off their magnificent attraction.....Arenal Volcano! The resort is designed so that you have a great view of the volcano anywhere you are. Debbie and Steve are very helpful in suggesting attractions to see and things to do. The horseback ride to the waterfall was amazing....especially for someone that doesn't necessarily like horses. I felt very safe. The cabins were amazing....truly paradise! I can't imagine staying at another resort and it being better than Leaves and Lizards. A true gem!!

Also, their new restaurant is awesome and has great food!!!

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2010

Exceptional vacation treasure for those who enjoy nature, quiet relaxation and action fun (optional)! The owners Debbie and Steve are wonderful hosts who not only enjoy their work but truly care for their guests. The hotel is located away from the tourist and hotel hub. Each cabin provides unique and spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano. Quality of food at the restaurant, recommended local activities and tour guides are all outstanding! Will definitely recommend to friends and family!

  • Stayed June 2010, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2010

We stayed in Leaves & Lizards in late June for 6 days. It is one of the most unique and enjoyable trips we have ever had. It truly exceeds our expectations.

L&L Cabins – beautiful, well maintained and extremely clean, each with an amazing panoramic view of the volcano. Plenty of colorful tropical flowers around the cabins. Good place to have bird watching too.

Food – We had most of our meals at L&L. All the meals were delicious. The fruit drinks were the best. We also went to the Arenal Observatory Lodge for dinner one night. The buffet dinner there was reasonably priced ($20 pp) and quite good. The view of the volcano there is unbeatable.

People – Steven and Debbie are wonderful hosts. They provided us a lot of good tips for selecting tours and free activities. The guides we met in various tours are great. They really enjoy what they are doing and we feel their passive of their country. All are helpful and make the tours fun and memorable.

Horseback Ride to Private Waterfall – highly recommended. We saw a few poison frogs, monkeys and sloth. Swimming in the pool of the waterfall was very refreshing.

Canopy Zip Line Tour – I enjoyed it the most even though I am afraid of height. It is very safe and provides an excellent view of the waterfall.

White Water Rafting – We tried the CAT III and IV ride. It was my first white water rafting and it was really fun. Few others in our tour told us it is better than the Colorado River Rafting.

Caño Negro – We saw quite a few animals and birds but less than we expected. Nevertheless, we still enjoyed our boat ride.

In sum, L&L is great place if you like an intimate, friendly and unique place to stay. It is not a 5-star luxury hotel, but it gives you a true feeling of Costa Rica.

  • Stayed June 2010, 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
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 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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