A tale of dreams and adventure: Beginning Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica
Guests staying at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge always ask: how did the Costa Rica eco-lodge get started?

The question is a reasonable one given Nicuesa Lodge’s isolated location in southern Costa Rica. It is a wild place of dense steamy rainforest and tranquil ocean, intensely populated by thousands of species of tropical wildlife. Playa Nicuesa is a little crescent-shaped beach and small bay on the pristine Golfo Dulce – “Sweet Gulf” – a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, dolphins and hammerhead sharks. The region is a giant conservation area including the world-famous Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, the Piedras Blancas National Park and three other private reserves.

Playa Nicuesa on Golfo Dulce from the air
What keeps Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge so unique and private is that the lodge is accessible only by boat. Almost directly across the gulf from the town of Puerto Jimenez, Nicuesa Lodge’s 165-acre private preserve is backed by rugged mountains and wild jungle of the Piedras Blancas National Park. There are no roads, and there is no development.

Dolphins in Golfo Dulce
So, how did a high-end eco-lodge come to be in this pure, remote place?
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Sparkling bioluminescence in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Bioluminescence-on-shore

Walking along a tropical beach at night or sea kayaking after dark, especially the closer you get to the equator, often you will see sparkling lights in the water. It can seem as if the ocean is a liquid sky of blue stars. This is bioluminescence.

“Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism as the result of a chemical reaction during which chemical energy is converted to light energy,” according to Science Daily.

Bioluminescent jellyfishBioluminescence occurs in a variety of marine animal species – bacteria, plankton, fish, jellyfish, squid and crustaceans. It also exists in some fungi, microorganisms and terrestrial invertebrates – think of fireflies and glow worms. Marine life depends on their bioluminescence for finding food, attracting mates and evading predators, according to Science Journal. Sometimes thousands of square miles of ocean shine with the light of bioluminescent bacteria or plankton. For instance, in Puerto Rico, there are three famous bioluminescent bays.

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Discover the secluded tropical beaches of southern Costa Rica

Dolphin mother and baby playing in Golfo DulceOur location in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica on the “Sweet Gulf” of Golfo Dulce by the Osa Peninsula is full of secluded beaches and amazing biodiversity.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge recently received the Ecological Blue Flag Award for the fifth time for Playa Nicuesa being one of Costa Rica’s cleanest beaches. The area is a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure-seekers. In our tropical rainforest Squirrel Monkeys in southern Costa Ricayou can find all four species of monkeyswhite-faced Capuchin, spider, howler and the endangered squirrel monkey, Scarlet Macaws, toucans, coatis, wild pigs, exotic snakes, ocelots and jaguars, to name a few. Golfo Dulce is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, dolphins and sea turtles.

Besides our Playa Nicuesa, nearby there are 4 tropical Costa Rica beaches that you don’t want to miss when visiting Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

Casa Orquideas Botanical Garden, Golfo Dulce, Costa  RicaPlaya San Josecito

Just around a small rocky point from Playa Nicuesa, to the south, is Playa San Josecito – a long crescent-shaped dark sand beach that steeply drops into the water. At the west end of the beach is Casa Orquideas Botanical Garden, a beautifully landscaped private tropical garden with hundreds of species of ornamental and edible plants that have been collected and cared for by Ron and Trudy MacAllister, who have lived in this remote region since the 1970s. Best features: taking a guided tour of Casa Orquideas Botanical Garden; fishing by kayak just offshore.

Playa Cativo

This pretty little beach is within the Piedras Blancas National Park up in the inner gulf. Playa Cativo also won the Costa Rica Ecological Blue Flag Award for 2014. When the tide is low, there is dark sand beach; when the water is high, you only have the manicured green lawns of Playa Cativo Lodge. Best features: snorkeling at coral reefs nearby; spotting Humpback Whales during whale-watching season.

Playa Cana Blanca, Golfo Dulce, Costa RicaPlaya Cana Blanca

Home to the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary, which rescues and rehabilitates orphaned and injured wild animals, Playa Cana Blanca is also contiguous with Piedras Blancas National Park. This is one of the few completely sandy beaches in Golfo Dulce, and it is gorgeous. Take a tour of the sanctuary and you’ll meet a wide variety of animals, from spider monkeys and white-faced monkeys to sloths, kinkajous, tayras, ocelots, anteaters and Scarlet Macaws. Best features: meeting the animals at Osa Wildlife Sanctuary and learning about their work; relaxing on the beautiful beach.

