Learn to make chocolate on Nicuesa Lodge cocoa tour

Cacao tree seed pod at NicuesaIf you visited the beautiful property of Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge four decades ago, instead of a high-end Costa Rica eco-lodge, you would have found only chocolate trees.”

Cacao tree plantations were once plentiful in Costa Rica’s southernmost region of the Golfo Dulce and Osa Peninsula. Cacao was an important export market for Costa Rica until the fungus blight called Monilia destroyed 95% of production in 1979.

On the Chocolate Tour at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, you will learn about cacao’s rich history in Costa Rica, what the cacao fruit looks like, how it is harvested and how to make delicious natural chocolate from raw cacao seeds. The best part is eating your own freshly made chocolate treats after the tour!

Cacao beans, photo by Smithsonian MagazineCacao has a long history in Central America. Cacao beans were revered by indigenous peoples and even used as currency in Pre-Columbian times; in Costa Rica, cacao continued to be exchanged for goods up until the 1930s.
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Your cooking could win you a trip to Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica

Dine gourmet on fresh fish at Playa Nicuesa LodgeRead any of the TripAdvisor reviews about Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica and most of the time guests mention the delicious fresh meals, freshly-caught fish, tropical fruit and creative cocktails.

The family-style dining experience has become an integral part of staying at the Costa Rica rainforest lodge by the Osa Peninsula.

Now you can enjoy the exotic flavors of Nicuesa Edible Landscape Cookbook at Nicuesa LodgeLodge with the free PDF downloadable Edible Landscape Garden Cookbook. In the past, Nicuesa Lodge has published annual short recipe books; now this is a full collection of 38 of their most popular recipes so you can create a little bit of tropical paradise right in your own kitchen.

To celebrate the new cookbook release, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is conducting a Photo Contest to win a four-night vacation for two persons at the Costa Rica eco-lodge. You definitely don’t want to miss this opportunity to win a trip for two to the fabulous eco-lodge located on a 165-acre private preserve by the Piedras Blancas National Park on Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica.

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What is it like to stay at Playa Nicuesa in Costa Rica?

What is it like to stay at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge?

The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge is designed sustainably with lodge buildings tucked into the forest back from the beach. All construction is from beautiful tropical hardwoods taken from naturally fallen or farmed trees, and recycled materials.

For accommodations at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, there are three one-bedroom cabins, one cabin suite, one two-bedroom cabin, four rooms in the two-story Mango Guesthouse, and the two-story three-bedroom Jaguar House. All beds are either queen or twin-sized.

Playa Nicuesa Lodge one-bedroom cabin
The one-bedroom cabins are very private, surrounded by forest to give you the unique feeling of nature everywhere. The cabins are built up from the ground on stilts, and feature a wall of louvered doors that you can open completely for panoramic views, or close for more privacy and at night. Cabins have one queen bed with mosquito netting; there is a ceiling fan, lights, safe box, closet, large plastic box to keep things dry, flashlight and oversize umbrella (handy in the rainforest!). The unique bathrooms have an open-air garden shower surrounded by high walls. Fabulous, natural, biodegradable bath products are from Costa Rican company Raw Botanicals. Two of the cabins are near to the main lodge building and one is closer to the beach.

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Costa Rica is top 10 Green Country in the World

Costa Rica is named the third best Green Country in the World, according to the recently released 2014 Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI).

The Global Green Economy Index™ (GGEI) measures the green economic performance of 60 countries and 70 cities in the world with regard to leadership and climate change, efficiency sectors, markets and investment, and environment and natural capital. The GGEI also assesses the public’s perception of a nation’s green performance. The fourth edition of the GGEI, published by Dual Citizen LLC, a private U.S.-based consultancy, was released at the end of October 2014.

In the Performance Rank, Sweden and Norway top the list, followed by Costa Rica in third place, and then Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Iceland and Spain for the top 10. Germany leads the Perception Rank, followed by Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, United States, Japan, UK, Finland and Switzerland; Costa Rica comes in at 14th place in this ranking. The Perception index is interesting given that Costa Rica ranks third in performance but 14th in perception; while China ranks 13th in perception and 55th in performance.

