Living Forest, Lake Arenal Retreat Center

Tilarán Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Living Forest is a magical jungle paradise! They host yoga, transformational and healing retreats, dance and movement, art and creativity, meditation, and other spiritual retreats.

Testimonials 28

  • Sharon United Kingdom

    Tripadvisor website

    Living Forest, what a place! Everything about the place is perfect. The workshop was life changing, the location, the comfort of sitting in the workshop space, the views of the amazing jungle like trees surrounding the workshop space, with the odd howler monkey visiting!!The passing exotic birds, the hospitality and warmth of the owner Johanna, and the natural swimming pool by the river, and as for the food! Deeeelicious! A piece of paradise!

  • Nolita Ananda Thailand

    TripAdvisor Website

    A world beyond space and time! Quiet and quaint, clean and affordable. Amazing food and helpful staff. Beautiful swimming hole on the property to cool of in the heat of the day. Brilliant location close by the stunning Lake Arenal!

  • Mandy L. Costa Rica

    TripAdvisor Website

    I spent 3 nights at Living Forest for a yoga training, and I have to say this is one of the most beautiful places to stay! Johanna made sure every aspect of my stay was taken care of and I felt right at home! The river bends right around the property which is amazing and the forest really is alive! I saw more butterflies there than I have anywhere else in Costa Rica (or anywhere!). The rooms were very comfortable and the bathrooms are well laid out, clean and had hot water! If you are thinking of coming here for a yoga training, retreat or just to stay, I highly recommend it!

  • Alex F. Lake Arenal

    TripAdvisor Website

    I stayed with Joanna for a couple days while I was kiteboarding / windsurfing. I had a blast. Joanna's Living Forest, is a well maintained quiet place where you can relax and really enjoy your travels. I'll definitely be going back!

  • a traveler La Fortuna

    TripAdvisor Website

    If you really need to disconnect from the rest of the world, Living Forest is the place to relax and refresh! The climate is perfect, the cabins are well-equipped and Johanna the owner will take excellent care of you! This was the ideal location for our yoga retreat and I would recommend it highly! The entrance is the thing that most-impressed me... one would never know that this quaint little oasis was hidden deep in a real "Living Forest" next to the river!! I slept so soundly and comfortably, plus the food was healthy, fresh, fulfilling, and delicious! You'll love it here!

  • Peggy Anne Minnesota

    TripAdvisor Website

    If you are thinking about booking a stay with Johanna at the Living Forest near Lake Areanal, do it! You won't be disappointed. My husband and I stayed here for two nights at the beginning of our two week Costa Rica vacation and it was the most pleasant place we stayed out of any of the other places we stayed at on our whole trip. Johanna made us feel very comfortable and welcome. She was fun to visit with and respected our privacy when we wanted to be alone. Breakfast was amazing and Johanna served it fresh whenever we wanted it, not between a set time like most other places did. The hot shower with good water pressure was a treat as well, and you can't beat the price.

  • a traveler Texas

    TripAdvisor Website

    This place is breath takingly beautiful... from the small river to the howling monkeys, morpho butterflies, and toucans... you will feel like you are living in the middle of a magical forest. It is alive yet completely tranquil and rejuvenating at the same time. The rooms are clean, modern and beautiful, and the owner, Johanna, is incredibly helpful, gracious and determined to make your stay as warm and welcoming as possible. I highly recommend this place to surfers, tourists, and yogis; young and old alike. It is a special part of the world and my most favorite part of Costa Rica.

  • Nicky W. Costa Rica

    TripAdvisor Website

    Honestly, we couldn't have asked for a better host and environment for our retreat. Johanna worked with us to create a sacred atmosphere for a healing retreat we organized for a group of friends and guests. The location, surrounded by natural beauty, coupled with Johanna's service and flexibility made it unforgettable.

  • Chenir

    TripAdvisor Website

    We came to the place just because it is close to the kite and wind surfing beach Tico. We were so lucky! It's a real heaven! With the river around, the nature sounds from all over, the huge trees, the amazing rooms with private open showers, the great friendly dogs and of course Johanna who is the best host and great person. We are a couple with six months baby who did not stop smiling and discovering new things. For the kite surfers it is really the best place to relax after and before while you know that your partners are happy when you surf. Also Equus restaurant for the hungry ones is three minutes drive on the way back from the surf. Tico's place is seven minutes drive and is a great spot with friendly and professional owner. All that was written by others is right and more.

