La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Eco Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

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Looking for the best hotels in Puerto Viejo and the best eco hotels in Costa Rica? Planning a visit to the country’s Caribbean Coast? Look up La Kukula Lodge in Puerto Viejo. In this La Kukula Lodge review, we talk about why it’s one of the best family hotels in Costa Rica, and we recommend La Kukula Lodge for anyone traveling in Costa Rica with kids.

punta uva beach - La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

double bedroom 2 - La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Eco Hotel in Costa Rica for Families

The sound is soothing yet stimulating: a symphony of frogs, bugs and birds — each singing, trilling or chirping their part in the opus of the jungle. I lay back on the bed to enjoy the sounds of the rainforest and quickly begin to drift off. Had my son not walked in a few minutes later, I might have been asleep for the night. It was 7 pm. The lighting, landscaping, room design, and sound of the jungle worked together to provide a feeling of happiness and calm — as if I was snug in the womb of the forest.

After reading through their many great reviews, we were thrilled to work with La Kulula Lodge during our time in Puerto Viejo. There are many great eco hotels in Costa Rica, but we found our time at La Kukula Lodge to be special and relaxing in many ways. Tucked into a quiet corner of the country’s Caribbean coast, La Kukula Lodge is both accessible and removed from modern distractions. Run by Spanish couple Pepo and Sonia, La Kukula Lodge is one of the best hotels in Puerto Viejo for families. La Kukula Lodge is an exceptional hotel in Costa Rica for nature lovers, as well. We loved the location, the rooms, the food, the service, and the natural surroundings.

As you’ll soon see in this La Kukula Review, we think that this is one of the best eco-friendly hotels in Costa Rica. I bet you’ll agree. It’s also one of the best Costa Rica hotels for families and our favorite eco hotel in Puerto Viejo. We liked it so much that we actually decided to stay an extra night. Want to commune with the natural world without completely unplugging? Then this La Kukula Lodge review is for you.

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Summary: La Kukula Lodge Review — Our Favorite Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo

_la kukula sloth 2 La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

_la kukula bedroom 1 - La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Interested in this La Kukula Lodge review but don’t have time to read the entire post? Here are a few details about this Costa Rica eco hotel and why we think it’s one of the best hotels in Puerto Viejo for families and nature lovers:

  • Rooms are simple, clean, comfortable, and cool. It’s very hot in Puerto Viejo, but good design keeps these lodges cool all night with no air conditioning. Seriously. I used a blanket!
  • Very close to national parks, Puerto Viejo town, and beautiful beaches.
  • Friendly, professional, and family-run. English and Spanish are spoken fluently.
  • Singles, doubles, and family suites available. Small pool and deck/hammocks.
  • About 10-15 minutes by taxi (or 20-25 minutes by bicycle) from downtown Puerto Viejo.
  • Beach, restaurants, supermarket and bike rental within walking distance
  • Quiet & mellow, with lots of wildlife in the area. We saw monkeys, sloths, hummingbirds, butterflies, cool bugs & a small boa. All on the property.
  • Some mosquitoes in the open dining area but almost ZERO in the rooms!
  • Night falls in Puerto Viejo early. By 6:15 pm, it’s completely dark.
  • Good, filling breakfast (included) and excellent dinner available (extra & reservation only).
  • Water pressure isn’t super strong & not loads of hot water but plenty enough for us.
  • Wifi available but strongest at the dining area/front desk.
  • More on: La Kukula Lodge Official Website

The Rooms: Best Eco Hotels in Costa Rica

La Kukula Lodge Review: One of the Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

The rooms at La Kukula Lodge are clean, simple and comfortable. My room had a safe, a place to hang clothes, two reading lights and two electrical outlets for a total of four plugs. Aside from these things, there is very little else in the room but ceiling fan, beds, mosquito net, and pillows/cushions. I appreciate simplicity like this when it’s clean, and it was. So clean that we took our shoes off upon entering the bedrooms to keep it that way (not required, just the Japanese side of us).

Suite Bungalow: La Kukula Lodge Review

Deck & pool. La Kukula Lodge Review: One of the Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

There are several room styles at La Kukula Lodge. When we first arrived, we stayed in the Suite Bungalow. Surrounded by foliage and flowers, the Suite Bungalow has two bedrooms and one bathroom/shower area connected by a wooden deck. My son enjoyed checking the day’s photos in the hammock every afternoon. Right in front of the suite is a small pool for relaxing and cooling off in the heat of the day. The pool at the suite may be too small for teens to enjoy, but it’s perfect for smaller children. At the Suite House Casa Kukula (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2,350 square feet), there is a larger private pool.

