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“Just like Fantasy Island!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

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Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas, Golfito 1000, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel website
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 11 Hotels in Golfito
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Seattle, Washington
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Just like Fantasy Island!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2012

We were warmly greeted at the San Jose Pavas airport by Felipe who happened to also be on our flight to Puerto Jiminez after attending a trade show in San Jose and escorted us along with Manuel, the bar tender, to the panga for our quick boat excursion across the Golfo Dulce bay to the Playa Nicuesa Lodge. Just as if on cue, 5 scarlet maccaws flew across the dock landing in the trees nearby, with their screaching welcome, and this became their daily hangout. Stepping off the dock, and walking through the beautiful flowered pathways winding up to the lodge, Manuel had tropical drinks in hand for us and we joined the current guests to a fabulous fresh lunch that included fresh coconut chunks and homemade chocolate from cocoa grown on the property! All meals and juices were fresh and tasty, prepared and baked from scratch with wonderful flavorful spices! And Manuel makes an awesome Pineapple coconut drink with chunks of fresh coconut!! I even suggested a Nicuesa Lodge Cookbook because I'd love to try to make ALL of these at home (the ginger cookies were to die for)!! I'm not much of a fish eater, but they prepared a fresh mahi mahi and set it in front of me one night for dinner, rather than asking for something else, I tried a bite, loved it and quickly ate the whole thing! It was fabulous, not fishy tasting at all! Later on, Felipe confided he had chicken ready for me if I had wanted it instead of the fish, but he had a hunch I would enjoy it and he was so right!!! Felipe and all the staff made sure that we felt welcome and our needs and activities were addressed. Activities were plentiful, hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing off the dock (we caught several snapper and trigger fish), yoga was available, and the sustainment tour (we even planted 2 trees!) or just relaxing in the hammocks and the swing chairs. Listening to the rain, the waves and the howler monkeys every day added to the enjoyment from our cabin (a must stay if you are not afraid of bugs!) and the open air shower, which was better than any camping trip! This place is a way to unwind, relax and have fun...It was the start of our 2 week trip to Costa Rica for my son's wedding and it couldn't have been a better introduction! Thank you to all the staff for making us feel welcome and taking such good care of us during our stay at the Nicuesa Lodge! We will return again! Thank you Donna and Michael for sharing your vision and dream of the Nicuesa Lodge...we thoroughly loved it!

Room Tip: We enjoyed the privacy yet openess of our cabin in the jungle! We could even hear the waves lulling...
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  • Stayed August 2012, 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.
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189 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (32)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Athens, Greece
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2012

This review is a little overdue as we stayed in Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge two years ago. The lovely memories stay with us still!
The people were kind and attentive without being overbearing and we really enjoyed our trek with Freemon (I may misspelling) and the evening talks we had with Jonathan. He is a real nature lover and a great bartender too. He even took us on a night stroll to check whether the “resident” alligator has made an appearance.
The highlight of our 3-night stay was when Thomas took us to maybe see the dolphins. We were so lucky that we saw a whale with her kid! For about an hour we were watching these beautiful creatures playing in the water. Truly unforgettable!
We are not a particularly active couple so an almost equally sweet memory is how we spent one evening in the hammock just reading and gazing at the macaws and toucans up above.
The food was ok with some great moments. All in all we were satisfied by our stay there. It stretched our budget but was worth it and we would recommend to those that seek the combination of comfort and ‘eco’.

  • Stayed July 2011, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Crested Butte, Colorado, United States
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2012

This was our last stop in Costa Rica and we couldn't ask for more. We had all the privacy we wanted within a lodge filled with adventure. The staff was friendly and informative. The food was so delishious. The sport fishing was great, as well as hiking throught the jungle. We are so happy we came here and we highly recommend this lodge.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
110 reviews 110 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 64 cities Reviews in 64 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2012

This place is simply amazing. As you arrive you are greeted by the manager, and the other guests all say hello to you as you pass them on loungers or in the garden/on the beach. Once you get familiarised you find out why. The Lodge basically operates as an extended family, with meals being mostly communal around a 25 seater dining table (roughly maximum number of guests there is accomodation for I think). Staff sit with you if there's room, and you chat happily about the days events and plan the next day's outings. Evening meals are scheduled for a 7.15pm sit down, with drinks/cocktails served from 6pm onwards. Manuel (think that's the correct spelling) the barman makes some excellent cocktails using herbs from the Lodges own garden.