  • Rachel New York

    TripAdvisor Website

    I stayed at Living Forest for two weeks in the spring of 2014. I live in NYC and wanted to get away from craziness and get some peace. Living Forest was the perfect place to do this. Johanna has created a beautiful space for people to come and be at peace, rejuvenate, and relax. Sitting by the river on her property with my feet dangling in the water, after a lovely dip, I watched little fish swimming, listened to the toucans in the trees, and felt more at peace than I have in years. It is truly a magical place and I cannot wait to go back. The rooms are super clean and well maintained. Johanna is a really special person - very open, clear and loving, and incredibly helpful. She has a lot of information about activities, hikes, restaurants etc that are nearby / day trips - I went horse riding which I highly recommend. Another nice thing is that she sometimes hosts workshops and classes at Living Forest so while you're staying at Living Forest you may find that there's a yoga or dance or cooking class you can take too. I honestly can't say enough good things about Living Forest. It's a magical place.

  • Munivar District of Columbia

    TripAdvisor Website

    Johanna is a beautiful woman (inside and out), who has moved to Costa Rica recently from Europe and managed to integrate herself into the life and community there. She has a wonderful quiet property, a river runs through it and it is wonderfully peaceful there. Her dogs are very friendly and the rooms are clean and well designed. She runs classes for the expat community that lives around the lake from yoga to mani-pedis and there is wind surfing, a brewery and some good restaurants around. I only stayed a night during a dark period for me and being around Johanna and her dogs brought me much needed peace. She also went out of her way to make me feel comfortable.

  • Raquel Hawaii

    TripAdvisor Website

    My family and I stayed at the Living Forest while we were on a retreat. It is such a beautiful location with being surrounded by the river and tons of animals! The howler monkeys came out which was super cool to hear them. There are tons of beautiful birds, butterflies and other costa rican animals. Joanna, the host, is super sweet and accommodating. My husband has many food sensitivities and so she prepared things special for him which was great. We really loved our stay there. The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated. Also, I am in a wheelchair and I was very pleased with the accessibility of the place. It has a large accessible bathroom and roll in shower. The house is also all on one level. We would definitely come back!

    Thanks Joanna!

  • Angela Clark Texas, United States

    TripAdvisor Website

    This lady has nailed it! Words and pictures just can't describe the beautiful property, accommodations, or the feeling of Johanna's place! Howler monkeys, a river, trees - this tree lover was in absolute heaven!

  • Rachael Colorado

    TripAdvisor Website

    I stayed at the Living Forest for a retreat.The location was beautiful. From waking up to the howler monkeys in the mornings to the beautiful sounds of the river as you drift off to sleep. This place couldn't be more perfect. The owner, Johanna, was amazing in making us all feel like family. The prepared meals were outstanding and we loved the fresh local fruits! This is such an amazing space that offers tranquility and peace. The rooms were clean and the property was well maintained. I look forward to my next visit!

  • Jeff B. California

    TripAdvisor Website

    I've been going to Lake Arenal every winter to windsurf since 1992. I've stayed at several places, all excellent, but Living Forest is my new favorite. The location is gorgeous, serene, and quiet - except for the sound of the stream rushing by, birds, and occasional howler monkeys. You are in a deep ravine with a stream running right next to the property. Enormous trees line the ravine, home to many birds and monkeys. Johanna is super friendly and accommodating. Breakfast is very good: typical gallo pinto Costa Rican style or sometimes waffles, with excellent fresh fruit. The rooms are clean, well-designed, and even have real water heaters instead of the more common electrocution shower (heating coils in the shower head) you usually find in Costa Rica. Living Forest is about 20 minutes from Tilaran, which is about 25 minutes from Canas on the Pan American Highway. Living Forest is about 2 hours from the Liberia Airport.

