The amazing boat ride from Sierpe dock, through the Sierpe River estuary and into the ocean sets the right tone for arriving at this exceptional place. The dozen cabanas are sited right near the warm (85 degree F.) ocean, at the base of a hillside that offers a large tract of intact primary rainforest full of endemic and migratory birds, countless flowers that attract an unbelievable variety of hummingbird species, and a stream where several peccaries were rooting about the underbrush one morning.
Accommodations are lovely: local hardwood floors and interiors, a terrific shower with plenty of hot water, and endless bird calls and chirping cicadas. Only criticism would be that the beds were a bit too firm and the sheets a bit harsh on chigger bits I'd acquired elsewhere. Scarlet macaws' screeching around dawn might prevent sleeping in, but since wildlife tours all begin very early, that pre-dawn wakeup usually is for the best.
Food was consistently extremely good and well-prepared: wonderful choice of copious breakfast items, including a very hot fresh salsa that does wonders for any egg dish and really enhances traditional gallo pinto. Lunch and dinner were always copious and of the highest quality, including very good salads. The endless supply of the very freshest local fruits and home-baked cookies was hard to leave behind, as was the exceptional attention from restaurant manager Mario and from waiters Yvon and Leland. The fruit-based tropical cocktails were among the best I've tasted anywhere, anyplace. Be prepared for periodic visits of white-faced Capuchin monkeys into the open-air dining area, which nearly every guest found charming.
As an avid birder, the area around Copa may be the best place I'd ever visited. Between an absolutely unforgettable tours into the mangrove forests along the Sierpe River, an unguided coastal hike south toward Rio Claro, a tour to Sirena Station in Corcovado NP and some climbs up the hillside behind the resort, I spotted some 50 species of birds I'd never seen before, whether endemics I'd missed on previous trips to CR or migratory North American warblers spending winter in the tropics. A few, like the Cinnamon and White-winged becards, Yellow-billed cotinga, American pygmy kingfisher, Golden-naped woodpecker, Long-tailed woodcreeper, Bare-crowned antbird, Scrub greenlet, Blue dacnis, Long-billed starthroat and White-crested coquette hummingbirds were uncommon. Seeing a pair of Great black-hawks mating on a rock beside the turquoise ocean was a highlight, as were the many species of parakeets and parrots flying by in small flocks.
The mangrove trip, guided by Vincente was probably the most biologically intense, starting with considerable time spent at the base of high ocean rocks where boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and white ibises were nesting. Inside the Sierpe estuary we saw a large boa and a porcupine not very high up in the canopy, two 3-toed sloths calling to each other with the softest whistling sounds far above the water, scarlet macaw courting in a tree directly overhead, a large alligator and a caiman in the shallows.
Boat trip to Cano Island was also sensational, especially the numerous large pods of Spinner dolphins frolicking in the bow wake, flocks of brown and red-footed that settled on the water to catch fish missed by the dolphins, leaping eagle rays and a couple Olive Ridley sea turtles that we properly approached a crawl. As the only diver on what was primarily a snorkeling trip, I received exceptional attention from divemaster Mauricio during two 35-minutes dives where a handful of white-tipped reef sharks and some king angelfish were the highlight. Divers should be aware that, like HI, this is not a coral-rich site, and the nutrient-rich waters meant less visibility than in many tropical locations.
A hike from the beach to La Sirena ranger station was worthwhile, especially being able to get within 25' of an adult Baird's tapir and seeing bands of several monkey species, a 3-toed sloth and white-face coatimundi up in the canopy. The boat ride back let us see waterfalls, seabird rookeries and ocean caves of exceptional beauty.
Want to end this review with special thanks to facility manager, Johnny Ramirez, a terrific and caring young guy with a lovely little family. Johnny works awfully long days and goes way beyond the call of duty to ensure that every guest can fully enjoy their stay. He's also got a terrific eye for spotting and helping guests photograph birds.
In summary Copa de Arbol is pricey, but the exceptional quality of what they offer, along with the pristine remote setting, fully justifies the cost. Very glad we stayed a full week. Owner Mike Michaelsen deserves a lot of credit for creating such a unique and well-staffed place.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Copa De Arbol Beach and Rainforest Resort is an intimate, remote eco-conscious beachfront Drake Bay resort set among 70 acres of pristine rainforest reserve. Located in Southern Pacific Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula, perfectly situated between Drake Bay and the Corcovado National Park ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Copa De Arbol Beach And Rainforest Resort Costa Rica/Drake Bay