At Golfo Dulce Retreat we want to make sure that your time spent here with us is just perfect.This is not an ordinary holiday destination that will suit anyone. It is an extraordinary life experience that will mesmerise some.
You will find below some of the frequently asked questions we get from our guests, friends and family. Please read our answers carefully and if you need more information do always feel free to contact us.
Where are you located?
We are located in the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, one of the least explored areas of this beautiful country. Golfo Dulce Retreat is set in almost 1000 acres of pristine rainforest, enjoying direct access to a wild, palm-fringed beach within the calm waters of Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Our land is enveloped by Piedras Blancas National Park which itself covers 30,000 acres of undisturbed tropical lowland primary rainforest and 5,000 acres of secondary forests, pasture land and rivers.
Are there roads or towns around you?
There are no roads around us and our boat is the only means of reaching us. The two closest towns are Puerto Jimenez and Golfito, both of which are easily reachable by boat in about 25 minutes. Everything that you will see once you are here has been brought with our boat to our beach then on our shoulders to the Retreat.
Is the beach easy to walk to?
We have two main paths to the beach, both of which are just an easy five minute stroll and will take you through either our rainforest or our beautiful tropical garden. There are no steps or significant inclines as our buildings and facilities are all at sea level.
Is the sea safe to swim?
We are sheltered within Golfo Dulce away from the Pacific and hence the ocean here is calm, warm and very safe for open water swimming. The water is easily accessible at both high tide, when the ocean comes up to the very edge of the rainforest, and low tide, when our long beach is revealed. This is an ideal sea for kayaking and stand up paddling (both of which are at your disposal) or simply a relaxing swim.
What’s the beach like?
Playa San Josecito is one of Golfo Dulce’s longest beaches at roughly 2 miles. At high tide the sea reaches right up to the wild vegetation, which in this initial part of the rainforest consists mainly of palm trees, wild almonds, gallinazos, cashew nuts and many fruit trees. The beach is made up of small rocks and can be walked on with appropriate footwear at mid or low tide. There are no large rock formations on the shore hence the entry to the sea is very straightforward and safe. Remember that we will provide you with complimentary beach towels, aqua shoes, sport life vests, snorkelling equipment and kayaks and you are welcome to use our two gorgeous beach cabanas whenever you like - the perfect spot for a glass of wine especially at sunset!
What’s the sea water like?
The vast majority of times, the turquoise waters of Golfo Dulce are warm, calm and very clear. Golfo Dulce takes its name from the large amount of freshwater flowing into it, mainly from four large rivers. As such, the clarity of the water in close proximity of Golfo Dulce’s beaches is highly dependent on the amount and severity of rainfall in the region. Our beach is no different and, indeed, after an unusually strong or long downpour, our nearby dry river bed swells up with water from the rainforest, bringing soil, stones and fallen branches onto our beach. The water transparency is then usually restored within one or two days.
What’s the pool like?
Our 15 meter (50 ft) jungle pool is surrounded by tropical vegetation and sits at the edge of our tropical gardens. The pool is surrounded by a large wooden deck, the ideal place to admire the towering trees around or simply catch a spot of sun. The water of the swimming pool comes straight from our spring and we took the very deliberate decision to minimise as much as possible the use of chemicals in order to avoid any detrimental impact on our wildlife (indeed the water we discharge goes straight into our wildlife ponds). We work hard to make sure the water stays as clear as possible; for example, we built two different sets of rock/sand filters upriver and we constantly feed fresh water into the pool. We also test our water externally to make sure it adheres to the strictest standards of water sanitation. Despite our best efforts, the clarity of the water is sometimes affected by unusually strong rains and storms. Also, we know that the clarity of our pool water may not compare to that of pools where stale, recirculated water is heavily treated with harsh chemicals. However, we do think this is a small price to pay in order to minimise our impact on the wildlife around us and on our own health. Plus, there is absolutely no comparison to the feeling of swimming in fresh spring water!
Do you have a pier on the beach?
We have consciously decided not to build a pier on our beach as we wouldn't want to spoil the pristine and wild nature of our beach by building a structure onto it. This means that you may have to get your feet wet while you embark or disembark from our boat. We believe this is a small price to pay and we are sure once you get sight of our beach you will agree with us. In any case, please remember not to wear closed shoes (or shoes that you don't want to get wet) when you arrive or depart from the Retreat.
Where does your electricity come from?
