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“The place to relax and explore” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica   |  
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Cambridge, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“The place to relax and explore”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

My friend and I stayed at BA for 2 nights in 'Sloth Room 1'. We'd heard bad things about Puerto Viejo and the surrounding area, so it was originally just a stop-over point on the way to Panama. BA turned out to be a gem and really surprised us! It's the *perfect* place to relax and use as a base from which to take tours further afield.

BA is quite a small operation in-terms of size; a relaxing 20min walk along the beach from downtown Puerto Viejo. Contrary to what I've read, downtown Puerto Viejo by-day isn't dangerous and is a great place to pick up souveniers or grab some cash.

BA itself is really clean and well looked-after. It essentially consists of guest rooms built on top/around a large restaurant/bar. It's not noisy and is far enough away from civilisation to be party central. Food isn't included in the room rate, but the restaurant serves *really* tasty food (western and Costa Rican) all-day and makes *THE BEST* fruit smoothies and brownies I've ever tasted. There's a small pool, hammock area and garden that leads onto the beach in addition to great Wifi, beach hammocks, massage tents and anything else you could need.

There's also a dedicated 'Gecko Trails' tour desk, which is a fantastic idea! Gecko's tours are amazing and they collect and drop you off right outside. It makes booking tours or transport completely worry-free.

We stayed in the cheapest (Sloth) room, which - compared to other places - was quite small but clean and still had a balcony and hammock. Inside fit one double-bed, tables, lamps a safe and an ensuite bathroom. It fit 2 people quite snugly however - with the great food, drinks and sun - you wouldn't want to spend much time inside anyway. The balcony overlooked the car park and gardens, so the view wasn't overly scenic.

I really can't compliment the staff enough on their work and professionalism. Every single member of staff was brilliant; friendly, courteous, dedicated and really attentive. Probably comes with living near the beach in the Caribbean sun eh... we totally underestimated this place and would definitely stay there again!

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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996 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (279)
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English first
Calgary, Canada
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2013

I stayed at Banana Azul with my boyfriend for a week last week. I booked this hotel after pouring through the reviews for this and the other hotels in this area and I had very high expectations. I am happy to report that the hotel and staff exceeded all that I had hoped for.

We stayed in the Dolphin room, an end room with a wrap around balcony. The room was spotless, the wood the hotel is made of glowed with warmth, the deck and hammock were perfect. It was wonderful to fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean and jungle. The garden and grounds were absolutely immaculate. The beach was beautiful and well kept.

The meals we had at the hotel were very tasty. Breakfast is generous and there are choices every day. We had a couple of dinners there and they were quite good, especially the fish we had the first night we arrived. I had lunch at the hotel a couple of times when I didn't feel like going to town and the selections were very tasty. I didn't really feel like a whole lunch though... While on vacation I prefer to have a breakfast and dinner and just snack lightly during the day instead of a full lunch. I would have loved to be able to purchase a muffin or cheese plate or fruit, just something light to tide me through to evening. It would have been nice to have the option of smaller snacks. I prefer not to keep food in my room in the tropics to avoid attracting bugs, so I didn't have snacks of my own on hand.

I strongly recommend getting out and sampling the fare in the area. There is a lot of great food.

Colin is a gracious host, and his hotel is very well run. He has attracted and retained a wonderful staff from Leo the night guard (what a sweetie) to the fabulous bartenders. Every where you turn is a friendly smile and a laugh. I don't think I've been treated better.

We made several friends with other travelers at the hotel, the layout of the lounge area and bar are such that it is easy to visit with other guests if that is your desire.

Do be sure follow their advice to stay off the beach at night, off of dark roads, etc. The area is no more dangerous that any other tourist destination but, as anywhere, it is important to take extra precaution in an area that you don't know.

I will definitely stay here again if I come back to the Puerto Viejo area.

PS. Don't tell Franklin but AnnyRosa's mojitos are the best!

Room Tip: Loved the Dolphin room, would be happy to stay in any of the second floor Ocean View rooms.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia Beach, VA
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2013

Stayed here 6 nights with our daughter for her college spring break. Shared one room - one double, one twin ( not a roll away). The porch with hammock and table and chairs was a great place to read, photograph birds and look for sloths in the trees. The gardens are beautiful, the food was great, and the drinks were outstanding. Loved having coffee on the beach in the morning, taking a walk and coming back for breakfast. Ate here for all but one dinner ( garlic shrimp were excellent). The staff were very efficient and everyone spoke English - very helpful! The owners have created a very unique hotel.

Room Tip: We stayed in an Ocean View room, overlooking the pool. Think the second floor is better because of...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2013

Clean rooms - paper thin walls - unlimited hot water. Nice and mellow - beautiful grounds all the way to the beach! Boutique - right next to the ocean and hidden in the jungle. The best bartender in Costa Rica - great mojitos. Great Food

My only complaint......BLACK SAND - looks like dirt.

Room Tip: I stayed in the 1 Sloth Cabana if you wanted to sleep during the day on the hammock, there was lots...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South River, New Jersey
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2013

My husband and I stayed here for 3 nights and what a pleasure it was!! Everything was perfect. We stayed in the second floor, which did get noisy at times; however, it did not bother us as we were out in the town for all three nights. It was wonderful the sleep with the doors open and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. We only ate a few meals there, but the meals that we did have were priced fairly and were tasty. The only reason that I did not rate our stay as excellent was because there were several occasions we went to the beach and there were no cabanas (or chairs) because large families were using them (although they were not staying at the hotel). This was slightly inconvenient and my husband and I feel that if we are paying to stay at the hotel we should have access to use everything the hotel has to offer. Other then that, everything was great and we would certainly go back :-)

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
colinsito, Owner at Hotel Banana Azul, responded to this review, April 10, 2013
Thanks very much for your positive review. I appreciate that despite you valid issue regarding chairs on the beach, that you did not let it ruin your stay. I know it would be awkward, but if you had mentioned it to us, we could of possibly made a couple available. But, I would probably react the same way not wanting to make an issue out of something that does not seem like a really big deal.

