As Good As It Gets: Review of Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica

  • As mentioned in the first post, my original plan was staying two nights in Nayara Gardens Resort and Spa  This was already fancy enough and cost us a small fortune ($370 per night when factoring in dining credit and portal cashback). But due to series of fortunate events, we were upgraded to Nayara Tented Camp where “tents” normally cost $1k per night. In low season.

    Needless to say, this sort of vacation splurge is not usually in our price range. And frankly, even if I had a lot of money, I’m just too cheap to drop that kind of a sum on a resort. Well, at least that’s how I felt before I got a chance to stay at Nayara Tented Camp.

    Me and my husband agreed that we need to come back here at some point even if we have to pay full price. Naturally, it will be during low season and I’ll do my best to ease the pain by using points. But this resort is as close as it gets to a paradise on earth. It’s worth the money and effort to get here.

    I want to be clear that this stay was not sponsored in any way. The upgrade was provided due to Expedia Gold status, I didn’t even mention that I write for a travel blog. That’s why you can trust what you are about to read 100%.

    Prime location with unparalleled views of Arenal volcano

    It’s possible that there is a hotel in the area that provides a better view, but I really doubt it. Nayara Tented Camp is located at a higher elevation compared to its sister resorts Nayara Gardens  and Nayara Springs (adults only).

    If the weather cooperates, this is the type of view you can expect at or near your tent:

    Absolutely stunning

    Just two weeks before our stay, they added a fancy open-air lobby with a restaurant that also looks out to the valley, as well as Arenal volcano.

    And  how can you not love this infinity-edge pool?!

    You can tell that a lot of thought is put into highlighting this million-dollar view from every angle.

    There is even an adults-only swim up bar where you can order mixed drinks:

    Not far from the lobby, you can also find several hot springs in the middle of the jungle:

    I will say that the hot springs at Tabacon resort were much more impressive, since they are quite  elaborate (with waterfall features etc). Still, this is a wonderful amenity that many guests at Nayara are happy to enjoy, especially in the evening.

    The resort consists of only 35 tents, and most of them are very private. Many have an unobstructed view of Arenal volcano, though ours did not.

    We were assigned to Colibri 11 unit, which I circled on the map. Personally, I loved the location, but if you insist on seeing Arenal from your private pool, you will have to look elsewhere. However, keep in mind that you may have to sacrifice some privacy.

    I loved the fact that we could access the infinity pool/lobby area via suspension bridge, located next to our tent.

    If we ever stay here again, I plan to request tent number 11 because I really liked its privacy as well as proximity to resort’s amenities.


    A tent that’s not really a tent

    Since Costa Rica is a tropical destination, the word “tent” may scare off some potential guests. Don’t fret, we are talking about a solid structure that has a sturdy canvas roof.

    It’s completely sealed, and we never saw any critters during our stay.

    The tent is air-conditioned, and feels very comfortable even when it’s hot outside. It’s so neat to hear birds and sounds of the rainforest while falling asleep. Of course, the biggest selling point of Nayara Tented Camp is that every villa has a private pool with massage jets, fed by natural springs. The water in the pool felt a bit too hot for me, but after a quick call to the front desk, a worker was sent out to adjust it for us.

    Now my husband wants to get something like this built in our backyard!

    The inside of the tent is absolutely gorgeous, and you can see that the owner spared no expense on the furnishings:

    The tent has daybeds that can fit two extra guests:

    The daybed looks quite small on my photo, but can actually fit a full-size adult.

    While you can bring kids to Nayara Tented Camp, in my opinion, it’s a better fit for a romantic getaway. The bungalows are really designed for couples. For example, I doubt most families with kids would take advantage of an outdoor shower:

    And I certainly would not be able to enjoy this soaking tub in the center of the room:

    Plus, let’s face it, sharing one room (however big) with kids is not ideal, to put it mildly. That said, if you want to bring your children, I’m sure they will love this place. I know mine would. But my husband and I will probably come here again as a couple, perhaps for another wedding anniversary.

    Your daily rate includes free laundry and complimentary breakfast. You can go to the resort restaurant or have it delivered to your tent each morning. Naturally, we opted for the latter. You fill out a menu, pick a time slot, and put it outside your door, where it’s collected at 10 PM each  evening.

    So good!

    I appreciated the fact that we found  a free bottle of champagne and a plate of exotic fruit upon entering our tent. You also have complimentary use of the minibar that contains beer, water, soft drinks and chips.

    If you prefer to eat dinner at your tent instead of a restaurant, it can be delivered at no additional cost. We did it the first evening and it set us back around $60 for two entries and an appetizer. Not dirt cheap, but not terrible for such a fancy resort. Tips are appreciated, but not required.

