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Julia Eskins, Contributor
In Costa Rica, the phrase pura vida (pure life) isn’t just a greeting—it’s a way of life. Locals embrace it by cherishing nature, community and the present, which could be why the Central American nation often ranks as the world’s happiest country (as well as the greenest). With hundreds of beaches on its Pacific and Caribbean coasts, lush rainforests, volcanoes and impressive wildlife, the country has prioritized protecting its incredible biodiversity.
As a result, many of the best hotels in Costa Rica have built their experiences around the awe-inspiring flora and fauna, inviting guests to spot rare species, zip-line through jungles and sample artisanal treasures (delicious coffee included). There’s truly a Costa Rica resort for every travel style, whether you want to soak up the sun at a boutique beachfront oasis or sleep among the sloths at a tented jungle respite. Below, we’ve selected the best resorts in Costa Rica for your 2023 trip.
Best Boutique Resort In Costa Rica: Hotel Nantipa—A Tico Beach Experience
Hotel Nantipa—A Tico Beach Experience
Who Will Love It: Free-spirited travelers who appreciate a local vibe
All-Star Amenities: Private plunge pools, outdoor showers, private terraces with hammocks
What Not To Miss: Yoga classes at the on-site Numu Wellness Center
Location: Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
The word Nantipa means “Blue” in the native Chorotegan language, which is fitting considering the Hotel Nantipa sits on the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the world’s five “Blue Zones,” famed for the longevity of its population. The charming coastal town of Santa Teresa has no doubt attracted its fair share of wellness seekers in recent years, from surfers to yogis, so this is the place to go if you’re looking for an active beach vacation. And with Nantipa offering 21 sleek and modern bungalows, villas and suites just steps from the sandy shores and the smoothie bars in town, you’ll be perfectly positioned to ease into the pura vida lifestyle.
Part of the Small Luxury Hotel collection, the property exudes all the hallmarks of an exceptional boutique hotel: local staff, a charming on-site restaurant serving traditional Tico dishes and fresh seafood, and community offerings like beach clean-ups and yoga classes. Those looking to take their wellness journey one step further can try The Blue Zone Wellness Experience, a package with customized yoga and meditation classes, nutritious meals, nature excursions and other health-focused amenities.
Best Eco-Lodge Resort In Costa Rica: Lapa Rios Lodge
Lapa Rios Lodge
Who Will Love It: Wildlife lovers keen to explore Central America’s last remaining tropical lowland rainforest
All-Star Amenities: Wellies for hiking; naturally sourced bath products; outdoor showers
What Not To Miss: A trip to Corcovado National Park, considered to be one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet
Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Lapa Rios was one of the first eco-lodges in Costa Rica, essentially establishing the blueprint for other sustainable hotels in the country when it opened in 1993. Today, the 17-bungalow retreat protects more than 1,000 acres of primary and secondary rainforest on the country’s Osa Peninsula. The property’s sustainable ethos goes beyond merely being plastic-free. It employs an all-local staff and works with nonprofits to build solar panels, provide educational programs and implement water pumps in nearby communities. Moreover, a partnership with the Nature Conservancy and Costa Rica’s Center for Environmental Law and Natural Resources Association (CEDARENA) ensures the reserve remains protected.
The lodge offers a perfect launch pad for exploring Costa Rica’s wildest corners, including Corcovado National Park, home to more than 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Meanwhile, the Lapa Rios Reserve shelters some of the world’s rarest wildlife. Guests can look forward to spotting all of Costa Rica’s monkey species, the three-toed sloth, tapir, the silky anteater, poison dart frogs and more than 300 bird species. Birdwatchers will be even more overjoyed when they step into the elevated bungalows and villas, ideal for spotting the scarlet macaws the property was named after. Grab your wellies and hike with naturalist guides—all tours and activities, plus three a-la-carte meals a day, are included in the stay.
Best 5-Star Resort In Costa Rica: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Who Will Love It: Multigenerational families excited to make lasting memories
All-Star Amenities: Deep soaking tubs; exclusive bath amenities by Natura Bisse; walk-in closets; children’s amenities, including cribs, bath amenities, and kids’ robes and slippers
What Not To Miss: The Palmares Aerial Adventure, a collection of treetop trails and zip lines.
Location: Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica
Boasting 1,400 acres of coastal dry tropical forest, uncrowded beaches, and ultra-luxurious hotels, Peninsula Papagayo is Costa Rica’s most bougie playground, and for those seeking the pinnacle of pampering, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is its crown jewel. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and northwest coastline, the property enjoys a privileged location with access to two separate beaches. Choose from suites with plunge pools, multi-bedroom villas, or guest rooms with expansive terraces for optimal indoor-outdoor living. All offer easy access to nature and delicious culinary experiences, from the Italian restaurant Pesce to the wood-fired Latin grill at Bahia—best enjoyed after creating your own infused blend of rum at the La Reserva bar.
