“Mom, this is where I want to have my honeymoon.” Clearly, my 11-year-old daughter was as moved as I was by this breathtaking Costa Rica rainforest lodge nested into the dense foliage along the banks of the Pacuare River. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she better keep studying and perhaps should start saving now (she likes to accuse me of destroying her dreams with my reality checks).
Our family of four had the beautiful experience of visiting Pacuare eco lodge during the month of July as part of a larger trip that also included a stay at Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula and several days chilling out at a Cayuga Resorts property in sunny Santa Teresa.
Listed as one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, Pacuare Jungle Lodge offered us a very complete and luxurious Costa Rica adventure with many creature comforts that we were surprised to find so deep in the rainforest (high threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets, top-notch cuisine, a beautiful spa etc.). Please read on to learn more about our special Costa Rica family adventure, or first take a quick peek at this two minute Pacuare Lodge video.
Pacuare Lodge – Getting There is Half the Fun
Pacuare Eco Lodge provides the unique experience of offering guests the option of river rafting in and out of the property on one of the world’s top whitewater rivers. The day starts with a 6:15am pickup from one of two hotels in San José (the Hilton Garden Inn or the Grano de Oro), a 3-hour shuttle ride with a stop for breakfast, followed by an exciting 45 minute river rafting adventure to the lodge.
Not to worry if rafting isn’t your thing – you can optionally arrive at the lodge via a rather bumpy ride in a 4×4 truck. While my husband and son rafted, my daughter and I took the truck since kids need to be at least 12 years old to raft. Once we arrived near the lodge, we were transported across the river by cable car and greeted warmly on the other side by Pacuare staff just in time for lunch.
Pacuare Lodge – The Suites
Pacuare Lodge has 21 spacious suites that are dotted around the property to allow for beautiful views and maximum privacy. They range in size and amenities, but all offer a lovely outdoor terrace with a hammock and an outdoor shower.
As a great appreciator of thoughtful interior design (with no personal talent), I fell head-over-heels in love with our “Ave Sol” Linda Vista Suite. It wasn’t just the level of luxury that I appreciated (that would surely be challenging to achieve in such a remote locale), but it was also the beautiful way that the contemporary fabrics and furniture complimented the local indigenous artwork and tapestries so nicely.
Oh yes, and then there was the gorgeous plunge pool (such a delight after a hot jungle hike), and the beautiful indoor/outdoor bathroom that had the prettiest clawfoot tub.
New at Pacuare Lodge
In 2018, the lodge completed a beautiful new spring-fed, chemical-free infinity pool for the use of resort guests. At 65 feet long, it is perfect for laps. For those less interested in laps, there is a lovely swim-up bar.
Pacuare Lodge – The Cuisine
Guests of Pacuare dine in the main dining room and have several meal options. I couldn’t help but be impressed by not only the food quality, but the also the food presentation, which was really top tier. Guests are welcomed to the bar and lounge before supper to enjoy sunset drinks and nibbles. Special dining experiences can also be arranged such as dinner beside the river with a bonfire (something we enjoyed on our last night), or a special dinner above the lodge in the treehouse.
Excursions at Pacuare Lodge
Pacuare has an extensive list of excursions including visits to a local indigenous community, birdwatching, canyoning and ziplining. As a mother, it is in my nature to have some anxiety over the thought of watching my kids fly through the treetops on a zipline, but I must say that the team at Pacuare was just excellent. I felt that my kids were in very competent hands. This sentiment was echoed, and specifically mentioned, by another mother I met on our trip who had recently visited Pacuare Jungle Lodge with her own daughter.
Note: For any excursions that you absolutely do not want to miss out on at Pacuare, be sure to advise the lodge ahead of time as some require a specific guide (the rubber ducky inflatable river kayaks, as an example).
Pacuare Lodge – The Spa
Since my daughter was just a hair too young to participate in river rafting in and out of Pacuare Lodge, we decided to do a special mother-daughter spa experience together instead. Pacuare Lodge offers treatments for adults as well as tweens and teens in their beautifully serene riverside Jawa Juü Spa. As I lay on the massage table, fully relaxed, I couldn’t help but notice the calming sound of the birds in the trees and the nearby Pacuare River (not a soundtrack of birds and a river as is often played in a city spa).
What Made Pacuare Lodge Special to Us
As a traveling family, we have been fortunate enough to visit jungle lodges in Panama, Peru, Ecuador and now Costa Rica. Some of the things that surprised and particularly impressed us about Pacuare Lodge included the beautiful decor (not rustic by any means), the presentation and quality of the food, and the level of luxury achieved so deep in the rainforest.
What did my kids love most about Pacuare? Like me, they really fell in love with our gorgeous suite. They looked forward to the morning delivery of hot chocolate that they would enjoy on our deck while watching the birds and other creatures in the nearby trees. Their favorite, however, was the adorable little tree frog that stayed beside our plunge pool for days. On our final morning, the kids discovered that she had laid all her eggs in our pool (they were promptly relocated to a more suitable location). My kids could not have been more proud of her.
More About Pacuare Eco Lodge Costa Rica
A stay at Pacuare Lodge includes nightly accommodations, transportation to and from San José (by 4X4 or rafting trip), up to 8 excursions (ziplining, bird watching etc.), daily à la carte breakfast, afternoon coffee, lunch and dinner service. Pacuare welcomes children from 7 years old, although they must be 12 years old to do the river rafting.
Pacuare Lodge Reviews: 96% rate as Very Good or Excellent on TripAdvisor.
Pacuare Lodge Prices: Check current rates at PacuareLodge.com.
Disclosure: We were welcomed at Pacuare Lodge with a discounted media rate stay. All opinions in the post are entirely my own. As aways on this site, I encourage you to also read reviews from recent guests on Tripadvisor prior to making a booking.