The Lookout Inn is in a wonderful spot between jungle and ocean, at what feels like the end of the world - especially after traveling all day to get there and arriving after dark! We've travelled extensively in the Carribean, so were prepared for the climate and the laid-back atmosphere. What distinguishes the Lookout Inn is its remoteness. When guidebooks and other reviewers recommended bringing everything you need with you, we're glad we paid attention. It's a 2 + hour drive over rutted dirt roads with river crossings to the nearest town. There is a little cafe/shop at the end of the road near the Inn, but it's basically for walkers and hikers needing quick sustenance (M&Ms and water!) We followed others' advice and flew from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez and were met by a driver in a pickup truck for the trip to Carate, rather than renting a car and driving the entire 8-10 hours. Even the 2+ hour drive wasn't fun after traveling all day. On the return, we flew from the small airstrip near the Lookout to Puerto Jimenez (8 minutes - pricey but worth it!
When we arrived at the Inn, tired and rumpled, we were met by Terry, Katya and staff. When Terry told us we needed to go to dinner right away, I asked if we were dressed okay. He said "just take off your shoes - this is a barefoot inn" and we knew we'd be comfortable there. Although casual, dinner was served in the open air dining room at the top of the inn. Breakfast is on the deck overlooking the lush gardens and the ocean. Food is served buffet style. Most unusual for us - the owner and family ate all meals with the guests. If you are alone, or not sitting with a group, Terry, Katya, her son or Miguel, the chef, joins you. The food was good, prepared fresh on the premises, and there was plenty of it. Miguel was always ready to explain the menu to us and gave us samples if we were sitting at the bar while he was cooking. Unfortunately, Miguel was in the hospital our last evening there, but Terry is his backup and is a good cook as well!
Which brings me to the staff. We're in agreement with other reviewers here. The staff is friendly and helpful and all speak enough English that those of us not fluent in Spanish are able to communicate. Johnson does win for smiling the most! One caveat - it you leave clothes to be laundered, make sure you ask for them. We left some clothes to be washed our first day there and did not get them back until the day before we left 5 days later (although we could see them hanging on the line drying! The housekeeper/laundress was so sweet - she apologized profusely when she finally gave them to us.
Our accomodations were basic/rustic but perfectly acceptable particularly given the remote location. Our cabin was screened, which wasn't true of all of them. We had a little balcony where we could sit and look out over the lush vegetation and ocean, and watch the always entertaining scarlet macaws squabbling in the almond trees. While the lighting was very dim (solar powered), it was sufficient and the best part was there were little bedside lights and fans attached to the headboard for those of us that like to read at night. Of course, after hiking all morning, swimming in the afternoon and having a glass of wine with dinner, not a lot of reading got done! Falling asleep to the noises of the jungle and the surf was wonderful, although some nights the surf was so loud it was a roar!
The beach was wonderful. Hammocks strung under the palms had our names on them every afternoon. The only people on the beach were those staying at the inn - at the most 6 humans
and the inn's puppy, Marguerita. While we were warned about the water, it was not as rough as we expected and we swam every day, although I did get knocked off my feet and thrown under on one occasion. Walking on the beach after dark looking for turtles nesting was an experience not to be missed (the Halloween crabs really look spooky at night!)
As for the wildlife, it was everywhere. We did not go into the park, but hiked on the trails above the inn, up to the waterfall and down to the lagoon and were not disappointed. Check out the photo gallery on the inn's website - you really can see all of it!
We have mixed feelings about Terry - have to agree somewhat with other reviewers about the way he treats his wife and staff. On the other hand, you're part of the family when you're there so you get to see the good and bad. We have to hand it to him, he has built something out of the wilderness that allows adventurous travelers a place to observe and participate in nature at it's best. And we were there to celebrate with him as he got his freedom papers from the bank - he's now officially the owner! We have no mixed feelings about Katya, however. She is a wonderfully warm and gracious host and she's gorgeous as well.
Our only regret was that we spent too long in one spot. After to talking to other travelers, we wish we had split our time between other areas of Costa Rica and the Lookout. However, people who had come from the more touristy areas were amazed at the peaceful isolation of the inn and wished they had spent more time there. Since this trip was mostly to relax and recoup from a rough winter, it lived up to our expectations and more.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Lookout Inn Lodge is a beach and rainforest ecolodge in Carate on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. We are located completely off the beaten path and conveniently located near an entrance to the world-renowned Corcovado National Park. Ideally situated to offer comfortable and affordable eco-friendly accommodations to adventure travelers visiting this remote part of Costa Rica, the Lookout Inn Lodge is sure to impress. Nestled in the hillside right above the road and alongside an isolated black sand beach, Lookout Inn Lodge provides our guests with spectacular views of the surrounding jungle rainforest, the majestic Pacific Ocean and an endless unspoiled Osa Peninsula coastline. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lookout Hotel Carate
- Lookout Inn Lodge Costa Rica/Carate