Tumbling waterfalls, dense jungles, winding rivers, smoldering volcanoes, and secluded beaches make Costa Rica an idyllic destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in nature. What’s more, over the past few decades, Costa Rica has prioritized protecting its natural beauty in a country that once had some of the world’s highest deforestation rates. Today, Costa Rica continues to lead the way on sustainability: Nationwide, it runs on 98 percent renewable energy and is working to decarbonize its economy by 2050.
Sustainable practices have taken hold at the country’s best hotels and resorts. These retreats offer travelers unforgettable experiences in protected natural areas, and they go the extra mile to operate responsibly within their environments and communities. Whether you prefer a safari-style tented camp with volcano views or a beachfront paradise with decent swells, these seven Costa Rican retreats deliver sublime experiences in nature while offering something for everyone.
Nayara Tented Camp
- Location: Arenal Natura Ecological Park
- Best for: Families looking for a safari-style adventure
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This tented camp in the La Fortuna area couldn’t be further from roughing it. The 37 spacious glamping accommodations of Nayara Tented Camp come with private hot-spring-fed pools with views of the active Arenal volcano, king-size beds, massive bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, indoor and outdoor showers, and a personal butler to cater to your whims. This newest retreat by Nayara is located on the same 62-acre rewilded estate as sister properties Nayara Gardens and Nayara Springs. The camp offers several multi-bedroom tents that are especially convenient for traveling families.
Activities appeal to various age groups too and include naturalist-led bird-watching, frog-spotting walks, and visits to the farmers’ market in La Fortuna town and to the wildlife-filled Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. Learn about Nayara’s sloth habitat protection efforts though an on-property experience called the Secret Life of Tony the Sloth, where guests learn about a sloth that has called Nayara home for many years. Several sloths live on the property, thanks to the resort’s reforestation efforts that planted more than 1,000 cecropia trees, which the mammals depend on for food.
Post-adventure, take a dip in one of the resort’s six cantilevered hot spring pools in the jungle, dine at the new onsite Mediterranean restaurant Ayala, or visit the tree-top spa and yoga platform at Nayara Springs.
Origins Luxury Lodge by Mantis
- Location: Bijagua
- Best for: Travelers who want to get off the grid
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Visitors are drawn to the quiet town of Bijagua for access to Tenorio National Park, which is home to the active Tenorio volcano, the clear-blue Rio Celeste waterfall, and resident wildlife, including tapirs, howler monkeys, and sloths. Here, the Origins Luxury Lodge by Mantis, which sits along a hill in an adjacent 111-acre rain forest estate, offers a stay that is both luxurious and eco-conscious at once. The resort, which is reachable via private heliport or a roughly two-hour drive past small villages, consists of six circular one-bedroom luxury lodges and one three-bedroom treetop villa. Accommodations blend into the landscape, thanks to green roofs and natural materials like wood, bamboo, adobe, and stone. Each lodge has its own private hot tub, canopy bed, and an indoor-outdoor shower.
Guests will notice other ecofriendly initiatives: You won’t find single-use plastic anywhere, and the large on-site organic garden and 25 beehives supply ingredients to the spa and restaurant. Meanwhile, the fragrant organic bath products are made with wild ylang-ylang growing on the property. Behind the scenes, the hotel operates its own composting stations, solar water tanks, and a treatment plant for soapy water that’s reused for watering plants. One of the highlights of a stay here is a naturalist-led walk on the wildlife-rich property—keep your eyes peeled for tree frogs and toucans.
Kurá Boutique Hotel
- Location: Uvita
- Best for: Couples in search of seclusion in nature
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This adults-only, eight-suite retreat on the Pacific Coast north of the Osa Peninsula is owned by a Costa Rican architect and biologist who envisioned a hospitality experience that’s both stylish and sustainable. The furnishings are made from responsibly sourced teak wood, and you won’t see any single-use plastic. The resort sits on a hillside overlooking Marino Ballena National Park and its famous Whale’s Tail sandbar, shaped like a whale’s tail, where migrating humpback whales can often be spotted. Accommodations feature floor-to-ceiling windows and two-person hammocks on open-air verandas (the Master Suite has its own private pool).
Kurá’s most alluring attraction, aside from its beach-meets-rain forest setting, is its infinity pool, complete with an underwater sound system. It’s surrounded by a bar and restaurant serving ingredients sourced nearby, like seafood and grass-fed meat from local farmers. Some produce is grown on the property at an organic greenhouse, and the resort composts all food waste on site. Off property, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the village of Uvita and the whale coast, and it can arrange for waterfall hikes, paddleboarding and snorkeling, and horseback riding.
