Tours & activities

Let us help you plan the perfect Costa Rica vacation

We Create Experiences!

At Leaves and Lizards, your Costa Rica activities and tours are personalized

and can be customized to meet your needs.

We believe in creating high quality, safe and memorable experiences for our guests.

If you don’t see what you are looking for, just ask! We can make arrangements for most any type of activity. Remember to leave some time in your vacation to just sit and relax! Just hanging out is a great way to spend a day too!  

SaveSave

Welcome!

Thank you for choosing Leaves and Lizards for your vacation! If you want to know more of our story, please click here Our Story

Frequently Asked Questions

   Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pura Vida? It means Pure Life in Spanish. The Costa Rican’s use this as a greeting and as a saying in their daily life when expressing how wonderful and enjoyable the simple pleasures of life are. Pura Vida is the essence of living in the moment.

Should I drive after dark? Not to your next location. But, if you drive to Fortuna in the day, you should be able to find your way back after dark. It can be foggy, watch for people and cattle in the road. Do not come up the RED route from Fortuna at night or cross the bridge if there is water running over the top.

Do I really need a guide?  It is best to have a guide for at least one of your rain forest excursions. It is the difference between hiking with your eyes open or your eyes closed.

Is the cow I’m milking a boy or a girl? Does it hurt? Only girl cows give milk. It does not hurt the cow.

Which hot spring do you recommend?  Ask us for the most current recommendation.  Most people spend 2 hours maximum at any given hot spring, then they are hot. The only one that requires reservations is Eco Termales. Do not make reservations or pay in advance for other ones, they will not give a refund nor limit the number of guests, so reservations are not necessary.

I have ants in my cabin; can you take care of that? Don’t leave any food out. It is the tropics. If we used enough chemicals to get rid of the ants you would also be dead.

Why don’t you have Internet or TV in the rooms? We are a retreat; in keeping with that atmosphere we opted to minimize the interference from the outside world. Take some time to read, play board games, talk to each other, take a nap, day dream…reconnect with one another and nature. Look up, Listen, feel, and absorb your surroundings.

Is the water safe to drink? Yes, it comes from a mountain spring and comes from our public water system and tested for quality on a regular basis.

What is the best way to get there? See the LOCATION tab on our website. About 70% of our guests rent a car. If you don’t want to rent a car, we can provide transportation service. Cars and gas in Costa Rica are expensive, transportation expenses will be a big part of your travel budget.  GOOGLE MAPS can sometimes take you on the wrong route, WAZE tends to work better. Please use the area map along with the Waze GPS system.

Are the roads safe to drive on? Yes, they are safe. But, you have to drive differently, take your time. Know that you can only go about 30 miles in a hour and that’s ok.

How far are you from the nearest town? Our little town of Monterrey is 3 km away. La Fortuna is 8 km away.

Do I need to plan my activities in advance? If you want guide service (for whatever reason), horseback riding, Proyecto Asis (make reservations through them direct), Tico Farm we like to know in advance, if possible, so we can plan resources accordingly. If you plan to schedule time with Debbie and experience the Eponcity program, please let her know in advance is possible, so she can plan accordingly. Commercial tours (zipline, rafting, canyoning) can be arranged once you get here. It is best not to reserve those in advance, if you need to cancel for any reason, it is difficult to get a refund. People commonly change their minds and the weather may play a factor.

How far are you from the nearest store? There is a small market within walking distance. 500 meters. They do not have beer or liquor. Duty free at the SJO or LIR airport are good places to pick up liquor.

What foods do you produce on the property? Chicken, eggs, some cheese, milk, buttermilk, butter, ice cream, some fruits, some vegetables.  Farm chores are at 7 am everyone is welcome to help with chores, milk the cow, collect eggs and gather daily produce from the garden.

Meals All of the food served at the Lava Lizard, is made to order. We need to know what you would like in advance if you want a choice of what to eat, otherwise we will serve you Option #1 on the daily menu by default. Once you make your choice, we ask you not change your mind at the dinner table. Option #2 is vegetarian (vegan upon request). We always have pizza, salads and a kids’ menu, even for adults to order from.

