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Golfo Dulce: A hidden paradise

Costa Rica may be small, but it is a country that conceals more than one jewel ... In this case, I had the opportunity to visit one of them. A small lodge called "Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge", located in the Golfo Dulce, in the south of Costa Rica. 

How to get there?

You can go overland, bordering the coast with a beautiful view of some sectors of the Pacific beaches, also crossing huge palm oil plantations. Whether you arrive at Golfito or Puerto Jiménez, you will have to take a boat to this lodge, since there is no way to get there overland.

In my case, I travelled by plane, very interesting, I had never travelled by plane before!

I took the plane from Tobias Bolaños Airport in Pavas. We left at 07:00 am, a little late what was due to weather conditions that did not allow us to leave at the right time (06:00 am).

I had heard that these trips were somewhat turbulent, however, I felt it pleasant and it was amazing! From the air, I was able to see the whale tail shaped beach of the Marino Ballena National Park, truly a perfect whale tail.

Whale tail Marino Ballena - Annika

 When we arrived at the Golfito airport, we met the guide from the lodge with whom we continued in a taxi to the pier of Samoa del Sur, a very simple restaurant-hotel. It was a 30 minutes travel in a boat, with no waves at all and the water had a beautiful blue colour. It was like navigating in a magical lagoon.

Once at the beach, they welcomed us very warmly with a very well-tasting cocktail. Some playful spider monkeys came down from their trees to welcome us.

How is this place?

Between some trails covered with vegetation, you will arrive at this lodge. Its main building has its own reception, some bathrooms and on the second floor a dining room, kitchen, and a small bar. Very open space, cool even with the hot weather that we had that day. The rain was not present in the last few days, which assured us that it would be a pleasant stay.

Reception and eating area - Annika / Playa Nicuesa

 The rooms are very comfortable, they have a small building called "Mango Guest House" with four rooms, and a few bungalows. I was lucky because I stayed in one of these bungalows with two other girls.

The forest is always present with all the animals, insects and plants from this exuberant area. We are the invaders!

In my bed I found a visitor, a pretty large spider that was missing a leg or two, it was brown and had a beautiful pattern. It stayed in my room all my stay, I called it "Lisiada" (crippled) and it was always eating the other insects that were approaching my bed, quite a protector!

My little protective friend - Annika Pagels / Playa Nicuesa

During meal times, it was somewhat peculiar... the hotel has a philosophy that both guests and owners are one family. There are no separate tables to eat apart from the other guests but all of them eat at the same time at a long table, making everyone share, even if they do not know each other. It was very nice to share time with a US-American family that was enjoying their vacations. They would spend seven days in this lodge and they had been travelling for almost a month in Costa Rica and were fascinated.

What do people eat in Costa Rica? Find out in the mentioned article. 

The rooms are surrounded by the forest, so when you sleep you will always hear the majestic sounds of it, rainwater falling on the extensive leaves, a concert of frogs and other amphibians rumbling in the depths and the song of some nocturnal birds... The best sound for a relaxing night! 

Cabin "El Delfin" - Annika / Playa Nicuesa

I travel with children, is this a good place?

Of course, it's a good place! It´s an excellent place for families, it also has a "house" where you can host a large family or a group of friends. Even so, it is a lovely, romantic place close to nature. In my opinion, it would be enjoyed more with your couple, having a glass of wine sitting on the pier with the moon reflecting in the sea sounds like a very nice evening!

It's such a remote place... What can I do there?

Something that is true, you can only leave the lodge area by boat. However, there is a lot to do!

When you are staying there, you have several things included, snorkelling equipment, paddleboard, fishing equipment, yoga twice a day, kayaks and a sustainability tour.

I had the opportunity to do almost all the activities they offer, it was amazing.

The sustainability tour is free and is a short journey in which they explain all the ecological practices they use, from recycling methods to how they treat the waters of this place. It is very nice to know that people are increasingly concerned about the environment.

