As the premier luxury hotel tucked inside the vast Tenorio Volcano National Park, Rio Celeste Hideaway is a winning choice for travelers seeking a relaxing refuge in a lesser-traveled pocket of Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province. The property boasts a coveted location just above its emblematic namesake waterway—one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Costa Rica—and has incorporated the privileged distinction into both the design of its accommodations and its eco-minded operations.
There are 26 rather large free-standing casitas scattered across the hotel’s verdant grounds. Though each is built in the distinctive traditional architecture of Costa Rica’s northern plains, they’re equipped with ample modern amenities like large flat-screen televisions, air conditioning, and even a dehumidifier to combat the oppressive humidity of the rainforest. Though unplugging from technology is certainly encouraged, particularly in the evenings, when the jungle buzzes with nature calls emanating from one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the world.
After a night of restorative sleep in the comfort of your “jungalow,” the day’s outdoor pursuits beckon. From thermal bath soaks to forest bathing and river rafting, the range of activities offered by Rio Celeste Hideaway’s local guides is extensive. Don’t pass up the five-mile trek to the Llanos de Cortes waterfall and Los Teñideros, where two river streams join to create the unique milky-turquoise hue for which the Rio Celeste is renowned. You can also interact with nature at the nearby sloth sanctuary and the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge.
Kantara, the signature restaurant at Rio Celeste Hideaway, specializes in local cuisine infused with international influences. Three meals are served in the spacious outdoor dining room, including a bountiful breakfast buffet brimming with tropical fruit, lunchtime sandwiches and pizzas, and an extravagant dinner menu of hand-made pasta, steaks, and fish. If you’re posted up at the pool during the day, drinks and snacks are available at the Blue Moon Swim-Up Bar. Plans are in the works to develop a destination spa with locally-inspired wellness treatments.
Since opening its doors in 2010, more than 90% of Rio Celeste Hideaway’s 75 tropical acres have been designated as an official Tapir Natural Reserve to protect the habitat of Costa Rica’s largest mammal, the endangered Baird’s Tapir (called Danda by locals). A research and monitoring program has also been developed in collaboration with Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation. But that’s just the beginning of the property’s sustainability efforts. The sanctuary actively works to mitigate and compensate for greenhouse gas emissions through its Carbon Footprint Flight Program.
From biodegradable in-room amenities to the extensive recycling program to sustainable water treatment and energy-saving systems, Rio Celeste Hideaway has implemented a slew of practices to reduce its footprint in this pristine corner of Costa Rica. The on-property garden and greenhouse are entirely chemical-free, with many of the kitchen’s ingredients plucked directly from the soil. And each year, the property helps offset carbon emissions by replanting native trees as part of the Association Community Carbon Trees for the Reduction of Carbon Dioxide, a national program. Supporting the natural surroundings is just the start. More than 95% of the hotel’s partners, including its roster of tour operators, are based in the local community. The team also works closely with the neighboring La Paz School to educate students about the importance of recycling and caring for the environment.
- Location: Tenorio Volcano National Park, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica
- Rating: Four Stars
- The Vibe: Intimate and nature-focused with an adventure bent
- Amenities: Outdoor swimming pool; 3 Spa tubs; Garden; Daily housekeeping; Free WiFi; Free parking
- Food + Drink: In Kantala’s expansive outdoor dining room, traditional Costa Rican fare and other Latin American delights are served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Think lots of tropical fruits, ceviche, and steak. Much of the produce comes directly from the on-property garden. On the opposite side of the main seating area is the intimate bar, Cantina Dilirio.
- Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: Exclusive, private access to swimming in the milky-cerulean waters of the Rio Celeste—you won’t be able to (legally) dive in from anywhere else in the national park. The team can also seamlessly organize nearly a dozen outdoor activities from hiking to tubing.
- What’s Nearby: Rio Celeste Waterfall; Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio; Rio Celeste; Miravalles Volcano
- Any Personal Neighborhood Recs? There’s not much to see around the property’s gates (the nearest town is more than 20 minutes away), but Tilaperia Los Laguitos was a yummy spot for a pescatarian-friendly snack a few minutes away by car.
- Rooms: The 26 “junglows” are private and super spacious, with lofty ceilings and outdoor terraces that expand their footprint into the rainforest. The four-poster beds are super comfy. There’s also an indoor and outdoor shower, plus both air conditioning and a dehumidifier for optimal client control year-round.
- Closest Airport: San Carlos Airport
- Starting Rate: $231/night