Where is the nearest ATM? In Monterrey. It gives USD or Colones. It is around 550 colones to $1.

Do I need to change money? No. Get out some colones from an ATM once you get here, if you like. Most places take USD and give change in colones.

Laundry: We can do laundry for you for $10/load.

How far are you from the nearest off site restaurant? 3 km.

Tipping: We mention this only because we are always asked this question. Most people will tip $10/$20/guide/family for day trips or horseback riding. Drivers $10-$20/day. For guides, masseurs, drivers pay at the point of service, if possible. Staff tips at Leaves and Lizards are pooled. Administrative services, Housekeeping, restaurant staff, grounds keepers, barn managers all share a portion of the tips. So, even the behind the scenes people are recognized for doing a good job. We recommend 20% of your restaurant bill to cover all the staff. Please pay cash for tips at check out.

What is the dog’s name:   Tootsie, she was born July 2015, please do not drop Tootsie she is so tiny and has fragile legs.

How did you FIND this place? It found us. Friends of our showed us the farm and we just knew it was the place. We bought it the same day in April 2006. It was a working dairy farm. 26 acres divided into 30 pastures. We planted over 4000 trees and built it up from scratch.

How long have you been here? We opened in Jan. 2007.

Where did you come from? Steve grew up in Florida and Alabama and Debbie grew up in Minnesota. We moved here from Sarasota, Florida in Feb. 2006.

What is Eponicity? Eponicity is a division of Leaves and Lizards, and is our equine program.  Eponicity combines the words ‘EQUINE’ ‘SYNCHRONICITY’ and ‘INFINITY’.  Find out more by visiting the website www.eponicity.com.

How did you get the name Leaves and Lizards? LEAVES is a combination of both of our last names, and LIZARDS come from a Jimmy Buffet song called ‘Off to See the Lizard’ and that is a song about following your dreams even if people think you are crazy!

What are the things at Leaves and Lizards that are a must do? We are known for our horseback riding experiences. We offer riding, workshops for individuals, corporate groups and families. We practice relationship-based horsemanship. Before your first ride you will get to know your horse and form relationship with him, you’ll learn to speak and hear the horse’s language – it’s not Spanish or English, it’s Horse!

  • Our private guides service. Including expert birding guides
  • The ziplines, canyoning and white water rafting in this area are excellent
  • Cano Negro Jungle River Trip
  • Hiking at the base of the Arenal Volcano.

Can I go rafting, ziplining, horseback riding and the hot springs in one day? No. The biggest mistake people make is over planning and trying to fit 5 days of activities in one or two days. Enjoy the moments of each day. That is the essence of Pura Vida.

What should I wear horseback riding? Long pants and closed toed shoes.

What made you decide to move to Costa Rica? Why not? We could always go back and do what we did before. Steve as a mechanic and in the Air Force for 12 years and Debbie was a NICU Nurse for many years. Read our story on our website.  https://www.leavesandlizards.com/dream-about_us/

Do your kids come to visit often? Once or twice a year.

How often do you go to the States? Once or twice a year.

Where do you go on vacation? Various places, during our slow season. Our management staff is excellent and take good care of things when we are gone.

Adventure

 

Canopy Zip Line

 

Experience one of the safest, highest and longest canopy tours in Costa Rica! After detailed safety instructions you will hike through primary rain forest in this 1200 acre nature preserve to reach the first platform. After 3 practice zip lines over pristine jungle, you will zoom over two 300 foot waterfalls.  What an adrenaline rush! There are a total of 11 zip lines; the longest is nearly 1 kilometer. This tour includes a tour of a butterfly garden, frog garden and a visit to a traditional Maleku Indian Village. Transportation is not included.

Operator: Mundo Aventura. Ask us about other options in the are that may be more suitable for your expectations, we’ve experienced them all!

Time: Allow 4 hours, offered three times daily at 8:00 AM, 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM. Try the Combo Zip line/Rappel along side the 300 foot Penas Blancas Waterfall!

Cost:  Canopy Zipline at Mundo Aventura  See Rate sheet for current rates. Minimum age 6 years.

