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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
New York
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Good value for the price”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 5, 2009

Key reason why we chose Leaves and Lizards for our stay was to see Volcano Arenal glowing at night - just as many other lucky visitors of L&L did earlier. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived (December 2008), the lava flow has changed, and a slight delay in the beginning of dry season also meant that Arenal enveloped itself in clouds - perhaps, just to show us that man proposes but nature disposes! Even so, a view from our cabin (Monkey) was not a disappointment - lush, green, beautiful, with no human beings or structures in sight. We were at the edge of wilderness, with all calm and peacefullnes that it entails.

The Monkey cabin itself was lovely, with wrap-around porch and unique floor-to-ceiling windows facing Arenal. It is exactly what you see on L&L website, with no less, although no more amenities: an L-shaped room with a queen-sized bed, a table, a refrigirator and a bookshelf, but no dresser. In our travels, we typically prefer to stay in places that are remote but not isolated, so that we avoid the tourist crouds or many signs of civilization, yet have the said civilization within easy reach. L&L is closer to isolated than remote, with only one restaurant (in Monterray) within 15 minutes drive (on an unpaved road, it would have been a 5 min drive on a paved one), and the rest (in La Fortuna) within 40 minutes of travel (on paved road; so count on 1.5 hrs there and back).

Breakfasts, which were included in the price of our stay, were tasty and sumptuous, but home-cooked lunch was just OK. I was also not thrilled about a horseback riding trip we took and to which I was looking forward. About a quarter of the trip goes through other farmers' fields, with barbed wire on both sides of that stretch of the road. So, if your horse it not in a riding mood that day (as mine was not), you risk, just as me, having barbed wire scratch your leg and slice into your palm (palm being used to push against the wire to prevent it from going into the leg :)), and a pair of new $85 pants ripped by the wire. Changing horses with a guide helped, and by now (January 2009) the scratches and gushes competely healed (thank you, Neosporine!), so permanent damage to pants only :-).

Two things compensated for the misadventure above and got L&L four stars. First, it is relatively inexpensive (we paid $116 per night including tax). Second, and far more important, L&L employs fantastic nature guides. Ours, Enrique, truly opened for us the secrets of Costa Rica wild life, and showed us an amazing trick of taking wildlife photos though the lenses of his binoculars. We also really enjoyed the company of our hosts, who gave us good advise on what to see given weather conditions, including recommending a truly amazing trip to Rio Celeste, which was not on our initial itinerary, and which turned to be one of the highlishts of our Costa Rica adventure. And, at the end, we were able to observe Arenal in action at night, courtesy of the tour arranged by L&L with Enrique. Enrique took us and the other guests to a spot where one could see lava, and when the rain clouds cleared for just one moment, we glimpsed red lava rocks being hurled downhill. It was quite a sight!

  • Liked — Beautiful grounds, use great nature guides
  • Disliked — Limited dining options within 15 min drive (count on 40 min minimum)
  • Stayed December 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank MVK123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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630 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (162)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
SF Bay Area, CA
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 4, 2009

This was our third trip to Costa Rica, and L&L was the sixth hotel within this trip, and I rank L&L to be one of my most favorite hotels that we stayed. I liked L&L because of the relaxing environment, beautiful views, friendly hosts, waking up with a sound of "Moooo", and convenicence (Super [-] rocks! and an easy access to multiple highways was nice, too.) We were lucky to be the first guest to stay in the brand new 2BR cabin with a kitchen. I enjoyed the flexibility of staying "at home" for any of breakfast/lunch/dinner whenever we feel like. Variety of activities that we can choose while we stay there was nice and I found that the description of the activities are accurrate. I specially enjoyed an experimental (at the time) pretend-to-be-a-cowboy-for-one-day tour (I am sure that it will be official soon) in which we herded cows into a barn to give them preventive medications and herded them back to the field, rode horses to the Nicaraguan border to check the other cows, and watched bull ride by a local cowboy. It was a long one-day tour. The cabin was very comfortable for a relaxing day, too. I spent a non-activity day by watching the views, reading books in the hammocks, listening to the birds and "Mooo", chasing a gecko out of the cabin, watching hummingbirds buzz by, scratching the dogs, and played games. I enjoyed all.

  • Stayed December 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Cowgirl_Yuko
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tortola British Virgin Islands
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 22, 2008

We visited Leaves and Lizards in November 2008 and it was our first trip to Costa Rica. We are so pleased we used Trip Advisor to find our accomodation as Leaves and Lizards is a complete gem. Debs and Steve are brilliant hosts - informative, friendly and with a great sense of humour. They really took a risk when they decided to buy a dairy farm and convert it to comfortable lodges - and their risk has certainly paid off. The cabins are perfect and offer complete privacy - sitting on the deck there is no man made structure to be seen, or sounds heard except birdsong. One wall is a picture window that is filled with Arenal Volcano - which is a lively little number!! At night you can lay in bed and watch the red glow and listen to the "thunder" as it belches out yet another huge hot rock. Inside the walls are painted with tropical murals - we were in the monkey house so slept with howlers around us with the odd parrot thrown in. One of Steve and Debs greatest assets is working with some very knowledgable local guides who can spot a toucan at 1/2 a mile, take you to their private waterfall or imitate an animal so well it comes closer to listen. Leaves and Lizards is perfect for honeymoon couples, familes with children or, in our case, two fifty something desk jockies who found adrenaline in zip lines, muscles they didn't know they had horse riding and lots of new friends.
Penny and Peter Compton

Stayed November 2008
Helpful?
1 Thank CaribPenny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 31, 2008

This was our first trip to Costa Rica. Leaves and Lizards was selected for 3 nights based on excellent Trip Advisor reviews. These reviews were right on the money...it was wonderful. Steve and Deb were helpful hosts and there is an atmosphere of 100% relaxation in the setting provided by the cabins. It doesn't come across in the photos, but the cabins are very, very nice. Actually, "deluxe" in alot of ways. The view of the Arenal volcano from the porch is amazing. Great location, great food and a great experience. We loved Costa Rica and made a good decision to stay in the La Fortuna area. There is lots to do and lots to see and you're right there for all of it at Leaves and Lizards!

