We shared a time share with friends for a week and then spent a 2nd week on our own at this Resort in the Guanacaste region. There is no rain in this region at this time of year; it is sunny and hot every day. Obviously, the result is pretty 'dried out' and 'rugged' looking landscape; not lush as you may at first envision when you think of Costa Rica. There are many different ecosystems in this country so if you'll willing to drive the distance you will find the beaches and lush green forests you may crave!
Being mid-March, we were surprised at how few people were to be found on the beach or around the pool during a majority of our stay but, the locals check in each weekend livening up the pool area. We were almost nervous that if we went missing, nobody would ever know! The rooms are a bit outdated but, kept clean by the maids each day. We stayed on the 500 block and enjoyed the parade of wildlife that visited us each evening. We’d start off with 100's of parrots playing in a couple of the trees in front of our rooms followed by the resident cat, followed by 'Sparky' the racoon who is usually on his own at around 6:30 p.m. or so, followed by a family of 4 or 5 racoons at around 9ish, followed by a black skunk shortly afterwards. We even had a family of Coatis one of the first evenings we were here. You're not supposed to feed the animals but, I think many of us broke that particular rule :) Howler monkeys are the highlight of the Resort. There is an entire family of them living here and they move from the entrance to the ziplines behind the infinity pool to different trees on/around the beach. They howl from time to time and sound very eerie! Cutest things ever! Take some time to watch them when they’re not just ‘hanging’ around the tree branches. A couple of people even spotted a white-faced monkey hanging out around the beach!
The hotel is supposed to conduct an inventory of your room contents prior to your departure but, they didn’t conduct the inventory of our room prior to our 4 a.m. departure; they just asked us to drop off the key. Our friends started a trend on 500 block the first week by bringing their dining room table out onto their patio deck along with a cushion and pillow from one of the chaise lounges in the living area. Who wants to be inside!!! There’s a ‘mini mart’ on site where you can purchase the basics as far as groceries go but, it’s expensive. There’s a larger supermarket about a 10 minute walk down the road which has a larger variety, however, be ready to pay $5 for a bag of Doritos (if that’s your thing)! Water is safe to drink. I won’t say much about the hills you have to climb to get up to the pool from the beach. It’s all in how you want to look at it; it’s great exercise but, if you have asthma and don’t plan to use the shuttles that are supposed to go by every 10 minutes, bring your puffer! Sunsets are beautiful to watch from everywhere! We watched it from the Infinity Pool , the end of 500 block and from two of the restaurants along the beach. I got some fantastic shots and even a video.
The view of the bay from the Infinity pool is amazing. They have a ‘cold’ tub which is a refresher after being in the heat of the sun. Not many people were happy with the wooden lounge chairs around the pool as they weren’t comfortable at all.
The chairs on the beach are chained up under the palm trees in the shade so if you want to be out in the sun, be prepared to negotiate to have some unchained (not sure who could help you with that). The water (when we were there) was murky along the shoreline so you couldn’t see what you were walking/swimming in until you got out past the breaking waves other than earlier in the morning during the last few days of our stay. It is certainly nothing like the clear, white sand beaches and deep turquoise waters of the Caribbean that we are used to visiting. There were sightings of a few poisonous water snakes so that made us a bit nervous about going into any type of murky water but, we never saw any personally. We did snorkel to the right of the entrance to the beach around the rocks the last two days we were there and were not disappointed. Not fantastic but, there were some colourful fish. As with most Resorts, there are timeshare agents from Vila Sol (another Resort that shares the beach) and elsewhere at the entrance to the beach; rumour from some guests is that what they promise you is not always what you will get if you attend the presentation. Not a surprise. We bought some great clay pottery from Eduardo on the beach. Great guy and they make great gifts! We also bought one for our fantastic neighbours as well who shovelled out our driveway while we were soaking up the sun.
