Playa Cativo Lodge
Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
At a Glance
Magical off the beaten track setting and accessible only by boat
Just seven rooms so an incredibly personalized jungle experience
Surrounded by some of the most unspoiled and diverse rainforest in the world
An exciting program of activities and experiences on offer
Eco lodge offering lovely accommodations in true harmony with nature
Gourmet farm-to-table restaurant
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
The best time for wildlife viewing in southern Costa Rica is in the 'drier' season from November to April. May to December is the 'green season' when it rains more than the rest of the year. However, this is rainforest so it can rain at any time. October tends to be the wettest month, the creeks rise and roads can be impassable. Costa Rica is incredibly popular over Christmas, New Year and peak vacations so we recommend booking well in advance.
Call us on 858 345 1763 to start planning your vacation to Playa Cativo Lodge or take a look at our itineraries to Osa Peninsula
Playa Cativo Eco Lodge is a beachfront boutique hotel on the Golfo Dulce offering an unparalleled experience set in 1,000 acres of private rainforest, surrounded by the Piedras Blancas National Park, a former extension of the Corcovado National Park.
Playa Cativo’s wooden plantation-style design compliments the natural surroundings of the rainforest, stunning tropical grounds and remote oceanfront setting. Set on an 1000 acre private property which is only accessible by boat the exclusive eco lodge has the feeling of a private home and offers seven beautiful guest rooms, including an inviting private casita nestled close to the beach, Chef Victor prepares inspiring Costa Rican dishes using produce from the lodge’s garden and expert guides are on hand to organize ocean and rainforest experiences.
During your stay you will have the opportunity to take part in plenty of adventurous activities such as hiking in the Piedras Blancas National Park, self-guided walks, nature tours, fishing, sea kayaking, whale and dolphin watching, nocturnal rainforest expedition, snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding. The different eco-systems, including mangroves, allow guests to consistently observe a large and diverse variety of birds and animals in a relatively small area and it’s common to see and hear Howler and white-faced monkeys and Scarlet Macaws around the lodge.
For those looking for relaxation, the sandy beach by the lodge is wonderful to retreat to or the inviting fresh-water swimming pool and gardens or yoga platform surrounded by the sights and sounds of jungle and lapping ocean. The waters in front of the Lodge are also part of the protected area and home to the needlefish spawning which occurs every month for three days.
Playa Cativo has seven elegant guest rooms, which are divided into three different categories; deluxe, luxury and premium according to their location and size. All of them are beautifully furnished in colonial plantation style and have a King bed plus a day bed which can be made up for an extra child or adult. Screens are drawn back during the day so that the rooms are totally open and drawn back at dusk. The bathrooms showcase hand-painted tiles and sinks and have rain showers with hot water supply. Ventilation is provided by ceiling fans and the natural sea breezes. For honeymoon couples the free-standing casita is the most romantic, nestled in the gardens. Wi-Fi and safety boxes.
Luxury guest rooms have all the amenities the deluxe rooms have along with superior ocean views and more space.
Premium guest rooms are even larger than luxury rooms and have the same amenities. Moreover, they feature a mini-bar with refrigerator, double sink bathroom and breathtaking vistas.
Children over the age of 12 are welcome at the lodge but there are no specific facilities available and none of the rooms connect but most rooms sleep three and the Premium rooms can sleep four. The lodge is only accessible by boat and so we recommend it more for older children or teenagers.
The lodge is designed in open-plan plantation style and entirely constructed from local hardwoods and furnished with locally produced furniture and artworks. There is a comfortable open-air sitting/dining room, an air-conditioned library with a TV and computers. There is wi-fi throughout the lodge. There is an outdoor swimming pool, kayaks, stand up paddle boards to borrow and a yoga platform set in the peace of the forest.
Playa Cativo can organize a whole host of exciting activities. Guests can borrow stand up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkeling equipment and all stays include the choice of one guided tour. In addition there are marked trails to follow including one to a waterfall and expert naturalist guides are on hand for early morning and sunset bird-watching, kayaking tours through the mangroves, dolphin and whale watching trips (humpback whales come to give birth in the calm waters of Golfo Dulce from June to September).
Playa Cativo provides a perfect and peaceful yoga retreat where guests can relax and renew the body and spirit in a tranquil beachfront setting. After a long hike or other rigorous exercise, enjoy a relaxing massage in the privacy of your room or in the beautiful gardens.
Sonia Bungaroo (Staff)
The highlight of my stay in Costa Rica, this incredibly intimate and remote ecolodge is reminiscent to something out of a Tarzan fairytale. The perfect balance of immersive nature, with the rooms opening completely to the surrounding elements, and beautiful, detailed furnishings - this is truly where old age luxury meets nature. All rooms and the dining area face onto the calm bay, where you can watch the tide draw dramatically in an out, or sometimes in the rainy season, have the best view of a breath taking thunderstorm over the ocean, just bringing you closer every second to the magical workings of nature. Gerardo, the main nature guide at the property, is a feature of the property himself in the sheer excitement he brings to any nature tour offered at the lodge, and new level of understanding that can be developed about the varied and incredibly unique ecosystems present in Costa Rica.