Degree of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, you may take the option of having a “taxi” on the zip lines, a guide will link his harness to yours.

Please Note:  Let us make the reservations for you! We are happy to help you make the most of your time! 

 

 Our Waterfall Horseback Ride

After an orientation to  relationship based riding, you will ride our well cared for Leaves and Lizards horses to a nearby waterfall. Your private guides will point out the flora and fauna along the way. You may encounter poison dart frogs, toucans, monkeys and sloths while riding though pasture and rain forest. Then hike for 20 minutes through  rain forest to our private jewel hidden in this jungle canyon. Enjoy a refreshing swim below the falls, relax for a while and listen to the jungle before riding back to Leaves and Lizards.

Operator: Leaves and Lizards, part of our Rural Tourism Project

Time: 5-6 hours -time varies according to how long you want to ride and swim. You need to allow at least 5 hours for this tour.

Cost: $89.00 p/p

Degree of difficulty: Horseback riding experience is not necessary. Moderate.  Riders will be paired with a horse according to your riding ability/experience. Ask about minimum age.  Younger riders may ride with a guide or be ponied. Minimum age if 5 years old.

Due to the smaller stature of Costa Rica horses, in general, we have a 250 pound weight limit.

 

Canyoning

Trek through the forest on magical trails that lead to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in Costa Rica, a place very few people get to experience, make your way down beautiful and pristine canyons.

Operator: Pure Trek, Desafio or Spider Monkey Canyon

Time: Trips offered at several times during the day. Ask for current times schedules

Cost: $90.00 to $101, includes lunch, transportation is not included. See rate sheet for information on rates,

Degree of difficulty: Moderately strenuous, no experience necessary. The Desafio experience has minimum and maximum age requirements. Minimum age for other outfits is 5 years old.

Please Note: Let us make the reservations for you! We are happy to help you make the most of your time! 

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular Costa Rica tours. If you are ready for exhilarating fun consider a whitewater rafting trip. Paddle your day away as you roar through lush canyons, traveling through large expanses of tropical rain forest. The rivers vary from an easy Class II and III rivers to adrenaline pumping Class IV whitewater.

Operator: Wave Expeditions

Cost: $70.00 Balsa River Class II and III; $89.00 Sarapiqui River Class III and IV, includes lunch.  Check out the WAVE LINK option and make use of a travel day to/from the San Jose area. Raft a river on your way here!

Time: Allow a full day for either river.

Degree of difficulty: Moderately strenuous. Minimum age and weight requirements.

Please Note:  Let us make the reservations for you! We are happy to help you make the most of your time! 

 

The Best Horseback Riding in Costa Rica!

Stand with a horse in a lush green landscape. Feel his warm, soft rhythmic breath on your arm, look deep into his soulful brown eyes, watch his ears flicker towards you and discover how 60 million years of equine evolutionary instincts can help you unlock your own natural sensing abilities. Our horseback riding tours are not typical nose-to-tail type rides, experience connection and partnership with your horse, even swim in the river with your horse! We keep a stable of loved and well cared for horses. We have a variety of horses appropriate for the novice rider to the very experienced rider. We are considered one of the best horseback riding destinations in Central America.

Operator: Leaves and Lizards

Time:   As requested

Cost: $70.00/ride per person (around 2 hours)

Degree of difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Due to the smaller stature of Costa Rica horses, in general, we have a 250 pound weight limit.

 

Venado Caverns

If wading in an underground river, spying frogs, spiders and strange blind crickets while bats flutter above your head sounds fun, then this is the tour for you! The Venado Caverns extend for about 2 miles along an underground river, displaying, fossils, stalagmites and stalactites in fascinating formations.

Operator: Venado Caverns

Time: 5 hours TRANSPORTATION NOT INCLUDED

Cost: $25.00 per person, Guided – pay at park entrance, minimum age 10

Degree of difficulty: Mildly strenuous

 

Hot Air Balloon

Costa Rica provides unquestionably the most fascinating ballooning in the world – low and slow drifting, over rain forests or mountain villages, caressing the tops of giant trees, dipping into white water rivers or chasing monkeys in the tree-tops. With the right climactic conditions, you may find yourself ascending to watch the awesome, smoking Arenal Volcano.