  • Deena D. Thailand

    TripAdvisor Website

    Living Forest is one of the most beautiful and pristine places I have been, having traveled Asia, Europe, and America. Providing modern accommodation overlooking the pristine, untouched jungle with a beautiful river in between, this place is the perfect place for a retreat from modern life and into the quiet, serene arms of nature.

    Johanna is an amazing host, who is super accommodating and even lets you use her kitchen if you want to food prep. She is knowledgeable, kind and a wonderful yoga teacher (who holds weekly classes at the center!) I highly recommend this as a place to take time for yourself, enjoy the peaceful tranquility, immerse in nature and observe the incredible animals and birds (like toucans, monkeys, and lizards!) - who are observable in the tree tops across the river (a safe distance!).

  • Emi

    TripAdvisor Website

    Amazing, amazing, amazing! Not only were we so wonderfully welcomed and taken care of, but the place is absolutely wonderful and beautiful. Haven't felt so in touch and at peace with nature before. The flowing river, the howler monkeys, the hummingbirds, the iguanas were all there to greet us. The room was spacious with a great bed, super clean, and the shower and bathroom that were in the air (but with privacy) was also fun! Definitely the highlight of our trip (we stayed there for two nights).

  • Dee Spies Costa Rica

    TripAdvisor Website

    We had the privilege of staying with Johanna at Living Forest for a 5 day retreat, and my biggest complaint was that we didn't stay a full week. The rooms were immaculate and it was a treat to be able to shower outside every day. The grounds were nothing short of a tropical delight. There were monkeys, toucans and other exotic birds and the abundance of hummingbirds was a real delight. The walk down the jungle path is a great way to begin you day. We look forward to coming back soon!

  • Krisinik Canada

    TripAdvisor Website

    We stayed with Johanna from for 5 nights and loved every moment of it. She is a wonderful person, very helpful, accommodating, informative and interesting. The rooms are lovely with comfortable beds, incredible outdoor washrooms, and good Wifi too. The best part is sleeping with the windows open an night and hearing the jungle around you fully awaken. When you wake up in the morning there are all sorts of birds flying around to welcome you to a new day. Sitting in the river that runs through her majestic property is really an added plus. One really feels as if they are in the center of the jungle, meanwhile your room is only a few steps away.

    The property is very well situated; within an hour radius you can be in Monteverde, Tenorio National Park, Venado Caves, or in under 5 minutes you're right on lake Arenal. It was my first time to Costa Rica and staying at this place was like a dream. I highly recommend the Living Forest.

  • a traveler

    TripAdvisor Website

    I had the privilege to assist to a retreat by lake Arenal and stay at Living Forest, I have to say it's one of the most peaceful places I have ever been, always spotless with a beautiful place to practice yoga. I got to see monkeys and all kinds of birds. It is located by a river that gives this place a mystical and cleansing feeling. I adored the hammocks and seats right by the river. I have to say that while I was staying at Living Forest I just didn't want to go out and do anything else, all I wanted to do was to stay and enjoy the space. So thankful with Johanna for being so sweet and taking very good care of all of us during the retreat. I am coming back soon!!!

  • Traveler

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    Living Forest, what a place! Everything about the place is perfect. The workshop was life changing, the location, the comfort of sitting in the workshop space, the views of the amazing jungle like trees surrounding the workshop space, with the odd howler monkey visiting! The passing exotic birds, the hospitality, and warmth of the owner Johanna, and the natural swimming pool by the river, and as for the food! Delicious! A piece of paradise!

  • George Mohrmann United States

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    I recently visited Costa Rica to attend a workshop at the Living Forest, Lake Arenal Retreat Center. Living Forest is a wonderful recently built center nestled in the jungle surrounded by a rushing stream.The facilities were very comfortable and the meals provided were top notch. And a special bonus was the large outdoor covered dance floor and deck that put us right out in nature! From the hammocks hanging from large wooden beams we were even able to watch wild howler monkeys flying through the trees surrounding the retreat. And the area around the retreat was just as beautiful. Lake Arenal was very close, and a short walk took us to a place where we had beautiful high views of both the lake and the active volcanoes surrounding it. And those same volcanoes provided wonderful hot springs in the jungle that we were able to swim in whenever we needed a break from our workshop. We also met local residents during our stay who were always friendly, and went out of their way to help make us comfortable. The Living Forest, Lake Arenal Retreat Center is definitely a place I'd like to visit again.