This is the first time that Costa Rica has been included in the ranking.

“Covered for the first time, Costa Rica records an impressive result, ranking third behind Sweden and Norway on performance and in the top 15 for perceptions overall, a notable accomplishment for such a small country,” states the GGEI. “Costa Rica’s overall top result on the performance measure is driven by impressive results on both the Efficiency Sectors and Environment and Natural Capital dimensions, making it one of only a few countries to achieve such strong results in both areas.”

Costa Rica performs well most notably in tourism where it is the top ranked country in terms of performance on the five areas assessed by the GGEI, the report notes.

Green tourism, also called eco-tourism and sustainable travel, is what Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica is all about. The Costa Rica eco-lodge by the Osa Peninsula is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST). Created by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), the CST program rates and certifies tourism businesses based on their compliance with natural, cultural and social resource management.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve in southern Costa Rica, bordered by the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf), across from the Osa Peninsula. The region is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, Scarlet Macaws and jaguars.

The lodge is offering Green season specials through Dec. 15, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Harnessing the sun’s energy in the Costa Rica rainforest

A lot of people ask us about our solar drying room at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica. Given that we are a Costa Rica rainforest lodge – and that it does rain in the rainforest – a frequent comment in our guest reviews is how happy people are to have a place available for drying out wet clothes.

Guests who stay at our Costa Rica eco-lodge receive a cloth cotton laundry bag upon check-in, with their cabin or room name printed on it. Guests are invited to bring the laundry bag with any wet clothes to be dried to the main lodge building in the morning at breakfast time. Give it to a staff member and the clothes are hung up in the solar drying room. Lodge staff does not wash clothes – guests may do this in their sink or shower.

On a hot sunny day, clothes usually dry in one to two hours. Even on an overcast day, guests should receive dry clothes back in the afternoon of the same day.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is dedicated to sustainable travel and has received the highest rating in the Costa Rica Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST). The lodge dries all of its towels, sheets, bedding, etc. using solar energy. On a sunny day, 24 loads of laundry can be dried in three to five hours!

How does it work?

The solar drying room is located in a natural clearing in the rainforest behind the main lodge buildings, near the tree nursery and compost area. The floor of the drying area is made of gravel stones which heat up quickly, radiating that heat upward toward drying items. The stones also hold the heat if the sun goes away behind clouds.

A clear polycarbonate roof absorbs and reflects the sun’s heat, creating an “oven effect” with the stone floor. The roof is slanted at an extreme angle to create a circular air flow. Sides of the drying room are open for air ventilation and circulation. Lastly, aluminum rods are used for hanging wet items, because the aluminum also heats up quickly and helps with the drying process.

The entire system is very efficient. You can learn about our solar drying room on our Sustainability Tour when staying at the lodge.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve in southern Costa Rica, bordered by the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf). The only way to get there is by boat across the Golfo Dulce from either the towns of Golfito or Puerto Jimenez. The lodge is offering Green season specials through Dec. 15, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Count your blessings in Costa Rica this Thanksgiving on a yoga retreat

Thanksgiving is about gratitude and being thankful for our blessings. This year, why not spend the Thanksgiving holidays giving thanks for all that is good in life on a rejuvenating yoga retreat in Costa Rica at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge.

Imagine retreating from the busyness of everyday life to relax and restore your energy in the rainforest, with 80-degree warm gulf waters at your doorstep and monkeys, Scarlet Macaws and coatis as your neighbors.

Accessible only by boat, the remote oceanfront Costa Rica rainforest lodge is located on the breathtaking Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) just across from the renowned Osa Peninsula. Playa Nicuesa’s 165-acre private reserve joins into the Piedras Blancas National Park. The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed for sustainable travel and holds the highest rating in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) in Costa Rica.

Starting Nov. 23, 2014, the Yoga Meditation and Sound retreat with international yoga instructor Shonna Annapurna Brown and international recording artist John William Bauld, lasts five, six or seven nights. You choose how long you will stay.