Operator: Serendipity Adventures

Cost: $675.00- $1200, Minimum 2 people TRANSPORTATION NOT INCLUDED

Time: Take off is at sunrise. The trip lasts from 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

Degree of difficulty: Easy and fun for all ages!

Experiences

Eponicity Equine Assisted Learning 

 

Experience A Natural State of Being

Our services offer individuals, families and groups space for connection, learning and healing in a safe non-judgmental space. You will go back to your day-to-day life with tools to stay present, in tune with your emotions and better understand how to stay authentically connected to others.

Why Horses? Horses are non-judgmental, support our inside and outside – give us feedback when we are congruent. Their life depends upon accurate sensing capacity, reading intention is crucial for survival. 60 million years of evolution has fine-tuned their sensing capacity for survival, naturally.

No horse experience necessary. Interaction with the horses and exercises are on the ground and can be incorporated into riding activities; however, it is not necessary to ride or have riding experience.

Based on ‘The Power of the Herd: A Nonpredatory Approach to Social Intelligence, Leadership, and Innovation’, by Linda Kohanov, our Power of the Herd workshops explore Leadership, Dominance, Sentinel, Nurturer/Companion and Predator roles as a natural state of being, as they are for horses.

Each role has benefits and when over emphasized can create challenges.  Leadership energy is creative, inspirational; Dominance energy sets boundaries, creates safety; Sentinel energy oversees the environment, collects data; Nurturer/Companion energy is connecting, supportive, welcoming; Predator energy culls what is a drain on resources, restores balance to the whole. The most valuable herd members can move seamlessly in and out of roles as needed to support the whole – this is what Linda calls a ‘Master Herder’.

Interacting with horses teaches us how to use the right energy for the right job, supports congruency in our thought and action.

Horses as animals of prey, teach us about non-predatory power and predatory power and how to have a natural balance between the two types of power. In our busy lives, in our complex and conditional societies, we can become disconnected from our natural state, separated from the way nature intended us to connect to ourselves, our family and our social groups; experiencing the herd roles with horses is an opportunity to connect back to a natural way of being that we can take back to our day to day life.

Discover how to tap into your natural state of power!

 Operator: Leaves and Lizards  Eponicity Equine Facilitated Learning

 Time: Minimum full day, retreats up to 8 days. See retreat schedule here: LINK

 Cost: Varies

 Degree of difficulty: Easy to Moderate. All work can be done on the ground, there is no need to ride. Excellent family day activity. 

 

Eponicity One Day Workshop Testimonials:

CV, Psychologist; “ …I was amazed how each of my children could step into the arena on their own and work through their unique and precise areas of growth. It truly almost felt like it was magic, but rather it was just deep intuition from Debbie, Sally and mostly the horses! ”

QS, 6 year old: “…my horse know when I was scared, I felt like he comforted me, then he helped me see that I am strong, and I wasn’t scared anymore!” 

SA, 10 year old; “…I am being bullied in school, and Titan taught me how to stand my ground without becoming a bully too. I felt good understanding how to be dominant in a good way.” 

EV, 12 year old;…”I saw my family in a different way, it was nice to do the activity together we grew closer, I know more about myself now….I learned how  to understand when to back off, when I come on too strong.”

KR, Psycholgist; “…What amazed me is how the horses mirrored or pulled out dynamics that I see in my children, wife, and myself, and what they pulled out is exactly what each of us needed to see. How does a horse do that??!!!. Nature, and these wonderful horses, helped me step into a greater awareness of myself and my family…”

 

Paradise on a Platter

Culinary Tour! Experience the fresh tastes of Costa Rica! Learn traditional cooking techniques, with hands-on participation. Prepare authentic cuisine with fresh, tropical ingredients. This tour offers a rich, cross-cultural experience. Learn to prepare a variety of traditional Costa Rica recipes from our cooks in the Lava Lizard Restaurant.

