Room buildings at the Rios Lodge in Costa Rica

What is an Authentic Costa Rica Eco Lodge?

Choosing a Costa Rica Eco Lodge For Your Pura Vida Adventure

If you dream of relaxing on your private, covered porch deep in the heart of a tropical rainforest, surrounded by lush beauty, plunging waterfalls, and wildlife sounds, you are probably picturing yourself at a Costa Rica eco lodge.

Some things can only be experienced when you are willing to delve just a bit deeper into nature. Eco lodges will provide a comfortable stay as you take in the unrivaled, untouched beauty of Costa Rican wildlife.

But what is an eco lodge, and how do you know if it’s a good option for you?

The term “eco lodge” has become a bit of a buzzword in the tourism world, and some travelers don’t understand precisely what they will find when they reach this type of tucked-away paradise.

Here is everything you need to know about Costa Rica eco lodges before you book your trip!

Guests enjoying time to relax at the Rios Lodge in Costa Rica

What is an Eco Lodge?

Costa Rica Eco Lodges are built on three main concepts: sustainability, supporting local economy and culture, and creating well-rounded, authentic experiences.

An eco lodge is a style of accommodation designed to have the smallest possible impact on the surrounding environment. Eco lodges leverage strategies to minimize their carbon footprint and seamlessly integrate into their natural surroundings, and authentic eco lodges can tangibly demonstrate how they implement sustainability practices. From choosing building materials native to the area to opting for solar or hydro-powered energy, eco lodges’ #1 priority is sustainable tourism.

Eco lodges emphasize sharing and celebrating local customs, history, and culture. Many Costa Rica eco lodges are managed and run by local thought leaders and support their communities with employment, educational opportunities, and fair wages. This level of local expertise creates an authentic Costa Rican experience, from enjoying local cuisine to learning the history of the area.

Eco lodges are much more than just a place to sleep! From creating options for day activities to offering package deals, you can choose to have your Costa Rica eco lodge fill your trip with interesting classes like yoga or photography, relaxing spa treatments, exciting outdoor adventures, unforgettable rainforest tours, and more.

Walking through the grounds of the Rios Lodge in Costa Rica

Why Are COSTA RICA Eco Lodges Popular?

Many world travelers swear by eco lodges as the purest form of tourism. Here’s why:

Eco Lodges Are a Sustainable Way to Travel
More and more travelers are interested in ecotourism as a sustainable way to visit countries that rely on international tourism for economic growth, and visitors feel better directly supporting local lodges over global resort chains.

Eco Lodges are a Fantastic Way to Avoid Tourist Trap Areas
Resorts and large hotels attract mass amounts of tourists, which can alter the cultural authenticity of the area. Costa Rica eco lodges are often found in more rural or isolated areas, taking you out of the tourist scene and into untouched nature.

Eco Lodges Offer a Close Connection to Nature
Costa Rica eco lodges are usually situated on beautiful grounds that offer stunning views and a closer look at the surrounding nature. From uncrowded beaches to remote forest locations, you will find yourself experiencing a true escape.

Eco Lodges Can Fill Your Trip With Unique Activities
Eco lodges often offer all-inclusive package options with days full of fun activities! So whether you just want a lovely place to lay your head or a fully-planned experience, Costa Rica eco lodges can tailor your experience to your interests.

Walking to your room, over the foot bridge, at the Rios Lodge in Costa Rica

How Are Eco Lodges Sustainable?

  • The small-scale setups don’t take nearly as much energy, electricity, water, or infrastructure as big resorts, creating a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
  • Eco Lodges focus on renewable energy sources. For example, the Rios Lodge on the Pacuare River has an off-the-grid hydro energy system to power their lodge for a clean energy solution.
  • Sustainability is weaved into large-scale choices, like efficient energy sources or reclaimed building materials, to small details, like non-toxic cleaners, biodegradable shampoo, and organic cotton sheets.
  • Guests are expected to uphold the values of the eco lodge by thoughtfully conserving water and electricity during their stay.
  • Many eco lodges are owned by and/or hire majority local people, so money flows directly into the community.

Staying in an Eco Lodge in Costa Rica

Not sold on choosing a Costa Rica eco lodge for your trip? Here are some pros and cons that may help you decide!

Pros of Choosing a Costa Rica Eco Lodge

  • They offer a more intimate education on the culture and customs of the area.
  • You have easy access to fun activities, workshops, and experiences.
  • Eco lodges can be more affordable than luxury resorts.
  • You will have more chances to connect closely with other interesting guests than with other forms of accommodation.
  • Locations are more isolated and situated away from crowded areas.
  • You can rest well knowing that your choices positively impact the local economy and environment.

Cons of Choosing a Costa Rica Eco Lodge

  • Some eco lodges don’t have all the amenities a large-scale resort can offer.
  • Traveling to remote Costa Rica eco lodges can be more involved than other accommodations. You may need to drive dirt roads, hike, or even raft to your destination, like at Rios Lodge.
  • Eco lodges are not always the cheapest accommodation option – some basic vacation rentals or economy hotels have lower prices.
  • Some Costa Rica eco lodges can’t take guests year-round due to weather or terrain limitations.
  • Eco lodges accept limited numbers of guests, so rooms and villas can sell out quickly.

While every Costa Rica eco lodge is different, they generally hold similar values, strengths and limitations. It’s worth looking into a few options in the areas you hope to travel to before committing to a lodge or disregarding the possibility altogether.

Best Costa Rica Eco Lodges

Whether you’re looking along the coast or deep in the rainforest, a Costa Rica eco lodge is waiting for you! Here are some top-rated eco lodges that span different locations, price points, and styles.