  • Liked — Relaxation
  • Disliked — Nothing negative...all positive!!!
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank florida45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 21, 2008

My mother and I vacationed for a week in September in Costa Rica and after reading so many great reviews about Leaves and Lizards we decided to make it our first stop. We are so happy we did because it was a perfect 'introduction' to Costa Rica! The location was great, not too far from Arenal but just far enough to feel secluded. The drive up to the place was pretty bumpy so make sure to get a 4x4 vehicle! Steve and Debbie, the owners, were absolutely wonderful and eager to help with anything we needed. They feed us great meals (mango juice and empanadas-yum), signed us up on last minute tours (rafting and horseback riding with Giovani-must do's), gave us great pointers on traveling, and even helped us book our next hotel! They have also built beautiful bungalows on a hill overlooking the volcano. All were equally nice with plenty of room to spread out and a great deck with hanging hammocks. The showers were always warm, the fridge was stocked, and they even had shoe dryers...they really thought of everything! And waking up to the view was the best part. Overall we were really happy that this was the first destination of our 'journey' because Steve and Debbie really made us feel welcome in CR!

  • Liked — The service!
  • Disliked — The road from town to L&L, but not their fault!
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
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Helpful?
Thank Heart2Vacation
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 1, 2008

Well having 1.5 days is not enough to stay at Leaves and Lizards.
We arrived off a cruise and decided to get picked up by "Kenneth" who was recommended by Debbie. He was a friendly fellow was very hospitable and basically took us everywhere for the time we where there.
The journey took >3.5 hours to get there from the port, (longer than we thought) however it was wonderful to see the Costa Rican landscape.

Once arrived at the retreat, we had a brief chat with Debbie who shared with us the back ground and plans on Leaves and Lizards.-It is great to see a couple of people who are passionate about restoring the local environment- The land was previously used as a dairy farm, however you wouldn't know it as they have planted >1000 trees etc..

We had lodge number 1 which was basic in its set up, however had a direct view of the volcano which was fantastic. The bed was comfortable and overall ambience would suite a couple who are on a honeymoon or looking for a romantic private get away.

As we didn't have a lot of time, we opted for a short break after arrival and then off to see some wild life and the night lava flow of the Arenal Volcano by our guide "Enrique" organised by Debbie.
We were lucky to see some great lava explosions -it was clear for a good part of our viewing.

I would highly recommend that if you complete a private tour with Debbie to request for Enrique-he was funny, spoke great english and had a real passion and knowledge of the local area.

The following day we went on a short horse ride through to a neighbors property where we completed a 2 hr hike. This property is a primary forest which was virtually untouched.-It held some unique plants and animals. Enrique escorted us through the forest as did the owner who provided some great insights to the land + we sighted some wildlife like howling monkeys and some "blue jean" frogs.
Upon our return from the hike, Debbie organised with Mariella who works for them to prepare a local lunch for us-It was sensational -By the way the breakfast was very hearty too.

Overall recommendation: Considering we only had 1 night and 1.5 days, it was pretty packed schedule, I probably would recommend to spend at least 4 days here so you can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and surrounding sites.-Also make sure you give yourself ample time to get to and from the airport, as the traffic can be quite bad.

We were very happy with our short stay -it was a highlight of our 3 week holiday.

  • Liked — The surrounding environment,the people and stunning views
  • Disliked — The travel to get to the property(but we were pressed for time)
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank SingaporeMel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 26, 2008

We stayed at Leaves & Lizards for the first part of our honeymoon and had a wonderful time. The drive from San Jose to the hotel was very enjoyable with lots of interesting things to see. We went during the Costa Rican Independence day so there lots of festivities in all of the cities. The road to get from San Jose to Monterrey (the small city before you head to L&L) is well paved and easy to navigate, however I would recommened renting a 4WD if you stay at Leaves and Lizards because the road is rough for the last 7 km to get there and it is fun to get out and about to see things on your own.

Our honeymoon "volcano" cabin was so cute and private and had a gorgeous view of the volcano. Each morning we had a delicious breakfast prepared for us. Debbie and Steve were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. They helped us plan activities that we would enjoy taking into account our interests.

Our first full day we went horse back riding on the horses of the property with Enrique and Chito to a private waterfall. We had so much fun and saw many interesting things along the way including a fairly rare tigrillo. After the horseback riding trip we relaxed with a couples massage with a beautiful view of the volcano at the new $300M resort called The Springs Resort & Spa which is a couple of miles away and extremely beautiful.

The next day we woke up early to try out milking the cows and collecting the eggs at Leaves and Lizards and then took off for our first white water rafting trip with Wave Expeditions. Our guide Gerald was very funny and experienced in rafting. We saw monkeys swinging from the trees above us as we rafted down. The trip also includes a trip to see a small iguana and frog reserve and a lunch with the traditional Costa Rican casado.

The next day we had to leave for the beach leg of our trip. We had such a wonderful time and the place is truly one of a kind and full of natural beauty.

  • Liked — Fun, Adventure, Natural Beauty
  • Disliked — N/A
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank TC91308
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

Property: Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Address: Meters South Of Super Kiki 500, 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
#5 Green Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Romantic Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Family Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#8 Business 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 
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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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