 Operator: Leaves and Lizards

Time: 3 hours

 Cost: $25/pp includes lunch

 Degree of difficulty: Easy

 

Dia de Campo – Tico Farm Tour

Go beyond our little farm and go off to ‘Day Camp’ Costa Rican style. Immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture. The day may consist of milking cows, making cheese, tortillas, a variety of farm chores. Activities may vary and  are subject to weather conditions.

 Operator: Leaves and Lizards, part of our Rural Tourism Project.

 Time: 6 hours

 Cost: $65.00 per person, $45.00 children (<12); Transportation $20, lunch and snacks included

 Degree of difficulty: Easy, fun for all ages, one of our most popular tours!

 

Rainforest Chocolate Tour

 In this 1.5-hour “hands on” program, you will have the opportunity to participate in the production process, from the harvesting of the fruit, drying and grinding of the seeds. Prepare the traditional Cacao drink of our ancestors and enjoy high quality organic chocolate. Enjoy this journey through the history, culture and flavor!   

 Operator: Rainforest Chocolate Tour

 Time: 1.5 hours. Tours offered at 8am, 1pm, 3pm.

 Cost: $25-$44 (rates for private tours and group tours). Transportation not included.

 Degree of difficulty: Easy fun for everyone.

Nature

 

Professional Guide for a Day

 Eponicity Leaves and Lizards Costa Rica Arenal Volcano La Fortuna

One of our most popular Costa Rica tours option, our professional, bilingual, naturalist guide will accompany you.  Tour the country side or pick a National Park to explore; you never know what you will discover! The perfect option for bird watching or understand the secrets of the rain forest.  Immerse yourself in the culture, go to places where tourists rarely tread. Favorites include: Arenal National Park, Rio Celeste, Arenal Hanging Bridges, El Silenco Reserve and Bird Watching.

Operator: Leaves and Lizards

Time: Full day: 8 hours OR Half Day: 4 hours

 Cost: Full day: $125 OR Half Day: $85 Please Note: Park entrance fees not included. Transportation is not included.

 Degree of difficulty: You set the activity level, fun for all ages!

 

 

Proyecto Asis Wildlife Rescue

Join Alvaro del Castillo and his dedicated team at Proyecto Asis Wild Animal Rescue Center. Take a private tour or volunteer your time while learning about conservation of the rain forest and wild life in Costa Rica. Advance reservation is required. They offer AM and PM options 2 times per day. Advance reservation is required, make the reservations dierctly with Asis. Proceeds from your entrance fee are what supports this conservation center. 

Operator:  PROYECTO ASIS

Cost: $18-54 p/p TRANSPORTATION NOT INCLUDED

 Time: 8:30 am and 1:00 pm. At least 3 hours, tour or volunteer.

Degree of difficulty: Easy – fun for everyone!

 

Jungle River Safari Boat and Kayak Tours

 

Cruise along a jungle shrouded river, spotting monkeys, tropical birds, reptiles and other flora and fauna of the rain forest. We offer a private pontoon boat trips or kayaking on the Rio Frio in the Cano Negro area. For birders, photographers and nature enthusiasts, this is ‘must do’ Costa Rica tour! This tour is for nature lovers of all ages. If you are lucky you may even spot the rare Golden Howler Monkey or a 5 foot tall Jabaru stork!

Operator: Leaves and Lizards

 Time: Kayak Cano Negro/Rio Frio – Cano Negro/Rio Frio Pontoon: Full day activity

Cost: Cano Negro/Rio Frio $65-$85/pp (transporation not included) Kayak Trip $145-$185/pp (includes transportation). Inquire for current rates. Advance reservation required.

 Degree of difficulty: Cano Negro Easy and fun for all ages! Kayak trip is moderately strenuous.

Renewal

 

Eponicity Equine Assisted Learning

Eponicity Leaves and Lizards Costa Rica

Horses teach us to be authentic with ourselves and within our communities. Let the special horses at Leaves and Lizards lead you to a place of peace and understanding. We offer multi-day workshops, riding adventures and one day mini-workshops. This activity is suitable for individuals, couples and families or corporate groups. For more informaiton please take a look at the Eponicity website. Advance reservation is requested. 