The yoga retreat includes two daily yoga classes, meditation, and evening kirtan concerts with the instructors. Yoga classes will be classical hatha yoga, which improves breathing, flexibility, strength and vitality in the body while calming the mind. There also will be Mantrasana Yoga with live music, a meditative hatha yoga class set to live mantra music; and restorative yoga. Yoga classes will be held on the beautiful yoga deck on the beach (shaded) or at the tree canopy-level main lodge building.

Kirtan is soothing participatory music using ancient Sanskrit mantras that opens the heart, purifies the mind, and generates harmony and divine love, retreat information explains.

The retreat package includes accommodation at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge for five, six or seven nights, all meals, boat transfers, guided adventure activities, unlimited self-guided hikes in the preserve, use of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

A special place on the planet: Playa Nicuesa

Sometimes the places most worth visiting require a little more effort to get there. Like Playa Nicuesa.

I’ve taken a small 19-passenger plane 50 minutes south from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica, to the pancake flat coastal town of Puerto Jimenez. We disembark into the sweltering tropical heat of the near-equator and quickly jump into the air-conditioned taxi waiting to drive us five minutes to a rickety, dubious-looking boat dock. All smiles, we are greeted by our very friendly boat captain and guide, who assist our little group to clamber down the dock steps into the little panga boat – thankfully outfitted with a canopy roof.

As we zip across the calm blue-gray waters of the Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”) for our 25-minute boat ride to Playa Nicuesa – the only way to get there – I am mesmerized by the scenery. The horizon is filled with dense green forest and mountains; the Gulf stretches on and on like a giant mirror to the sky. There are no buildings to be seen, not even another boat. And I wonder if this is what Costa Rica must have looked like hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Soon, we are pulling up to the long, very solidly built boat dock at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Here, the clear water looks like liquid jade, reflecting the endless shades of green of palm trees and jungle that crowd the edge of the pebble and sand beach. We are helped off the boat by smiling, friendly staff, and as we walk down the dock toward shore, I nearly expect to see Ricardo Montalban of Fantasy Island come out to greet us.

The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed for sustainable travel. Lodge buildings and bungalows are tucked into the forest, preserving the beautiful coastline. Everything is constructed from naturally fallen or farmed trees and recycled materials, like the roof tiles made from recycled plastic banana bags and other plastics. Lights and electricity come from solar panels and a biodiesel generator that burns recycled fast food oil and other vegetable oils. All water on the property is potable, being piped in from a mountain spring and filtered. The Costa Rica rainforest lodge is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST).

Guests are spread out around the lodge area – located on a 165-acre private preserve that borders the Piedras Blancas National Park – in six private cabins and the four-room two-story Mango Guesthouse. Beautifully built accommodations are very comfortable, and feature bathrooms with a high-walled open-air garden shower.

Over the next three days at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, I enjoyed dolphin and whale-watching to see migrating Pacific Humpback Whales that come into the pristine Golfo Dulce to give birth and breed – we saw a mother whale and her calf. I hiked in the rainforest on lodge trails; kayaked in the mangroves of Esquinas River; enjoyed a yoga class; sat at the beach and relaxed; swam in the warm Golfo Dulce; and had fun socializing with other guests at happy hour every night in the bar, and while savoring delicious, fresh, creative dishes from Nicuesa’s commendable kitchen.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located by the Osa Peninsula on Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica. To get there, drive or fly (NatureAir or Sansa Airlines) to either Puerto Jimenez or Golfito. Nicuesa Lodge will pick you up by boat and transfer you to the lodge (about 30 minutes one-way). Included in lodge rates are all meals, boat transfers, all taxes, all meals and snacks, unlimited self-guided hikes on preserve, use of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Playa Nicuesa is a top sustainable hotel in Costa Rica

What does eco-tourism and being sustainable really mean? Is that just recycling the trash or turning off a few lights?

At Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica, sustainability means much more. The Costa Rica rainforest lodge is one of only three dozen hotels in Costa Rica that have received the highest rating of Five Leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST).

Created by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), the CST program rates and certifies tourism businesses based on their compliance with natural, cultural and social resource management. CST consists of five levels, called “Leaves”; Level five, or Five Leaves, signifies that the company is considered “outstanding in terms of sustainability.”