Hacienda AltaGracia, Auberge Resorts Collection
- Location: Pérez Zeledón, Nicoya Peninsula
- Best for: Wellness seekers
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The postcard-worthy views of the green Talamanca Mountains from the private plunge pools and terraces of Hacienda AltaGracia’s 50 one- and two-bedroom casitas are so soothing they feel like a wellness experience unto themselves. That’s not surprising, given that nature-based wellness is the focus of the 180-acre property. It might be experienced by drinking freshly squeezed juice or coffee with ingredients from the resort’s own farm. Or selecting a horse from the stables and riding through the green hills nearby. Or climbing to the top of the rain forest canopy by rope.
Hacienda AltaGracia also features a 20,000-square-foot outpost of the Well, an integrated wellness center and spa with a flagship in New York City that offers holistic health treatments and consultations. Spend time in the hydrotherapy tub, heated tepidarium, and healing garden, or take part in an outdoor movement class like aerial yoga or qigong. The Well hosts multi-day retreats around various topics, usually led by a visiting expert. Classes have included journaling with Laura Rubin of creative journaling company AllSwell and breathwork with Nicholas Pratley, a neuro-linguistic therapist. Off property, the resort can arrange a visit to an Indigenous Boruca village or a rafting trip on the Pacuare River. Not to be missed: A meeting with a local family for a glimpse at life on their farm in the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the world’s five Blue Zones—where people are healthiest and live the longest.
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
- Location: Peninsula Papagayo
- Best for: Multi-generational groups and beach lovers
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Located on the Pacific coast, in the northwest corner of Guanacaste Province, the 1,400-acre Peninsula Papagayo is easy to access: It’s only an hour’s drive from Liberia Guanacaste airport. And when it comes to lodgings, the Four Seasons is the peninsula’s crown jewel. The 182 enormous rooms, suites, and private residences are equipped with contemporary furnishings in natural hues, while floor-to-ceiling windows let in ample light. Guests can spend their days relaxing by any of four pools or in a cabana on the beach, where service is anticipatory and the waters are calm—ideal for families with kids.
Younger children have access to the Kids for All Seasons club, while teens can check out the Tuanis Teen Center—a rarity in the resort world with a basketball court and social spaces for meeting new friends. Other family-friendly on-site pursuits include surfing lessons with the resort’s women-run SurfX surf school and golfing on the 18-hole Arnold Palmer–designed course. Head off property on a rain forest excursion to spot the three monkey species found on the peninsula, traverse the swinging bridges, rope obstacles, and zip lines of the nearby Palmares aerial park, or go off-roading on a UTV around the Palmares estuary. Guests can also join a coral restoration project where they help clean, catalog, and restore the area’s fragile coral reefs.
Botánika Osa Peninsula, Curio Collection by Hilton
- Location: Osa Peninsula
- Best for: Active travelers and fishing aficionados
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Situated between Corcovado National Park and the Golfo Dulce—home to humpback whales, whale sharks, and dolphins—the Osa Peninsula offers the best of both the rain forest and the Pacific Ocean. Here, the recently opened Botánika has 43 contemporary guest rooms on 21 acres in the rain forest; some are sprawling three-bedroom suites. As part of its efforts to lighten its footprint, the resort serves as recycling hub for itself and the surrounding community (the nearest recycling center is 30 miles away). It also arranges local beach cleanups with guests as a collaboration with Surcos Tours, a local family-run tour guide company.
Botánika delivers a range of adventures: Guests can book a sportfishing excursion for blue, black, or striped marlin, sailfish, tuna, and wahoo. Or they can take a guided rain forest hike in Corcovado National Park or the Osa rain forest and snorkel in Golfo Dolce. The on-site Botánika Science and Nature Center operates in a partnership with environmental nonprofit BioSur; here, scientists teach guests about resident wildlife and lead research excursions to tag marine life like sea turtles.
Read our full review of Botànika Osa Peninsula.
Finca Rosa Blanca
- Location: Central Valley
- Best for: Coffee and food obsessives; travelers who want a dose of farm life
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Costa Rica is famous for its high-quality coffee beans from eight different growing regions, where only 100 percent Arabica is produced. And for a glimpse at the growers of these coveted beans, Finca Rosa Blanca is the place to stay. Located in the highlands an hour’s drive outside of the capital city of San Jose, this family-owned coffee plantation practices sustainable, organic agriculture. The inn occupies a building that was the family’s original home in 1974, and today the interiors celebrate local art and culture as much as coffee and food. The 14 individually designed suites feature hand-painted murals by Oscar Salazar, a local artist. Accommodations also feature free-form hot tubs, wooden furnishings crafted locally, and of course, all the coffee you can drink—much of it grown on site.
The hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant serves such dishes as coconut milk soup with root vegetables and braised beef tenderloin with stewed plantains. Often, ingredients come from the property’s own fruit orchards and organic vegetable and herb greenhouse. The organic coffee tour and cupping is a must: Guests can learn all about the coffee making process from plant and fermentation to roasting and drinking. When not caffeinating, linger by the chemical-free infinity pool, which is surrounded by a garden filled with orchids, bromeliads, and palms and has views of Costa Rica’s green Central Valley and its two active volcanoes.