Dominic Atterton (Staff)
My first thing to strike me about Playa Cativo was the feeling of utter remoteness that you experience as you depart by boat from the port of Golfito. Speeding your way along the coast you watch as all signs of human activity diminish leaving only the deep blue of the golf and the thick, verdant rainforest. The Journey takes about an hour and the absolute highlight was the arrival about 45 minutes unto the trip of a pod of dolphins swimming alongside the boat. It was amazing, completely unexpected. The lodge itself located on a remote bay in the heart of the gulf is a single building housing 6 rooms. My room looked right over the ocean and felt really luxurious for how far off the radar the place is. The experience for me was not dissimilar to being on safari with days spent exploring the rainforest for the abundant wildlife on foot or taking a kayak out into the mangroves in search of crocodiles before returning back to the lodge to eat wonderful meals and share stories with other guests. Following a morning of excursions there is a beautiful pool to chill out all afternoon and I loved taking the stand up paddle board out on the silent still water of the golf. The naturalist guides really bring the whole experience together and you cant help but be caught up in their passion for the incredible nature surrounding you. It is a totally captivating experience.
Katie Aston (Staff)
Accessible only by boat, Playa Cativo is worth making the effort to reach. Opened in 2013 the main lodge is open-sided plantation style building and the interior harks back to colonial times with polished wood contrasting with bright art works and locally-made furniture. Playa Cativo combines style and comfort with a beautiful natural oceanfront location, backed by the Piedras Blancas National Park. If youre lucky you may be accompanied by spinner dolphins mucking about on your transfer from either Golfito or Puerto Jimenez airstrips.
The waters in front of the lodge have become a favorite nursery for humpback whales who favour the calm waters to raise their young and are usually there from June until September. On dry land, there are monkeys around the property, Macaws and parakeets compete in the noise stakes and our wonder-guide (a Costa-Rican Bear Grylls) can magic animals out of nowhere and make even wasp larvae seem like natures miracle. They have Stand up Paddle boards and kayaks to borrow and the chef whips up delicious dishes inspired by his travels around the country, proving that Costa Rica isnt necessarily all about rice and beans.
Cheska Goodwin (Staff)
This place really takes your breath away. We were picked up by the resort's boat transfer in Golfito and taken through the crystal-clear waters to the lodge. As you get closer you slowly see the lodge peeking through the palm trees as you cruise up and land on the beach, greeted with a cold scented towel! You are completely surrounded by rainforest and wildlife here, totally immersed in the beauty of what is for me, quintessential Costa Rica. Fresh fruit juices would just appear, as if the staff could read your mind!
The kayak tour was great fun, and a better way to get up close to the wildlife, and there are some fascinating birds to see. I highly recommend the guided tour through the walking trails, it really opens up the forest and you see things you would usually miss without the eagle eyes of your guide.
This is a 'back to nature' experience, which isn't for everybody, particularly those afraid of bugs, but it is all part of the experience, including being woken in the morning by the howler monkeys behind the lodge! It's important to remember that this hotel is self-sustaining, generating its own electricity, so electronic equipment that requires a high level of electricity (i.e. hairdryers) are not encouraged here. (Phone chargers however are fine, though they do encourage you to 'switch off' to make the most of the experience here!)
Sitting in the pool, cocktail in hand watching the lightning roll across the Osa Peninsula as the sun went down was one of the highlights of my trip.
Do not miss it!
Corcovado National Park
Fly into the teeming rainforest of Corcovado National Park, one of the world's most biologically intense places, for an incredible wildlife experience, looking for tapirs, jaguars, ocelots, brilliantly colored birds and much else besides.
Golfo Dulce Dolphin Tour
Take a boat out into Golfo Dulce to look for dolphins. On occasion, super-pods of 300+ dolphins can be seen cavorting in the sparkling waters. The trip ends with an opportunity to snorkel over a coral reef, and a beach picnic.
Stargazing and dining experience
Shoot for the moon and the stars with an exclusive stargazing and dining experience, enjoy learning about the sparkling southern sky, while enjoying cocktails and culinary treats infused with meteorite dust!
Costa Rica Honeymoon
Bajos del Toro, Golfo Dulce & Uvita
from $5200 pp 8 nights
- Intimate lodges ideal for honeymooners
- Spot howler monkeys, sloths and brilliantly colored birds in Costa Rica's jungles
- Kayak through mangroves and along the Pacific's wild coastline
Costa Rica in Style
Central Valley, Arenal, Golfo Dulce & Uvita
from $7600 pp 12 nights
- Spot howler monkeys, sloths and brilliantly colored birds in the jungles of the Golfo Dulce
- Visit a coffee plantation in Costa Rica’s lush Central Valley
- Stay in effortly chic lodges that make for a memorable trip
Panama & Costa Rica Wildlife Adventure
Panama City, Boquete, Golfo Dulce, Manuel Antonio
from $6200 pp 12 nights
- Discover the engineering feat that is the Panama Canal
- Enjoy great walks in the Panamanian highlands, filled with coffee estates, volcanoes and rainforest
- Sample sancocho or ceviche in one of Panama's many up-and-coming gourmet restaurants
Location & directions
Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Playa Cativo is located on the Golfo Dulce in southwestern Costa Rica. Accessible only by boat, its 1000 acres of private rainforest reserve are surrounded by Piedras Blancas National Park, a natural corridor between La Amistad and Corcovado National Parks.
How to get there
12-hour international flight to San Jose, follwed by a 45-minute flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez or Golfito, the two local ports of entry to Playa Cativo. The last portion of your voyage is a 35-minute scenic boat ride into the heart of the rainforest, courtesy of Playa Cativo Eco Lodge.