  • Carlotta Heckmeier Germany

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    When I came to Johanna´s retreat I did not know what to expect. I did not follow the published development on Facebook before. So I came by school bus to her ground and when I entered the property, I was really overwhelmed what she had created. A peaceful, quiet, and magic place in between the wilderness of birdsong, surrounded of a charming bubbling river, howling monkey-families hanging around the trees looking for food, and a silence only broken through the nature. This place has a beauty all its own. Whenever you want to be on your own, relax or meditate, or as a starting point of exploring the wildlife and adventure - you are right there. And Johanna will help to make you feel even more comfortable with her talent of organizing things for and welcome you in her tasteful charming center.

  • Angela Clark

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    I have seen the prettiest places in Hawaii, but I've found my new favorite place at Living Forest at Lake Arenal! No big deal, I told my boys when I got back home "Get your passports, we're going to Costa Rica instead!" Beautifully splayed out like a buffet for the gods. The accommodations, the porch, the river, the trees; it patiently awaits to be soaked up. Johanna and her staff are super human at serving the best food to which I've now rearranged my daily diet! I cannot thank Johanna enough for making a place like this! Moreover, I cannot wait to go back!

  • Veronica Ferre United States

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    I felt very relaxed and at home while staying at Living Forest. The house is enveloped by a beautiful, lush jungle and the animal and water sounds are truly intoxicating. Everything from the hanging hammocks to the beautiful wood furniture provided warmth and comfort. The surrounding landscape of Living Forest is a harmonious combination of green hills, the impressive Lake Arenal and bright blue skies. I felt fully supported by nature and happy during my stay. I'd love to come back soon!

  • Jessica Manley

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    Johanna has found the perfect location to cultivate a heaven on earth. The Lake Arenal Retreat Center is exactly what it needs to be for each person who chooses to enter the space. The landscape literally unfolds itself before you revealing nature's secrets through rare and diverse species that seem to appear out of nowhere. Some as ancient and grand as you will ever see in this lifetime. Johanna's dynamic personality fused with the existing energy of the location welcomes you with loving arms into a vastness so cozy you'll feel transported far beyond any place you've been before. And the best part is it feels just like coming home.

  • Jennifer Hanson United States

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    I was lucky to have been with Johanna when she found this spectacular piece of land at Lake Arenal. I had already fallen head over heels in love with every aspect of Costa Rica and the local culture, but when we finally made our way to the Lake Arenal area and put our feet on this property, every cell of my being tingled from head to toe as we were welcomed by the magic jungle and all of its rich wildlife.

    During my time there I felt cleansed, purified, and deeply nurtured. I found the air, the volcanic red earth, and the water to have a powerful effect on my body and mind. There is a stillness in the land that pulls you into deep serenity and centeredness, and yet at the same time an indescribable power that emanates all around you. It is something that must be experienced in person to be understood. I have no doubt that the spiritual magic of this land found Johanna in order to create a sacred space to not only bring through more light on this planet, but to provide a healing sanctuary that will support the awakening of the divine self.

  • Stefan Wenger United States

    Lake Arenal Retreats website

    Conveniently located in paradise, Living Forest sits in the heart of Lake Arenal's lush rolling hills and tropical splendor. A river flows between the property and the jungle wall behind it, from which emanates a chorus of birdsong in the morning, and the exotic sounds of howler monkeys in the evening. This is a peaceful, enchanting place perfect for relaxation, for contemplation, and for exploration of the area's natural beauty, the sight of the lake and the nearby volcano turning every walk, and every leisurely drive through the region, into a heart-lifting experience. Zip-lining nearby was an exhilarating experience, flying over beautiful jungle canopies, with attentive, experienced instructors guiding us each step of the way. The hilliness of the area makes it the best part of Costa Rica to go zip-lining in, some of the lines are quite long, so you actually have enough time to look around at the amazing land you speeding through joyfully and effortlessly. I actually felt like I was flying, and after that, took advantage of hot springs, water slides and pools. Studies have shown that Costa Ricans are among the happiest people on earth; staying at Living Forest, you'll soon know why.

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