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Exploring the Natural Wonders of Costa Rica: Arenal

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

With a territory of only 19,700 square miles (roughly the size of Denmark or the state of West Virginia), Costa Rica holds a distinguished three-pronged stake in the stage of international fame: it is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, one of the happiest places on earth, and home to one of the only five Blue Zones on the planet – regions of the world where longevity reigns.

Flanked by two oceans, intersected by five towering mountain ranges, and home to over two hundred volcanic formations (of which only 5 are active), this relatively small Central American country is host to a remarkable 12 ecosystems. And it shows. Anyone who visits will experience a richness, diversity and intensity of the natural world that will leave them extraordinarily enlivened. Add to this a burgeoning market of unique, luxury eco-lodging, and Costa Rica has become a destination that leaves one coming back for more (and more).


Located an easy 2.5 hour flight from Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports, Costa Rica has two international airports (San Jose and Liberia) which facilitate access to different regions of the country. American Airlines offers the greatest amount of weekly flights but you can also choose to fly on United, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines and more. Direct flights to San Jose are also available from Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Minneapolis.


Miami Living Magazine presents you with 4 lush regions of Costa Rica together with luxurious stay options in each for you to flavor and indulge in.


Northwest Region

Driving time from San José: 2 hr 57 min, 56 miles (138 km)

The Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular and accessible eco-adventure destinations in the country. Located a scenic 2.5 hour drive from San Jose airport or 3 hour drive from Liberia airport, the Arenal Volcano is without a doubt the most well-recognized volcano of the country due to its distinct and impressive conical peak. Until recently it was ranked amongst the top ten most active volcanoes in the world with up to 41 eruptions a day. Currently in a resting phase, the volcano is a landmark for fertile surroundings, unique microclimates and ecosystems, making it home to a variety of exotic species and exciting adventures. Known as the adventure capital of Costa Rica, a visit to Arenal volcano can take you through thermal hot springs, waterfall hikes, hanging bridge jungle tours, spelunking and canopy zip lining thrills all in one weekend.

Explore the 30,000 acres of biological reserve within the Arenal Volcano National Park in search of old lava flow trails, dormant crater hikes and abundant wildlife sighting while getting the most up-close-and-personal views possible of the volcano. Soak in the numerous volcano-fed, mineral-rich thermal hot springs that have been used as therapeutic baths for over 200 years. Discover the forest canopy by aerial tram or zipline in one of the most popular destinations for ziplining and aerial excursions in the country. Hike to and swim in the La Fortuna waterfall, a 200 foot high waterfall considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica. Hike through the Arenal Hanging Bridges private nature preserve along well-maintained trails and across a series of impressive, fixed and hanging high-altitude bridges inside the rainforest with equally spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano. Go spelunking at Venado Caves, an underground wonder world of limestone channels nearly 20 million years old.

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702 Road 21007, Provincia de Alajuela, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

(888) 332-2961


Nestled in the footsteps of one of Costa Rica’s most treasured natural wonders, the Arenal Volcano, Nayara Gardens Relais & Chateaux has been consistently rated as one of the top hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes Travel, Travel + Leisure and more.

Upon arrival, be immediately swept away by breathtaking gardens of indigenous flora and fauna also featuring colorful koi fish and lilypad ponds. Nayara Gardens is the ideal hotel for the adventurous traveler seeking a combination of luxury and outdoor exploration. Enjoy personalized, high-level service from experienced staff and its signature “Pura Vida’’ hospitality.

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Nayara Garden’s unique accommodations consist of “free-standing” luxurious bungalows surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Choose from Rainforest Villas, Casita Deluxe, Spring Villas (available at Nayara Springs) and Tented Camps. All accommodations feature outdoor terraces, oversized jacuzzi tubs, private outdoor showers, and include all modern amenities such as high speed internet, AC, TV, espresso maker and more. Architecturally speaking, all accommodations feature an open-style layout to ensure maximum connectivity with its lush natural setting including Arenal Volcano.

Complimentary services include daily yoga classes, gym/fitness center, personal host, complimentary laundry, twice daily maid service, free calls to the US & Canada and more. Other notable complimentary offers include fresh fruit upon arrival and free daily a-la-carte breakfast served by the pool or out on the terrace in your own room.


