Save, Spring, Splurge: Our Favorite Jungle-Meets-Sea Resorts in Central America

by  Donna Heiderstadt | May 1, 2019
Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa Rica
Gaia Hotel and Reserve, Costa Rica / Photo courtesy of the property

If you love the idea of a jungle vacation (think exploring mangrove-lined estuaries and hiking amid rainforest canopies populated by beautiful wildlife), but you don't want to sacrifice quality beach time, consider a stay at one of these four resorts; they each offer adventure, relaxation, and nature right at your doorstep.


Copal Tree Lodge: Punta Gorda, Belize

Copal Tree Lodge spans 12,000 acres and features 16 spacious suites set amid the jungle canopy, all with large indoor showers that offer floor-to-ceiling jungle views. There are several restaurants, an array of outdoor activities (biking, kayaking, and more); and a pristine spa. This eco-centric property is perfect for couples and families alike, and offers easy access to snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Rates from $148 per night, depending on the season. Packages available here

Save - Splurge

Gaia Hotel & Reserve: Manuel Antonio Beach, Costa Rica

Lush jungle views and vibrant décor await at Gaia Hotel & Reserve, a luxe 22-room eco-retreat located near Costa Rica’s famed Manuel Antonio National Park. Each room features an open-air terrace, but, if you’re looking for optimal views, head to the on-site Ambar Bar (which overlooks the pool and the sea) or La Luna, which serves international cuisine (and even has a vegan menu). Deal-seekers will appreciate the resort's romantic four-night Jungle Adrenaline Package, which includes accommodations, breakfast, airport transfers, an array of outdoor activities, an intimate dinner, and a couples massage (rates from $1,579 total per room). Rates from $225 per night, depending on the season; receive a $20 spa credit if you stay less than two nights; receive a 20-minute spa treatment if you stay three nights or longer. More deals are available here


Red Frog Beach Resort: Bocas del Toro, Panama

If you love wildlife, head to the Panamanian islands of Bocas del Toro (located in the Caribbean about 30 miles off the coast of Costa Rica), where you can spot sloths, monkeys, sea turtles, starfish, and more. This bucket-list-worthy destination is also home to Red Frog Beach Resort. Here, cozy timber jungle lodges with thatched roofs and kitchens are set around a hillside pool with coastal views, while beachfront rooms are more modern and feature stone tile floors, private plunge pools, and a mini-fridge (but no kitchen). If you’re traveling with a large group, consider booking a villa. The property also has two on-site restaurants, as well as a grocery store and deli. Popular activities here include surfing, zip-lining, and exploring local caves (with a guide, of course). Rates from $279 per night for jungle lodges, and $309 per night for beachfront rooms, depending on the season.  


Banyan Tree Mayakoba: Rivera Maya, Mexico

If you're looking for an easy romantic escape, consider a stay at Banyan Tree Mayakoba. This luxury resort is located just 40 minutes south of Cancún, and each of the property's 123 villas are complete with private pools set along mangrove-lined canals (which make for prime bird watching spots). We love the resort's Thai-meets-Mayan aesthetic (highlights include a beautiful courtyard and a dramatically lit banyan trees). You'll also find six on-site restaurants, which include Saffron (try the crispy soft-shell crab and green papaya salad); Cello (where pasta is made fresh daily), and The Tomahawk Den (which is known for its steak). While most of the villas are tucked amid the jungle, the chic beach club is just a quick shuttle ride away. Rates from $339 per night, depending on the season. Click here for resort deals and offers.  

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