Another tour made during my stay was snorkelling and searching for dolphins. The Golfo Dulce is majestic and immense, we observed a few bottlenose dolphins, such beautiful creatures jumping out of the water. Once the search was finished, we went to a place where we did snorkelling, I had no words, it was my second time doing this sport. Many goldfishes of all sizes and shapes swam among the small schools that surround one. I am a lover of marine life and this was simply an experience I will never forget.


The calm waters - Annika / Playa Nicuesa

 We have been informed by the lodge´s staff that the property began as a farm dedicated to Cacao but, unfortunately, a fungus attacked the different cacao trees preventing these fruits from being suitable for consumption. Nowadays, you can still see the cocoa with the fungus, even so, the lodge offers a chocolate tour where they show you how the cocoa was processed and you end up making your own figures, mine was a whale shark ... it did not look like a whale shark ... but ... it was delicious!


Our hand made chocolates, one looks like a whale shark - Annika / Playa Nicuesa 

Yoga classes are available in the early morning and late afternoon. It occurs on a platform that is on the shore of the sea. While you are in the trance of relaxation, you hear the waves hit the rocks of this beach, creating a harmonious sound. While we were doing our class in the afternoon, a coati was walking near the platform. It was difficult for me to concentrate because he decided to simply pass between us while we were on our own.

During my second night in this place, I truly recognized the real magic of nature. On a walking night tour, we went to the dock where we saw the bioluminescent plankton, I was breathless to see such an event, it reminded me of the movie "Life of Pi" where the whale is seen swimming in a turquoise light ocean at midnight.

We had a lot of luck on that walk, we could see a great variety of insect species and a two-toed sloth that was almost on the ground. I had never been able to see one of this kind of animal so close.

Are you looking for a unique experience? Golfo Dulce is your best option

I have visited many areas in Costa Rica and this trip was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I would love to relive it and be able to enjoy this area once again.

With all my confidence, I can say that this lodge fulfilled all my expectations, all my life I will keep the beautiful memories, not only of the excellent of people there but also that nature itself taught me how magical and powerful it is.

In my opinion, this is an area that you have to visit before you die. Do not miss out on this experience, if you're interested in visiting this place ... do not miss the pure magic that is felt in the Golfo Dulce.

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  • Janaina & Dieter

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

    Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo
  • Carina und Thomas

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina und Thomas
  • Yvonne Deiss

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne Deiss
  • Christina

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

  • Steinebrunner

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

  • Janka

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula
  • Yvonne & Andrea

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea
  • Anita

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

  • Lukas & Isabelle

    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle
  • Reinout & Yvonne Woittiez

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne Woittiez
  • Dominik

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

  • Daniel, Jana und Theo

    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana und Theo
  • Wolf Family

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Wolf Family
  • Neumann

    - The route was super planned, first time to arrive at the beach and then from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was very, very good!
    - The Home Stay day was absolute highlight - very authentic - so they got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived, you were also allowed to look at the house there and Mrs. Neumann found it also a great experience for their children

  • Marine & Bruno Serra

    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno Serra
  • Walter Eggenschwiler

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter Eggenschwiler
  • Ronald Raadsheer

    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald Raadsheer
  • Kathrin Vonschiller

    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

    Kathrin Vonschiller
  • Michael White

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael White
  • Evelyne Thommen

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

    Evelyne Thommen
  • Tanja Weber

    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

    Tanja Weber
  • Ines Lechner

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines Lechner
  • Sabine Schumacher

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine Schumacher
  • Familie Thieme

    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Familie Thieme
  • Familie Stalder

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Familie Stalder
  • Katja Stadelmann

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja Stadelmann
  • Conny Koch

    You and your team have organized a great trip and wonderful days for the guests in your beautiful country and I thank you very much for that!

    Conny Koch
  • Denise Steiger

    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise Steiger
  • Philippe

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub

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