Best Places to Stay in San Isidro, Costa Rica

Best Places to Stay in San Isidro of El General

Forests and farmlands in the morning light, San Isidro de El General
San Isidro of El General is a charming agricultural town in southern Costa Rica. It sits on a valley surrounded by forests, farmlands, and the mountains and hills that protect it. It offers travelers a snapshot of authentic Costa Rican life and culture, with access to breathtaking scenery, hiking, and birdwatching.
The valley is nestled between Talamanca, Costa Rica’s biggest mountain range, and Fila Brunqueña, a minor mountain range parallel to Talamanca that leads to the Pacific coast. This gives San Isidro a privileged location, close both to mountains and beaches. San Isidro is characterized by its agricultural activities and is often used as a pit-stop for many travelers either traveling further south to the Osa Peninsula or further west to Dominical Beach and Uvita.
Staying in the San Isidro area allows you to disconnect from the bustling everyday life. There are various accommodation options in San Isidro, from rustic lodges and cabins, locally-famous and decades-old hotels, to a couple of luxury options. Hacienda AltaGracia is the most luxurious by far, focused on experiencing rural Costa Rica with the highest standards of modern hospitality. In addition to the intimacy and privacy it provides due to its location, horse lovers in particular will enjoy this hotel. It has some of the best stables in the country and it’s a paradise for equine enthusiasts.

No Mountain High Enough, No Valley Low Enough

One of the main reasons local and international travelers come to San Isidro is to have a homebase for extreme hiking. Mount Chirripó is the highest peak in Costa Rica at 12,536 feet (3,821 meters), and its best access point is in the San Isidro area. An iconic sight of the valley is Los Crestones (the Crests). The Crests are a rocky formation that, when the day is clear, you can see from San Isidro. A prized achievement of climbing Mount Chirripó is to visit The Crests and photograph them.

Exploring San Isidro’s Natural Showstoppers: The Best of Both Worlds

Visitors enjoying the natural pools at Nauyaca Waterfalls
In addition, the San Isidro area offers a lot of rural tourism, focusing on showcasing hidden gems like waterfalls, natural pools, hiking trails, horseback riding, and, above all, birdwatching. The variety of microclimates that you can find in the San Isidro area makes it particularly interesting for nature lovers seeking to admire the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. For example, Los Cusingos is a famous private reserve where students and visitors can learn about the many birds that populate the area, especially the cusingo, a type of small toucan.
Through a winding but well-maintained road, San Isidro easily connects to the Pacific coast. In about 30 minutes and through a stunningly scenic route, travelers get from the valley to the beach. On the way to the Pacific Ocean, there’s another famous stop—the Nauyaca Waterfalls. These are accessible after a short hike and very worth your while if you want to experience a beautiful location just as the locals do.

What to Know about San Isidro Before Visiting

To reach San Isidro from San José, the most common route is to cross Mount Chirripó. The road has incredible landscapes all along, but it is difficult to navigate for people new to it. There are many twists, turns, and chances of sudden fog. The roads from San Isidro to Osa Peninsula and the coast are similarly full of beautiful vistas but tricky roads and idiosyncratic signposts.
Because of all this, we recommend having an experienced driver for this trip. During the rainy season, unpredictable weather can come about quickly, causing poor visibility or landslides as well. Be mindful of this if you plan to cross the Chirripó to San Isidro. The trip also takes a lot of time (usually around 3 hours), so make sure you are ready for the journey ahead. It is very rewarding and beautiful for those who make it.
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