Stijn Ghijssen / Courtesy of costaricatreehouse.com

Branch out on your next trip by staying in a tree-house hotel along the beach or in a remote rainforest.

Tree House Lodge, Limón, Costa Rica

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Why It’s Unique: The highlight of this 10-acre beachfront property, within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, is a sustainably built tree-house made from fallen trees, with solar heating, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a shower built around the crooks and roots of a massive 100-year-old Sangrillo tree.

Access: Hanging steel bridge.

What to Do: Snorkel or kayak off the nearby Punta Uva Beach.

—Damon Tabor

World’s Coolest Tree-House Hotels

Tree House Lodge, Limón, Costa Rica

Why It’s Unique: The highlight of this 10-acre beachfront property, within the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, is a sustainably built tree-house made from fallen trees, with solar heating, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a shower built around the crooks and roots of a massive 100-year-old Sangrillo tree.

Access: Hanging steel bridge.

What to Do: Snorkel or kayak off the nearby Punta Uva Beach.

—Damon Tabor

Stijn Ghijssen / Courtesy of costaricatreehouse.com [1] [1] http://www.costaricatreehouse.com/

World’s Coolest Tree-House Hotels

Want to go out on a limb for your next vacation—literally? Once the sole province of young boys and Ewoks, tree houses offer adventurous travelers (read: unafraid of heights) a unique travel experience in an age of roadside motel chains and globe-stretching hotel corporations.

Building a hotel in the treetops is hardly a new idea: Brazil’s Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel has been inviting guests to explore the jungle canopy from its rooms since the mid-1980’s. But the concept has blossomed; today you’ll find them everywhere from Massachusetts to China.

Better yet, this new breed is more than just planks of wood nailed to an old oak. The Costa Rica Tree House Lodge, in Limón, for example, has a full kitchen and luxurious bathroom built around a gnarled 100-year-old Sangrillo tree. Head to South Africa’s Tsala Treetop Lodge, in Plettenberg Bay, and you’ll find infinity pools and fireplaces.

“A lot of people had good experiences with tree houses when they were growing up,” explains Michael Garnier, a builder who has constructed tree-based dwellings around the globe and also operates the Out’n’About Treehouse Treesort, a sprawling 36-acre wonderland in Oregon. “It draws an adventurous type of person,” he says. “The kid comes out in them.”

Sometimes, it’s the solitude and seclusion afforded by sleeping in nature that attracts people to high-flying hotels. Take northern Sweden’s eerily beautiful Treehotel, whose mirrored cubic exterior reflects the forest on all sides.

It’s the vibrant cacophony of the rainforest, by contrast, that’s on display at Tranquil Resort, a working coffee and vanilla plantation in southern India. Chances are high that guests might find themselves in a not-so-tranquil situation: nose-to-nose with howler monkeys, who reportedly dance on the roof at night and have even startled guests by bursting into bathrooms. “I’ve found nowhere else like it in the world,” says former (unshaken) guest Haley Spurway.

Modern tree houses present a rare opportunity to drive past the McResort and break free of travel’s predicable stops and well-traveled routes. Up in the leaves, you’ll find something unique and exceptional—surely the reward of any good journey.

—Damon Tabor

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