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La Carolina Lodge
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Reviews (382)
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Reviewed February 10, 2011

In over two weeks of traveling to great places in Costa Rica, La Carolina lodge stands out as the most amazing expierience.
Myself and 18 different people from 5 different countries were there the first week of Feb. and virtually everyone was gushing about the beauty and ambiance.
The lodge is only a few short min drive to the unique and World Class Rio Celeste. A river turned turquoise from volcanic minerals. The short hike along the amazing clear blue river, with hot springs pools on the rivers edge, 150 ft waterfalls and bubbling mineral springs is as good as it gets, truly world class. I say this with no reservations despite a lifetime of travel and hiking.

La Carolina itself sits on a clear, warm, swimable river, in the midst of an incredible tropical paradise complete with exotic birds, swarms of Toucans, and the type of dedication to service the Four Seasons Resorts could only hope for.
Bill and Karien , the owners , clearly love their work. I have never seen such dedication to making their guests happy and comfortable.
Between the hot tob built on the rivers edge, the staff that is constantly avail for food and service, the gorgeous grounds , the private lake with Rainbow Bass to catch, the easy trails, the horseback rides, etc, etc etc. I wish I had spent a week instead of just 3 nights.
Everything is included in this all inclusive lodge, Food , Horseback rides, and Fishing excursions. I especailly loved the endless refills of Costa Rican coffee grown on the farm next to the lodge. This all makes La Carolina an exceptionally incredible value.
The rooms and cabins are comfortable, clean, and rustic. It is Lush, not Plush.

It was also exceptionally refreshing to get away from the beach for this amazingly scenic trip to the less traveled side of Costa Rica. The tempretures are far more modest than the average 90+ degrees on the coast.
Several "Ticos" had told me that if there was anything I should see in Costa Rica it should be the Rio Celeste. I could not agree with them more.
There is internet access available but not high speed broadband.
Ron

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled solo
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2  Thank Slikrock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2011

Life will never be the same after experiencing La Carolina Lodge...the memories will sustain me long after I have returned to the cold Northeast. I don't really want to write this review because I want to keep this magical place a secret, but I guess if you find this review and actually get in a 4x4 and make your way out there, you deserve to experience it too! Our hosts, Bill and Karien treated us like long lost friends from the moment we arrived. We were offered fresh juices and shown to our rustic, yet cozy rooms and then to the stone hot tub that sits beside a clear swift river. Soaking in that hot tub, watching the river rush by and looking up to see toucans and butterflies...well, what can I say! And the food! Cooked on an open fired stove in the middle of the open air kitchen...so fresh and delicious. You must be a rugged traveler to get here, but if you're like me, you'll never want to leave. Bring a flashlight and a reading light, good boots for hiking and riding and you'll be set. Have a wonderful, magical adventure!

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled with friends
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Thank worldviewwoman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 1, 2011

This place was not in our guide book, but we went because friends had told us it was their favorite place when they visited Costa Rica 3 years ago. We made reservations for three nights, and guess what, it was our favorite place! Everything on their website is true, but it just doesn't capture how really wonderful the place is. The owners, Bill and Karien Harwell, are what make the place so special. Their open hospitality, the wonderful loyal staff they have gathered, rocking on the porch at night with other guests around a fire, watching toucans and monkeys from the breakfast table, candlelit dinners prepared on the woodstove or over the open fire, hiking their beautiful property, riding their horses, are some of the things that make this place worth the extra effort of getting there. It's an easy drive to Arenal to the east, and the North Pacific beaches to the west. Once we were there, we had no other expenses other than the lodging expense because all the food and activities were included. This was not the case any where else we went.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Shelley078
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2011

La Carolina was the perfect mix of rustic and service. In two weeks of travel in Costa Rica, this experience was the most authentic, adventurous, and friendly we had. The staff could not have been warmer- we felt right at home. Our 9 and 11 year old kids could participate in all the activities- a daily horseback ride through orange groves, jungle, and pasture land; a fantastic hike to a sky-blue river; a dip in hot springs; an easy walk to see howler monkeys; encouragement to try out our Spanish; a river swim and a long soak in the amazing hot tub; and three hearty meals a day. It was fun, and a great value for what we got. At night, the sound of the river behind our house and flickering candlelight lulled us to sleep.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled with family
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Thank alihob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 14, 2011

I thought I was prepared for rustic (it is), back to nature, the real Costa Rica. Several things made this hope a cruel joke. When we arrived in the afternoon, no one greeted us, or approached us. After looking around, we found out from another guest who to talk to, but they only spoke Spanish. That trend continued our entire stay, because we soon discovered (also from a guest) that the American owners were back in the US, and no one on staff spoke much English. The weather contributed to our dismay, because it rained approximately 30 of the 40 hours we were there, including all throughout the hike that is included in the stay. We were the only family charged for a ride to this hike, which didn't seem fair, and it was an unpleasant slog through mud and rocks. The food was excellent, though after 2 days, I could predict what was coming next. The staff was kind, but not welcoming.
We had the river cabin, and the sound of the water was beautiful, but because it got dark at 6 pm, and there was limited electricity, we went to bed very early. We really enjoyed the beautiful natural hot tub, and my skin was soft from all the humidity, but it was so damp that my clothes never dried out. The main thing is we really would have benefited from a proper orientation and welcome. I think that would have made a big difference in terms of feeling happy there.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled with family
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4  Thank Lora B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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