Gastronomical experiences are available at Nayara Gardens’ dining destinations including “Asian Luna” featuring Asian fusion with Peruvian Nikkei and “La Terraza” offering International dishes including traditional Costa Rican cuisine. Other gastronomical spots include “Mi Cafecito” (Espresso Bar) and “Nostalgia” (Wine and Tapas Bar).

With thermal hot spring pools available in each accommodation, bathe in mineral rich water straight from the volcano – a truly unique and luxuriant experience. Other notable property features include Nayara’s “Ternas”, seven mineral hot springs pools secluded in the rainforest also offering a range of curated activities. For a memorable adventure experience choose from white-water rafting on the Sarapiqui River, hiking on the Arenal Volcano, mountain biking, zip lining, bird watching or book a night tour with one of Nayara’s expert guides for a multi-colored frogs night-sighting experience or day nature exploration tours.

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Pueblo Nuevo, Bijagua, Alajuela, Costa Rica

+506 4001 5356


Remote, natural and raw, the elusive luxuriousness of ORIGINS Lodge seems to be in a world of its own. Located in the northern highlands of Costa Rica, it sits high atop a mountain with a central masterpiece: a breathtaking 180 degree panoramic view of the majestic Lake Nicaragua and its surrounding valley. The property consists of 45 hectares (111 acres) of pristine nature fostering high-level environmental and social sustainability practices. It is an ideal destination for those seeking to escape and connect with nature, body, mind and spirit.

Arrive by private helicopter or drive to ORIGINS Lodge through an unassuming, unpaved rural road, the unique experience that is Origins begins just in the getting there. Upon entering the property, prepare to be transported into a grand immaculate natural world of tropical rainforest and lagoons, showcasing over 150 different species of local plants and exotic birds and frogs.

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ORIGINS features six luxury eco-lodges inspired by the pre-Columbian architecture of Costa Rica. These stand-alone structures are remarkably circular in shape and made of sustainable and renewable materials minimizing its environmental impact without compromising comfort. Each comes with handcrafted canopy beds, a striking and unique skylight teepee, fire-heated hot tub on the terrace, indoor and outdoor showers and a prized view of its spectacular landscape.

If you are looking for larger accommodations, “Villa Vertigo” is a three-bedroom luxury residence perched on the property’s hillside among the canopy. The suspended architectural villa has 1,000 sq. ft. of living space. It is exquisitely decorated with handcrafted works by local artists, containing all modern amenities including a fully equipped kitchen. Notable is the grand terrace exhibiting a180-degree panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and an oversized fire-heated jacuzzi.

If desired, ORIGINS allows you to book the entire property – ideal for special occasions such as intimate weddings and special gatherings. It is worth mentioning that there are no TVs nor digital distractions anywhere on the property and may not be as suitable for young children.


Michelin-starred chef Jean-Luc L’Hourre is the mastermind behind El Salto, ORIGIN’s star restaurant and gastronomical experience. Savor haute French cuisine fused with Costa Rican’s flavors by Sous Chef, Manuel Ricardo Marroquin Badilla who heads all kitchen operations. All dishes use organic, locally-sourced ingredients from ORIGIN’s own gardens including an on-site fish production. An impressive international wine collection is also available.

El Salto is located in the central building and gathering place of the property, which features a lounge bar, entertainment center (billiard table, games, books and music), hot tub, and a large infinity pool with mesmerizing views of Lake Nicaragua.

For those looking to rejuvenate, ORIGINS offers extensive wellness and holistic healing programs including holistic therapies, yoga at its majestic “Koora Yoga” sanctuary, massage therapy, reflexology, nervous system release therapy, meditation, energy healing, sound and vibration therapy, emotional release therapy (biodecoding) and more. If you are in the mood for something more adventurous, choose from an abundance of tailored-made experiences including nature-guided tours, hikes, cacao plantation tours, horseback riding and more.

Taking pride in its high-level sustainability culture, ORIGINS offers integrated practices including composting its organic waste, a nearly plastic-free and chemical-free environment, plus a bold reforestation project which has yielded 200 new trees annually. ORIGINS also executes socially-focused initiatives designed to support the local community with education, health and sports programs.

By Adriana Garuolis & Markin Abras. Images courtesy of each featured property.


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