Double Room: La Kukula Lodge Review

Double Room. La Kukula Lodge Review: One of the Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

La Kukula Lodge Review: One of the Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

My son and I enjoyed our time at La Kukula Lodge so much that decided to stay longer. The Suite Bungalow was booked, so we moved to a double room, where they added a single bed for us (available upon request). There were three double rooms in the building, so we shared a wall and a deck with other guests. Each room had its own hammock and small table & chairs.

The bathroom units have a simple rain showerhead and knobs for hot and cold. The shower space provides plenty of room to bathe with a spouse, a child or both. The water pressure isn’t powerful, and the hot water isn’t as strong as some luxury hotels, but it was plenty for our needs. To be honest, after our days of surfing and zip lining in the sun, I was much more interested in the cold water than the hot. That said, those who want a hot shower at the end of the day shouldn’t go disappointed.

Like many of the best eco hotels in Costa Rica, La Kukula Lodge provides a daily supply of biodegradable shampoo and bath gel, as well as plenty of towels. Sitting next to the shower space is a complimentary jar of water and glasses. Keep in mind that these are glass — not plastic — so be careful with little ones.

Eco Design: La Kukula Lodge Review

Like all the best eco hotels in Costa Rica, the La Kukula Lodge is built to have a small ecological footprint. Rooms are designed to release heat and maintain airflow without using lots of electricity. To be honest, I was skeptical of this at first. After all, when we arrived, it was 28ºC/84ºF and 80% humidity. And this was after dark!

When I realized that there was no air conditioning, I simply hoped that the ceiling fan worked well. To my pleasant surprise, the combination of shade, good design, and a nice ceiling fan made the room very cool and comfortable day and night. So cool that I found myself snug under the blankets the following morning. Beds come with a variety of pillows and a mosquito net. When we visited, I was happy to have no mosquitoes in our rooms. The lounge/dining area had a few at night while I was working there (the wifi reception is much better near the front desk). However, no mozzies in the room.

The Location: Best Eco Hotels in Costa Rica

Playa Chiquita 2 La Kukula Lodge Review: One of the Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

For us, the La Kukula Lodge is a perfect mix of connected and secluded. Some of the best eco-hotels in Costa Rica are deep in the jungle. Some are literally off the grid, which limits your evening options and puts a strain on internet and electricity usage. These are great, but for our needs, we wanted power and wifi, and we wanted to be close to a town and its services. La Kukula Lodge is about a 15-minute drive from Puerto Viejo, but if you’d rather stay away from town, there are a few restaurants and a small supermarket a short walk away, as well.

We enjoyed the authentic Italian pizzas and tiramisu at Pizzeria Pulcinella across the street. We also walked less than five minutes on foot to the El Duende Gourmet supermarket for everything we needed. It looks like a large convenience store from the outside. Inside, however, they have everything from diapers to Chilean wine. This place came in super handy when we needed things like sunscreenmosquito repellent and fresh fruit.

Playa Chiquita - La Kukula Lodge Review: One of the Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Walk a few minutes down the road in the other direction and you’ll see the entrance to Playa Chiquita Beach. Simply walk through the gate and down a short jungle path and you end up at a nice stretch of coastline with shallow waters. There are even some tidal pools that are a great place to witness some of the vibrant sea life in the area.

Getting To/From La Kukula Lodge

There are bicycles for rent nearby as well. And that’s a good thing because biking the coast road was one of our favorite things to do in Puerto Viejo. Bike 20 minutes to the west and you arrive at Puerto Viejo town, passing by numerous great beaches. Ride 10 minutes to the east and you reach Punta Uva: our favorite beach out of the ones we visited. Beyond here is the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife and Marine Refuge.

Don’t want to bike? Taxis and tuk-tuks can take you in either direction for around 3-5,000 Costa Rican colones, depending on how far you go and how many people you have with you. It’s hard to believe that the property is only a few minutes on foot from the road that leads to town. The entire grounds feel like a hundred miles from civilization.

The Wildlife: La Kukula Lodge Review

wild sloth. La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Each room at La Kukula Lodge feels like it’s in the heart of the rainforest. It sounds like it too. At night you can hear a cacophony of insects, amphibians, and birds. In the morning, you hear the full-throated call of howler monkeys.

