Leaves and Lizards was the icing on the cake. Costa Rica is such a beautiful place that my family couldn't get enough. Our children (11 and 13) were truly sad to leave. Debbie, Steve, Carlos, Enrique and all the staff were so amazing, even the horses were awesome! The difference between horses we rode at a typical zip-line tourist spot and these really well-trained Costa Rican horses was huge.
We loved breakfast with the fresh fruit and juices (and the really great bacon and pancakes, oh, and the omelets) in the open air restaurant. Sometimes we had Lorita the parrot at our table even (if you want). Every meal was great, even the pizza we opted for one night (actually, it was exceptional with an Imperial). The walk to and from the restaurant was like summer camp, and seeing Debbie with Lorita on her shoulder coming down the path on the ATV from the restaurant to the barn was unforgettable.
Debbie and Steve really got to know us, and our kids, in a few minutes of casual conversation and made great suggestions right on target for our activity level, interests and budget.
Debbie arranged two fantastic days for us: the trip to the Tico farm (thanks Eric, and family for a sincerely warm welcome and a fun day), and the horseback ride to the private waterfall. Enrique is a great guide - I won't forget how much I learned anew about horses in 15 minutes, the trip through the jungle seeing monkeys, sloths, chasing the bull back in the gate, and the six foot long snake dropping to the ground to eat the frog. We won't forget either day, ever. Oh yeah, their recommended zip line place is unbelievable. Do that.
They also recommended two fantastic free activities we would not have missed either: climbing down to the Tabacon river hot springs which was magical, and the fun swinging on a rope into the pond below the waterfall (spot called Salto), which was a highlight too. You can't go wrong with these activities (but don't leave valuables on the shore at Salto, we lost a pair of flip-flops and a t-shirt, but we gained some good times with our kids playing with local kids on the rope). We went back to both of them on our last day. Oh yeah, we went to the volcano too one day, and the thing rumbled and tumbled (we saw house-sized boulders rolling down through binoculars). We were told it broke through lave to the Leaves and Lizards side again somewhat.
We stayed at Heliconia House. It is a very cute and comfortable two-bedroom house, with a kitchen, stove and fridge. We settled in for 5 full days, even cooking a spaghetti dinner one night. The back porch looks out into the jungle and has a nice table and chairs for meals outdoors, and some nice lounge chairs, while the front looks at a great view of Arenal (which means in the master bedroom you wake up to it), and there are single person hammocks out there our kids practically lived in.
Don't miss a trip to El Monterrey (actually Santo Domingo - ask about why it is called this), and maybe try the soda next to the bakery or the bakery or some store or bar. I'd recommend the pollo frito at the soda. Don't worry about English, they don't speak it there, but the food is great and you are in a place where you will be completely with Ticos and no tourists, which is sort of the goal. El Monterrey (the "big" town) is only about 5 minutes.
Oh, and La Fortuna is a great small town. We ate at La Parada, the Lava Lizard (twice), and the soda on the south side of the main street across from the park. Park at the church and walk a lot. Went to church on Sunday too, which was very cool.
There is a lot more we could write. Spend enough time here. Five days was just almost not enough. This would be the one location we would return to most of all.
(By the way, we spent one night at a big tourist resort when we first got to town (long story). They greeted us with posh (cool towels) and a ride on a golf cart to our cabin, but it turned out horribly. The toilet clogged, my daughter got locked in the bathroom, service was slow, and everything was too expensive. It was all form over substance. We raced out of there. That was the OPPOSITE of Leaves and Lizards where everything was perfect for 5 days).
We miss Leaves and Lizards a lot. It is the real deal.
- 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