Lapa Rios is the family vacation of a lifetime, located in Southern Costa Rica on the breathtaking Osa Peninsula. It is one of the most sustainable eco-lodges in Costa Rica. One of the few rainforest lodges in the world, located along some pristine beaches, great for surfing. This 17-bungalow lodge sits in a stunning, unique area; pristine tropical lowland rainforest, where nature thrives in a natural state.
Opened in 1993, “Lapa” is the Costa Rican word for the scarlet macaw. The Osa Peninsula is a habitat for jaguars, and all 4 species of Costa Rican monkeys, including the squirrel monkey, white-face capuchin, mantled howler, and spider monkey. There are 3 ways to get here once landing in Costa Rica: Fly, private shuttle service, or drive yourself; take your pick based on your preferences.
It all started in 1993, when the founders John and Karen Lewis first arrived at the property, they were treated to a line of scarlet macaws flying, creating an image to resemble a red river running over the jungle canopy. “Lapa” is the Costa Rican word for the scarlet macaw who made up this river. The name came to be known as Lapa Rios, translating to “River of Scarlet Macaws” in English.
Protecting this pristine environment was important from the beginning, so to ensure permanent protection for the area, the founders partnered with the Nature Conservancy and the Costa Rican land conservation organization to sign a conservation easement. Along with this agreement, comes strict guidelines around land use, to ensure no disturbance to the natural flora and fauna. You will find over 8km of trails, but never more than 10,000 meters to protect the environment. Read more about them here.
Lowest impact construction and operation
- Lapa Rios is within 1,000 acres of protected rainforest and serves as a corridor and protection area for the nearby 100,000-acre, ultra-diverse Corcovado National Park.
- Renewable resources were utilized during the build, and staff were hired locally whenever possible. The project was built to have a low impact on the forest floor, and preserving the environment was top of mind.
Highest level of energy efficiency
- At Lapa Rios, they harness the sun’s power to heat water for guest and staff rooms, but if the weather tends to be cloudy on that day, rest assured that they have backup low-energy water heaters. To conserve energy and adhere to the values of being a low-impact lodge, ceiling fans are found in place of power-hungry air conditioning units.
- 220 solar panels and 10 nano hydro-turbines provide the property with 100% of its energy needs.
Pioneer in waste management
- A very intentional and conscious decision to banish all single-use plastics from the lodge.
- Since the water in Costa Rica is 100% potable, guests are encouraged to use the reusable water bottles provided at the Lodge. Outdated plastic straws have been replaced with a compostable bamboo option.
Using organic and chemical-free products
- They went 100% organic, and biodegradable years ago. Keeping their guests, and the local flora and fauna safe and chemical-free, is one of its core values.
- When sourcing goods, a conscious effort is made to prioritize products made close to home to ensure maximum freshness and support the local economy.
- Growing a garden at the heart of the property has always been a goal, but with hungry wildlife and plenty of native seeds sprouting things all over, it’s been no easy task, but the teams stayed persistent. As such, the garden cannot support the food needs of the hotel, and food is sourced from fresh local suppliers. All food served here is organic, chickens are hormone free, and every cow is grass-fed. The lodge works with local fishermen to ensure fish is always fresh, and that these people can maintain their livelihoods.
Actively protects nature and community
- All guided on-property tours are included in the cost of your stay, and guests are encouraged to take part in a complimentary back-of-house sustainability tour. Staff are eager to share how they are being green and helping reduce their carbon footprint.
- In the early 1990s, Lapa Rios started constructing the Carbonera School next to the nature reserve. This school was the first of its kind in the community, and for over two and a half decades, it has been enriching the lives of local elementary kids, including some hotel staff! Guests are invited to visit the school during their stay and consider donating to show your support. This school is very impactful, as one of the few schools in this remote area of Costa Rica.
- Each year, Lapa Rios helps to organize the annual Lapathon Race. It is a community event loved by all since its start in 2009. This race has raised thousands of dollars for charitable projects in the area. Each year, staff, a handful of guests, and locals run 10km to raise money and promote a healthier lifestyle.
- They add a $25 conservation fee, per person, per stay. This fee goes towards many initiatives: staffing park rangers in Corcovado National Park, education of 500 local children on environmentalism, community recycling centers, and research.
Most Popular Activities near Lapa Rios
- Interpretive hikes
- Sustainability tours
- Bird-watching walks to see many of the 20 Costa Rican birds.
- Golfo Dulce dolphin, whale, and turtle watching
- Sea and mangrove kayaking
READ ON – 36 Eco-friendly Things to Do in Costa Rica (From A to Z)
Best time to visit Lapa Rios
- To avoid the rainy season, plan your visit outside May-June and September-October.
- If you want to enjoy this place the sunniest it can be, visit in March or December.
- The humidity in Costa Rica is high all year around.
- Smaller showers or thunderstorms can be expected all year around, so please be prepared.
READ ON – Best Time To Visit Costa Rica (Factual Data, Pros & Cons, What to Expect)