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Monteverde and Santa Elena, Costa Rica

Monteverde is a small town located in the province of Puntarenas. It is highly known for its lush forests filled with thousands of species of plants and animals. Monte Verde, Spanish for ¨green mount¨, is one of Costa Rica´s 7 Natural Wonders because of its beautiful and exotic cloud forests and biological preservations.

Monte Verde was established in its present state by a group of pacifist Quakers in the 1950´s who left the United States in hopes of dodging the draft of the Korean War and establishing a life in a non-violent country while still being able to maintain their dairy farming in the cool climate of the region.

The misty and windy town remains a cool average of sixty five degrees year round which makes it ideal for sustaining coffee crops. The forests of Monteverde are at an altitude high enough where they are among the clouds, and thus called cloud forests intstead of rain forests. It is actually a type of rainforest.


Monteverde is in the province of Puntarenas, about 3 hours from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. From the Central Pacific, Monteverde is about a 3 hour drive. At most, Monte Verde is 4 hours from the North Pacific of Costa Rica.

Monteverde can be reached by car or taxi, although bus shuttle is the most popular and economical means of travel. Public bus services are also available but it is used mostly by locals and backpackers. The two best ways of getting to Monteverde are either by renting a car or by hiring a private transfer.


Featured hotels in Monteverde

Trapp Family Hotel
Fonda Vela Hotel
Belmar Hotel
Montaña Monteverde Hotel
El Establo Hotel
Heliconia Hotel
Sapo Dorado Hotel
Poco a Poco Hotel
Monteverde Cloud Forest Lodge

Monteverde Map


How to Get There:

Car: Monteverde is a right turn off of the Pan American highway at Lagarto, Km. 134 for 35 km until Santa Elena, for a steep, rocky, road that is best traveled in an SUV or 4x4.

Bus: There are public buses to Monteverde from San Jose, Puntarenas, Las Juntas and Tilaran. Rates average about $2-5. Buses pick up people along the way and can sometimes be crowded and no aircondition.

San Jose to Monteverde

Buses depart twice daily from from "La Parada (bus station) of San Carlos" area of San Jose. Times are 6:30 am and 2:30 pm. Buses to Tilaran and La Fortuna., Arenal leave from this same depot. The ride takes about 5 hours. The bus stops at restaurant along the Pan American Highway halfway through the ride.

Shuttle Transportation one way: $39 u.s.d. per person.

Private Transportation one way: $180 u.s.d. for a mini Van that can transport from 1 to 8 persons. Bigger transportation vehicles are also available.

Main Points of Interest:

Reserva Biológica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde

• 6 ecological zones consisting of mostly virgin forest
• Includes a Nature Center featuring a butterfly and insect display
• Home to thousands of mammals, insects, amphibians, and marsupials
• The forest reserve is also known as a cloud forest in that it is amongst the clouds because of the high altitude. The vast variety of floral and fauna life as well as the variety of species are a must see for most eco-tourists. The reserve is also highly popular among biologists and researchers.
Bosque Eterno de los Niños (The Children´s Eternal Rainforest)

• Private reserve that is funded by children and schools from 44 different countries
• Features waterfalls, trails, lookouts, and a Children´s center
• Acts as a year round home for the infamously beautiful Quetzal birds
• The entrance at Bajo el Tigre is a reflection of a rare and unique type of rainforest. The entrance features a gift shop, children´s environmental center, and the option for a guided or self-guided one mile tour through the rainforest. In addition, night hikes are available to give visitors an opportunity to experience a different side of the rainforest.
Reserva Santa Elena
• Composed of 765 acres that is protected by the local community
• Features 4 main trails
o The Youth Challenge Trail – Features great opportunities for look outs for the Arenal Volcano at 1.4km or a 45 minute hike
o El Bajo Trail – A 2.6km trail takes about an hour and a half and runs through mostly secondary forest
o Encantado Trail - This two and a half hour trail encompasses 3.4km while giving visitors great opportunities for bird watching
o Caño Negro Trail - The longest trail in the reserve takes about three and a half hours over 4.8km.
• Guided tours in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest provide a wealth of knowledge and opportunities to spot a wide variety of animals and birds.
• Monte Verde Cheese Factory
• Opened in 1953 by Quaker farmers, the cheese from this factory is acclaimed throughout Costa Rica
• Currently produces 17 varities of cheese as well as ice cream and other dairy products
• Visitors can sample and purchase a wide variety of cheeses while receiving a guided tour of the Cheese Factory and Monte Verde´s history
• The Cheese Factory is keeping its efforts sustainable by innovatively using its waste products in conjunction with local farmers. It maintains a green initiative in hopes of keeping the natural beauty of Monte Verde alive.