This is the first question we ask when visiting hotels that make environmental claims… and we are often surprised at the answer we receive! We take great pride in saying that all our electricity needs are satisfied by a carbon-free hydro electric system. While the system is very stable and produces enough electricity to power the equivalent of two large western-style homes, we do need to limit the electricity we consume to make sure it’s enough for the entire Retreat but also to combat wasteful practices. We use the electricity we produce to keep an array of batteries fully charged and it’s to the latter that the Retreat draws electricity from. This means we can at times consume more than we produce giving us tremendous flexibility in how we generate our electricity and at what time of the day we consume it. The downside, however, is that the rate of depletion of our batteries needs to be controlled and for this reason we can only use a small number of high wattage appliances. Hairdryers or individual kettles, for example, are a no no.
How reliable is your electricity?
Our electricity is very reliable; however, we are to an extent at the mercy of mother nature for its generation. Heavy storms or downpours can sometimes affect the production of electricity. When this happens our battery system is the first line of defence: we have about four hours worth of electricity stored up. Once our batteries run dry, we have the option of using a back-up generator. We like to use this as a measure of last resort and run it for as little as we possibly can in order to minimise noise and emissions. In short, complete blackouts are extremely rare.
What activities are there to do?
We are passionate about our surroundings and love sharing our spectacular corner of paradise with our friends, family and guests. Everything that we offer is run exclusively by us for you. Please check our Rainforest & Ocean Adventures page to get a better feel for what’s on offer as well as the various prices.
What activities are included in the Cabina rate?
Our rates include the use of kayaks and stand up paddling boards, snorkelling equipment, water shoes as well as access to our 15 meter (50ft) jungle pool and beach Cabanas. We also run a complimentary night tour of the property which you are most welcome to attend. In addition, you can explore various self-guided walks which will take you to the very edge of primary rainforest, allowing you to discover the hidden life of our lowland rainforest. Walking boots, water bottles, walking sticks and tree map will also be provided on a complimentary basis. For more details on what is included in the Cabina rates or one of our fantastic packages please check here.
Is it better to book a Package?
Yes, we think so. Our packages include a selection of our favourite activities both at sea and on land and offer great value for money with a discount on individual tours and include activities which are not otherwise available. Have a look here for more details.
Are the activities available to single adults?
All our tours are designed for a minimum of two adults, but if you are travelling alone or with a child only, please get in touch and we will try and accommodate you.
How far is the rainforest?
The rainforest is all around us. Our land comprises almost 1000 acres of pristine rainforest (think Central Park or twice the size of Hyde Park… but incredibly more green and biodiverse!) which itself is enveloped by Piedras Blancas National Park and its 30,000 acres of undisturbed, tropical lowland primary rainforest.
Are there many people around the Retreat?
Not really. With just three cabins dotted across a vast amount of space and hardly any neighbour, you may feel like you have the Rainforest and the beach all to yourself.
Are kids welcome?
Yes. Our aim at Golfo Dulce Retreat is to preserve and share with our guests our pristine rainforest and ocean, some of the most biologically intense ecosystems on earth. And we cannot think of a better way to achieve this than to host young generations. We are a family of five ourselves and we understand the complexities of travelling with young children so don't fret, we will do our best to accommodate all your wishes. With food for example, while we don't have a Childrens’ menu as such, we are more than happy to cook just about anything, from plain pasta to a breaded-chicken a la milanese, our children’s favourite.
Is there any entertainment in the evening?
Yes, the mesmerising sounds of the rainforest! Also, immediately after dinner, we run a night tour of our two wildlife ponds and their surroundings with our resident young biologist. You will discover the nocturnal inhabitants of the retreat, including the emblem of Costa Rica, the red-eyed tree-frog. Make sure to point your search light at eye level and discover an amazing spectacle…
Are there lots of bugs at the Retreat?
There are insects in the Rainforest but not as many as you might think. There are surprisingly few biting insects at Golfo Dulce Retreat, partly due to its proximity with the ocean and the ecosystem being so finely balanced. Nonetheless, all our cabins have mosquito nets on the main windows as well as on all the beds. While we could minimise further the presence of insects with harsh, poisonous chemicals, this would go completely against what we stand for and our mission of preserving the Rainforest and adopting sustainable practices. We suggest you bring some insect repellant to have on hand, in case you need it.
Are snakes a problem?
Snakes play a crucial role in the Rainforest. The areas surrounding Golfo Dulce Retreat, as a matter of fact, do not have a high concentration of them, certainly not higher than other parts of Costa Rica. Snake bites almost always occur because someone steps on them, so when walking or hiking, watch where you step and never stray from paths. Also, it is absolutely imperative in the evening to use a flash light, which we will provide. If you encounter a snake, give it space so that it can leave the area quickly. Although there are only a few species of poisonous snakes in this area, treat all snakes with caution.
