My boyfriend and I got a living social deal for the Vista de Olas hotel in Mal Pais, Costa Rica. We flew in the day before and stayed the night in San Jose (at the airport). The hotel has a free shuttle to and from the airport. In the morning we had breakfast and we got a ride to the Sansa regional airport (3 min). The airport was small, it’s an open-air space and people were very nice. I was scared about flying in a small plane (safety concerns especially after seeing the airport). We took off on time, and it was a beautiful 25-30 min flight to Tambor. It was a great aerial tour of Costa Rica. Landing was fun too as the plane descends over the water, pass the beach and it lands on small asphalt strip.
Roger, the hotel owner picked us up and we drove for about 45 min from Tambor to Mal Pais. Initially the road was paved and less bumpy. The closer we got the road turned into a dirt path with lots of potholes culminating in very steep and bumpy ride up the hill, on top of which the hotel is situated.
The grounds are beautiful; the view from the pool/restaurant area is worth the bumpy ride. The hotel is open to the public starting 4 pm and many people make the pilgrimage up the hill to see the beautiful Mal Pais sunsets.
The villas are nice and private. They are built with lasting quality and craftsmanship. There are not a lot of amenities but we did not seem to mind or miss anything. A huge 4-post bed is right across from the entrance to the villa. The mattress is very firm. There are two bed-side tables with lamps that provide minimal light. In fact the whole villa is rather dark at night. But the sunlight makes up for it during the day time. There are glass windows all around the room with wooden blinds. There is also a futon, a bar area, with a mini-fridge, coffee machine, big flashlight; and a closet. The bathroom is behind a door that you can lock at night, the toilet and vanity are covered, the mosaic-tiled shower is open to the air. There are double doors that lead to the patio with chairs and a table. We enjoyed the sunset and saw many species of birds right from our patio.
The pool and the view are the best part of this hotel. The food was good but lacking in variety. Breakfast is included. Options are toast, butter, jam, coffee, watermelon, pineapple/banana. Four mornings we had 2 eggs and rice&beans, 1 morning-french toast, 1 morning-omelettes with mushroom and onion. You can purchase lunch (either fish or chicken with salad) and dinner (grill your own meat with salad bar). We ate twice at lunch and once at dinner at the hotel. The rest of the time we went to town. Food in town was good, we went to the Bakery and Pasta Basta. We usually walked to town on the beach and got cab back from $6-12 one way.
Our package included, a bottle of wine; either 4 local beers each or 2 cocktails (mojito or guaro sour) between 4-5 pm; either horseback riding or a surf lesson; and an ATV tour through the jungle, visit to the butterfly farm, waterfall and lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed all of the above. We chose the horseback riding. Neither of us had ever been on a horse, and we went down the steep hill to the beach and back up the hill. The horses were really nice and well taken care of. They accommodated us to our comfort level and by the end we galloped a bit!
The ATV tour was great, it was provided by Roger’s son Swen who is knowlegible in jungle wild life. We had an all-day adventure. I took lots of pictures! Be prepared to get dusty! But you can wash up by taking a dive into the waterfall! We had lunch at an amazing restaurant by the water in the quaint fishing village of Montezuma.
We did the zip line, canopy tour. It was exhilarating! We were initially afraid to do it but if was safe!
We also rented ATVs another day and explored on our own. We snorkeled and saw tons of beautiful fish. Wish I had an underwater camera!
Overall, we had an amazing time. Costa Rica is beautiful. People are very friendly. It’s safe. Mal Pais is not developed so if you are looking to wear high heels and go out for fancy nights on the town-this place is not for u! It is very low key and relaxing and you truly feel unplugged from all the craze in the Western world! We will definitely be back.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.