Santa Juana Lodge Costa Rica
Last month I finally made my way out to the Santa Juana Lodge above the foothills of Manuel Antonio. I had been hearing about this rural tourism project from a bunch of people, all with glowing reviews, and I know I had to check it out for myself. It turns out it is in an area that I pass by a lot when mountain biking, but I had never been able to stop and explore the project up close. This time, I decided to reserve one of the rooms at the lodge and take my time getting to know the area.
Santa Juana Lodge is a rural tourism project set up so that tourists can see how people continue to live in traditional ways in the rural areas of Costa Rica. This gives many families living in these areas a living wage so that they can stay in their communities, and not have to move elsewhere to find work. Moreover, the proceeds from these stays not only help the local community, but it is also invested in the replanting of thousands of native trees. A lot of these had been cut down for agricultural purposes more than 50 years ago, and this project is helping to restore the area to it’s original habitat.
One of the things you first notice is that the foothills and views around Santa Juana are just gorgeous. On one side you have views that look out over the Pacific Ocean, and on the three other sides the beautiful jungle mountains that are typical of this part of Costa Rica. The spectacular waterfall just a short horse ride or 4×4 drive away is another one of the area’s beauties. The water is cold and super clean, and there are even various ledges to jump from.
My favorite activity in the area though was seeing the traditional sugar cane mill. At Santa Juana Lodge they have a traditional oxen driven wheel to crush the sugar cane stalks to press out the sugar cane juice. It really is a relic, as now a days these mills are run by electric or gas powered engines. Seeing how this was traditionally done, in this kind of setting was a real treat for me, and also a real joy to photograph. After my day and a half at the lodge, I realized there was a lot more to see in the area, and I am anxious to plan my next trip back.