Guests seeking a thrill will find it at Palmares Outpost, a 250-acre adventure park with zip lining, aerial trekking, and mountain biking trails for all ages. Meanwhile, the Papagayo Explorers team is happy to facilitate niche tours, from planting coral to exploring the calm bay by water bike. With the property set to unveil a new beach club, kids club, wellness shala and renovated Arnold Palmer Signature Course in November 2023, there will soon be even more to look forward to.
Best Resort For Romance In Costa Rica: Origins Lodge
Who Will Love It: Honeymooners and couples seeking a tranquil, off-the-grid getaway
All-Star Amenities: Panoramic terraces; private plunge pool; outdoor fireplaces; binoculars; house-made Ylang-Ylang bath products; outdoor showers
What Not To Miss: Exploring the area’s rural trails on horseback
Location: Upala, Costa Rica
The lush rainforest of Bijagua isn’t part of the typical tourist trail in Costa Rica (yet), which is exactly what makes this mountainous area so magical. And for couples looking to soak in its charms—from crystal clear waterfalls to family-run farms—Origins Lodge offers a luxurious and environmentally friendly way to do so. The boutique resort features six one-bedroom circular luxury lodges and one three-bedroom villa nestled within 111 acres of jungle. Step out onto the expansive decks outfitted with plunge pools and fireplaces and you’ll quickly fall in love with the serene view overlooking the lake and volcanoes of Nicaragua.
Days here are spent hiking, practicing yoga, indulging in spa treatments featuring local ingredients and visiting the organic gardens. With an impressive culinary program overseen by French Michelin-starred chef Jean-Luc L’Hourre, there are plenty of ways to taste the rainforest. Natural lagoons offer hundreds of local fish, while Meliponias beehives produce honey. The property even has a small farm with chickens for organic eggs and a cow for daily house-made cheese. Head out on horseback to meet the local farmers that supply the hotel and appreciate the hundreds of trees Origins has been planting to aid in reforestation.
Best Resort For Beach Lovers In Costa Rica: Arenas Del Mar Beachfront And Rainforest Resort
Arenas Del Mar Beachfront And Rainforest Resort
Who Will Love It: Families looking for barefoot luxury with easy access to the ocean and rainforest alongside delicious dining
All-Star Amenities: A “Tico” minibar with local drink and snacks; full a-la-carte breakfast; surfboards and surf lessons; nightly turndown service; yoga and fitness classes
What Not To Miss: The complimentary tour of the property’s cutting-edge sustainability features
Location: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
As the only luxury hotel in Manuel Antonio on the beach and in the rainforest, Arenas Del Mar offers the best of both worlds. The property sits within an 11-acre private nature reserve with access to two picturesque beaches, Playitas Beach and Espadilla Beach—perfect for boogie boarding or lounging in a hammock while watching sloths and monkeys in the trees. The resort boasts two fabulous restaurants: Playitas Beachfront Restaurant, which specializes in toes-in-the-sand BBQs and street food nights, and Mirador Oceanview Restaurant, which features guest chef collaborations and live music nights. Several areas of the property—including some of the 37 luxury suites and guest rooms—overlook Manuel Antonio National Park, just a 10-minute walk away. Grab your binoculars and discover its wildlife with one of the resort’s expert naturalist guides, who will happily point out toucans, iguanas, frogs, monkeys and sloths. The property’s coastal location also means plenty of ocean excursions, from whale watching to exploring nearby estuaries by kayak.
Best Spa And Wellness Resort In Costa Rica: Tabacón Thermal Resort And Spa
Tabacón Thermal Resort And Spa
Who Will Love It: Spa enthusiasts who dream of recharging in nature
All-Star Amenities: Early access to natural hot springs; in-room jacuzzis; turn-down service; private balconies
What Not To Miss: The Shangri La Gardens, an adults-only lounge exclusively open to guests
Location: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Set amid a 900-acre rainforest reserve at the base of Arenal Volcano, Tabacón Thermal Resort And Spa is a true tropical oasis. The 105-room property boasts the country’s largest and most famous collection of naturally flowing hot springs. While the impressive hydrotherapy circuit is also open to daytime visitors, guests who stay at the resort get exclusive access to the thermal waters for two hours before the spa opens to the public. But there are more reasons than that to spend at least a few days here.
