After leaving Playa Nicuesa I puttered across the Golfo Dulce to Puerto Jiminez and bumped my way up to Lapa Rios, this time with my wife and daughter with me. They flew in on Nature Air via San Jose, which is pretty painless considering how remote and wild this area is. It’s a rough road from there to the resort, but you soon forget all that.

Lapa Rios opened two decades ago as one of the pioneer eco-resorts in Costa Rica (and thus the world), showing that you could actually get luxury travelers to make a few sacrifices if you backed it up with a fantastic experience and good food. This is a sustainable lodge on 1,000 acres of jungle—much of it primary rainforest—but with a pool, full bar, hot showers, and comfy beds.

The rooms have terrific views of the canopy and the sea, but the main reason to come here is to interact with nature in some of the best-preserved jungle in Central America. I just popped in a few photos here to give a taste: a white-faced capuchin monkey, a toucan, and a snake spotted on a night hike we took with a guide. I won’t bore you with the whole slideshow, but we saw coatis, agoutis, hawks, spider monkeys, a coral snake, and too much more to even list. One day we spotted five different animals and birds just between the bungalow and breakfast.

I’ll be updating our review of Lapa Rios in the next couple weeks, but the bottom line is, this resort still lives up to the hype. Every guest I talked to was thrilled that they came there, which just about says it all.