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“Great place, but beware the packages”

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Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Golfito
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Ann Arbor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Great place, but beware the packages”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 September 2009

My boyfriend and I stayed at the Nicuesa Lodge for three days and three nights. We were very impressed by the hospitality, available activities, food, and accommodations, but we were disappointed by the value of the activities. One of the main reasons we chose Nicuesa was that we were on extremely tight budgets as a medical student and recently graduated PhD student. We wanted as much control over our spending as possible, and we wanted to be able to stop worrying about money upon arrival. We should not have booked the Rainforest Package.

Below are some warnings if you are considering booking a package, which includes some set of activities in addition to food and accommodations:

(1) The extra daily price of the package could easily exceed the price of activities you would order à la carte. When we booked, the prices were not available online. When we arrived at the lodge, we found that many were much cheaper than the surcharge we were paying. It would be good to request the current prices before booking. It seems the Rainforest Package provides (ironically) the most savings for people interested in fishing.

(2) The activities listed are not all available every day, even if the weather permits. Activities for each day are announced the previous evening. Most of the activities involve early morning departures.

(3) Activities cannot be substituted. The Rainforest Package allowed us one activity from a list each day. We arrived at 10 a.m. and found that most of the activities available under our package were not available that day. We accidentally chose an activity (the night hike) that wasn't in our package, and we didn't realize this until we were presented the bill upon checking out. Though we still only chose three activities, and though the night hike was cheaper than almost all of the activities available under our package, we were still charged the full amount of the hike. This strikes me as unnecessary and marginally tacky, and it was a lousy note on which to end (and remember) the trip.

I hope other travelers can avoid our mistake.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank civicDuty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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252 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (60)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
38 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 133 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 August 2009

From the second the boat pulled up to the dock in the pouring rain, I knew we were going to have a fabulous time. This resort is in an incredible location on the Golfo Dolce--accessible only by boat and set back in the jungle. The area around the lodge is so beautiful that no matter where you look, it's a postcard.

Our room was in the Mango Guest house on the second floor. We had a 180 degree wrap around porch with windows that looked out into the forest with the ocean in the background. Took a bit of getting used to the first night--between the insects, the birds and the monkeys, the jungle is anything but quiet. While there are screens on the windows they don't go from floor to ceiling so bugs and bats (in our case four of them!) can fly in and out. However, I'm extremely squeamish around insects, and it was totally fine. The mosquitos were biting, even with bug spray, but there's a mosquito net over the bed, which we used every night.

As for the tours--incredible! We did the waterfall hike, night hike, the Golfo Dolce tour (saw hundreds of spotted dolphins), visited the nearby wildlife sanctuary, took a yoga class, kayaked through the mangroves and cooked with the chef in the kitchen. The guides and staff at Nicuesa are amazing--everyone goes out of their way to make sure that you're having a good time and getting the most out of your time there. Luis, the manager, checked in with us every day to see how we liked each of the trips and plan the next days activities. Framon, our guide for two of the hikes, was incredibly knowledgeable and fun, and Johnathan, the jack of all trades, not only made photo-worthy juices and cocktails but took us for a walk after dinner where we saw turtles, spiders, snakes and more.

The food was fabulous and fresh (Tomas caught a huge red snapper and it was dinner the next night). There wasn't one bad meal. We stayed four nights, but wish we had made it 5. The first three days were jam packed with activities and we would've liked one more day to explore on our own. We did hike the loop trail on our last morning--not for the faint of heart as it was extremely steep and slippery--but would've loved to kayak out to the coral reef and snorkel one last time. Overall, I can't say enough good things about this place. Truly a memorable vacation and we hope to return at some point.

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank xyztravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
75 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 July 2009

We were at Playa Nicuesa for 4 nights. After getting off the boat, I thought "oh my gosh, what will we do here for 4 days?" It is completely isolated on the Golfo Dulce. But the time really flew by. Each day Luis, the incredible manager, asked me what we would like to do the next day. And each outing was more amazing the previous one. We hiked to a waterfall, which cannot be described adequately here; it was amazing! Our dolphin viewing and snorkeling were beyond description. We watched the dolphins play with each other all around our little boat. We saw more wildlife here than anywhere else in Costa Rica, no contest. One day, we were all laughing over breakfast having been awakened by the Howler monkeys at 5am.
The food and service and all the staff were just fantastic. Absolutely first rate.

it's early to bed, early to rise which was great for us. This is not a place for partying. The rainforest in rainy season...bring old clothes, some of them will end up moldy. It's hard to keep anything dry. This is a truly green lodge, they even give a tour explaining all they do for the environment.

I am terrified of bugs, but it wasn't too bad...until the last night. As I reached for a shirt hanging in the closet to pack it, I saw a 4" long jungle roach on the the shoulder. I only wish I had taken a picture!

The only thing I didn't like was that the beach is rocky, not sand. However, it was great taking out a kayak whenever we felt like it for a nice paddle to a sandy beach nearby. Also, you will be hanging out with your fellow guests a lot, so you have to hope you like them or you'll feel a little isolated.

