After a month stay, I’m back from Costa Rica and truth be told, I’m having such a fun time going through all my photos, from treehouses to hammocks and magical beauty with all of its amazing wildlife and nature. Treehouses are the things that Disney dreams are made of, so of course I wanted to stay at one during my trip. Whether you’re a pro on treehouses and treehouse community culture or a complete novice like I was to treehouses, here’s a beginner’s guide of what to expect.
Find your Groove
After three weeks of staying at boutique eco-lodges around the country, Finca Bellavista took a little getting used to. For one, it’s a community (hence, the name) more than a traditional lodge, so there are a couple differences to note. Firstly, you won’t have maid service daily and meals are not a given. Guests need to let the staff know ahead of time if they want to eat a prepped meal – so breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.
If you aren’t ready to commit to a-la-carte meals, there’s a cooking option that basically gets you a bag of rice, some eggs and access to their community garden. Many of the homes and treehouses have well-equipped kitchens, so this is very doable if you’re staying far from basecamp or trying to save money.
Another factor to consider is the weather. Since you’re in the rainforest, it usually rains as early as 12 or 1pm. That’s not really an issue for most, because it’s normal to be woken up by birds around 6am. That said, consider doing your outdoor hikes in the morning so that you can beat the rain.
Treehouses: Nature Exploration
Speaking of trails, Finca Bellavista had several among the treehouses. Our house was located near basecamp – where the front desk area, dining area and community center is located. So, to reach the trailheads, you have to pass a hanging bridge. This was probably my favorite part of every morning if I’m being totally honest. But who can blame me?
The first thing to note about treehouses, and this finca in particular, is that ankle high boots are required. Why? Well, don’t let this scare you but there are some poisonous snakes hanging around. Didn’t pack any? No worries! There are about two dozen free rentals available near the front desk.
At Finca Bellavista, there were three main trails: the “green” trail that weaves through lush vegetation, an “orange” trail that connects to the green trail and the “red” trail that features a more pebble road terrain. Since some of the trails are longer than others, it’s a good idea to use the buddy system. Remember, safety first!
PRO TIP: My favorite part of exploring the finca? Discovering a waterfall and watering hole mid-way through the green trail!
Learn the Ropes
Literally! Beyond the actual ropes at Finca Bellavista, this more applies to how the community operates. There’s a really interesting volunteer program that lasts for a couple months. Unlike other programs I’ve heard of, this one actually does pay, albeit a modest salary. We met a fellow New Yorker who had swapped the concrete jungle for the real jungles and treehouses of Costa Rica and had no desire to go back. After a month in Costa Rica, I understand how he feels.
Since it’s a community here, don’t expect the traditional type of customer service you’ll find at a hotel. Instead, you can get to know the employees like friends, learn how and why they ended up on the finca and gain insight on what it’s like to work there. I felt a real sense of camaraderie here, and that warm welcome was instant.
Nest a Little
That’s right; there’s nothing wrong with vegging out for the afternoon. I really like that it rains in the afternoons (and nights) in this area of Costa Rica because I didn’t feel guilty for staying inside, catching up on a good book. I tend to have a go-go-go mentality anywhere I travel, and this is something I’m trying to change because I’m learning that I really enjoy taking things slow and not having FOMO – easier said than done, I know!
Treehouses differ. I stayed in Casa Estrella, which is one of the larger, fancier treehouses. It’s located right by basecamp, making it super convenient for meals and happy hour. There’s also wifi and electricity, unlike other homes and treehouses.
The treehouses are a lot more spacious than I anticipated; two levels, two balconies, two bedrooms and one bathroom. I really enjoyed lazily laying on the hammock on the main floor, reading a book and listening to birds chirping.
So, when deciding what house to book, think about your priorities. I had to work, so exploring treehouses that had a bit more was important. I also needed wifi access. For others, priorities are different. You might choose a house that is farther from basecamp but higher up, giving you a river view or even more peace and quiet. It’s all about what you want to get from the “treehouses” experience.
Savor the Small Things
One of my favorite parts about staying at Finca Bellavista was simply appreciating the smaller things. I found this little flower during one of my morning hikes and held it in my hands. Surrounded by brown dirt and green seedlings, the violet color was impossible to miss. I rarely look down at my shoes when I’m walking in a city, but on hikes, I found myself paying close attention to the terrain, hence many vibrant discoveries!
Costa Rica’s slogan is “pura vida” – which translates to pure life, and after a couple weeks living pura vida, I understand why this country holds a special place in so many people’s hearts…including mine!
Would YOU ever stay in a treehouse community? Tell me in the comments below!