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“I want to go back!”
Review of La Paloma Lodge

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La Paloma Lodge
Ranked #3 of 8 Hotels in Drake Bay
Certificate of Excellence
San Francisco, California
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“I want to go back!”
Reviewed 26 February 2012

So incredible! We cannot say enough good things. Getting there is thrilling (small plain, dirt road, boat, hike up a hill). Every moment is an adventure -- hikes in empty wilderness, guided nature walks, empty beaches, beautiful birds, scarlet macaws, unbelievable starry nights. The planning and organization was so professional. Everything was taken care of and we always felt safe and well cared for. The staff was super nice. I wish I could bring our deluxe bungalow back to San Francisco. You can tell that that this place is independently owned and loved like a part of the family. They spare no expense. They don't nickel and dime you. They seem to really enjoy what they do. The other guests are respectful and fun to be around. Really, really exceeded expectations. Thank you La Paloma!

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Laura W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Columbus, Ohio
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 February 2012

Awesome, awesome stay at La Paloma. Bungalow was great, clean & had amazing views (see photos!) The staff was so friendly & helpful, including everyone who took us on our excursions. The grounds were beautiful, meals were yummy. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank teampickles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 February 2012

Although I'm just repeating what so many other reviewers have said, I have to add my enthusiastic endorsement of La Paloma. We stayed in 5 different places during our Costa Rica trip, and La Paloma was our favorite by far. Our room was beautiful and comfortable. The staff is warm and professional. The tours we did, especially with Randall, were lots of fun - we saw a great assortment of wildlife and learned a lot about the flora and fauna of the area. We also loved the "bug lady" walk. The communal dinners may not be for everyone (as noted in a recent review), but we found the other guests to be interesting, and the interaction was a big plus for us. The food was quite good. I hope we can go back some day.

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank MMKSeattle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lexington, Massachusetts
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 January 2012

My wife and I spent four nights here and wish we had booked more. Getting there takes some work--small plane from San Jose to grass runway, 4WD vehicle for 20 minutes, and then wading from a beach to get in a boat--but it is lovely. It was definitely the highlight of our very enjoyable recent trip to Costa Rica. We had a two-story bungalow, which was more than enough space for us (it could have slept three more). It was nicely appointed and had a nice view from the second floor and from the porch on the first floor. The open (no walls above three feet) “club house,” where we ate and which had couches and chairs (plus the monkeys mentioned by other reviewers), was also very nice. The food was very good and, although the choices were limited because of the remote location, each of us found something we liked at every meal. (The choices at lunch one day included a Nicoise salad with tuna caught by a guest.) The staff (from Sue, the owner, and Nicole, the manager, on down) was also very friendly and helpful—the lodge had a much more personal feel than most other places we have stayed. Unlike one of the reviewers below, we enjoyed the "communal" meals. The cocktail hour before dinner was also fun, as it gave us a chance to meet other guests, a very interesting, well-educated, and international group of people. The best part of staying at the lodge was the excursions. We enjoyed all four of the excursions we took, including three day trips and the night-time excursion with the “bug lady.” The trips included modest numbers of guests (four to eight) and a guide and boat captain. We had two different guides for our day trips, both of whom were excellent, though the two trips with Gustavo were especially good. His knowledge of the natural world in Drake Bay is remarkable (he has a degree in biology and grew up in the area) and his enthusiasm for nature is infectious. We saw many different animals, including two kinds of peccaries, four types of monkeys, a tapir, turtles, a caiman, and crocodiles (one was “surfing” in from the ocean to the river). We also saw numerous birds, fish, and dozens of False Orcas that followed our boat (after Gustavo found them by watching the birds). We recommend La Paloma highly to travelers interested in nature.

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Nick062
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 3 Contributor
24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 January 2012

We recently spent five nights at La Paloma with our two boys, 7 and 12. A highlight was snorkeling at Isla del Cano where we saw Hawksbill turtles, a school of barracuda and a white-tipped reef shark. We also got a bit of a lash from a jellyfish which put my children off for a second snorkeling encounter but it feels like a brush with a stinging nettle and the pain disappears. It is just a bit alarming when it happens. Another absolutely wonderful experience was walking in the Corcovado National Park with Randal, La Paloma's guide. He was delightful with the children and extremely knowledgable. We also did a tour to the mangroves which was beautifully peaceful. An alarming piece of news Randal shared was the influence of foreign interests in Corcovado with the Chinese and the Costa Rican government joining forces to build a dam which will have a huge influence on the Oso Peninsula and the completely nonsensical idea of a further international airport in the rainforest. When you travel through the waterways or experience the walk in the park and the harmony and serenity that exists there, it seems unfathomable that the government, once so progressive in things that protected the bio-diversity of this amazing place, could make such appallingly ill-considered decisions. My advice is to visit as soon as you can before the changes in the Oso Peninsula begin.