The Café Monteverde Coffee Tour

• A guided, informative tour about the process of planting, growing, harvesting, and processing coffee.
• The climate of Monte Verde makes it an ideal place for coffee growing. The tour demonstrates just how the coffee beans are more flavorful under these conditions.
• Limes, bananas, and oranges are also grown on site. The site features coffee sampling and a gift shop for purchasing coffee and souveneirs.
Monteverde Bat Jungle
• Compiles over 40 years of bat research into one comprehensive place with information on the habitats and life styles of a wide variety of creatures of the night.
• The site features efforts on protecting and conversing bats and their natural habitat. A bat house where visitors can view hundreds of bats is also available.
Monteverde Butterfly Garden
• Founded in 1989 by biologist in hopes of inspiring and educating visitors on the vast array of butterflies and insects that originate in Costa Rica
• Features hands on educational experience for visitors to see and understand the habitats of butterflies as they breed, feed, and change forms
• The informative tour lasts about an hour and a half. An Ant Cutter Colony display is also available.

Selvatura Canopy Tours
• Features zip lines and bridge walk ways as well as a herpetarium, butter fly farm, insect museum, and hummingbird garden.
• Also has canopy adventure tours that last around two and a half hours and include incredible views of the rainforest
• Includes walking tours amongst the rainforest with hundreds of species of animals, insects, and plants

Proper Attire:

Given Monte Verde´s landscape and altitude it is a good idea to bring:
• A light jacket
• Tennis shoes
• Long pants
• Mosquito spray


Tramonti´s – A great restaurant for exquisite Italian food. This highly recommended restaurant has fair prices for lunch and dinner.

Stellas Bakery – A bakery featuring options for breakfast and much more. The sweets in this shop are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

De Lucia´s – This unique restaurant features a variety of Costa Rican flavor. This kid-friendly restaurant is a must stop in Cerro Plano, Monte Verde.

Sophia´s – Featuring a wide variety of Latin food, Sophia´s is a great spot for refreshing drinks.

Dulce Marzo – While serving breakfast lunch and dinner, Dulce Marzo mimics small European cafe culture with unique menu items and delicious baked goods.

Flor De Vida – Located right in Cerro Plano, this restaurant is appealing to the needs of many vegetarian visitors.

Tree House – This restaurant is an experience as well as dining. The atmosphere and staff create a unique ambiance that is unforgettable.

Morphos – This typical Costa Rican restaurant features a wide variety of dishes as well as sandwiches and snacks for the busy traveler.

Hotels in Monte Verde

Hotel Montana Monte Verde – A beautiful mountain lodge hotel in Cerro Plano with many great amenities including a private trail and jacuzzi.

El Sapo Dorado – This quaint hotel is located in Cerro Plano with gorgeous views of gardens and cloud forests. The hotel is walking distance to many local restaurants and shops.

Hotel Belmar Monte Verde – This hillside hotel features a rustic yet comfy atmosphere that gives guests breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean and nearby forests. This hotel is located very close to many of Monte Verde´s attractions.

Hotel Heliconia – This hotel provides a perfect setting for bird watchers and eco-tourist. The rich flora and fauna encompass the sides of the hotel with virgin forests.

Hotel Establo – Monte Verde´s largest hotel, the Hotel Establo, features many amenities including tennis and basketball courts, as well as a complete gym, spa, and 2 restaurants. This hotel is provides many of the comforts of home in a remote location.

Monte Verde Lodge – This luxurious garden rich hotel is located right next to the Monte Verde Cloud Forest Reserve. It features a spa in addition to unique views of the jungle and gardens via a balcony.

Hotel Fonda Vela – This hotel is located minutes from the Children´s Eternal Rainforest, while featuring a 1 km walking trail that can be viewed from the large windows in every room.