    Wildlife sightings around the property 

    I’ve talked to several people who mentioned that Manuel Antonio area in Costa Rica is much better if you want to spot animals. So, when planning our trip to Nayara, I had reasonable expectations.

    If you are into birdwatching, you will definitely love it here. I saw so many types of birds around our tent, it’s unbelievable.

    I also spotted a coati in the tress and heard (but never saw) monkeys. There are sloths living around the property, but you usually have to look for them. In fact, Nayara resort offers free walking tours with an in-house naturalist on Sundays, with the goal of spotting wildlife. Of course, we signed up for it and were able to see this guy:

    The naturalist also told us all kinds of interesting facts about sloths, and helped us get this photo with his camera:

    I was debating on whether to tell my kids about the sloth spotting. My son already told us that we have abandoned him by going off to Costa Rica as a couple. Cry me a river!

    We didn’t do any outside tours since my husband just wanted to relax. But you have all kinds of options in Arenal area if you want to spot wildlife. One tour I’ve seen recommended consistently is Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

    Cool, but is it really worth $1k per night price tag?

    Let’s face it, value is very much in the eye of the beholder. Considering the fact that many generic resorts in Miami beach dare to charge $800 per night or more for their rooms these days, I’d say Nayara Tented Camp is a bargain. Here you get a truly exclusive experience for just a bit more money.

    Then again, there is a reason I didn’t book it to begin with. Truth be told, if we ended up staying in the villa I reserved originally, I’m certain I would love it too. I wouldn’t know what I was missing. BTW, we had a chance to walk over to Nayara Gardens Resort and Spa wing. While it looked nice, the location of Nayara Tented Camp wins hands down. The views are better, and there is a more upscale feel to it. But! The guests at the other two resorts get free access to all the amenities.

    You can simply request a complimentary cart ride and spend most of your day at Nayara Tented Camp’s infinity pool and hot springs. Even the cheapest  Casita Deluxe units at Nayara Gardens Resort and Spa have an outdoor shower and a hot tub on the deck. They definitely don’t look as nice/fancy as the tent we stayed at. Then again, they start at $350 per night all-in instead of $1k. Sure, you have to eat your complimentary breakfast in a restaurant and do your  laundry at home. And of course, no private pool for you. But you can potentially save as much as $650 per night, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

    Unfortunately, now that my husband has experienced Nayara Tented Camp, he won’t settle for anything less. So, we will have to cough up the cash for the best of the best. But I want to reiterate that even the cheapest Casita Deluxe looks nicer than most places  we have stayed at. So, if you can’t swing the $1k per night, I recommend looking into this much cheaper option.

    In that case, you should  consider booking a stay at Nayara Gardens Resort and Spa through  Virtuoso or Leading Hotels of the World Both websites promise complimentary upgrades on  space-available basis. If you have an Amex Platinum card, you can use your $200 credit here, since it’s a member of Fine Hotels and Resorts program. Getting a guaranteed 4PM checkout could be very valuable depending on your plans.

    If like me, you still have Gold status at, I recommend looking into this option as well. This ended up being the best deal for us, since it included $75 dining credit plus free upgrade (based on availability). Keep in mind that I booked a Rainforest Pool Villa unit, which is a step above Casita Deluxe. Unfortunately, these units now cost $650 per night most of the year.

    But that’s how we ended up in Nayara Tented Camp for $370 per night, an absolute steal. I’m sure that going during off-season helped as well. Obviously, you shouldn’t count on getting a free upgrade, since it’s not  guaranteed. But you can certainly increase your chances by booking through the right website.

    Either way, I highly recommend this resort, even if you can only afford the cheapest villa. This is a very special place that is relatively easy to access from the United States.

    We live in a rural county in Florida, and had to drive two hours to Orlando airport for our noon flight to San Jose. Even so, by 4:30 PM of that same day, we were already relaxing in our hotel. Now compare it to Bali or Maldives that can take several days to reach from the East coast.

    You can fly into Liberia or San Jose airports, though several readers mentioned that the first option is much more relaxing. Keep in mind that in either case, it will take you close to three hours to get to Nayara by car, and I recommend paying for private transfer via Costa Rica Shuttle

    No, you can’t use hotel points here, but I’m so glad that didn’t stop me from booking this resort anyway. A stay in Nayara Tented Camp was comparable to our overwater bungalow experience  in Bora Bora, but much closer to home. I’m not sure I will ever be able to top this one!

    How does my family travel so much? We use miles and points from credit card bonuses. See my Travel Hacking 101 post as well as current credit card offers here.


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