Arenas del Mar Beach and Nature Resort, Manuel Antonio National Park, Central Pacific $$$$
Manuel Antonio National Park,
Tel: 506 2777 2777
The idyllic jungle-meets-beach location of this Pacific Coast resort means guests can spot two-foot iguanas, white-faced monkeys, and birds of myriad species without even leaving their poolside loungers; and strong eco credentials should ensure the wildlife sticks around. (Few trees were felled to make way for the property, thousands more have been planted, solar panels heat the water, and electric buggies ferry guests to their rooms.) The upper-level thatched reception, pool, bar, and restaurant area overlooks Playa Espadilla, a wide beach with the occasional sculptural rock, and there's another pool and café serving tasty wraps and salads on Playitas Beach, a sheltered cove that once had a nudist colony. The seven three-story buildings that house the 38 rooms look somewhat out of place amid the leafy environs; their sand-brick-encased windows and concrete staircases could have come from Miami, while marble-and-mosaic-tile bathrooms, heavy curtains, and flat-screen TVs make the rooms feel more city hotel than ecolodge; still, they're spacious and comfortable, and many have spectacular ocean views. El Mirador offers superb modern Costa Rican cuisine with an emphasis on seafood, served by an enthusiastic staff.