Operator: Leaves and Lizards  Eponicity Equine Facilitated Learning

Time: Full day, weekly workshops and riding adventures

Cost: Varies

Degree of difficulty: Easy to Moderate. All work can be done on the ground, there is no need to ride.

Eponicity One Day Workshop Testimonials:

CV, Psychologist; “ …I was amazed how each of my children could step into the arena on their own and work through their unique and precise areas of growth. It truly almost felt like it was magic, but rather it was just deep intuition from Debbie, Sally and mostly the horses! ”

QS, 6 year old: “…my horse know when I was scared, I felt like he comforted me, then he helped me see that I am strong, and I wasn’t scared anymore!”

 SA, 10 year old; “…I am being bullied in school, and Titan taught me how to stand my ground without becoming a bully too. I felt good understanding how to be dominant in a good way.”

 EV, 12 year old;…”I saw my family in a different way, it was nice to do the activity together we grew closer, I know more about myself now….I learned how  to understand when to back off, when I come on too strong.”

 KR, Psycholgist; “…What amazed me is how the horses mirrored or pulled out dynamics that I see in my children, wife, and myself, and what they pulled out is exactly what each of us needed to see. How does a horse do that??!!!. Nature, and these wonderful horses, helped me step into a greater awareness of myself and my family…”

 

Hoja’s Spa Services

 

Experience Leaves and Lizards ‘Hojas Spa’. Our professional masseuse uses natural and traditional methods to sooth your body and soul.

Operator: Leaves and Lizards – Manos de Angels Service

Time: Spa Hours: 9am to 7pm – Advance reservation is required.

Cost: Rates Vary. Massages, Manicures, Pedicures, Facials, Hot Rock Massage, Body Wraps, Chakra and Reflexology re-balancing.

Degree of difficulty: Very relaxing!

 

Eco Termales Hot Springs

Eco Termales Hot Springs is a sanctuary. This secluded property has been the life work of the Hidalgo family. The smallest of the Arenal area hot springs, Eco Termales is geared toward privacy and relaxation and does not accept more than 100 visitors at a time. Reservations are required. The 5 pools vary in temperature, the coolest one is 91F degrees and the hottest one is 105 F degrees and there is a cold pool as well. You can also reserve a delicious typical Costa Rican lunch or dinner. There are other hot spring options in the area. Only Eco Termales requires reservations. 

Cost: $32.00 p/p, $47.00 w/lunch or dinner, $20.00/$34.00 child; pay at the springs. Prices may change.

Time: Advance reservations required 10 AM – 1 PM, 1 PM – 5 PM, 5 PM -9 PM TRANSPORTATION NOT INCLUDED

Degree of difficulty: Enchanting and relaxing for everyone!

 

Fun stuff to do for free (or almost free)

 Eponicity Leaves and Lizards Costa Rica Arenal Volcano La Fortuna

  • Swimming down at the Arenal river
  • Pool time
  • Leaves and Lizards farm chores (milk the cow, collect eggs clean the pig pen!)
  • Farmers markets
  • Local soccer games
  • Local Festivals and Celebrations
  • Tabacon River free hot springs
  • Hiking on our 3 km of trails
  • Hammock time
  • Grooming our horses
  • Taking our dog for a walk
  • Unguided hiking at Rio Celeste, El Silenco or Arenal National Park.

 

Please Note:

  • Rates for tours not based at Leaves and Lizards are set by the vendor. We carefully select our outside tour providers based on safety, value and experience.
  • Some of our tours require 24 hour advance reservation.
  • Once a professional guide is scheduled a cancellation fee of ½ the tour rate will be charged if the tour is canceled with less than 48 hours notice.
  • Rates and service are subject to change at any time.
  • Weather conditions may limit tour availability.
  • Transportation is not included in most cases. Ask about options.
  • Tours operated by Leaves and Lizards are part of our rural tourism project. Rural tourism promotes community involvement and cross cultural exchanges between locals and our guests. Part of the proceeds from our community based tours go back into the community.
  • Leaves and Lizards is located in the mountains, Monterrey (AKA Santa Domingo) above the busy tourist center of La Fortuna, San Carlos. We are a 30-40 minute drive form the major attractions in the area.