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“Deliciously Damp”

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Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
Ranked #4 of 12 Hotels in Golfito
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
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
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3  Thank prettyfishes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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152 - 158 of 267 reviews

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
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14  Thank ermibr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 16, 2012

We loved our six nights at Playa Nicuesa. We were there with our 20 and 17 year old sons, first in the Mango Guest House, then in the 2- BR Cabina el Delfin. Both were beautiful, comfortable, clean. Waking every morning under the ceiling fan to the sounds of birds, surrounded by green was wonderful.
All the people who make the place work were a total pleasure: thoughtful, interesting, smart, fun, warm (Hi Felipe, Daniel, Tobey, Tomas, Eric, Manuel and everyone else! ) They manage to create a genuinely warm special atmosphere. From the minute that Daniel and Juliet met us at the dock in Puerto Jimenez we knew that this place would be great.
Like many guests we spent our time with a mix of guided activities and on our own. By taking the waterfall hike the first day we learned enough about flora and fauna to know what to look for when we were on our own. The guides have a huge amount of information, not only about what’s in front of your eyes, but also about the interaction of species, and ecological systems. The trails at the lodge range from challenging to easy, and are very well marked and maintained. We saw (and heard) monkeys, anteaters, coati, toucans, macaws and all sorts of insects. There were lots of kayaks and snorkeling equipment, and we spent many hours doing both.
Our sons, who are normally very electronically connected spent hours reading on the hammocks in the main building. When I realized I hadn’t seen them for a while, there they would be, talking with one of the guides. A special thanks to Daniel who took so much time with our younger son.
We ate “family style”, although there are tables available for those who would rather eat on their own. Food was plentiful, fresh, delicious, with the best home-grown pineapples and bananas we’ve ever tasted. Manuel, the bartender made great drinks every night, cutting up and blending some of the same local fruits. When my husband asked one night for a drink made with an out-of-the-ordinary liquor that he didn’t have on hand, Manuel bought it the next day on the mainland so that he could surprise him with one the next night! I can't say enough about this place, and we can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank kwar228
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 6, 2012

Every aspect of our stay at Playa Nicuesa was beyond our expectations. We had our 11-year-old twin boys with us in a two-room cabin and had a blast. The facility was beautiful and maintained impecably. The service was top-notch with knowledgable, friendly staff ready whenever you wanted them. The food was great, heavy on the vegetables and fruits with fish and meat to complement them. My son has a peanut allergy and several of the staff were aware of that an looking out for him. We didn't eat the same thing twice over the course of a week and everything was fresh and homemade. The activities (guided hikes, mangrove tours, etc.) were thoughtfully planned and the guides were eager and knowledgable. The only word of warning is that you are out there in nature. If the idea of a lizard or other critter scurrying across the floor of your room gives you the creeps, think again. The rooms are open air as is the main lodge. We saw dozens of gorgeous birds, anteaters, snakes (yes venomous), lizards, myriad insects, monkeys, wild pigs, coati, crocodiles and more on the grounds. We thought is was great adventure and wouldn't have changed a thing.

Room Tip: We really liked the privacy of the cabins over the apartments.
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank EdMcFadden
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2012

the food, the people, the nature....everything was so impeccable....But you have to be a nature lover to appreciate that place. I went there to took great picture and I can say that I achieved my goal...I even take a picture of a spider eating a frog!

Room Tip: if you are not sure about being alone in the wild, take a room in the mango house which is close to...
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  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Marise L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2012

We spent four wonderful days at this lodge and found everything outstanding. What was surprising was even the Ticos said prepare for muggy weather and bring insect repellent, but compared to a typical summer day in, say, an Upper Peninsula Michigan, we found Golfo Dulce balmy and relatively insect-free.

Be aware there are plenty of things to bite you here but that's why you're going to an eco-lodge, right?

The staff was very friendly. Here's a shout out to Joe -- very funny with an infectious laugh and Eric who helped with our luggage at the boat dock even when he was on his way to the doctor.

Great food, interesting side tours, lot's of wildlife right on the grounds. Get up before dawn to see the most activity.

Be sure to kayak over to the snorkel beach. The snorkeling is only fair but the beach is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank frizbo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2012

Dolphins escorted us on the short boat ride to the resort. It was seriously like walking into the garden of eden and our escorts pointed out plants and bugs and fun stuff on the way to the lodge. We arrive late afternoon and were thrilled that they had a wonderful lunch waiting for us. This was all in the first hour...and it never ended. The staff was amazing and owners were gracious. I saw snacks, monkeys and waterfalls that take your breath away. I went during the rainy season and was basically never dry. Pack lots of changes of clothes because they will never dry once wet. It was magical, go.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Liz E
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
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
#2 Green Hotel in Golfito
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Golfito
Price Range: $381 - $557 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge 3*
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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