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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
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Reviews (706)
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All reviewsprivate waterfallhorseback ride to the waterfallhobbit houselava lizardheliconia housefarm choressteve and debzip liningfresh milkcosta ricacollecting eggsarenal volcanomilking cowsgathering eggsevery morningriding horsesfarm to table
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Reviewed December 22, 2012

Leaves and Lizards was the highlight of our trip to Costa Rica and even the kids (two boys 11 and 12 at the time) said they would rather go back there than going to the beach. The accommodations are wonderful (we stayed at the Monkey cabin), the property is absolutely gorgeous but what made the stay truly exceptional were the owners and the staff of the resort. Debbie was so extremely patient and helpful even before we ever got to the resort by assisting me with planning our trip. She provided all the information that we needed to have the best time in Costa Rica and also recommended the hotel we stayed at in Alajuela (close to San Jose Airport) the first night. La Pura Vida Hotel was wonderful and the owner is a gem. We rented a 4-wheel drive to get around on our own and enjoyed the flexibility and had a great time exploring the country side. Being able to read a map was essential since signs are few and far in between, but the road system is really not that complicated and most roads were comfortable to drive on.

The drive from San Jose to Leaves and Lizards was long but beautiful and even though the hotel is located high in the hills above La Fortuna, we thought it was close enough to all the things we wanted to do and see in the area. We stayed for 5 nights and could have easily stayed longer since there were still things we would have liked to do. We had dinner at the resort most evenings because the food was fabulous and we were simply exhausted from eventful days and enjoyed the family-oriented atmosphere. Our favorite activities were a half-day at the animal rescue center and zip-lining but what makes me dream about going back to L&L was the horseback riding. The horses are so well taken care of and simply wonderful to ride and Debbie really takes her time and helps pairing up the perfect horse with every single rider. The trip to the waterfall was a great family experience and my private ride with Debbie and some of her friends was simply magical culminated by a full-on gallop up the hill through the most picturesque pasture.

All the animals at the resort were quite an experience, wild and tame. A foal was born during our stay, the parrot ate at our breakfast table, the kids milked the cow every morning and my 11-year old fetched eggs and helped feed the horses. If you have animal lovers in the family, this is definitely your place!

Oscar gave the most informative walking tours through the rain forest showing us how to wash our hands with dew collected in a particular plant, Rosa took wonderful care of all our needs during meals. Just thinking about the place makes we want to go back tomorrow! Thank you Leaves and Lizards for memories that will last a lifetime and for being a living testament that gentle tourism works and for making us fall in love with Costa Rica.

(Debbie - if you read this prior to my correction you must have chuckled... still having brain lapses and am mixing up PR with CR ;-) )

Room Tip: Monkey and Toucan cabins are located on a hill with wonderful views onto the volcano. The walk to the restaurant was easy but flashlights are recommended for the evening.
  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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4  Thank ikebobike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2012

A complex nestled in the rain forest of the Arenal volcano region with all the activities to take in the wonderful experience of being in Costa Rica rain forest. The owners, Debbie and Steve and absolutely wonderful. Debbie would often take some time to speak to our kids and see how their day went. Not just a gesture of politeness, but to make sure they were having fun and gauge their activities for the next day. They took care of their guests as guests, not just customers. Big difference. It would seem they would regularly go out of their way to make sure our experience was nothing short of perfect. But, not this is just who they are. This is status quo for them. We had a zip line trip. We had an unusually difficult experience that we understood was unusual and had come to terms with. Debbie did not. Without our knowing or prompting, she took it up as an issue with the zip line company as our advocate. I was impressed.
Went on a horse back riding trip to the water falls. Just absolutely amazing trip, amazing tour guide and amazing horses. My kids 9 & 6 years old have no experience on horses. By the end of the trip, they were at home on them. The water fall itself was nice, but on our visit after some rains it was murky. The point of the trip is not the water falls, it's getting there.
I could not recommended this high enough for family, couples or groups who wish to experience nature and have a relaxed great time. I would go back in a heart beat. I will likely be back in the next few years. And... I tend not to go back to the same place twice.

Room Tip: Best time to travel here is early December (transition for rainy season to dry) and in June (according to one of the staff). I think most any time you go will be fine. Email Debbie and Steve. They will walk you through the whole thing.
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Krikor D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2012

Our entire family said this was our best family vacation ever - Costa Rica - and Leaves and Lizards was hands down, the overall favorite! (We stayed in 3 areas and different hotels) We travelled there last Christmas with our 2 kids - ages 10 and 13. We stayed in the gorgeous Toucan cabin. I could live there...didn't want to leave. The pictures don't even do the place justice. You simply have to see it and experience it yourself. The owners are great and they have a fabulous staff!! We loved Oscar, Enrique and Chito and they made awesome memories for our family. We highly recommend the horseback riding excursion to the waterfall. That was the family's favorite activity on our whole trip. The food was great. Don't worry about the roads. They're not as bad as we expected, but were glad that we had a 4x4. Barn chores were fun. Wonderful views and setting. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with wonderful people. Definitely go to Leaves and Lizards - you won't regret it.

Room Tip: All of the cabins are beautiful and have fabulous views...
  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank jamorgs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 25, 2012

Leaves & Lizards was a great place to stay - very warm family feeling and a great experience. Definitely having a car and GPS is extremely helpful to put the longitude/latitude coordinates in to get to it! We were happy to have our 4 wheel drive as well as the roads are quite the obstacle. The drive is worth it to get to this secluded little place - an eco-friendly stay with wonderful food/views and many birds to enjoy.
For the common area/meals: We loved the breakfasts - watching the birds while enjoying the fresh fruit and food so wonderfully prepared by the cook. It was a little cloudy so only one day we saw the volcano fully, however, it is still such a beautiful view. The open-style room, the amazing lizard painted on the wall - I loved it! This was the only place we were able to receive internet since it wasn't available in our cabin (Monkey) but to us this wasn't a huge deal. The dinners were good as well - depending on how many people are staying you may have a sort of family style dinner with everyone while you are there.
We also enjoyed getting up early to help milk the cow - Carlos was very nice to us even though we weren't the best at it. The waterfall horseback ride was out of this world...Oscar and Carlos helped out with the horses, showed us many things in the forest, and we loved the secluded little gem of a waterfall we were able to enjoy.
Although we had a tough time finding the Hot Springs (Eco Terminales) at dark - we loved experience (I will write another view on their site). We also visited the Hanging Bridges which were OK although there was so many tourists there as it significantly slowed us down and Arenal Volcano - again just OK but we were not able to go up as high as we thought we'd be able to go.
We unfortunately missed the owners due to a family situation in the US but extremely enjoyed our stay and would recommend the hotel to anyone with similar goals on their vacation - non touristy spots, good food/good relaxation and wildlife.

Room Tip: Monkey Cabin had an exceptional view of the volcano.
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank newenglandgirl2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 7, 2012 via mobile

Stayed here and loved it! The cabins are great, our group took 3, so we had a good spead over the complex, and all were of an excellent standard. Debbie was very friendly and helpful. I would reccomend this to anyone.
The only things to note, the resorts reccomended hot springs was amazing, but the meal there was below average. For the price of the rooms breakfast should be included, but in fairness the additional charge is minimum and it is yummy. I found the dinner we had was dissapointing, given the breakfasts, but maybe the cook was off the night we ate. It is out of the town a bit, but the views are worth the trip, and the town its self is not great, so it's not really a negative point. Do go zip lining here, it was one of the highlights of our holiday. Stay here, enjoy the amazing views from the cabins.

  • Stayed: December 2011
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1  Thank AlliH101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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