Will I see many animals?
Piedras Blancas hosts one of the most diverse arrays of wildlife on the planet; our friends at the University of Vienna now believe that its biodiversity is very similar, if not higher, than that found in Corcovado National Park - described by the National Geographic as "the most ecologically intense place on earth.” It is important to remember, however, that our very special ecosystem is not a zoo and naturally one of the main characteristics of a (truly) wild animal is to hide from its possible predator… you. This might not be the case in more touristic parts of Costa Rica where, unfortunately, high levels of human interaction means that encounters with animals begging for food are plentiful and sometimes dangerous. We ask our guests to appreciate the majesty and diversity of our rainforest, our ocean an our mangroves ecosystems and treat any wildlife encounter with an open heart, gratitude and humbleness. For an opportunity to meet some of the most iconic rainforest animals face to face (and, at the same time, help support a good cause) we also encourage our guests to visit the nearby Osa Wildlife Sanctuary.
What is the weather like?
Golfo Dulce experiences two main seasons, mainly dictated by rainfalls. The dry season begins in December and ends at the beginning of April, while the green (or rainy) season runs from April through to November. Temperatures are fairly steady at around 28C (82F) and humidity generally high, with December and January being the cooler and drier months and April and May the hotter and more humid. In terms of rain, January and February in particular see the least amount of rain with downpours limited to a few scattered showers per month. The months between May and August are, instead, characterised by dry mornings and early afternoons with clear skies followed by a downpour (usually heavy but short in duration) later in the day.
Which time of the year should I come?
Every season brings something special to Golfo Dulce. The period from December to the beginning of April is characterised by very few showers. The rainforest is lush but wildlife might not be as abundant depending on how hard the previous rainy season has been. This is the time when most visitors come to Costa Rica, although you won’t find crowds in Golfo Dulce given it is still a relatively unknown part of the country. April and May tend to be the hottest months and together with June, there is generally more wildlife around and, especially, offsprings can be seen. Some of the most majestic rainforest trees are in full bloom, and this is the time when, with a bit of luck, you may encounter one of the most magnificent and mysterious sea creatures in the world: the whale shark. There are very few visitors around and you might very well find yourself in the middle of Golfo Dulce with the entire ocean to yourself. August and September are truly special months for us. While downpours become more frequent (but are usually confined to late afternoons), the Antarctic whales make their yearly visit to the Gulf to mate and give birth. Encounters with these majestic animals are frequent and we often find ourselves witnessing this spectacle with no other boats around, a truly magical experience.
Does it rain often?
The amount of rain changes dramatically throughout the year; however, it’s best to be prepared for some downpours, we are in a rainforest after all! While, in a city, we often associate rain with traffic chaos, bleakness and being trapped inside four walls, we have come to think of rain in the Rainforest as the great enabler, without which neither this pristine ecosystem nor we could exist (we depend entirely on rain for our electricity and water after all). How could we not love it? All our structures are designed to keep yourself dry so you can actually enjoy the rain around you without the constraints of walls or glass windows. Whether it's in your Cabina, around the pool, on the beach, or in our main living structures, you will always find a little shelter with somewhere to lie on and take it all in. So, we ask you to embrace these majestic downpours: the perfect soundtrack while lying on a hammock with a good book to read.
Which Cabina should I reserve?
At Golfo Dulce Retreat, we don’t feature different levels of accommodation such as standard, premium or deluxe. Indeed, all our Cabinas are built with passion, great attention to detail and in total harmony with the rainforest and all combine a simple, yet elegant and organic design. The one bedroom Cabinas measure a generous 50 sq.m (540 sq.ft) and feature a large spring-water garden shower. With double height ceilings, the spacious cabinas make the ideal choice for couples who will sleep in a king bed, although these cabins can also be configured to suit up to four occupants (maximum three adults) who will be accommodated in either an extra bed or a bunkbed in the same room. The Cabina Suite is the largest at 90 sq.m (970 sq.ft.) and features its own spring-water plunge pool, an outdoor shower and spacious open air living. The cabina can be configured as an intimate one bedroom with oversized living area, or a comfortable two bedroom casita, an ideal choice for families. The Cabina Suite accommodates up to four adults and has a maximum occupancy of six. Click here to find out more detail.
Will I find a better deal somewhere else?
No. When you book your stay directly through us you’ll be guaranteed the lowest rates, the best offers, the most flexible cancellation terms and a truly personalised service. Do check out our Offers page and make sure to sign up to unlock all our exclusive offers which are not otherwise available anywhere else.
Do you have hot water?
