Top 9 Birding Lodges in Costa Rica
We have made our top picks of the best birding lodges in Costa Rica after more than 20 years of traveling throughout the country. Love birding and nature? Contact us to customize a TARGET LIST TRIP, just for you.
Best Birding Lodges in Costa Rica
1. La Selva Biological Station
La Selva was originally established in 1954 by Dr. Leslie Holdridge as a farm dedicated to experimentation on mixed plantations for the improvement of natural resources management. It was purchased in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies and declared a private biological reserve and station. Since then, it has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rainforest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.
La Selva Biological Station is a rustic lodge that still acts as a research station for scientists and students. All rooms have fans, comfortable beds, and hot water. The main lodge has a large dining area, a porch with rocking chairs to relax and watch the birds moving through the garden, and a small gift store with snacks and basic needs.
The accommodations are basic but the location and forest make up for the lack of luxury amenities. La Selva is one of the most vibrant areas of the country for plants, birds, and wildlife. Enjoy the trails, and the central lodge (where your meals are served); you will be completely immersed in nature.
Target Birds: Ornate Hawk Eagle, Tiny Hawk, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Pied-Puffbird
2. La Ensenada Lodge
Hacienda La Ensenada is a National Wildlife Refuge located in the province of Puntarenas, on the Gulf of Nicoya. It’s just 2.5 hours from San José and 1.5 hours from Liberia. It is an ideal place for naturalists, bird watchers, and nature lovers.
The ranch is a paradise where you will find the perfect point of balance between nature and serenity. The lodge offers accommodations in comfortable rooms facing the Gulf. Each room has a private bathroom, hot water, closet and a spacious terrace with a hammock. On-site guests can enjoy a swimming pool, restaurant, and hiking trails. Because of its family management, the lodge offers guests the opportunity to participate in the daily activities of the farm as well. Guests can become part of the typical life on a Costa Rican ranch. The Gulf of Nicoya, the mangroves, and the forest offer those who love birds and photography many different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects to discover.
Target Birds: Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Mangrove Hummingbird, Crested Bobwhite, Northern Potoo
3. Selva Bananito Eco Lodge & Ecotourism
Selva Bananito is situated in a pristine and natural setting, located at the foothills of the Cerro Mochila, the eastern outcropping of the Talamanca Mountain Range, in the province of Limon, Costa Rica. Bananito means little banana and is the name of the river that starts in the Private Reserve; Selva Bananito. Selva stands for jungle; hence, the name of the lodge “Selva Bananito”.
Selva Bananito Lodge offers spacious, elegantly tiled bathrooms with solar heated water, one queen or two queen beds in each room, and cozy hammocks for your afternoon siestas. Selva Bananito is “off the grid” meaning there is no electricity. Water is heated by solar power, and dinners are served by candlelight. There are no generators on site to spoil the serenity and peaceful surroundings. The main lodge provides a comfortable area for meals and socializing as well as ample decks with spectacular views.
The remote setting at the lodge provides for some of the best birdwatching in Costa Rica. In the Caribbean lowlands and specifically in the Talamanca Mountain Range the raptors migration occurs twice a year. The sight of hundreds of thousands of raptors flying north or southbound is an incredible experience for all Costa Rica birders.
Target Birds: Checkered-throated Ant-wren, Great Jacamar, Snowy Cotinga, Black-chested Jay, Central American Pygmy Owl
4. Arenal Observatory Lodge
Considered one of the best places to stay for nature lovers in the Arenal area, the historic Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa offers 48 comfortable hotel rooms in various buildings spread over the property. Enjoy delicious meals in the lodge restaurant and enjoy the floor-to-ceiling windows for gazing at the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Be sure to take time to visit the huge observation deck located just outside the restaurant. The views are amazing, plus you will have front row seats to the many bird feeders located throughout the gardens. Bring your binoculars!
Arenal Observatory Lodge is a preferred destination for bird watching in Costa Rica, with more than 500 species of birds found on the grounds and surrounding forest.
Arenal Observatory is a sustainable eco-lodge with a rating of Four Leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) by the Costa Rican Tourism Board. Additionally, Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa consistently wins TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award every year and is a proud member of its Green Leaders program.
Your stay with us at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa includes daily complimentary walks in their gardens and the rainforest with a naturalist guide. On the 870-acre property, guests can explore 11 kilometers (7 miles) of well-maintained trails. An 800-meter (0.5 miles) paved trail allows universal access to explore the gardens and rainforest.
Target Birds: Umbrella Bird, Scale-crested pygmy tyrant, Black-crested Coquette, Spotted Antbird, Ocellated Antbird
5. Selva Verde Lodge
Selva Verde is more than a lodge and more than a rainforest reserve. It is your gateway into a magical world of towering Almendro trees, Mantled Howler Monkeys, and Keel Billed Toucans. Immerse yourself in tropical nature as you hike through the deep green forest or reflect quietly in a comfortable hammock. Rekindle your sense of wonder and discover the out-of-the-ordinary. Experience Selva Verde! For decades, Selva Verde has been a birding hotspot – captivating beginner and expert alike.
Located just 2 hours from San José, Selva Verde provides easy access to the wonders of the rainforest. The lodge offers a variety of room types, most with air conditioning. Guests can also choose to include all meals in their stay if preferred. For over 30 years, Selva Verde has been a haven for nature enthusiasts from around the world. The abundant biodiversity, comfortable accommodations, and exciting activities are ideal for adventure seekers, bird and wildlife watchers, students, and families.
Target Birds: Great Green Macaw, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Sunbittern, Violet Crowned Wood Nymph, Broad-Billed Motmot
6. Rancho Naturalista
This premier birding lodge in Costa Rica, Rancho Naturalista is among the finest in Central America for avid bird watchers. At Rancho Naturalista the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. This comfortable lodge is famous for its excellent food, well prepared, and made with the best fresh local ingredients. The weather is almost perfect year-round, not too hot and not too cold.