Beach at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

Playa Balina

This little-known dark sand beach is located in the inner Golfo Dulce, and is best known for snorkeling.

About Playa Nicuesa

The beach at Playa Nicuesa is mostly small pebbles with dark sand, fringed by palm and coastal almond trees – usually full of wild Scarlet Macaws. Our beautiful wooden yoga deck fronts the beach and magnificent Golfo Dulce. When you are here, be sure to try our adventure and nature tours in the rainforest and around Golfo Dulce. Best features: crystal clear water that changes color from bright blue to jade green; jumping off the Nicuesa Lodge dock into cool water; and watching dolphins swim past shore.

Article by Shannon Farley

Playa Nicuesa is one of Costa Rica’s cleanest beaches

Beach at Playa Nicuesa Costa Rica
People come to visit Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica for its pristine tropical beach, beautiful rainforest, and jade green Pacific Ocean so clear you can see to the bottom.

Keeping the beach this unspoiled is a full-time job of Nicuesa Lodge staff – whose efforts were recognized last month when Playa Nicuesa received the important Ecological Blue Flag Award for having one of Costa Rica’s cleanest beaches.

The undertaking is definitely worth it, given that this region of southern Costa Rica is a giant conservation area that includes the world-famous Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, the Piedras Blancas National Park and three other private reserves. The unique Golfo Dulce – “Sweet Gulf” – is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, and dolphins and sea turtles.

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Come and get it! Gourmet dining at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

Dine gourmet on fresh fish at Playa Nicuesa Lodge
Food, glorious food! We all care about what we eat.

One of the great aspects about Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is that you don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat or what you will eat. All meals are included with your stay at the premier Costa Rica rainforest lodge, due to its remote wilderness location.

Exceptional, fresh cuisine is served with flair in Nicuesa Lodge’s magnificent two-story tree house-style main lodge building. The open-air dining area lets you look out at the tree canopy (great for wildlife spotting), the forest, beach and ocean; an open side deck is perfect for gazing at the night sky packed with stars. Seating is family-style with everyone at the lodge, which leads to wonderful engaging conversations about that day’s adventures, other travels and the beauty of life.

Dining in the tree canopy at Nicuesa Lodge
You will be inspired by the abundance of fresh, healthy and wholesome ingredients. Head chef Edixon Lezcano brings a huge helping of creativity to Nicuesa’s menus. There are Asian influences – soy, ginger, citrus and tamarind sauces and dressings. There are Latino influences – quinoa, rice, beans, sauces and cooking methods. And then there are “Edixon influences” like homemade rich dark chocolate cake served with a sweet citrus sauce made from cas fruit (a kind of guava).

“I try to serve healthy cuisine that is low in fat, using natural products that are not artificial,” noted Lezcano, who has delighted guests with his fantastic meals for the past eight years at Nicuesa Lodge.

Dining - Typical breakfast at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
All breads, tortillas, desserts, juices and sauces are made fresh on-site
. On Nicuesa’s 165-acre private reserve they grow tropical fruit trees like mangoes, star fruit, cas guava, oranges, lemons, papayas, water apples, bananas, plantains and coconuts. The edible garden supplies pineapples, sugar cane, basil, spinach, and other vegetables and herbs. They even grow cacao trees and offer a chocolate tour to show you the delicious process of making organic chocolate.

Dinner - Fresh fish at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest LodgeFishing is a popular pastime at the Costa Rica eco-lodge, which is a bonus for the kitchen. “If someone goes fishing and catches fish, we serve it the same day along with dinner to treat everyone,” said Lezcano.

There are always vegetarian and kids’ options at all meals. Happy hour is one of the best times of the day, when guests gather for exotic tropical drink specials and tempting appetizers every night before dinner in the candlelit bar.

Costa Rica eco-lodge Playa Nicuesa sits on the Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) in southern Costa Rica, next to the Piedras Blancas National Park and across from the Osa Peninsula. It is an area of pristine tropical wilderness – a unique adventure travel destination. Contact Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge to book your Costa Rica family vacation, honeymoon, nature and adventure vacation, or yoga retreat.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge Costa Rica
Article by Shannon Farley