Nayara Springs, a Relais & Chateaux property, lies nestled within a colorful and lush tropical jungle with incredible views of Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. This adults-only resort features opulent accommodations, fine dining, wine tasting, spa treatments, and up-close and personal sightings of remarkable wildlife.

Nayara Tented Camp by Brice Ferre Studio - Vancouver Portrait Adventure and Athlete Photographer
Nayara Tented Camp by Brice Ferre Studio – Vancouver Portrait Adventure and Athlete Photographer

Luxurious Accommodations

After a few hours of driving from Monteverde, my friend Connie and I arrived at Nayara Springs. Friendly staff unloaded our bags and parked the car while we sipped on cocktails crafted from the juice of passionfruit and lemongrass. The beverages, spiked with rum, were cool and refreshing. After checking in, a staff member transported us to our accommodations in one of the resort’s go-carts.

Villas at Nayara Springs are spacious, stunning, and romantic places for couples to enjoy. Our villa featured a gorgeous king-size four-post bed, high ceilings, a lovely sitting area, and a gigantic bathroom. Indigenous wood and stone decorated the indoor and outdoor areas, and I especially appreciated the private outdoor dual rain shower. The backyard space, surrounded by tropical foliage, featured a private plunge pool filled with natural mineral hot springs water, a large bed, and a hammock. Staff brought the outside bed inside for Connie, creating a comfortable sleeping space for each of us.

Springs Villa Terrace
Springs Villa Terrace

Fabulous Views and Appetizing Bites at Mis Amores

Mis Amores offers an eclectic menu that highlights the chef’s contemporary version of traditional Costa Rican cuisine. While gazing up at the Arenal Volcano, we dined on a tasty bowl of assorted veggie chips made with yams, potatoes, and bananas. Three different sauces were served with the chips: zucchini-onion puree, salsa, and chimichurri. The zucchini sauce was our favorite, and we completed our meal with a shared order of fried calamari and a Cuban sandwich. The French fries that accompanied the sandwich were spectacular.

Red blue jean frog
Red blue jean frog

Unusual Wildlife Residents

After lunch, I cooled off in our plunge pool while Connie relaxed in our room. At 5:45 p.m., we met with Anna, one of the staff members. She walked us around the resort property as the sun went down and pointed out extraordinary frogs, including the red-eye frog and glass frog, a mother and her baby monkey, an armadillo, and a mother and her baby sloth. Anna was great; she knew where to find all the fascinating local wildlife.

Nayara Springs cuisine

Mouthwatering Cuisine at Asia Luna

Nayara Gardens, another Relais & Chateaux property, sits adjacent to Nayara Springs. On our first evening, we dined at Nayara Gardens’ main restaurant, Asia Luna. Connie began the evening with a spicy Pico de Pajaro pineapple margarita with a cayenne and sugar rim, and I had the Rosaditico with Guaro Cacique, the local rum. The drink was infused with dragon fruit, lime, and simple syrup. We shared a delightful vegetarian sushi roll with miso-marinated eggplant, carrot, green bean, avocado, rice, and sesame seeds. Connie ordered the yellowfin tuna with grilled vegetables and wasabi foam, and I had the sesame-seed roasted tenderloin with sweet potato aioli and balsamic reduction—yum! We were full and satisfied.

Exciting Activities Nearby

After breakfast the following morning, we headed to the Sloth Watching Trail down the road. Connie was determined to get mind-blowing sloth photos while in Costa Rica, so we dedicated the morning to this endeavor. Jhonny was our guide. He knew exactly where to find these unusual creatures, and he carried a telescope that assisted in our ability to take phenomenal photos. We were also able to capture some fantastic videos of these slow-moving animals. While meandering throughout the rainforest looking for sloths, we spotted a strawberry poisonous-dart frog, also known as the red blue-jeans frog, two owls, and a howler monkey.

hanging bridge in Nayara Spring

Connie and I were excited about our successful expedition and made our way to the next adventure at the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. The main trail zigzagged throughout the hilly park with intermittent crossings of small bridges and long, hanging bridges. Crossing these long bridges afforded magnificent overhead views of the jungle, but the highlight of our trek was when we spotted and photographed a venomous eyelash viper. Although the shaded jungle was cooler than being out in the direct sunlight, we were both exhausted after two hours of hiking in the heat. We drove back to La Fortuna, filled the car with gas, and stopped for a hamburger with fries and a refreshing mango margarita at La Parade, a downtown pizzeria.

Amor Loco Restaurant
Amor Loco Restaurant

Delicious Dining at Amor Loco

Amor Loco is the most decadent restaurant at the resort. The bold red, blue, and purple décor inside the restaurant is over the top. Uniquely lit walls showcase celebrity photos, animal-print pillows accent the plush velvety couches and crystal lamps create lovely mood lighting. The dishes served at Amor Loco are equally exquisite.

Nayara Springs cuisine

I started this fascinating dinner experience with a house-crafted gin cocktail with grapefruit juice, and Connie ordered an old-fashioned with bacon. We shared a light and delicate zucchini blossom stuffed with crab, chicken, and herbs topped with a flavorful foam. I had mahi-mahi with a light salsa along with sauteed zucchini and carrots over savory mashed potatoes with capers and kalamata olives. The sommelier suggested a lovely sauvignon blanc from Chile to pair with my dinner. Connie had curry chicken with a coconut and mango chutney over rice. For dessert, I had the banana mousse with dark chocolate foam. Connie indulged in the dulce de leche mousse parfait with coconut and meringue and a few drops of chocolate ganache. Eric, our server, asked if we would like to try his favorite pairing, which was Connie’s dessert and sauternes from Chile. It was amazing. All the food at Nayara Springs is superb, and walking around the resort grounds is a great way to counteract those calories.

Nayara Springs drink

Unfortunately, our schedule for this trip was tight, and we were sad to leave after only a few days at this spectacular resort. When planning a trip to Costa Rica, I highly recommend staying for a minimum of four nights at Nayara Springs. There is plenty to do in and around the area. The resort boasts a lovely spa, wine bar, and a host of activities to enjoy.

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Tracy Ellen Beard is a freelance writer and photographer based in Vancouver, Washington. She contributes to Luxe Beat Magazine, Communities Digital News, Wander With Wonder, and several other magazines. Her stories focus on luxury and adventure travel, fine dining, wine, nonprofits, and alternative medicine. Tracy shares a unique perspective on the world, which comes from both her personal travels and her excursions as the founder and past president of an international children’s nonprofit. Her fifteen years of experience writing in various genres has added to her expertise. She is a member of the AWAI (American Writers and Artists Inc.) and the ITWPA (International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance).