Playa Cativo Lodge Costa Rica

Can a resort be eco-friendly but also chic and comfortable?

Playa Cativo Lodge, a newcomer on the Gulfo Dulce across from the Osa Peninsula, does an admirable balancing act. It’s in a country where the green travel competition is stiff—Costa Rica—but this one does a better job than most of providing a luxe experience while having a minimal impact on the environment.

Part of the off-the-grid sensibility is driven by necessity. Playa Cativo is located in a clearing next to a jungle that’s only reached by boat. So there’s internet and electricity, but the former is powered by wireless and the latter by a combination of solar and hydro power. This means no air conditioning since that would tax the system too heavily, but otherwise there’s little sense of sacrifice here. The beers are cold, the rooms are open to the breeze with ceiling fans, and you can recharge your phone to upload photos that will make your work colleagues jealous.

Costa Rica eco lodge

The vistas here can easily melt your stress away. You look out at a usually calm sea through the palm trees, with mountains from the Osa Peninsula jutting up across the water. You can take out a kayak or paddleboard at any time to go exploring and rates include one adventure excursion during your stay. That could be birdwatching, nature exploration, or a guided kayak trip that see birds and monkeys along a riverbank as you drift downstream.

While the resort feels a world away from the busy population centers, it’s not all that hard to reach. You arrive at the Golfito airport on a small plane, take a short city tour, then arrive at the lodge after about 15 minutes on a motorboat. Here’s a short video with the arrival and an overview of the lodge:

There is no wildlife footage in there, but you’ll see plenty of interesting plants and animals nearby. From sea birds to wild pigs to lizards, the guides can turn up all kinds of creatures without going very far. A sea turtle swam near my paddleboard when I was on the water and I saw dolphins offshore. During my visit in early green season though there were surprisingly few bugs and the heat was never all that intense. There’s a cool pool and the gulf for cooling off as needed.

There are a lot of responsible travel layers here that make your stay more meaningful rather than detracting from it. An organic garden on site supplies much of the produce and apart from the wine and a few spirits, the rest comes from Costa Rica. You get a refillable water bottle to use (and keep) so there’s very little garbage generated at all. You get all the expected touches of a high-end resort though, like maid service, comfy beds, attentive waiters, and the ability to eat breakfast when and where you want.

See our full review of Playa Cativo in southern Costa Rica.