  • Stayed June 2009
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank aeisenberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wallingford, Connecticut
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 June 2009

We just returned from Playa Nicuesa last night and wanted to write this while everything is so clear in our minds. From the first communication with Marcela to make arrangements, to our goodbye hugs when we left, this was one of our more remarkable vacations! This place is magical and its a little difficult to be specific about why.... the location, the staff, the room, the food, the activities, the staff, the wildlife, the other guests with whom you become friends, the beauty, and did I mention the staff??! Many many thanks to Louis, Joe, Juan Carlos ('Cocoa'), Jonathan (thanks for the stories and your time with our son... Alex will never forget kayaking in the rain with you!), Eric, Friemen, Jodi, Eden (best massage I've ever had, next to the surf and under the canopy while it rained). Apologies to anyone I left out... While there we took the waterfall hike; did the edible landscape tour and cooked dinner in the fabulous kitchen afterwards; took the boat tour of the Gulfo Dulce and rode amongst literally hundreds of spotted dolphins and saw a dozen or more sea turtles; took the surreal kayak tour back into the ancient mangroves (not to be missed); had great massages and ate terrific fresh food. We woke a couple of mornings to the sound of the howler monkeys, and saw the white-faced monkeys around the lodge several times; had a curious parrot come into our cabin and a couple of frogs who seemed to like our bathroom.
Our son reports that this was 'the most awesome trip ever!' He especially liked jumping off the end of the dock with new-found friends (hi to Evan, Ian and Colin!), 6 am yoga with Eden (takes a lot to get a 15 year-old out of bed that early!) and trying out his Spanish with the ever-patient staff.
I could go on and on, but rest assured that if you are looking for an authentic, relaxing, friendly place that practices what it preaches about sustainability, this is the place. We will return; it's just a question of when. Patty, David and Alex

Stayed June 2009, travelled with family
Helpful?
Thank patibug
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Navesink, New Jersey
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 June 2009

Gorgeous rooms- open air baths- holler monkeys in lieu of alarm closks, food great, worth the trip (and it was a trip) to get there! The owners and staff were fabulous- We kayaked, went deep sea fishing, ate breakfast with thd spider monkeys, watched wild boar run through the rainforest, saw Caiman (croc family) and rainbow Boas, and the beautiful birds....

The staff an denvironmentalists answered every questions and led us through hikes - what to wathc for, what to avaoid- and what to do if you cannot avoid. Like wanderer spiders, certain snakes, certain frogs... but what you can see- like the friend I made in a magnificent Amazon (parrot), was so worth the trip!

You are remote- you get tehre by boat only. No phones. The place backs up agains teh rainforest. the kids taht were there absolutely loved teh place- There is so much to do - if your children are afraid of bugs and adventure, this is not for you- if they relish life- nothing can beat this. Bring bug spray.

We ate what we caught- and it was Red Snapper and Mahi Mahi- Really a beautiful, beautiful trip.

  • Stayed January 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Review collected in partnership with Luxury Link

Helpful?
Thank njsadie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charleston, SC
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 February 2009

This was our 3rd trip to Costa Rica and we are sorry that we waited until now to stay at Playa Nicuesa. Difficult to know where to begin - the people, the place and the atmosphere are hard to beat. We were there from January 3rd through the 6th with friends who were on their first trip to CR. We were anxious, having never stayed here, that all of our rants and raves about this beautiful country, friendly people and outrageous wildlife might be a disappointment. Far from it! The cabins are beautiful and wonderfully tucked up in the forest. The Butler's have taken extreme measures to assure that you experience the rainforest at its purest and its best. Unspoiled, unharmed and natural - low level lights (think dark), beautiful furnishings from local wood, staff from the area and local food that is fresh, plentiful and very delicious (eggs and beef are the best we have ever had)!

We have stayed at numerous ecolodges and have had our share of great experiences, however, this was without a doubt one of the best. I don't want to name names for fear of leaving someone out, but a speical thanks to Jonathan for making our evenings special and for showing us the "dark" side of the jungle. We will certainly return on our next visit to CR. Many thanks for making this such a wonderful and memorable trip!

Mike and Candace Gillespie

  • Liked — Pure rainforest experience
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed January 2009, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank gillescf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Colorado
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 January 2009

Pickup was excellent, very nice, very accomodating. The staff is extremely professional and friendly. Very accomodating. The place seemed to have several goals and they achieved them. It was nice to have access to gear without all the extra costs and the need for a guide. We could kayak and hike and kind of live there for a few days. We would have traded our stay at Cristal ballena to spend more time here. The boat transport was way overpriced to get to an activity was our only complaint. (transport to anywhere in the gulf was $200). Otherwise the food wasn't bad, the staff was great, we made a lot of friends and it was absolutely beautiful. We loved seeing all the wildlife and diversity in a sustainble eco lodge. I was even attacked by leaf cutter ants :) It was a lot of fun. Not a place for those on a budget, but it was our honeymoon.

  • Liked — access to adventure gear
  • Disliked — prices
  • Stayed January 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank tripadvise73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

Property: Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
Address: Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas, Golfito 1000, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Golfito
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 12 Hotels in Golfito
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:3 star — Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Playa Nicuesa is an environmentally-friendly eco-lodge set on a 165-acre private rainforest preserve on the undeveloped Pacific Coast of Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. Our jungle & sea location provides a unique adventure and nature vacation: the front yard is a gulf right off the Pacific Ocean, and the backyard consists of thousands of acres of pristine tropical rainforest. Overall, the experience embraces conservation and harmony with the natural environment. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Hotel Golfito
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Golfito
Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge Costa Rica/Golfito

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