“Our goal is to provide guests with an experience that they will always remember fondly: Excellence, friendly service, high-end accommodations, educational opportunities and unique, well-run adventure activities, and to provide this experience while operating the lodge in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible,” explained Playa Nicuesa owners, Michael and Donna Butler.

The extraordinary Costa Rica eco-lodge was designed in harmony with the environment constructed from naturally fallen trees and recycled materials. Immersed in the dense tropical rainforest bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park and the pristine Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) in southern Costa Rica, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located on a 165-acre private preserve. Adding to its uniqueness, the only way to get there is by boat across the pristine waters of the Golfo Dulce from either Golfito or Puerto Jimenez.

“We traveled all over Costa Rica and other parts of Central America to find and create a special place where one can intimately experience the natural world of both the tropical rainforest and the Pacific Ocean,” expounded the Costa Rica rainforest lodge owners. “Our plan was to create a place that offers the comfort of a lodge and the activities and diversity of an adventure tour.”

The area is part of a giant conservation area including the world-famous Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. The unique tropical fjord of Golfo Dulce is a critical habitat for migrating Pacific Humpback Whales, and resident and migratory communities of dolphins and sea turtles.

Playa Nicuesa sustainability highlights:

  • Lodge buildings are located on less than 2% of property – 98% is a private protected area.
  • Used recycled construction materials, such as: roof tiles on the lodge and cabins made from recycled plastics, including banana bags.
  • Wood came from naturally fallen trees, permitted by the government to be pulled out of the forest by oxen, or from farmed trees.
  • Electricity is provided by solar energy. Panels are located on main lodge structure. Back-up generator runs on recycled vegetable oil.
  • Solar drying room used to dry all of the lodge wash.
  • Hot water is provided by on-demand propane which means that the propane is used only when the hot water faucet is turned on.
  • Received the Ecological Blue Flag Award for clean beaches.

Check out Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge Green Season Specials for adventure, nature, yoga, relaxation and comfort at great prices through Sept. 30, 2014.

Article by Shannon Farley

 

Monkeying around at Playa Nicuesa in Costa Rica

One of the most thrilling experiences when you visit Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica is seeing monkeys. It is so much fun to watch the cute, miniature-sized Squirrel Monkeys jump and play, and marvel at the ingenious antics of clever White-faced Capuchin Monkeys. You’ll never tire of watching Spider Monkeys swing gracefully through the trees with their long arms, legs and tails. And the haunting call of Howler Monkeys will greet you at dawn, and close your day at dusk.

There are only a few places in Costa Rica where you can see all four native species of monkeys – Playa Nicuesa on Golfo Dulce, the Piedras Blancas National Park, Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park.

Out of 250 species of primates in the world, 68 are in the Americas. Native to the forests of Costa Rica are the Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii), the White-faced Capuchin (Cebus capucinus), the Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata) and Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi).

All four kinds of monkeys are active during the day and live in the treetops. You can see them using their strong limbs and prehensile tails (almost like a third hand) to swing between the trees when you walk the trails at Playa Nicuesa Lodge or on a visit to the Piedras Blancas National Park. On the kayaking tour in the Esquinas River mangrove estuary, you can frequently see White-faced Capuchin Monkeys and also Squirrel Monkeys.

The smallest of the Costa Rican monkeys is the Central American Squirrel Monkey. Adult males average 0.8 kg (1.8 lb) and adult females about 0.7 kg (1.5 lb). Once listed as endangered, in 2008 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revised its status to “vulnerable”. Squirrel Monkeys have the most restricted range of living of all the monkeys, found only on the central and south Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

The other three species have wider ranges, being found in forests from Mexico to Ecuador. The White-faced Capuchin is the second smallest monkey in Costa Rica, while the endangered Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey is the largest. The Mantled Howler is the second largest and is most known for loud calls made by males, especially at dawn and at dusk that can be heard for several kilometers.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is located in the pristine rainforest on a remote beach of the Golfo Dulce. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, the Costa Rica eco-lodge in has its own 165-acre private preserve bordering the Piedras Blancas National Park.

August and September bring whale-watching season to Golfo Dulce, where you can see migrating Pacific Humpback Whales that come to Costa Rica’s warm waters to breed and give birth.

Article by Shannon Farley