This Central American country has it all!
We flew into San Jose, the capital city, on JetBlue from Ft Lauderdale (a great airline, by the way).
One night was spent at the Carriari Doubletree hotel, then off to the state of Guanacaste on Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific coast. The drive takes about 4 hours depending pit stops (not too many for us, the girls were in a rush to get to the resort for some reason). There are many, many options for side trips on this journey. I regret now, in hindsight, that we didn’t take a few.. such as the volcano and/or the Cloud Forest.
The road from San Jose to Liberia (the city where we hung a sharp left to get to the coast and the resort) is a section of the Pan American Highway. As you can see from the photo, it is rapidly being expanded to a four lane freeway by the Costa Rican government. Expected completion time is about two years. This improvement will easily reduce the drive time between San Jose and Guanacaste by an hour or more. (The existing two lane road is in good shape.. it is the traffic that slows you down.)
The next five days and nights we luxuriated in a little duplex bungalow at the Hilton Papagayo All-Inclusive Resort on Papagayo Bay.
We shared the other side of our unit with our daughter and friend. Our hillside location proved to be perfect for accessing the “adults only” section of the resort – and area consisting of the spa, a pool, dining area and beach.
The grounds (and trees) surrounding our bungalow we shared with some very large but friendly iguanas and howler monkeys. A quick note about the monkeys: while shy, they are also very curious. We were warned not to leave anything unattended that might be of interest to them – either on our front porch or on the beach. Seems the little devils have a habit of taking objects – such as towels, cameras, clothes, etc. – back up into the trees with them. Then, once their curiosity is satisfied, they leave the objects there. So, unless you want to find your belongings in the treetops when you return, best to leave them indoors or guarded.
All non-motorized water sports are included at the Hilton Papagayo. Jet skis and deep sea fishing is extra, but reasonably priced. Newly engaged Joni & Cameron caught a half dozen grouper during a morning outing, all of which were cleaned, cooked and served for lunch by the resort chef within an hour of landing. Talk about fresh!
Small trucks – actually golf carts on steroids – constantly roam the paths of the resort, offering rides to guests between bungalows and various attractions on the property. We found it best to walk the distance as a means of exercising off some of the wonderful food! As you can see from my shadow on this path to the dining area, I’ve gotten taller and skinnier.
We encountered some not-so-shy howler monkeys at a zoo located at the base of the zip line facility. One seemed perfectly at home on Savey’s shoulders.
One afternoon the resort’s spa staff hosted a beach-side rub down for couples… it was a concoction made of honey, course ground coffee beans plus moisturizer of some kind. Me and the iguanas opted out of that little event.
Did I mention the food? Fabulous! Lots of fresh seafood and several alternative restaurants to choose from.. at no extra cost.
The zip line was far different from what we expected. Instead of a single ride down to the ground from a tower or cliff, we experienced a series of eleven rides through the tree tops of the jungle. Once elevated to tree top level, it was a thrill to travel from station to station without once returning to earth.. until the last zip line down landed us on ‘terra firma’ about an hour later.
We enjoyed an audience of various ‘critters’ while we were invading their elevated domain.
The monkeys are quick! One of our party got a little too close when taking a photo. In the block of an eye, one of the little buggers grabbed her sunglasses. A trainer had to retrieve them.
Costa Rica is truly a nature lover’s paradise. And the Hilton Papagayo is particularly appealing, all-inclusive and reasonably priced. To view rates at this property go here.