Food is good throughout, and you can request a change to the menu if you have a fussy 6 year old like we do, or if something is not to your taste. Staff are in helpful abundance, and all are extremely knowledgeable and the tours are great fun. We had a package...be aware that extras beyond this can be pricey. I think these could/should be reviewed as there could be more interest if they were more keenly priced. On the package trips though, you can pretty much mix and match some fishing/kayaking/snorkelling or simply a boat trip as you like...the guides and boat drivers are extremely flexible. Other free facilities include fishing off the pier...with help if you need, and unlimited use of kayaks and snorkelling gear

Bedrooms (cabins) are large, although we did have a 2 bedroom one. These are actually inside the rain-forest, and are fairly open in construction. You won't get wind or rain inside, but your clothes will be damp pretty much throughout due to the humidity. Wearing them in the sun or drying them on the beach works well. Trails behind the property are extensive, and nature is right in your face here. Nights can be noisy with sounds of the forest (frogs etc) booming loud.

A magical place to visit, extremely friendly and well run. The owner and his family came to stay while we were there, and they are just another part of the extended family also. Eating and drinking with everyone, and their boys enjoyed jumping off the pier with our son (and myself) joining in. Simply delightful.

Note that this is a lodge with several major differences from what we got used to on our travels:

1) You are IN the rainforest...it's natural...damp and noisy
2) This is Ecotourism...A/C is not an option
3) Your clothes will get damp !

The natural feel to this place is amazing. Everyone is friendly, wildlife abounds and trots through the gardens in abundance (coati, raccoon, green iguana, we even saw squirrel monkeys and white-faced capuchins)

Highly recommend if you want to be part of the rainforest and not just visit it, and you enjoy a friendly communal approach to your holiday

Room Tip: All looked nice...think cabins maybe better than 'apartments'
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol, England
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2012

Nice room looking into their tropical garden. Good size, with a bacony on 2 sides.

Lunch and dinner are at fixed times in the main building. Food is simple but nice. Breakfast is allegedly from 6:30 to 8:30, but the cooked bit isn't ready until 7:15. Which if you've agreed to start an activity at 7:30 and have someone waiting for you, as we had, is a little embarrassing.

Nice bar, reasonably priced, splendid cocktails.

Good trails, where we saw spider monkeys and assorted other fauna.

Snorkelling is good - saw stingray, moray eel, parrot fish, and number of assorted brightly striped critters.

The crocodile arrives at the jetty every tea time, there are turtles in the creek, macaws all around, and the coatis don't seem too worried by people.

And the ferry over is lovely as well.

Although they do charge $60 for a couple of hours kayaking and snorkelling with a guide, which you can just as well do for free without the guide.

Their creative approach to pricing activities is probably the only real demerit. Although they do need to tell people to use the plastic boxes in the wardrobe for clothes storage. We weren't told, and everything that was unpacked just became damp.

The staff are all friendly and knowledgeable, and the green sentiments seem genuine, unlike the greenwashing practiced by other establishments.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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.
Bristol, England
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 40 cities Reviews in 40 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2012

