One of your most memorable Costa Rica adventures will be exploring a surreal cloud forest. You will immediately understand the difference between rainforests and cloud forests.
Cloud forests are enveloped in almost perpetual fog and the ubiquitous moss and ferns make you feel like you have returned to the Jurassic period.
Some tropical countries have lost ninety percent of their cloud forests, and cloud forests are diminishing by more than one percent annually world wide.
Costa Rica’s most luxurious cloud forest venue is at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve in the midst of the spectacular Los Angeles Biological Reserve.
Each of Villa Blanca’s thirty-five casitas has superb views of the lush tropical cloud forest. In El Sendero Restaurant you can dine with Arenal Volcano spewing lava as your backdrop, and Villa Blanca’s nature trails are full of remarkable rainforest inhabitants!
One of Costa Rica’s most scenic coastlines is in the Bahia Ballena National Marine Park, near Uvita. You look down the coast to the Osa Peninsula and up the coast to Uvita’s famous Whale Tail Reef jutting into the Pacific Ocean.
We watched a dozen cusingas dancing in the trees right in front of our cabin! We also watched a continuous parade of trogons, flycatchers, tangers and parrots.
La Cusinga Resort is one of the planet’s leading examples of uniting tourism with sustainability and nature conservation.
I had a memorable adventure while hiking one of La Cusinga’s many nature trails. I found a baby kinkajou, lost, hungry, but much too cute to leave for a boa constrictor’s lunch.
La Cusinga’s general manager, Geinier Guzman, took the kinkajou under his wing and dressed its wounds. The baby kinkajou imprinted on him immediately and trusted him as though he were its mother.
A few minutes after it ate some fruit, the baby kinkajou was climbing stairs and playing like any baby. With a few more days of Geinier’s TLC, it would be ready to fend for itself again in the jungle.
Up in the hills above Uvita you will find one of Costa Rica’s most romantic boutique hotels, Terrazas de Ballena. Terrazas de Ballena has a Pacific Ocean view that rivals any Pacific Ocean view all the way to Canada!
There is no better place in Costa Rica to watch the sunset than Terrazas de Ballena’s Terrace Restaurant and Buddha Bar.
Owners Johnny and Chad recently upgraded and renovated Terrazas de Ballena; you relax in sublime privacy, comfort and luxury.
You watch toucans, monkeys, sloths and kinkajous from your private terrace. Terrazas de Ballena concierge service will sign you up for whale and dolphin excursions, or help you locate local pristine coconut tree lined beaches.
And Terrazas de Ballena’s terrace restaurant is an unforgettable dining experience. The view of the rainforest growing down to water’s edge is breathtaking. Terrazas de Ballena’s haute cuisine is fresh and local, your tuna sushi just came out of the ocean hours before it was served, and I know because I was with owner Chad when he personally selected it from a local fisherman!
The best way to experience the Pacuare River is the Rios Tropicales two day Pacuare Rafting Excursion.
As well as the thrill of shooting the Pacuare River rapids, you have plenty of time for jungle hiking, animal and bird watching…
We saw more rainforest creatures with Rio Tropicales than anywhere in Costa Rica.
We did our first ever rainforest zip lining at Rio Tropicales’ own canopy zip line. Zooming through the rainforest tree tops harnessed to a cable is an experience you’ll not soon forget!
Arenal Volcano is one of the world’s most beautiful volcanoes because of its perfect volcanic symmetry with bright orange lava spewing out of the cone.
Arenal Volcano rises straight out of the Costa Rica rainforest, where you will experience some of the planet’s most abundant and diverse ecosystems and national parks.
A perfect volcano demands a perfect viewpoint and we found just that and so much more at Steve and Debbie’s Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat.
Experience the peace and serenity that only hundreds of melodious birds singing together at sunrise can create. We were entertained by a dozen toucans playing in the trees right in front of our cabin!
And once you’ve absorbed a rejuvenating dose of Leaves and Lizards harmony and tranquility, it’s time to switch into Leaves and Lizards adventure and discovery mode. Farideh and I rode Gitana and Dorado deep into the Costa Rican rainforest with guides Enrique and Tito.
We discovered huge ceiba trees, many species of jungle birds and plants, and a special treat, our first ever red dart frogs!
Owners Debbie and Steve of Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Retreat are two of the friendliest hosts you will encounter anywhere your travels take you. Leaves and Lizards is Pura Vida!
During your Arenal Volcano visit you can explore the rainforest with Jacamar Naturalist Tours. Farideh and I did an invigorating hike to the top of Cerro Chato with its beautiful crater lake, and with frogs, lizards and flowers to photograph along the way.
Your Jacamar hike also takes you to the Arenal Observatory Lodge where you might get lucky as we did and observe Arenal’s pyrotechnic display.
And you won’t want to miss Arenal Hanging Bridges for superb views of the Costa Rica rainforest and Arenal Volcano.
Hike miles into old growth rainforest and cross 300-foot-long suspension bridges with an eagle’s eye view of the verdant beauty surrounding you.
Near Santa Clara you can sleep in the tree tops at Tree Houses Hotel. Tree Houses Hotel is an excellent way to get intimate with the rain forest and experience jungle living with a bird’s eye view.