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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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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Costa Rica Green Season specials at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge

Adventure, nature, yoga, relaxation and comfort … you have it all at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica.

And now in Green Season, you can have it all for a better price!

The unique rainforest lodge in Costa Rica is offering a special vacation deal of a free extra night when you stay three nights. The offer is valid now through Sept. 30, 2014, and applies to any room category.

A true Costa Rica eco-lodge, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge embraces conservation and harmony with nature, and at the same time offers comfortable luxury in the jungle. You can choose to stay in either a private cabin or in the two-story Mango Guest House, which has four rooms each with private bathrooms and a balcony or terrace. Three healthy, delicious meals per day are included with your stay, along with unlimited use of the lodge’s trails, kayaks, snorkeling and fishing equipment, and boat pick-up and drop-off from/to Puerto Jimenez or Golfito.

Accessible only by boat, Playa Nicuesa is beachfront on the breathtaking Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”), one of only a handful of unique tropical fjords in the world. The renowned Osa Peninsula is just across these placid Pacific Ocean waters from the lodge, which is surrounded by its own private nature reserve that joins into the Piedras Blancas National Park.

Another excellent offer is the Yoga Bliss Vacation Package: stay five, six or seven nights at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in your choice of accommodations, and receive two yoga classes daily and three guided adventure activities, in addition to Playa Nicuesa’s usual vacation amenities.

At Playa Nicuesa, you can enjoy multiple adventure tours and activities: rainforest hikes, bird-watching, kayaking, snorkeling, botanical gardens, fishing, horseback riding, dolphin and whale watching, on-site yoga classes and massages, and hammock relaxing.

Article by Shannon Farley

Magical kayaking tour in Costa Rica mangrove river

One of my most favorite tours at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica is to go kayaking in the mangrove estuary at the Esquinas River, and then snorkeling in Golfo Dulce.

There is a magic in peacefully gliding along in a kayak; the only sounds coming from small splashes of kayak paddles sliding through the water, the songs of birds, and the occasional explosion of noise from rainforest insects. Tangled mangrove roots stretch down into silty water like tentacles, while multicolored crabs skitter along the dank wood. Sunshine lights up lime green water reflecting dense green vegetation.

If you stay alert, you may spot the bumpy snout and eyes of a partly-submerged caiman or crocodile. Or you may see a rainbow boa curled around a tree branch, or catch sight of white-faced, spider or squirrel monkeys swinging through the trees. Birds are plentiful, so you will surely see snowy white egrets, ibis, toucans, Scarlet Macaws, any number of kingfishers and herons, multitudes of shore birds at low tide, and maybe a low tree splashed pink with Roseate Spoonbills.

From Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, you travel by boat along the coast further up into the Golfo Dulce (Sweet Gulf) to get to the Esquinas River (meaning “corner” river in Spanish). Kayaks will be towed behind the boat until you reach the river. The Esquinas River is a tidal river, meaning the water level is fuller at high tide and lower as the tide pulls the river out into the Gulf. You will always kayak with the current to make paddling easier, so depending on the tides depends on whether you start kayaking upstream or downstream. Besides kayaking in the main river, you will explore small tributaries amid the mangroves.

After an hour or more of kayaking, you will board the boat once again to travel back out into the Gulf to a prime snorkeling spot. Right off the coast, there are many small coral reefs housing masses of brightly colored tropical fish and other marine life. The Gulf water is warm, calm and usually crystal clear.

On the way back to Playa Nicuesa, watch for playful dolphins, sting rays and sea turtles in the water. In September, you might see migrating Humpback Whales that come into the Golfo Dulce to breed and give birth.

Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is an environmentally sustainable Costa Rica eco-lodge by the Osa Peninsula. The award-winning eco-lodge offers family vacations, honeymoon trips, nature and adventure vacations, and yoga classes and retreats.

Article by Shannon Farley

Have a ball at the Stone Spheres Festival in Costa Rica

Coming at the end of the month to the Osa southern region of Costa Rica, the ninth Festival of the Stone Spheres celebrates one of the most enigmatic historical and cultural mysteries of Costa Rica.