This stay was the highlight of my recent month long tour of Costa Rica.
Apart from the natural beauty, the staff of the lodge made this experience extra special.
From boat pick up to leaving nothing was too much trouble, and great service was offered in a laid back, unobtrusive, friendly way.
The guides are knowledgeable; there is a great yoga deck by the sea with a lovely teacher (thank you Tobey).
The hotel is small and guest take set meals together. This is not normally my “kind of thing” but it was great, all the other guests seemed to be like minded and the food was simple but delicious and prepared with fresh, often home produced produce and fish caught that day by staff and guests featured strongly.
The rooms and bungalows are almost in the forest and are lovely with great en suite almost outdoor showers and with peaceful balconies or terraces.
The philosophy of the hotel really seems to be put into practice here so don’t expect air con or huge baths and with such high humidity you will be wearing damp clothes all the time-but this is a small price to pay to be so close to nature.
The gardens and beach are full of wildlife from howler monkeys to crabs and numerous frogs that seem to share everything including the wine glasses and showers. Expect to embrace bugs rather than exclude them (sometimes literally).
We saw coatis who seem to have no fear at all, agoutis, howler monkeys, turtles, crocodiles, iguanas etc. etc. etc.
There is a coral reef which can be easily kayaked to from the lodge (at no charge) for excellent snorkelling- although the numerous tiny jelly fish can make things a bit uncomfortable after a while (but do not cause long lasting discomfort).
Mosquitoes are surprisingly few.
There are good trails in the area from the lodges.
The beach/sea is clean and full of fish and crabs. You can dive directly into the sea from the small jetty at the lodge. It is a good idea to be out of the water by 5 though, as the crocodile arrives, usually at about 6 every evening (really, it is true, we saw him every evening).
I can’t rave about this place too much, and when I have had five years to save up, I fully intend to return (if they will have me)
The only possible down side is the price of any additional activities.

  • Stayed April 2012, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2012

The service at Play Nicuesa was very good but the setting was less special.

The staff was extremely friendly and eager to help. They gladly answered any questions we had about the lodge, the environment, and Costa Rica in general with a smile. The staff-to-guest ratio was very high so there was always someone around to volunteer with things like setting us up with snorkeling gear or putting away our kayaks. The meals were varied and delicious; served mostly across flexible times so that our experience felt relaxed rather than like a children's camp. The well stocked bar area was excellent for cooling down with appropriately-priced drinks and socializing after a long day. The main lodge also had other nice congregating and relaxing areas. The open air cabins had clean, comfortable beds and were well designed to maximize air flow while maintaining privacy and minimizing the number of unwelcome creatures.

There were a few blemishes though. Our cabin's shower was broken so that it only dispensed water that was either scalding hot or completely unheated (a problem because us and our clothes were always sweaty and salty by afternoon. People changed into fresh clothes for nights.) Also, a giant and very active bee had taken up residence on the front deck of our cabin which discouraged us from spending time there during the day. Furthermore, some of the guides on our arranged tours off the lodge property lacked the English proficiency to be particularly informative. That said, we anticipated a few minor issues like these at an ecolodge and overall we were impressed with the operation.

What was more dissatisfying was the location. Yes, it was a warm, tropical setting with sitings of exotic animals, but it was short of gorgeous by resort standards. The beach was just rocks; the water was warm but also murky and loaded with insects and jellyfish. The scenery kayaking was less than gorgeous and the snorkeling was by their own admission nothing special. The short trails on the property all looked the same and didn't lead anywhere interesting. The heat and humidity that far south were so oppressive that activities were by necessity scheduled for early mornings or late afternoons so guests could find refuge in shade around midday.

In sum, I give the Playa Nicuesa lodge itself a 4/5 as an operation and a 2/5 as a destination for my 3/5 score as a vacation. (This is a vacation destination and not just lodging, so that is the framework from which I reviewed it.) Beyond the fun quotient of being at an ecolodge (luxury camping), one would not take multiple plane flights to go there versus other places. And this is fine for many people. Personally, I had a nice, unique experience but not eager for a repeat visit.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

Address: Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas, Golfito 1000, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Golfito
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 11 Hotels in Golfito
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge 3.5*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Playa Nicuesa is an environmentally-friendly eco-lodge set on a 165-acre private rainforest preserve on the undeveloped Pacific Coast of Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. Our jungle & sea location provides a unique adventure and nature vacation: the front yard is a gulf right off the Pacific Ocean, and the backyard consists of thousands of acres of pristine tropical rainforest. Overall, the experience embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Hotel Golfito
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Golfito
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge Costa Rica/Golfito

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