Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves
Monteverde and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserves is a city in Puntarenas.
The cheapest way to get to Monteverde is by bus, but you may also choose to use the Taxi Boat Taxi option if you are coming from "La Fortuna" and Arenal Volcano area.
You may also choose to get a rental car. The roads within Santa Elena are now paved, but only as far as the gas station. The road to the reserve is not paved. Renting a car is thus not such a bad idea, but make sure that is is 4WD.
There are also private transportation companies that offer private transfers in a private vehicle. There are also shuttle services that charge around $29.00 per person from anywhere in the country. Be aware that these are not private, and sometimes utilize window vans that are packed like sardines.
There are several Taxi companies, and local bus services are going up and down the hill every 2 hours every day. Many of the activities in the area are in walking distance. The ones further away have free transportation included in their price.
The most scenic parts of Monteverde are at the Trocha in San Luis, at the Ventana in the Monteverde Reserve or at the Mirador in the Santa Elena Reserve. Mist and clouds often obscure these views.
Monteverde's appeal centers around its scenery and nature. Many ecosystems exist in the numerous reserves, such as Bajo del Tigre, the Santa Elena Reserve, the Bosque Eterno de los Niños and the world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
A major industry is the zip-line business, and there are several choices, including the mediocre Original Canopy Tour, the good Sky Trek and the stellar Selvatura. These "canopy tours" offer a good albeit fast look at the canopy from dizzying heights.
Minor attractions include:
- the Bat Jungle, with live bats, museum & an Argentinean restaurant
- the Frog Pond, which affords a decent look at the numerous local amphibian species
- the Butterfly Garden in Cerro Plano
- the far superior Victorian-style Butterfly Garden in the Selvatura complex (ask a guide)
- the astounding Insect Museum in the same complex
- the San Luis waterfall
- the very interesting Bajo del Tigre night walk (guarantees tarantula and sloth sightings)
- the Monteverde Cheese Factory
All throughout the main drag of Santa Elena, T-Shirts, shot glasses and other standard tourist fares are sold. Coffee products are sold throughout town as well, though the Coffee Roaster in Monteverde is particularly noteworthy. A women's art commune, CASEM, is a good place to look for wooden wares and a variety of rainforest themed stuffed animals, but is not cheap. Cerro Plano also boasts a South American clothing store, which is relatively cheap but certainly not Costa Rican. Overall, Monteverde souvenirs are tourist-geared kitsch, however.
Go to downtown Santa Elena to get the best food. Sophias Restaurant has really exotic food, and the new restaurant at the top of the Monteverde History Museum, Tramonti is great for italian food. Fried chicken next to the bank in Santa Elena.
- Panaderia Jimenez, San Elena. The Panaderia Jimenez on Santa Elena's main street has delicious bread, pastries, coffee, and more at budget prices. Stop by for breakfast or a snack for the trail or bus ride.
Bar Amigos is the premier place for Ticos and tourists to mingle. Beers are ¢700, but expect an occasional ¢1000 cover charge. Service is mediocre but the food is great.
The Guarida del Sapo is a more upscale and much more expensive locale, with beers going at a criminal ¢1200. However, the service is amazing and the music is never as loud as Bar Amigos.
The Unicornio is a locals only spot for the most part, with beers at ¢700 and (hilariously bad) karaoke most every night. Proceed to Unicornio with prudence and trepidation; you're likely to stick out here as a tourist of any kind.
The Bromelias souvenir shop sometimes converts into a bar with great live music, but this is rare. Beers here are also ¢700, but Bromelias is by and large the best place to drink when it's functional.
- Hotel Sapo Dorado, . Comfortable accommodations just minutes from Monteverde Cloud Forest and other natural attractions.
- Casa Tranquilo, . The Ultimate Backpacker Experience, FREE internet, FREE breakfast, Large rooms for 8$ per person. The Owner David speaks perfect english and is willing to help you organize your trip.
- El Sapo Dorado offers private entrance and porch, private bath with hot water shower, 2 queen-sized beds with orthopedic mattresses, versatile lighting, and a table and chairs for writing, playing games, or enjoying room service. Monteverde Costa Rica El Sapo Dorado restaurant is known for the creativity, variety, flavor, freshness, and presentation of our food from breakfast to dinner. The menu always includes a choice of whole grains, vegetarian and vegan dishes, pastas, seafood, chicken, as well as beef, pork, and decadent desserts. Organic produce is used whenever possible.
- Hotel el Establo, ☎ (506)2460-4697, . In the heart of the touristic zone of Monteverde 7 km from the Santa Elena Rain Forest and 4 km from the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Set in a private 150 acres farm (50% protected primary forest) adjacent to the Monteverde Reserve, from here you can arrange one day hiking tour to the monteverde cloud forest.
- Trapp Family Lodge, ☎ 786-8379198 ([email protected]), . The closest lodge to the Monteverde Reserve Costa Rica, a 15 minute walk, great for bird watching. This cozy new 20-room inn pays tribute to its setting with beautiful tropical wood appointments, private balcony in each guest room, and a family-style restaurant fronted by huge picture windows and a balcony overlooking gardens and verdant rain forest. Set in a small private reserve, the lodge is ideal for families or anyone appreciative of a warm, homey atmosphere and a convenient location just a few minutes walk from the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
- Pensión Santa Elena is the cheapest option in town, and is located in the middle of Santa Elena. Prices fluctuate but are never high.
- Arco Iris Lodge is a mid-range hotel at $20 - $30 per person.
- Sapo Dorado and Fonda Vela are top-range hotels, at $100 per night.
- Sleepers Sleep Cheaper Hostel , 200 m south of Bus Stop, in front of World of Insects. Another cheap option from $5 to $10 includes breakfast and internet access.
- Montelena Hostel, ☎ (506)-2645-6559, . An excellent and economic option for backpackers. Singles for 12 USD per night. The place operates as a hostel and an information center (English spoken). The hostel offers free internet, kitchen, and breakfast.