We spent a few days of our first week using Mardigi (on sight in the Reception area) and Charlie's Adventures (on site at the entrance to the beach) to go on a few tours. We took the PALO VERDE tour with Mardigi- boat ride where you can enjoy natural life around Tempisque River. We saw white faced monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, and different species of birds. We also did the ARENAL VOLCANO tour with Mardigi - a guided drive through some beautiful landscapes and quaint villages, followed by a visit of a forest reserve, followed by a soak in some hot springs. Some meals are included with the tours.; Costa Rican style. Finally we enjoyed the AGUACOMBO with Charlie’s - Full day where you go out on a boat to enjoy the area of Papagayo. The snorkeling was limited the day we went as the water was quite cloudy. You then fish with your own hand held line. One guy caught 3 red snapper but, no one else did. You then enjoy a BBQ Costa Rican style on a beach where you will see natural caves. Climb to the top of the hill over the caves and you won’t be disappointed by the view!! It takes 2+ hour drives to get from this area to the popular tours (with many bumpy roads) and it just wasn't worth it to us to go on any more than these 3 tours. We had enjoyed a lot of spectacular tours in other countries so we just oived vicariously through others who experienced Nicaragua and Monte Verde. The tour guides were all fantastic and entertaining so that made the driving time more fun for sure. Mark (Mardigi) stopped all along the route pointing our wildlife and birds he and the driver would spot up in the trees so we could take pictures. He was a fountain of useful information and had lots of history of Costa Rica to share. He even e-mailed us some of the incredible pics of the wildlife that he took during our tour that none us were able to capture quite so beautifully with our ‘point and click’ cameras. I was floored that he remembered us with all of the tours he had to do with others! He also took the time to stop on the way to the hot springs to try to find an English version of a ‘birds of Costa Rica’ book for one of our tour mates and didn’t give up until he found it! Marvin (Mardigi) was full of stories that kept us in stitches the entire tour and was also very knowledgeable as well. Always try to negotiate for deals with the vendors if you have a number of people in your party and want to pay cash; you may be rewarded! There is zip lining on site at the hotel for $35 if you’re interested in doing that instead of driving to ziplines that may be much further away. We didn’t do them. We did some snorkeling during the last part of our stay around the rocks to the right on the beach and saw many more interesting fish than we did on the tour! Check it out if this is something that interests you. We also used Mardigi to take us to and from the airport as they go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need before you get to the Resort; have them stop at the grocery store so you can stock up your kitchen. They will wait for you! Even at the end of the tours, they would let us stop at a bank machine or a market to get anything we may need before going back to the Resort. Take some time to get to know Diana who works the desk for Mardigi Tours at the Resort. She is an absolute treat and will help you out wherever she can!
We enjoyed free breakfast at the hotel restaurant twice as we had to book a couple of separate nights (they included breakfast). We had their buffet the first day and ordered the American breakfast the 2nd day; both time the food was fine. The rest of the meals we had out were at: The Rock Beach Bar- they have the cheapest beers on the beach! We enjoyed eating at Aqua Sport and most especially the El Velero Hotel beach bar as well! Great band at El Velero (2 brothers) played on Tuesday and Thursday nights and in town at the restaurant across from Lizard Lounge in Playa Del Coco on Saturdays. The food at El Velero was always outstanding and there was always a LOT of it! The rest of our meals we cooked on our own. Note: they use cheeze whiz topping for nachos instead of real cheddar at the three places I ate them at; guacamole was great everywhere we ate it. If you want some authentic Canadian cuisine, visit Papa Hogs just down the road from the Resort for their ribs (Fri./Sat. evenings) and their version of poutine. It’s owned by Canadians. We never did make it there.
Only went to one show on the Resort: ‘International Night’ and left after about 10 minutes; not too entertaining but, they tried. The Hotel doesn’t post what the entertainment is where people will easily see it so most don’t know the shows are even happening. We went to the disco at the Resort another night where there were only 5 other people there. We danced to a few songs before moving back to our patio to enjoy drinks with some friends we met on our block. As previously mentioned, our favourite entertainment (other than our friends) was the wildlife!
HOT! Every morning, noon and night. In the 30’s all the time and no rain until about May I think it is. Very strange to be sure! Don’t come here if you don’t like it too hot. You don’t get a break except when you jump into the infinity pool, cold hot tub (next to the pool) or in your beautifully air-conditioned room!
Enjoy your stay and make sure you take in those sunsets!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.