Room Tip: We stayed in a deluxe ranchero. A tip re the bathroom - do not leave anything in the bathroom. It i...
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  • Stayed January 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank MuriwaiLot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Gainesville, FL
Level 6 Contributor
386 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 389 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 January 2012

My husband and I spent six nights at La Paloma Lodge in January, overlapping with reviewers lisak12 and I think TLJ_12, and we could not agree more with their assessments - we highly recommend La Paloma. This was honestly one of the most relaxing (yet exhausting, in a great way!) vacations that we have ever taken.

Although it is tempting to write a review describing every wonderful detail of our six days and nights, previous reviewers have done a great job describing the hospitaility, wonderful food and rooms, and nature that make up a La Paloma vacation. We concur! Nicole, Sue, Jamaica and Daniela all went out of their way to make our vacation fantastic and to make us feel very much at home. Guides Gustavo, Randall, and Mauricio were all excellent and provided us with great adventures. (We also heard great things about Sergio but he was away while we were at the lodge).The food was very good, especially considering we were in the jungle - our favorites were the gallo pinto, arroz con pollo, tuna salad nicoise, fajitas, fresh fruit and juices, and freshly baked cinnamon rolls and bread. The rooms were great - we left our doors open everynight and slept under the mosquito net - pure heaven to be awakened by the birds and howler monkeys! The $8.00/load laundry was absoutely great - very essential (you get dirty when you are out in the field all day!) and so reasonably priced. All of those aspects of the Lodge were exemplary, but for us the absolute best part of the trip was the ability to see so much wildlife.

My husband I are both biologists and he spent two summers doing field research in Costa Rica over 30 years ago, and we really came to this lovely country to see the wildlife. We were not disappointed in the Osa and at La Paloma. Although we were usually out in the field during the daytime, we still managed to see numerous bird species (scarlet macaws, chestnut mandibled toucans, motmots, trogons, lineated woodpeckers, hummingbirds, tanagers) from our balcony, as well as seeing a resident sloth coming down from a tree to eat almost every day and capuchin monkeys using our rooftop as a corridor from one side of the property to the other. In our nightly walks on property and the road to the beach, we were able to see several species of frogs, including the red-eyed leaf frog and a gladiator frog. Upon arrival wIthin a few minutes of first getting to the property upon we saw a racer (species of harmless snake).

The excursions were even better. We saw the most wildlife on the mangrove tour - it was incredible. The tour travels up and down the Rio Sierpe and into side canals. We saw all four species of monkey that live in the Osa, including three separate troops of endangered squirrel monkeys! We also saw a tree full of toucans, a pair of scarlet macaws, a sloth, two boa constrictors, river snapping turtles, green iguanas, black iguanas, caiman, six basilisk lizards, crocodiles, and several birds that I had never seen before - a boat-billed heron, a pootoo, a yellow-billed cotinga, and two yellow headed caracaras. Also many birds that we have here in Florida (various ibises, herons, egrets, pelicans, frigate birds, an osprey). But the coolest birds for me were the red-footed boobies that we saw before entering the Rio Sierpe. Although they are best known in the Galapagos, we had not seen these boobies at all when there in 2007, as the tour we were on did not go to Tower Island. Had no idea we would see them in Costa Rica but there they were! Randall was our guide for this trip and he was very knowledgable about the flora and the fauna, and was armed with excellent field guides that he was happy to pass around so everyone could get as much out of the trip as possible.

We skipped the included trip to the "first" Corcovado ranger station (San Pedrillo) as we had just visited there the week before on an excursion from the Windstar. Instead we opted for the trip to the "second" station - La Sirena - and this turned out to be an excellent hike. From La Paloma it was about an hour and 15 minute boat ride, with the group departing at 6:00 a.m. Absolutely worth the 4:30 a.m. wake up knock! On the way there we saw an Olive Ridley sea turtle, and that was just the first of many "firsts" for me. Although the station was more crowded than I expected it to be, Gustavo took us into the park through a different route that meant that we saw few people until we had almost completed our hike for the day. We saw three of four species of monkeys (with Gustavo having a "conversation" with an alpha male howler monkey), as well as a tapir, a fer de lance, bull sharks, and many interesting frogs, toads, and insects. What a great day!

We also took the Cano Island snorkeling tour with Mauricio and again had a great time, with the snorkeling better than we expected. We saw schools of jack, several blue fish and surgeon fish, one species of angelfish, a couple of species of butterfly fish, a hawksbill sea turtle, a scorpion fish, lobster, two eels, two color forms of puffer fish and numerous fish we have not yet identified from our photos. There was also a school of barracuda that we somehow missed, and a white tipped reef shark as well. As other reviewers have indicated, the coral is not too impressive but there are A LOT of fish. And the water was much warmer than I expected in the Pacific (we are terribly spoiled with our warm water in the gulf and keys in Florida). Mauricio was happy to dive down and take pictures of the fauna on the bottom (at least 15 feet) and kept an eye on the weaker swimmers in the group. All in all a great day!