The 2014 Festival of the Spheres will be held March 26 to 30 in Palmar Sur, Palmar Norte and Sierpe. Put on by the National Museum of Costa Rica, the majority of the activities will be at its new satellite Museum of the Stone Spheres at Finca 6 in Palmar Sur, where research on the country’s spheres is centered.

The giant, perfectly-formed spheres of granite-like igneous rock were discovered in southern Costa Rica. Their origin, exact age and history are still a mystery, though archaeologists tentatively date the spheres to 400 to 1500 A.D. Man-made by an indigenous people who disappeared long ago and left no written records, the spheres have sparked international attention as to their origin and purpose. It is suspected that they were used to represent astronomical constellations, for delineation of tribal areas, or served as a place of worship and gathering. They were declared a UNESCO World Heritage in early 2014.

Around 300 spheres have been found in the Diquís Delta region in the south Pacific of Costa Rica, near the Térraba River and the cities of Puerto Cortés, Palmar Norte and Sierpe. The almost perfectly spherical stones range in diameter from a few centimeters up to 2.5 meters, with the largest weighing 16 tons. They were discovered in the early 1930s during the clearing of jungle for banana plantations. One of the many unanswered questions is how the native peoples transported a 16-ton ball made of a rock that exists 50 miles away from where the spheres were found in the jungle.

The Festival of the Stone Spheres will combine cultural and artistic performances, environmental themes, concerts, craft fairs, and educational and sports activities. Shows will be put on by indigenous local Borucas, whose ancestors are credited with having made the spheres. A 47 km mountain bike recreational race will follow historic routes through some pre-Columbian communities and former banana plantations. There also will be an 8 km foot race.

Attend the Festival of the Stone Spheres on your way to or from Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on Golfo Dulce. The remote oceanfront jungle property is a unique and exotic Costa Rica eco-lodge on a 165-acre private reserve across from the Osa Peninsula.

Article by Shannon Farley

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Rainforest retreats at a unique Costa Rica eco lodge

Imagine attending a workshop or a retreat, but instead of a conference center or event hall, you were surrounded by lush coastal rainforest, listening to the sounds of lapping waves of 80-degree calm Pacific gulf waters and roars of howler monkeys in the jungle.

This is what it is like to have a retreat or seminar at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge in Costa Rica. The remote oceanfront jungle lodge on a 165-acre private reserve in southern Costa Rica is a unique and exotic location to organize relaxing and private retreats.

From conferences with scientific guest lecturers to yoga retreats, family reunions to company meetings, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge is ideal for small group getaways. Groups of 18-28 persons can take the entire lodge for a completely private event; or smaller groups can share the lodge with other guests and still have private meeting and gathering space.

Accessible only by boat, Playa Nicuesa is situated on the breathtaking Golfo Dulce (“Sweet Gulf”), one of only a handful of unique tropical fjords in the world. The renowned Osa Peninsula is just across these placid Pacific Ocean waters from the lodge. Their protected reserve joins into the Piedras Blancas National Park.

The undeveloped and pristine haven embraces conservation and harmony with nature. Electric is powered by solar panel generators and fresh water bubbles in from a natural spring. Playa Nicuesa’s beautiful and specially-designed 3,000-square-foot main lodge building – described by some to be like Robinson Crusoe’s tree house – was built all with sustainable materials and houses an open-air bar, dining room and lounge areas. One-of-a-kind “jungle-chic” accommodations in five private bungalows and a separate four-room two-story guest house all have private open-air bathrooms with hot water showers, canopy queen beds, hardwood floors, ceiling fans and private terraces. Fresh meals are included in all stays.

There is a spacious yoga deck by the beach and a canopy-level yoga platform in the main lodge building. Yoga classes are given daily in the early morning and late afternoon. To complement any retreat or seminar program, there are plenty of adventure tours: rainforest hikes on private trails to a waterfall, bird-watching, kayaking and snorkeling on the Golfo Dulce, a botanic garden tour, fishing, a jungle river tour by boat or kayak, and more. Abundant wildlife in the area includes three types of monkeys, coatis, agoutis, crocodiles, Scarlet Macaws, toucans and other tropical birds.

For more information on holding a retreat, seminar or group event at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, check here.

Article by Shannon Farley