My wife and I just got back from a week long stay at Banana Azul and we could not have been happier with our stay! It was the best choice we could have made for our stay in Costa Rica.
The moment we arrived we were impressed by the beauty of the place. The grounds and gardens are fantastic and are obviously a labor of love for Rick, whom we met the day we arrived. He has done amazing things with the landscape and has incorporated natural elements such as driftwood into the scenery.
After we checked in, we were shown to our room which was room 9 (one of the garden rooms). We had chosen this room because we were bringing dive gear with us and didn't want to have to haul it up and down stairs. Honestly, I had been a little hesitant to get a garden room as previous reviews had complained that they were very small and noisy. However, we were surprised and delighted to find that they have recently been remodeled and are considerably larger than before and have had soundproofing done. The noise was not entirely eliminated but was never enough to bother us or keep us awake. Plus the Air Conditioning unit in the room provides a good white noise screen.
The room was beautifully decorated and the garden/porch area was perfect for our dive gear. We could rinse it out and then let it air dry on the deck without having to worry about getting the floor in the room wet. We really loved the local plants in the garden. We never did get around to using the gigantic bath tub but the adjacent rain shower was awesome!
In the mornings, we would get up and go to the beach, which is about a 2 minute walk from the room, and go have coffee. It was so nice to sit and listen to the waves and watch the pelicans as the sun came up. A little later, breakfast would start. If we had to leave early we would do the light breakfast which is fruit, cereal and yogurt, or, if we were getting a later start, we would stick around for the hot breakfast which changed daily and consisted of everything from pancakes to breakfast burritos. We usually had lunch at the hotel when we would come back as they have a pretty extensive menu. I highly recommend the chicken salad sandwich on housemade carrot bread. Delicious! Also, the fried Yuca Sticks with garlic dipping sauce make a fantastic afternoon snack! Dinner was always excellent as well. My favorite was the Friday night Caribbean Buffet with several different local selections to try.
The staff at Banana Azul are all very friendly and helpful. Colin, the owner, is a great host! He always came by to say hi or sit for a few minutes and chat and is genuinely concerned that his guests are comfortable and happy. The front desk people were incredibly helpful for everything we needed from arranging cabs to renting boogie boards. The people at the Gecko trails kiosk are great as well. We originally booked 4 days worth of dives through them but, as it turned out, we were only able to do 2 days worth as dive conditions were not great. We were refunded the difference with absolutely no hassle. You would probably not see that happen many other places!
And who could forget the dogs?!? We missed our dog very much and we were able to have some canine companionship during our stay. That meant a lot to us! That being said, I'm not sure I would recommend this hotel (or Puerto Viejo in general for that matter..) to anyone who does not like dogs. There are dogs everywhere and they are very friendly. We would usually have a dog walk with us to town or come and hang out with us at the beach. It was just one more thing that made this trip great!
Overall, I highly recommend Banana Azul. This hotel is a work in progress and will keep getting better and better. It is worth the trip to come and see what they have done!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.