The Bug Lady tour was excellent, and we will be adding a review for that tour under that listing in Trip Advisor.

One of the things that I really liked about La Paloma was that Nicole and Jamaica very much wanted to know what we wanted to do and see, as well as our general approach to those activites, and then worked to find touring partners that would be compatible to our interests AND approach. We REALLY wanted to see the wildlife, and were serious about doing so. That means lots of hiking, patience, and quiet, so as to not scare away the animals and so that we could hear the animals to better locate them. We were very lucky that like minded people were at the lodge, and we were able to pair up with them on the tours.

We also liked that if La Paloma did not offer a particular tour, they were happy to try to find someone who did. We were very interested in seeing poison dart frogs, and the lodge is not necessaily the best place to see them. Jamaica (via Gustavo, I believe) located a tour for us with Martin, a local property owner who has posion dart frogs on his property. For $30.00/person (or maybe $35.00, can't quite remember), Martin met us at La Paloma, walked us into Drake Bay and then to his property, and then took us on 2.5 hours of hunting for these lovely frogs. For some reason we sort of had the notion that we'd be going to Martin's house and walking through a pasture or some such to see a few frogs and then be on our way back to the lodge. But instead this was a difficult (hot, sweaty, hilly) walk through a very natural,uneven, narrow, leaf-strewn trail to a lovely creek, which we were able to walk and look for the frogs. We saw 5 individuals of Dendrobates granuliferus and one Phyllobates vittatus - awesome! And I can't thank Martin enough for all of the help he gave me in the hilly, difficult terrain. Such a gentleman! I highly recommend this tour, but only for people who are serious about seeing the frogs, and who are wiling and able to deal with a difficult and exhausting hike (and take enough water! We drank every single drop we took with us and when we returned to La Paloma my husband and I drank one pitcher of raspberry juice and one pitcher of water in 10 minutes between the two of us!)

My husband very much wanted to take a night walk through a stream to look for frogs and snakes. Although we loved the Bug Lady tour, he wanted something a little more intense, since he used to do nightly stream walks as a grad student. Although La Paloma did not offer such walks, Gustavo does offer one through another lodge and we were able to join that trip. Again this was a hike through primary forest on a leafy trail, and then through a stream. Gustavo picked us up at La Paloma around 4:00 pm, walked us into Drake Bay (on the way we saw a scorpion-eating snake) and then drove us to the other lodge. On the night walk we saw numerous species of frogs, including two species of glass frogs (amazing creatures - if you look at their undersides it is like looking through glass - you can see their organs and in some species you can see their bones; in some species the bones are blue!). Finally, after the walk Gustavo found a massive tarantula, and we had some fun getting it to come out of its home.

Every excursion we took, whether offered by La Paloma or facilitated by them, was excellent. And the small number of people on the excursions made wildlife viewing more likely and more enjoyable. Including the guide and us, there were 5 for the La Sirena trip, 4 for the posion dart frogs with Martin, 6 for Cano Island, and 6 for the night hike at the other lodge. There were 9 altogether I think for the mangrove tour, but since we were in a boat on a river having such a large group was no problem at all.

When my husband and I were in Drake Bay the week before (shore excursion from Windstar), he asked me "what will we do here for SIX days?" By the time we left La Paloma, we realized that six days is not nearly enough time to experience the place. We would have loved to have taken a second trip to La Sirena and perhaps to Cano; we didn't have time to horse back ride, zip line or go on one of the bird watching tours (all of which had been on our list before we left home). We only went to the beach once! And we never really got in a rest day (would have been great!) until the last day when we just stayed on property to rest up before our night tour with Gustavo. We are already planning our return, with the hope that we can stay longer the next time.

For all of the reasons described by previous positive reviews, we agree that La Paloma is a must stay. For my husband and me, the ability to see so much wildlife in a six day trip made this our best trip ever!

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank reptileenthusiast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
UK
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 January 2012

We stayed for 4 nights in jan. the lodge was beautiful. The wildlife amazing. And the service fantastic. There was just one downside - communal dining. We found ourselves seated neat the sort of people we work with - ie a bit like us. But we went on holiday to escape work! As a result we spent our evenings being brought back to (work) home. La Paloma is beautiful, but we won't go back unless they let us eat on our own!

  • Stayed January 2012
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Natalie222Uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Paloma Lodge

Property: La Paloma Lodge
Address: Drake Bay, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Drake Bay
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Drake Bay
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Drake Bay
#3 Family Hotel in Drake Bay
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — La Paloma Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We have outstanding views of Drake Bay and the Pacific Ocean from our Lodge. Our standard rooms are large and include a private bath and an ocean view balcony. Our ranchos are one and two-story private cabins that also offer balconies with stunning ocean views. They hold up to 6 people and are very spacious. Some are equipped with a bathroom on both the upper and lower level, and are suitable for families or two couples traveling together. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
La Paloma Hotel Drake Bay
La Paloma Drake Bay
La Paloma Lodge Costa Rica/Drake Bay

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