From Surf Towns to Cloud Forests, These Are Costa Rica’s Dreamiest Airbnbs

The best way to embrace the country’s pura vida is by staying in one of these nature-surrounded rental properties.

A glass villa with a flat roof and striking red floor with plenty of outdoor living spaces, surrounded by forest

The best Airbnbs in Costa Rica take advantage of the country’s abundant nature and are designed to bring the outdoors inside.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Costa Rica is a country whose reputation precedes it: After all, with a motto and way of life like pura vida, or “pure life,” it’s impossible not to arrive expecting a little slice of heaven. The good news? It’s pretty impossible not to have your expectations met or exceeded. This Central American paradise has everything from surfer-friendly beaches and wildlife-filled national parks to excellent restaurants and plenty of adventure sports. And while the country is home to some of the most incredible resorts in the region, there’s a special magic to getting away from the crowds and renting your own villa, cabin, or tree house.

Here, instead of being surrounded by fellow travelers at the lobby bar or pool, you can tune in fully to what makes the country so special: watching migrating whales from your balcony, taking in the birdsong of the cloud forest over your morning coffee, swimming in the country’s rivers, riding its ocean waves, or hiking on its trails to find hidden waterfalls. Best of all, these 10 Costa Rica Airbnbs offer an experience that’s far from roughing it, with many including perks like saunas, clawfoot tubs, infinity pools, and even massage or private chef services.

Outdoor living space next to an infinity pool with a large tree, a bar seating area, a BBQ grill, two lounge chairs, and a hammock

A towering mango tree dominates the backyard at this midcentury-inspired villa.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Modern house overlooking the Pacific

Located on the Nicoya Peninsula near teeming coral reefs and sea turtle nesting sites, this two-bedroom house draws on midcentury modernist influences, with plenty of teak and concrete, bold orange accent furnishings, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that look out over the bay and the islands beyond. External spaces are centered around an enormous mango tree that droops with fruit in season and shades an infinity pool and stylish outdoor seating area. From the deck, you’ll often be serenaded by cicadas and tropical birds and decidedly less melodic—but no less cool!—howler monkeys. Consider them a unique alarm you don’t have to remember to set.

Bedroom with glass walls open to let views in

The floor-to-ceiling windows of this villa are designed to offer the best views.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Rammed-earth design villa on a jungle hillside

Czech design studio Formafatal created this pair of strikingly modern one-bedroom villas—the earth-toned Nefrit and its airier sister property, Jaspis—on a hillside about 1,000 feet above the famed surf beach Playa Hermosa. The architects collected clay on-site to make these sustainable rammed-earth structures, which look like a sun-drenched take on brutalism. Frameless, floor-to-ceiling glass walls and a private infinity pool allow for incredible views of migrating whales by day and bioluminescent waves by night. Note that the road up to the property is quite steep, so you’ll need a 4x4 to reach the top, where monkeys and parrots are likely to greet you.

Left: Aerial view of the front of a tree house. Right: A person enjoying the deck and the view shot from inside the house

There’s no better place to take breakfast than out among the trees.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Cottage in the cloud forest

Monteverde is one of the country’s major ecotourism hubs, especially for those hoping to immerse themselves in the cloud forest. If you want to get up close and personal with the wildlife-filled ecosystem, check out this timber-framed tree house, which is filled with perks like a vintage clawfoot bathtub, a catamaran net for sprawling out on the terrace, and a desk next to a window looking out into the forest. It’s a place for unplugging (if you want to, but the internet is fast and fiber optic if you need it!) and venturing out on hiking trails, though if you do find yourself needing a bit more action, the two-bedroom cottage is a five-minute walk to the Hotel Belmar, which is home to a farm-to-table restaurant, a cocktail bar, a craft brewery, and a yoga studio.

Left: A modern cabin with a wraparound window looking to a jungle outside. Right: the modern kitchen with a bench, two chairs, and small round table.

You’ll want to spend all day in bed looking at the jungle view out your wraparound window—but the kitchen is pretty nice, too.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Unique peaceful cabin in the sky

  • Location: Los Mesen
  • Sleeps: 4
  • Book now:

Built into a verdant hillside, this sleek one-bedroom design cabin is more Nordic than neotropical, with plenty of midcentury-inspired furnishings and a custom tub and shower with glass walls with a view over the treetops. Next to the bed is an expansive wraparound window, and when you pull down the shades at night, they can be used as a smart TV projector. (A second full-size bed is hidden inside the platform of the first bed.) The house is tucked away on four acres of rainforest, which you’ll share with toucans, hummingbirds, and butterflies, and there’s a small, boulder-lined pool just steps away fed by underground spring water. Slightly farther afield, about 20 minutes by car, sits the Bajos del Toro, a series of waterfalls and mineral-rich swimming holes in the highlands.

