IF YOU GO
Getting to Sarapiqui: Land in San Jose, and then take the winding two-hour drive on the Pan American Highway northeast of the capital city to Puerto Viejo (not to be confused with the city of the same name on the Caribbean side). We passed coffee plantations, strawberry farms, waterfalls and the mom-and-pop restaurants called sodas. Serving delicious “typical” food of Costa Rica, this is where the locals eat and so should you.
Where to stay: The Sarapiqui region has no grand, opulent hotels. The largest inn or hotel has about 60 rooms, but it’s all part of its charm. We stayed at Sarapiqui’s Rainforest Lodge, which features a circular thatched roof, like the pre-Columbian style of homes called palenques. The large rooms have cool, tiled floors and a porch looking out onto Edenlike gardens.
Meals in the restaurant are served buffet-style. The pool with a mini waterfall is a refreshing spot for a swim while you look out over the cloud forest canopy. Butterflies and toucans flit about the grounds festooned in the pinks, purples and oranges of tropical flowers. Selva Verde Lodge, set on a nature preserve offers lots of activities for all ages, including day and night guided jungle walks, birding tours and Latin dance classes. A range of accommodations, including suites, bungalows, twobedroom apartments and more budget-style rooms, are available.