Yes, all our Cabinas have hot water showers.
Is it safe to leave my valuables in the Cabina?
Our guest facilities are kept open but the Cabinas especially are very private and safe. However, we do insist that valuables (including cash, jewellery, electronic gadgets, phones, portable computers, cameras, passports, etc) should only be kept inside your Cabina’s safety box and never left unattended. Our safety boxes should give you plenty of space but if you require more, we’d be more than happy to store your valuables (or any other belonging you’d rather keep locked) in our own secure premises. We stress that we cannot be held responsible for any lost or stolen items.
Is the water safe to drink?
Our spring water is safe to drink but we also use a commercial grade two-stage filtration and ultraviolet santisation process. All our water, including the one in the showers, the bathrooms and the kitchen is treated to this very high standard.
Can I use a hairdryer?
No. While our electricity is plentiful we need to keep our consumption rate under control and hairdryers as well as kettles, for example, are incredibly power hungry appliances.
Do rooms have air-conditioning or a fridge?
No. As with hairdryers or other power hungry appliances, we wouldn't be be able to power enough air conditioning units or fridges for all our Cabinas. However, we have designed our Cabinas with this in mind and all the structures have airy designs with very tall ceilings and ceiling fans. And, of course, one of the main attractions of staying at Golfo Dulce Retreat is to experience the rainforest, its beautiful smells and mesmerising sounds first hand. Having air conditioning units, and hence having to isolate oneself from the surroundings, would completely defy this very purpose.
Can I charge my electronic gadgets?
Yes, absolutely. All our Cabinas have plenty of power points where you can do just that. We also have additional power points at the restaurant.
Are the Cabinas well lit at night?
Rainforest living shouldn't come with dark, gloomy rooms. We have put a lot of effort in making sure that our Cabinas are as bright as possible, without a detrimental impact on the surrounding nocturnal wildlife. So while our paths are not lit, our Cabinas are each fitted with more than 20 low consumption, warm, LED light points. Also, despite the heavy maintenance that it requires, all our wood is treated with clear varnishes which make our Cabinas always look bright and airy.
Is there a TV?
No. We are really keen for our guests to experience the rainforest, its beautiful smells and mesmerising sounds first hand and we think a TV just wouldn't do it here.
Are there cooking facilities in my Cabina?
There are no cooking facilities nor fridges inside our Cabinas. We take a lot of pride serving delicious food throughout the day so that you don't have to worry about any cooking. You are also more than welcome to come to our kitchen any time for a chat and ask us anything you might need.
What kind of clothes and shoes should I bring?
Bring many t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts. Light, fast drying clothing is best, since it is never very cold and can be hot and humid. Also, a pair of lightweight, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are useful. Hiking boots are useful although note we will furnish you with rubber boots. Don't forget a hat and sunglasses for sun protection while a lightweight rain jacket is also a good idea. You may want to bring your own beach towel but we will provide you with some while staying with us. Flip flops and, even better, strap sandals are the most practical footwear for our beach and garden paths. Please note that you will get your feet wet when stepping off our boat as our beach doesn't have a pier.
What other items should I pack?
Sunscreen is always a good item to have, as well as any medicines that you may need. You may also want to take a head torch with rechargeable batteries (but we will give you a regular flash light if you forget), insect repellant and binoculars. We will give you a water bottle while staying with us.
How do I get there from San Jose?
You can reach us by plane, car or bus and the journeys are remarkably straightforward. Please have a look here to get more information on each journey.
Which airline is better, Sansa or Nature Air?
They are equally good airlines in our eyes. The only difference in our view is where they fly from in San Jose: Sansa has its own terminal adjacent (walking distance) to the International one while Nature Air uses the International one. Please have a look here to get more information on the two airlines.
Can I rent a car in Puerto Jimenez or Golfito?
Yes, you can rent or return a car in either of these two towns. If you need to rent a car to continue a journey in the Osa Peninsula then Puerto Jimenez is the best choice and we can take you there. If, instead, you need to drive up north we suggest renting a car in Golfito, which is better connected to Costa Rica’s main roads. Please have a look here for more information on renting.
Where will we meet?
Whether you drive, make it by bus or fly, we will come and pick you up in Golfito or Puerto Jimenez, whisk you off to our boat and take you to the Rainforest.
What’s the latest I can check-in?
To make your journey as safe and as comfortable as possible and to minimise any chances of rain during your boat transfer, we aim to leave Golfito or Puerto Jimenez by midday and no later than 15:00. Please get in touch with us if you plan to arrive later than this.
What’s the latest I can leave on my departure day?