Hotel Poco a Poco - The hotel Poco a Poco hosts comfortable rooms to relax in after a busy day of tours and hiking in Monteverde. Visitors can unwind at the pool or schedule a massage at the spa.

Hotel Cabanas Los Pinos – With options for families, couples, or singles, Los Pinos includes a quiet environment for visitors while still remaining relatively close to local shops and restaurants.

Quetzal Inn – This small family owned hotel is perfect for visitors who want to rest and relax in the quaint atmosphere of Monte Verde.

De Lucia Inn – Located just near an ecological farm, the De Lucia, is a small hotel featuring 12 rooms.

Hotel Finca Valverde – This hotel located in the traditional farming community of Monte Verde, and it is home to over 100 different species. The site features a network of trail for exploration.

Cabanas La Pradera – Located in Monteverde, this lodging offers seven fully equipped rustic private cabins, private trails great for bird watching and views of the Gulf of Nicoya at a very reasonable rate.

Cabinas Verde Azul – After having ventured out, the rooms at Cabinas Verde Azul give you the opportunity to rest and relax. All cabins are tastefully furnished and come with single or double beds, private bathroom with hot water and a balcony or terrace.

Sunset Hotel – Situated in a quiet area, visitors have to enjoy the fantastic views of the sun setting over the Pacific. Private trails around the hotel are perfect for bird watching and include a banana plantation and fig trees.

Rancho Malena - Rancho Makena is operated by its owners and is s a perfect location to interact with friendly Costa Ricans amidst the misty cloud forest of Monte Verde.

Cabinas Bella Vista – With some of the best views of Monte Verde, these cabins are an enchanting opportunity for lodging while visitors unwind to beautiful views of the countryside.

El Bosque Lodge – This quiet hotel is located only 1.2 miles from the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. All rooms at the hotel are surrounded by beautiful gardens and lush forest. This is an ideal place to relax after a day of exploring the area.

Swiss Hotel Miramontes – With bright sunny views of Monte Verde, this hotel is encompassed by floral gardens, while still giving visitors a feel of a mountain lodge with its 8 wood paneled rooms.

Vista Verde Lodge – The breath taking view of Arenal Volcano make this lodge one of Monte Verde´s most unforgettable lodging options.

Trapp Family Lodge – The Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde is the hotel closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. It is a comfortable, warm place to stay after spending a day in Monte Verde.

Claro de Luna Bed & Breakfast – This bed and breakfast offers guests traditional Costa Rican hospitality with friendly and personal attention. A stay here is sure to be to the highest quality.

Los Cipreces Bed & Breakfast – The rooms at Los Cipreces have wood paneling and all have private bathrooms with hot water shower. Included is a full typical Costa Rican breakfast.

Las Orquideas – The hotel has charming views of the forests in Monteverde, a waterfall, the San Luis Valley and the Pacific. A trail behind the hotel allows travelers to see even more of the panoramic surroundings.

Monte Verde Inn – This inn has 3 different buildings that offer simple rooms but excellent views of the primary cloud forest as well as the Nicoya Peninsula. The quiet location is good for bird watching as well as exploring the wonders of the cloud forest.

Tree House Hotel – All rooms offered by the Tree House Hotel come with great views, single beds or 2 double bed , private balcony with panoramic sliding doors, and supreme customer service.

Hotel Los Jardines – Hotel Los Jardines is a relaxing place with all the amenities of home. Featuring cabanas and large rooms, this hotel is a picturesque stay for many travelers.

Cabanas Valle Campanas- Cabins Valle Campanas is a small family owned hotel in Monteverde, offering genuine Costa Rican hospitality. Stay here and experience Costa Rican culture, explore the farm, hike or ride a horse along different trails.

Sunset New Building - After having done some exciting tours in Monteverde, unwind at this hotel marveling at the mountains and distant views or explore the private trails in the forests around the Sunkiss hotel.

Hidden Canopy Tree Houses – This lodging borders the biological corridor of the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Colorful, tropical birds are a common sight, as are beloved Morpho butterflies

Travel Agencies, after hours & weekends:
(506) 2257-4171

Toll Free:
Costa Rica: (506) 2233-5151
Fax: (506) 2233-5284
E-mail: [email protected]
*Rates are subject to change without previous notice, according to any tax changes or any government regulations.

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