The sustainable resort offers a perfect jumping-off point for exploring Arenal Volcano National Park and nearby gems like the La Fortuna Waterfall. With their expansive decks and comfy king-sized beds, the guest rooms and suites offer a tranquil respite after a day of adventuring, while two restaurants and four bars serve nutritious and tasty delights like Costa Rican oysters and fresh palm heart salad. If you need extra pampering, head to the spa, which offers treatments using local ingredients (think volcanic mud, coffee, and lemongrass) in open-air bungalows hidden among the trees.
Best All-Inclusive Resort In Costa Rica: The Westin Reserva Conchal, An All-Inclusive Golf Resort And Spa
The Westin Reserva Conchal, An All-Inclusive Golf Resort And Spa
Who Will Love It: Fans of the traditional all-inclusive experience, with flowing drinks and ample amenities
All-Star Amenities: 24-hour room service; complimentary minibar; turndown service; freshwater lagoon-style pool; 18-hole golf course; tennis courts
What Not To Miss: The local restaurants in Brasilito (when you need a break from resort food), just a short beach walk from the resort
Location: Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
The Westin Reserva Conchal is comparable to the all-inclusive resorts you would typically find in Mexico and the Dominican Republic—but with a Tico twist. At 2,400 acres, the sprawling property in northern Guanacaste Province feels like its own world, with over-the-top pools, nine restaurants, four bars (including two swim-ups), a championship golf course, a full-service spa, a state-of-the-art gym, and more. The 406 guest rooms range from family suites with bunk beds to the all-inclusive adults-only Westin Club Suite with views of Playa Conchal Guanacaste. Direct beach access, varied activities (and a kids’ club that offers babysitting) make it a hit among families. But couples desiring privacy will find it at the property’s adults-only Royal Beach Club.
Fill your days with included activities like morning yoga, kayaking, tennis, and bike tours, or simply relax under a palapa with a tasty cocktail. There’s more than enough action here to keep you entertained, and the enthusiastic staff goes above and beyond to ensure that (nightly shows included). Even with all the activities on-site, you’ll want to venture beyond the gates. The nearby Rincón de la Vieja National Park offers exceptional hiking, while Palo Verde National Park (accessible only by boat) boasts one of Central America’s largest populations of wading birds.
Best Adventure Resort In Costa Rica: Nayara Tented Camp
Nayara Tented Camp
Who Will Love It: Couples and families craving a safari-style experience that engages all five senses
All-Star Amenities: Private terraces; hot spring-fed plunge pools; a-la-carte room service breakfast; indoor and outdoor showers; complimentary laundry service
What Not To Miss: The on-site sloth sanctuary, where the property has planted over 1,000 Cecropia trees
Location: La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Taking a cue from the ultra-luxe safari lodges in Africa and Asia, Nayara Tented Camp offers travelers a nature-immerse experience with all the plush comforts of a 5-star hotel. The 39 canvas tents perched on a hillside are outfitted with freestanding tubs, canopy beds, and expansive terraces (where you can enjoy breakfast each morning) with plunge pools and views of the Arenal Volcano. The resort offers a range of activities for every adventurer—whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking to go white water rafting and traverse hanging bridges or a geology enthusiast keen to walk across a dried lava bed. And for those eager to excite their palate, there’s a slew of gastronomy experiences—from mixology classes and coffee cupping sessions to elaborate dinners at the Mediterranean restaurant, Ayla.
Among the carbon-neutral resort’s sustainability features is an ambitious project to reforest a mountain, which has, in turn, created a wildlife corridor—sloths, howler monkeys, and even jaguars have been spotted. Wake up early for bird watching or catch a glimpse of rare frogs at night with the property’s naturalist guides. And, in the unlikely scenario that you get bored, there’s always more to discover at sister property Nayara Springs, including a not-to-be-missed seven-course tasting experience at fine dining restaurant Amor Local.
About Julia Eskins, Your Costa Rica Guide
I have been writing and editing travel and lifestyle content for over a decade, with a focus on luxury hotels, innovative sustainability initiatives, and immersive cultural and wellness experiences. Along the way, I have explored over 50 countries, lived in five (Canada, Portugal, Finland, Germany, and Mexico), and stayed at hundreds of hotels and resorts, including several in Costa Rica. No matter where I go, I’ll always track down the best cup of coffee, sunset viewpoint, and local vegetarian restaurants. In addition to Forbes Vetted, my travel guides, reviews, and feature stories have also appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Vogue, Bloomberg Pursuits, Lonely Planet, Time, The Globe and Mail, Afar, Elle Canada, BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, and more.
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