Enjoy the large, open upstairs balcony where you can watch a huge array of hummingbirds zoom through the garden, see tanagers and honeycreepers visiting the feeders, and view the distant smoking Tenorio volcano.
Over 450 species of birds have been recorded in the private forest reserve and within the local area. Hike and bird the trails on your own or with one of the lodge’s excellent on-site guides. Rancho Naturalista is a wonderful getaway for bird watchers, hikers, photographers, and naturalists. Make Rancho Naturalista the highlight of your trip to Costa Rica!
Target Birds: Rufous Motmot, Tawny-Crested Flycatcher, Snow-Capped Hummingbird, White-Crowned Manakin, Purplish-Backed Quail-Dove
7. Playa Cativo
Surrounded by some of the most unspoiled and diverse rainforests in the world, Playa Cativo is a Costa Rica Eco Lodge located on the calm waters of the Golfo Dulce, the inner side of the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica. (Golfo Dulce is the only tropical fjord in the Americas.). Unique in its native beauty, seclusion and natural treasures where everything is pitch perfect, Playa Cativo (Cativo Beach) offers an unparalleled experience for those eager to be immersed in nature and away from it all.
Getting to Playa Cativo is an adventure by itself. The flight from Costa Rica’s capital city of San José to Golfito or Puerto Jimenez is a beautiful experience. The 50-minute domestic flight provides spectacular views of Costa Rica’s diverse landscape, including the mountains, farms, rivers, Pacific Ocean, Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula and finally, the Golfo Dulce. Our friendly staff will meet you at the local airport to take you on a stunning 30-minute boat ride to Playa Cativo while you take in the magnificent coastline with tropical vegetation. You may even be welcomed by the occasional school of dolphins! Just sit back, relax and prepare for the experience of a lifetime. Each of the luxurious guest rooms revolve themselves around the unbelievable natural surroundings and are constructed from precious reclaimed hardwood and colorful tile works crafted by local artisans, the open-air design offers an unspoiled 180-degree view of both the ocean and rainforest allowing for the most amazing symphony of sounds of birds, frogs, monkeys, animals and the lapping waves to really feel connected to the natural atmosphere. Bird watching at Playa Cativo is an amazing experience. The lodge borders one of the hidden gems of Costa Rica, Piedras Blancas National Park. P.B. National Park is one of the least visited National Parks in the country, simply due to its very remote location. This means birds and wildlife are abundant. Between the 1,000 acres private reserve and the National Park, bird watchers can expect a myriad of species to add to life lists.
Target Birds: Black-Cheeked Ant-Tanager, Fiery-Billed Aracari, Lovely Cotinga, King Vulture, Thick-Billed Euphonia
8. Casa Corcovado Lodge
With a prime location on the edge of Corcovado National Park, offering deluxe accommodations, exciting activities and some of the very best Costa Rica bird watching, Casa Corcovado Lodge is a must for nature lovers and bird watchers. If you are looking for an authentic, remote and unforgettable vacation experience in Costa Rica, you will find it at Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge. Set above a palm-fringed beach, in tropical gardens surrounded by 170 acres of pristine rainforest, this much-loved destination is the ultimate combination of comfort and adventure.
The jungle lodge was built in harmony with the landscape and the environment in order to enjoy the undisturbed natural beauty of Corcovado. The tranquil hilltop setting provides awe-inspiring views and both ocean and rainforest breezes. The bungalow accommodations are spaced throughout the garden for maximum peace and privacy. The ‘Organic Design’ of the rooms mixes the vibrant, earthy colors and textures of the jungle with contemporary sophistication. Stylish, open-air showers are designed to give you the unique and refreshing experience of being at one with nature.
Casa Corcovado is a leading example of responsible tourism. The lodge has been designed and constructed in a manner that minimizes the impact on the environment and prides itself on adhering to green and sustainable principles in every aspect of the day-to-day operations.
Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge is the closest accommodation to Corcovado National Park, the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s extraordinary, world-renowned national park system. Located on the Osa Peninsula, on the south-western Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Corcovado is the last remaining large and sustainable lowland rainforest in Central America.
Target Birds: Marbled Wood-Quail, Turquoise Cotinga, Black-Faced Ant-Thrush, White-Crested Coquette, White Hawk
9. Savegre Lodge
Savegre Lodge is a lovely mountain lodge set within its own private reserve within the Talamanca Mountain Range. Travel over the highest peaks in Costa Rica, through the paramo, and into a gorgeous valley of white oak trees and lush forests to one of the richest birding areas in Costa Rica.
On one side of the lodge, you will find a cool mountain stream, rich with local trout, on the other the White Oak mountains and a series of forest trails that are wonderful for hiking, birding, and photography. The 1000 acre private reserve provides the perfect habitat for an amazing array of wildlife. Savegre is an absolute bird watching paradise. There are 82 endemic species only found in this area of Costa Rica and Panama.
Enjoy your meals on the patio surrounded by lush gardens and watch the hummingbirds dart throughout the area. Each room is rustic but comfortable with comfortable bedding and hot water showers. The hotel has a lovely spa as well if you want to pamper yourself after a day of hiking and bird watching. Due to the mountain climate, air conditioning is not needed at Savegre Lodge, in fact, be sure to bring a sweater, evenings and early mornings in the Talamanca Mountains are quite chilly.
Target Birds: Resplendent Quetzal, Fiery-Throated Hummingbird, Dusky Nightjar, Peg-Billed Finch, Yellow-Thighed Finch, Long-Tailed Silky