Price: $$
Location: Pacuare River
Terrain: Rainforest, Riverfront, Mountainous

Rios Lodge is a comfortable and attentive rainforest eco lodge that overlooks the Pacuare River and nearby creeks. This remote location requires guests to raft or hike to and from the lodge, making it an authentic escape from crowded and fast-paced civilization. The main star of this area is exploring the pristine river. With lush rainforest hillsides and steep gorge walls around you, it’s a sight few will experience. 

All private rooms have a covered deck perfect for capturing the sights and sounds of the rainforest, regardless of the commonly-occurring rain. For budget travelers, there is also an ecohostel where you can share a room with other guests at a fraction of the price. 

You can enjoy a covered outdoor dining area where you will mingle with other guests and relax in the sounds of the rainforest. When you’re ready for adventure, several optional activities and stunning experiences are around every turn. Rios Lodge’s Pacuare River Zipline was rated one of the best ziplines in the world in 2023!

Rios Lodge balances total comfort and affordability with thoughtful amenities, simple and welcoming decor and a small, and helpful team of chefs, coordinators, and attendants. 


Price: $$$$
Location: Pacuare River
Terrain: Rainforest, Riverfront

Pacuare Lodge is a luxury Costa Rica eco lodge that offers sumptuous amenities in the heart of the rainforest. They also provide luxury packages connecting you to their partner lodge, Lapa Rios Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, for a trip that includes riverfront and beachfront experiences. From a large riverfront infinity pool to private lounging areas to gourmet dining experiences, Pacuare Lodge prioritizes the highest level of comfort and style. 

You can rent private villas along the river that house private pools, indoor/outdoor designs, expansive deck space, hammocks, and more. They even have a canopy villa that allows you to sleep in the treetops. 

You can enjoy several classes, cultural demonstrations, local tours, guided hikes, spa treatments, and more in between enjoying your accommodations. The main lodge offers top-rated cuisine cooked by locals passionate about flavor and culinary creativity.

This lodge is a luxury option with a high price point, and the amenities, accommodations, and overall experience are well worth it. 


Price: $$
Location: Tortuguero
Terrain: Beach, Canals

Mawamba Lodge is nestled in the midst of a rich wetlands area teeming with wildlife, with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Tortuguero Canals on the other. Surrounded by water, this Costa Rica eco lodge has a unique beachfront and riverfront location. 

Mawamba Lodge leverages this location with several activities on either side of the lodge, from a floating gourmet restaurant and tour experience to boat tours to the coveted self-guided tour of the sea turtle nesting and hatching process.

Mawamba Lodge has a beachy, casual atmosphere with ample options for outdoor relaxation, a refreshing outdoor swimming pool, and comfortable private rooms. 


Price: $$
Location: Savegre River
Terrain: River, Rainforest

The palm-covered roofs and wall-less nature of Rafiki Lodge create a truly stunning glamping experience. This lodge was shaped with South African customs and flare, where some claim the concept of luxury glamping was conceived. The main lodge has views of dense treetops and lush mountains, with several lounge chairs and poolside spots to enjoy the scenery. 

The accommodations include fully-equipped glamping tents with beds, covered porches, and tons of space. 

You can find cuisine that spans traditional Costa Rican flavors to delicious South African-style BBQ in between activities like horseback riding, massages, and rafting.


Price: $$$
Location: Osa Peninsula
Terrain: Rainforest, Beach

El Remanso offers an elevated Costa Rica eco lodge experience with stunning interior design, luxury amenities and an incredibly stylish experience. Each building is a gorgeous example of blending modern architecture and design with the personality of the surrounding environment. 

They have 16 private villas for comfortable, upscale accommodations and offer a generally more sheltered experience than other Costa Rica eco lodge options. Their villas and main lodge have rainforest and coast views as the ocean is just a short walk away. 

El Remanso offers opportunities for surf lessons, nature and wildlife tours, waterfall rappelling, ziplining, and more that you can book through the lodge. When you’ve worked up an appetite, you can head to an open-air dining room that features fresh seafood and local delicacies.


Price: $$
Location: Savegre River
Terrain: River, Rainforest

This Costa Rica eco lodge that looks over the Savegre River’s cloud forest prioritizes serenity and rejuvenation. With plush beds, quiet gazebos, and serene design, Trogon Lodge creates a true escape from the bustle of civilization without sacrificing comfort. 

You can fill your days with hikes and bird-watching excursions, but the activity everyone raves about is enjoying delicious meals at Restaurant El Quetzal. This restaurant emphasizes health and nutrition, with many ingredients in your meal picked from the lands around this eco lodge. Their chefs have a hydroponic farm with tons of fresh produce varieties, catch trout from their ponds, and purchase fresh fruit from neighboring farms. 

Is a Costa Rica Eco Lodge Right For You?

Ask yourself a couple of questions to find your answer:

  • Do you want to prioritize adventure and new experiences over air conditioning and resort life?
  • Do you want to support sustainability and the local community?
  • Do you prefer a unique vacation experience?
  • Do you want to learn more about the land you’re exploring?

If you answered yes to these questions, then an eco lodge is right for you!

There are so many ways to enjoy the Pura Vida experience, and the eco lodges in Costa Rica have made it their mission to offer visitors the most authentic version of our stunning culture, history, and natural beauty.

Ready to plan your Costa Rica adventure with an eco lodge? Reach out to our team! We will help you recharge in the sights, sounds, and experiences you can only experience in the heart of the rainforest.