We agree wholeheartedly with your concern and are looking at ways to deal with it. The chairs on the beach are new for us and we have to be sensitive that it is a public beach. However, the chairs are not. Some people feel that anything that is put on the beach is considered for public use.

Easter week is the busiest week of the year at all beach locations. The local Costa Ricans come from all over Costa Rica just to spend the weekend at the beach. In an effort to keep the peace and try and make Easter week go as smoothly as possible, we just accept the fact that our facilities will be overrun with locals.

In an effort to try and make it clear that chairs are private, we will putting signs on empty chairs making it clear that chairs are reserved hotel and restaurant patrons.

Our biggest challenge this Easter was trying to keep the quads off the beach. It is illegal, but at Easter, all the law enforcement is stretched and other things take priority. We did succeed however and managed to get the last 2 days with a more serene environment.

I usually like Semana Santa here. It reminds me when I was young and our parents took us to the beach. While I do like seeing people out enjoying the beaches, I have to admit, I am happy when it is over.

We hope we can host you again in future. cheers, Colin.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Redcliff, Canada
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2013

Other reviews have very accurate and well worded physical descriptions of Banana Azul so I will skip that in this review. For my wife and I, Banana Azul was exactly what we were looking for. It is an oasis of comfort, relaxation, warmth (the atmosphere) and welcoming in a 'yet to be developed' (from a tourism perspective) area of Costa Rica. The local area is beautiful, somewhat raw and earthy and a joy to explore. So, when returning to Banana Azul after what ever activities we had experienced throught the day, that feeling of comfort and relaxation was perfect! Everything we needed was there and laid out in a way that just works. The staff are a very strong part of Banana Azul, they are accomodating, friendly and helpful in an honest way, kinda like the way a friend would help you out, while still remaining very professional. The beach is steps away, and one of my personal favorite touches from this hotel is the coffee served on the beach from 6am !! After a morning run along the beach, to come back and sit on a lounger and drink fresh coffee while watching the crashing waves was a little slice of heaven. The owners are very attentive to the needs/requestes of all guests and are always available.We ate most of our meals there and wow, both quality and quantity will not dissapoint. From a value for money point of view the 'bang for your buck' is outstanding at BA. So, in summary, if you have decided to visit this area of CR and you're reading every review on places to stay, then look no further, Banana Azul is the place to stay.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sarasota, Florida
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 3, 2013

The Banana Azul (Blue Banana) is constructed of light and dark hardwoods throughout with a very inviting open lounge area. Situated between the main highway and the beach, the hotel is surrounded by heavy foliage of tropical plants, trees, and a Koi pond that borders and runs the length of the patio. The atmosphere is somewhat secluded and filled with the indigenous sounds of the tropics, creating a favorable mood of solitude. You can hear the waves of the Caribbean Sea crashing against the beach about 150 feet or so from the hotel’s patio.
"The atmosphere is somewhat secluded and filled with the indigenous sounds of the tropics, creating a favorable mood of solitude".

Our bedroom offered an eclectic décor with the floors covered in beautiful hardwoods, Asian style bamboo ceilings, sliding parlor doors framed in a beautiful dark red mahogany and glass. A colorful hammock hung in the adjoining room which had a rock garden, accompanied by a huge tub constructed in miniature shades of aqua green tile, a large grey porcelain shower stall adjacent to the tub completes the extended part of the hotel room.

The hotel has approximately 16 unique rooms, which includes a small apartment building in the front. Complimentary Wi-Fi was available throughout the hotel and the beach area. Fresh fruit mixed drinks and full bar service offered along with some pleasing cuisine options in the restaurant. The food was good and moderately priced. Accompanying the regular menu is a chef’s special created every night which was satisfactory. We loved the hotel, staff, décor and location, it was just as we imagined it to be and beyond.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Banana Azul

Address: Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Banana Azul 3.5*
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Banana Azul hotel is a small and simple hotel north of town on Playa Negra. The small boutique hotel has been created with care using local products and a philosophy that emphasizes relaxation. We cater to adults, 16 years and over. Blooming gardens adorn the property, as does several freely-hanging hammocks, providing the perfect spot for afternoon napping or leisurely reading. A meandering pond inhabited by fish and turtles flows through portions of the property adding a lighter element to the ongoing natural soundtrack of waves crashing against the shoreline. The hotel consists of fourteen beautiful guest rooms with private baths, fans, and free wireless internet. Most rooms are on the second floor of the main building, and open onto a large veranda with sweeping ocean views and of the garden. Banana Azul offers its guests a quaint restaurant that serves a complimentary filling breakfast, variety of lunch options and refreshing drinks throughout the day and a relaxing three entre dinner option in a romantic atmosphere at night. Gecko Trail Adventures tour company is on site to assist with tours and transportation needs and can assist with a variety of package options including visits to the Arenal Volcano, canopy tours, snorkeling trips, and even rafting excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Banana Azul Hotel
Banana Azul Puerto Viejo
Hotel Banana Azul Costa Rica/Limon

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