Lookout Inn


Perched on the steep mountainside above the surf of Carate, surrounded by tropical wilderness, is the enchanting and fascinating Lookout Inn. It is the only beachfront lodging in Carate, built on the side of a mountain amidst the trees, with spectacular coastal views extending from Punta Matapalo all the way to the southern entrance of the Corcovado National Park.

Carate is the last frontier, teeming with a lifeforce as inspiring as the stars at night. It is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth, a place of solitude and adventure. Primary and secondary rainforests fringe its endless stretches of beach with big pounding surf and great overhead barrels.

We drove up the steep driveway and were greeted by the gentle and sweet hospitality of Katya, one of the owners and a native of Puerto Jimenez. She walked us up the stairs to the three-tiered main lodgewith restaurant, kitchen and bar. It was there we met her husband and co-owner, Terry, a very enthusiastic and fun guy who immediately welcomed us into his family of guests.

Terry and Wendy were the originators of Lookout Inn before Wendy returned to the States and she is now the friendly person who corresponds with their online reservations. Terry talked about his love for this magical place and how he designed and built the structures to flow with the environment. He still gets excited about the abundance of scarlet macaws, parrots, toucans, white-faced monkeys, white hawks, blue morphs and the amazing red-eyed frogs that reside at the Inn. He promised that all the wildlife you desire to see in Corcovado, four miles away, is right there at the Lookout Inn. So whether you look out or look in, you are in the right place.

The awesome masterwork of Lookout Inn reflects years of ingenuity and creativity. The ten open beam cabaÒas are architecturally designed into the trees, crafted of fine woodwork, teak floors, bamboo and rock. Expansive decking with breathtaking views overlooks the garden pathways leading down to the spa, pool and palm-fringed beach.

The eco-lodge's rooms have solar-powered fans and lights with gravity-fed pure and clean water from the rainforests above. They recycle everything. Fresh produce is grown on the property.

We arrived in time for a buffet lunch served on the top level of the main lodge. The view was mesmerizing. We met friendly guesta over a cold beer and enjoyed some great conversation. Our afternoon was spentwith our children, boogie boarding on the beach. We were warned about the bull sharks from locals in Drakes Bay, which turned out to be rumor. It was more likely to find a turtle traveling in the surf.

We spent the late afternoon on the deck of our tree house (cabaÒa), relaxing in the hammocks while watching the white-faced monkeys, scarlet macaws and toucans.I took a walk up to the main lodge around sunset and was surprised to find a group of people at the bar having a good time. After all, I thought there was no one around for miles. I grabbed Mark and the kids and we went up and joined everyone. It turned out we knew one of the guys from the Santa Cruz band, Zen Chaos.

We also met the keyboard player for Stevie Wonder, with his wife and kids who was visiting from

Canada and having one of the only homes built along this coastal stretch. I also met a guy from Cuba and realized this must be the only social gathering place for the few locals that live around there.

We retired early after dinner that night, fading away to a starry night, the rhythm of the surf and the sweet intoxicating floral scents rising from the gardens below.

It was a magnificent morning. A buffet breakfast was served Tico style on the main sundeck with fresh brewed coffee. The staff at Lookout Inn extends their hospitality in every way. All the meals are beautifully prepared and graciously served, the drinks flow, and the cabaÒas, pool and grounds are well cared for.

This is a place where you just want to 'hang' all day, like the iguanas, whose residency was on our door steps, basking in the sun all day-long. So that is just what we did that morning, transitioning between the pool, hot tub, beach and hammocks.

We toured the grounds that afternoon with Katya. The gardens are a reflection of Katya's quiet side, a place where she can find time tending the exotic flowers and tropical plants that cover the entire grounds of Lookout Inn. I was amazed to learn that a clipping just placed into the soil will thrive here. There is so much love and creativity that Katya gives to these gardens, expressed by the beauty that abounds those who visit Lookout Inn.

We were pleasantly surprised to have a professional chef show up that day, somewhat unexpected. George A. Ramirez, from San Jose and author of the 'Iron Skillet,' prepared the most mouth-watering dishes we have ever feasted upon. George specializes in unique dishes from around the world. With two culinary school degrees, his 'hands on,' experience comes from years of being an executive chef on a private 150-foot yacht that sailed him into the kitchens of some of the finest resorts internationally.

That evening, after some great margaritas at the bar, we all sat down to a casual candlelight dinner featuring a pork loin delicately balanced with spices, pine nuts and liquor. By the end of our stay and after many great meals, George became a good friend and the executive chef for the Lookout Inn.

After breakfast on our third day our new friends from Canada and ourselves decided to take a hike, with Katya as our guide. Katya arrived with her machete, leopard print jungle pants and walking stick.

Terry recently built the towering 'Stairway to Heaven'. It climbs from the main lodge up the mountain and connects to a trail at the top, which leads to a magnificent waterfall tucked away in the jungle. Along with her son Philipe, we headed up the stairway.

All I could think was, 'this guy Terry is a genius: 213 steps straight up!'

When we reached the top, there was nothing above us but sky. Here we were standing at the top of the world overlooking the entire Southern Osa Peninsula. There was a moment of silence as the cooling breeze brought us to our senses. We descended into thick jungle and waded in high open fields. Once we crossed a stream we headed up-river to the cascading waterfalls. We saw a lot of wildlife that day, and Katya was wonderful at pointing out unique and unusual insects, animals, plants and trees that we would have overlooked without her. The entire hike took four hours round-trip. We arrived back in time for lunch and a lazy afternoon at the beach.

We never had a chance to do all the activities we would have liked to have done such as kayaking up the river mouths, finding turtles and horseback riding along the beach at sunset. I highly recommend staying here at least a week or more. Aside from being a haven for lovers of nature, with surf and adventure, Lookout Inn is an ideal place for artists to come inspiring creativity to the painter, writer or musician.

Lookout Inn feels like the last outpost on the edge of tropical wilderness where guests come and go with great adventure stories and generous smiles. Sadly, the next morning, we heard the small prop plane rev his engine above the Inn, signaling us to come to the dirt strip just down the road. It was time to leave.

Terry escorted us in his old pick up truck. Terry is one of the most entertaining characters we have ever met, warmly engaging his guests. He and Katya, together, make you feel so welcomed at their Lookout Inn and when the time comes for you to leave, you know you have made lifetime friends.

  • Website: lookout-inn.com
  • Lodging: $109.00 pp / $55.00 per child per night, includes 3 meals daily

Story and photography by Denise D. Stansfield. Copyright ©2003-2005 All Rights Reserved.