To make your journey as safe and as comfortable as possible and to minimise any chances of rain during your boat transfer, we aim to leave Golfo Dulce Retreat after breakfast and get to Golfito or Puerto Jimenez by 10am-11am. Afternoon check-outs combined with an extra lunch at the Retreat are available for an extra charge. For afternoon check-outs please note that we are not able to guarantee you will have the use of your Cabina until departure however note that shower and changing facilities are available at the Retreat.
Should I tip the staff?
We really couldn't do it without our wonderful staff! We only employ very local people as we recognise the importance of supporting families on our beach and around us. Tipping staff at Golfo Dulce Retreat is purely at your discretion but we do encourage it to reward exceptional service. We do train, remunerate and reward our staff so that they can provide you with the best possible experience regardless of whether you decide to leave a tip or not. However, in our staff’s eyes, tipping is the best way to recognise that special extra effort that makes all the difference. If you choose to leave a tip, we suggest around a $10 gratuity per guest, per day, which we can add to your bill at your request and which we will distribute evenly among all our staff, not just the people you get to meet. However, please feel free to contribute as you wish.
Are there medical facilities around?
For any medical complications our main reference point is Golfito’s Hospital which will be able to deal with most emergencies, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can reach the hospital at any time of day or night in 30 minutes, by boat and then by (our) car. For any serious conditions, San Jose is a 45-minute flight away from Puerto Jimenez by air ambulance. Please remember to have a valid travel insurance with medical cover when you come to Costa Rica. The healthcare system is generally considered very good, but please note that it is free only to Costa Rican citizens and permanent residents of the country.
Will my cellular phone work at the Retreat?
We do have some 3G cellular signal closer to our beach which is enough to have a decent conversation. However, at the Retreat or in the Cabinas the reception is unreliable. On the other hand, our internet is very good and, if you really have to, it’s the best way to keep in touch with civilisation.
Do you have Internet?
Yes, it wasn't easy to have a strong and reliable system in place for our internet, but we did it. Our system is based on a point-to-point telecommunication network whereby the signal is beamed from our own antenna 10 miles across Golfo Dulce in Puerto Jimenez to another one on our beach. Unlike satellite internet, even during rainstorms the signal remains strong and we enjoy good upload and download speeds. Internet at the Retreat is accessible through a wifi network which we have decided to limit to the restaurant and communal areas. So that we can all enjoy a bit of wifi, we ask our guests not to stream videos or download heavy files, however you are welcome to use our wifi for emails, internet browsing and the occasional video call.
How do I pay for extras once I am at the Retreat?
You can pay at the end of your stay with Cash, Visa, Mastercard or through Paypal.
Is there a laundry or drying service at the Retreat?
We do offer laundry services for a small fee, while we are happy to dry any wet clothes you may have in our solar-drying house on a complimentary basis.
Can I smoke in the rooms or your restaurant?
By law, smoking is not permitted in guest rooms, social areas, pool, trails and the National Park. If you are a smoker, please enquire with us when you are here.
What’s the food like?
We love eating unpretentious, flavoursome food made with passion so that is also how we love to cook it. From our artisanal breads and ice creams to the best cappuccino made with high quality, micro-roasted Costa Rican coffee, our aim at Golfo Dulce Retreat is to combine real, local flavours with our own Italian heritage. Find out more here.
Does the food vary from day to day?
We think using seasonal and local ingredients is really crucial to reduce our own impact on this fragile ecosystem. In order to achieve this in such a remote part of the world with our boat and our shoulders as the only means of transportation, while at the same time keeping food waste to zero (yes, you hear us), we are unapologetic about the fact that our menus are set. This doesn't mean you will be eating the same thing twice though: our menus change daily and we always strive to make our guests happy just as we would do for our own friends and family. This is how it works: as we have only a limited number of guests, we will get a pretty good feel for what you like, don’t like or don't want to eat. Just as we would do with our friends and family, we would then serve you the best possible meal made with passion and the best local, seasonal ingredients including handline caught fish from Golfo Dulce. All our meals are special and inspired by the classic traditions of our Italian families and made possible by local knowledge of what grows in the rainforest.
Do you cater for vegetarians or vegans?
Yes, our vegetarian and vegan friends love our Italian cuisine but please tell us well in advance so we can stock up on the right items and ingredients.
Do you cater for children?
We are a family of five ourselves and we understand the complexities of travelling with young children so don't fret, we will do our best to accommodate your wishes. While we don't have a Childrens’ menu as such, we are more than happy to cook just about anything, from plain pasta to a breaded-chicken a la milanese, our children’s favourite.