You don’t just hear the wildlife at La Kukula Lodge. You see them too. On the first day of our short stay at La Kukula, we heard frogs and toucans and saw half a dozen monkeys. On the second day, we saw blue morpho butterflies and a sloth high in the trees (“Kukula” means “sloth” in Costa Rica). Soon after, we saw a small baby boa constrictor! All on the property!

In the days that followed, we saw even more. These were not caged animals. Rather, they just happened to be passing through while we were in their territory.

The Food: Meals at La Kukula Lodge

Pollo Carebeña - Caribbean Chicken La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Breakfast. La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Breakfast is complimentary at La Kukula Lodge and served between 7:30 and 9:30. When we visited, we started with fresh juice (orange, watermelon, lemon with fresh ginger, etc) and good Costa Rican coffee. Next came whole-grain bread and homemade jam. We loved the papaya-passion fruit jam the best. This was followed by a bowl of fresh-cut fruit: usually some combination of pineapple, watermelon, and papaya.

The main dish was usually a choice between eggs (made to order) and pancakes. However, one morning a vanilla cake was one of the options. We preferred the eggs, as they were more filling and came with a side of rustic bread with a tomato spread — something we have fond memories of from our years in Spain. Additional helpings of coffee, bread, and jam were available. In a hurry one morning? Sonia says order scrambled eggs because they’re faster. For example, one day we had an 8 am pickup for a zip line tour. We ordered scrambled at 7:30 and were able to eat a leisurely breakfast with time to spare.

Dinner at La Kukula Lodge

dinner 1 La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

Dinner at La Kukula Lodge is at additional cost and must be ordered ahead of time. It’s worth it. We had dinner at the lodge one night and it was spectacular. We started with an appetizer of revuelutos. This is basically a Spanish-style scrambled egg dish with peppers, zucchini and onions. We devoured this (and I finished off a delicious Mojito and Cuba Libre each) as our entree and salads arrived. The cook was a lovely woman who told me she’d write down her salad dressing recipe when I complimented her on it. I’m kicking myself now for forgetting to ask.

dinner 2. La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

I ordered the Pescado a la Plancha: fish on the grill. My snapper had been seasoned with thyme and several other spices I couldn’t place. Was it allspice? Rosemary? Both? The boy ordered Pollo con Salsa Caribeña, a chicken dish with a sweet and slightly spicy sauce found all over the eastern coast of Costa Rica. We had eaten versions of this dish in many Costa Rican restaurants but wanted to see how theirs was. We weren’t disappointed. There are lots of great restaurants in Puerto Viejo, but this was the best version of the regional dish we had during the entire week. For dessert, the boy ordered a chocolate cake with ice cream, and I had an excellent avocado-lime pie.

Conclusion: La Kulula Lodge Review

lobby. La Kukula Lodge Review: Best Hotels in Puerto Viejo Costa Rica

We can recommend La Kukula Lodge without reservation. In fact, we’re looking at how to get back to this amazing Puerto Viejo hotel as soon as possible! This was just a short father-son trip, but now I want Keiko and our girl to stay here, too! If you’re looking for a great eco hotel in Costa Rica and want to explore the wild side of the country’s Caribbean coast, then this is one of the best family hotels in Costa Rica for you.

Have you stayed at any great hotels in Puerto Viejo? Do you know any great eco hotels in Costa Rica? Have you stayed at La Kukula Lodge? We’d love to hear your thoughts of Costa Rica hotels for families and nature lovers. Let us know!

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Disclosure: Much of our stay was sponsored by La Kukula Lodge. That said, my views are my own. As always. This La Kukula Lodge review may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you book an eco hotel in Costa Rica using our links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best hotels in Costa Rica for families and the best eco hotels in Puerto Viejo. If you know of other great family hotels in Costa Rica, please get in touch.

Comments

  1. Jason this is so awesome.

    We did a 6 week house sit DEEP in the jungles around Bribri. About a 3 hour hike into la selva. We saw everything, quite regularly. No humans for miles. Just wildlife. Every Friday we walked into Bribri and caught the bus to Puerto Viejo for a taste of civilization. And to check email. Then Saturday we were back in Bribri, stocking up on groceries for the week before heading back to the hut. So much nature on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.

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