An adobe house with a thatch-roofed observation tower next to a pool surrounded by tropical plants

The enormous round window in this whimsical house looks out to the lush, plant-surrounded pool.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Architectural adobe cottage with pool

  • Location: Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Book now:

Hidden away on the country’s less-touristed Caribbean coastline, this whimsical one-bedroom adobe cottage is located about a half mile from the shore and close to the popular Jaguar Rescue Center, featured on Zac Efron’s Netflix docuseries Down to Earth. Looking a bit like a cross between a terra-cotta pot and a Buddha statue, this eccentric hideaway is all organic curves, with oversize porthole-style windows, prismlike skylights, and a thatch-roofed observation deck with Adirondack chairs and a hammock. You’ll love the tiled pool, which is so surrounded by lush vegetation that it’s practically like some lost jungle spring.

Thatch-roofed patio next to a gravel backyard and a rectangular pool with a green hill in the background

This “tropical chic” villa is just a quick stroll from a fantastic surf beach.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Luxury villa near a popular surf beach

The Pacific Coast beach town of Tamarindo is beloved for its consistent surf breaks, and this new-build, two-bedroom villa is within walking distance of the sand, located in an exclusive gated community not far from the buzz of downtown. The owners have created what they call a “tropical chic” design style, complete with oversize palm patterns on the walls and a thatch-roofed patio overlooking the pool. The house includes daily housekeeping services (except for Sunday and public holidays), and you can also book a private chef, massage therapist, or yoga instructor.

A two-story house with a thatch-roofed patio, bright blue pool with orange lounge chairs, and glass-walled bedrooms looking out onto the yard

No matter which way you look, the views are stunning.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Five-bedroom villa with panoramic ocean view

  • Location: Santa Teresa
  • Sleeps: 10
  • Book now:

Many villas designed for large groups end up leaving someone feeling unsatisfied (who gets the kids’ room or has to take the top bunk?), but not so with the Setai Luxury Villa: There are five “royal suites,” each with king beds and their own private bathrooms. Located just outside the laid-back surf village of Santa Teresa, the villa includes a garden with a BBQ grill and outdoor kitchen, perfect for prepping alfresco meals. The best seats in the house might be the partially underwater loungers in the infinity pool, which allow you to cool off as you enjoy those dazzling Pacific sunsets.

Two rocking chairs looking out over a river and forest

There’s a smart TV, but your time is much better spent watching the Chirripó River.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Retreat with river access and organic garden

There’s a river running through this idyllic two-bedroom property, which takes its name (Kubla Khan) from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem about the summer palace of Xanadu; much like that Edenic inspiration, this is a place where you can get lost in nature, by taking in views of the virgin cloud forest and the San Isidro Valley, relaxing by the pool or in the bio-sauna, or even picking organic fruits and vegetables from the garden. Active travelers will appreciate the “jungle gym,” which includes an exercise bike, yoga mat, foam roller, free weights, and bench press, or you can borrow mountain bikes to explore the surroundings. Out there, you might stumble upon waterfalls, swimming holes, and rocks for sunbathing, and after working up a sweat, you can book massages at the property.

A kitchen island with five wooden stools and glass walls on either side looking out toward plants

The kitchen is a stylish gathering space in this minimalist design home.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Villa with pool and workspace great for digital nomads

Fifteen minutes outside of the town of Ojochal in Puntarenas province, this three-bedroom villa sleeps eight and was designed to have jungle and ocean views from every room—yes, even the bathrooms. As such, there’s tons of light streaming in, which brightens up an already bright interior of crisp whites and warm wood tones. The outdoor living space has a BBQ grill, a picnic table, and a cushioned sectional, plus a lovely infinity pool. Digital nomads, take note: The Starlink internet is lightning fast, and there’s a dedicated work area with two monitors and a wireless keyboard and mouse. Nearby, you’ll have access to beaches perfect for swimming, surfing, and boogie-boarding, plus zip lines, deep-sea fishing charters, waterfalls, and whitewater rafting.

A free-form wooden dining table with a wall-sized mural of tropical plants and animals in the background

This mountain house leans into its tropical surroundings and the nation’s famed flora and fauna at every turn.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Tropical mountain house with pool

  • Location: Turrialba
  • Sleeps: 7
  • Book now:

Many of the stylish villas in this country hide their tropical setting with overly minimalist interiors that would be just as at home in Palm Springs or Paris. Not so at this exuberant three-bedroom house, which wears its Costa Rican heritage proudly: Expect brightly colored floral pillows atop beds, dishware with colorful folk patterns, birds-of-paradise shower curtains, and a dining room with a wall-sized mural of sloths, toucans, jaguars, and plant life. The backyard has a half basketball court, a fire pit with free wood, and an above-ground pool, and there’s access to hiking trails, not to mention a private waterfall just a quick stroll from the house.

Nicholas DeRenzo is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Brooklyn. A graduate of NYU’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism program, he worked as an editor at Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel and, most recently, as executive editor at Hemispheres, the in-flight magazine of United Airlines. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Sunset, Wine Enthusiast, and more.
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