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“Unbelieveable time in Manuel Antonio” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hostel Vista Serena

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Hostel Vista Serena
150mts north of the manuel antonio public school, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence
Rocklin, California
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Unbelieveable time in Manuel Antonio”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2014

Pura Vida!

First thing you see upon arrival is the deck outside the reception, with it's stunning view looking west at the Pacific Ocean. (Great Sunsets, as advertised). Every person on staff is great and welcoming. The owners: Conrad and Emily, bent over backward to help me and my two friends have an unforgettable stay!

We took up 3 out of 4 beds in the dorm. Room was a bit small, but who cares. You should not be wasting your time in your room....what's wrong with you? Provided were large lockers, big enough for my entire 65L backpack, a fan, and AC....which worked wonders and didn't leak like a few other disgruntled posters mentions. It was clean, and we did get clean sheets, pillow cases, and towels when needed.

The restaurant located onsite...part of the deck...was great, and the food was sooo good. You can find cheaper down the road, but not a huge difference really. There was also bbq's open to use, and a kitchen with two refrigerators to store your stuff. While we were there, a group of travelers had a big cookout with kabobs and various other things. Was awesome! There is also a smoothie booth where you can get the freshest, most delicious smoothies you will ever have! Tons of ingredients available to choose from, and they are not expensive...like $3 for multiple fruits.

The bathroom/shower situation - There is a set of bathrooms outside of the main building as well as one inside which multiple rooms share. I personally never ran into any issues. The showers were cold/lukewarm, but granted I always took one when I was hot....so honestly it felt really good. But I understand others are a bit picky.

Activities - Do as many as you have time for and can afford. My group of three did the Manuel Antonio National Park, Horseback Riding, and Quepos Canyoning. All the guides were wonderful, informative, and incredibly helpful and outgoing. I personally highly recommend all three! Others at the hostel we talked to, went on the Catamaran Sightseeing Tour, and the White Water Rafting....Again, they were all highly recommended and worth the cost. (Each company will pick you up and drop you off at the hostel)

On a personal note - It was a friend's birthday while we were on our trip. Emily and Conrad went out of their way, on their personal time to assist with surprising our friend with a birthday cake. How do you beat that? Also, I told them about a wonderful backpacker documentary called, "A Map for Saturday", which Conrad hooked his laptop up to the t.v. and had a hostel viewing party. Insane fun!

Hostel Vista Serena was unforgettable. I made tons of friends! I hope to return to Costa Rica next year, and you can bet that when I visit Manuel Antonio, I'll be staying at Vista Serena. Loved it!

Please go!

Room Tip: I thought the 4-bed dorm was great. Definitely worth the price. Go for it.
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  • Stayed August 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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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276 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (39)
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English first
Georgetown, Guyana
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2014


We are a family of four and we recently stayed at Hostel Vista Serena for one week, from the end of July to early August. Yep, you heard me; one week. And what a week we had there. We had decided to stay at Vista Serena for my parent's 25th wedding anniversary which they wanted to spend in Costa Rica with their childrens.

That being said, Vista Serena offers you dormitory accomodations (which I haven't seen or experienced so can't talk about it), lovely bungalows with a jaw-dropping view on the Pacific Ocean aswell as a private residence who's rented by floor, located further south towards the park close to all services and neighboring a quaint cafe and a supermarket. We considered renting it but it did not have the one-of-a-kind view we were looking for since we were to stay in the Manuel Antonio region for an entire week. Hence, even if the house looked great and would probably have been a super pick for a couple or a family, we decided to rent one of the two bungalows which are located on the hostel's permises.

The bungalow itself had two separate bedrooms with queen size beds, one bathroom big enough for the four of us, one living room and one dining room charing the kitchen's space aswell. Also, it had a huge balcony on which we litterally lived the whole time we were there. There is a hammock out there with a set of chairs and a table which allows you to eat outdoors at any time of the day or night (which we did all the time believe me). The whole outdoor area is covered so, rain or shine, you stay dry and since we visited during the rainy season, that made our whole experience much better. On top of that, add free WIFI, daily attentioned cleaning service, local information available through knowledgeable staff on site, complimentary tea/coffee,jam and toasts in the morning for everybody. There is a smoothie bar on site aswell as a little snack and a restaurant is just next door.

Owners Emily and Conrad are warm and greatly welcoming people who'll do everything possible to make you feel at home and they know how the hospitality business goes. Their place is affiliated to the highly recognized Hostelling International Label (they're the only HI affiliated hostel in the Manuel Antonio-Quepos area) which runs by high standards and quailty wherever you go in the world. Having myself backpacked in nearly 30 countries and working in the tourism industry, you can be sure such a place can be trusted.

When you reach Manuel Antonio's park entrance and Espadilla Beach and you see all those ugly concrete hotels and hostels that have been builts in such a haste and are thought to pack people in, you'll be happy you've chosen not to stay there. But you'll be even happier you're staying at Vista Serena Hostel.

Very best regards to Conrad and Emily,

The Gelinas family.

  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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.
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2014

From the first moment here the staff were very helpful, nice and fun to talk to. The view from the porch is stunning and unique, and the vibe is good most of the time. However, the room I stayed in (4 person dorms) did not feel comfortable. Pretty small, not especially clean and the AC they advertise they have- it's installed but the only thing it does is unimaginable noise. Couldn't sleep an entire night between being hot and that horrible noise. Since you don't get keys (why?), I'd you get back after hours (which could be 9pm), you are stuck waiting for a security man who one night had gone somewhere and I was stuck waiting for him to return for 15 minutes, cold and wet. When he returned, he didn't open the door right away, instead he decided to become a tour guide and started showing a couple of people sitting outside a frog, a crab, a butterfly (which he killed because he ruined its wings). Last issue, but not less bothering to me was the scarcity of showers. There are only two showers for all the guests there. And one of them is outside and was probably only meant for "after beach showers" because you have nowhere to change or hang clothes while inside. The other shower was ok but usually occupied and with not very functioning toilet which often caused me to meet other people's "doings" in the toilet. All in all, not a great experience. You also need a cab or bus wherever you go, which was eventually pretty expensive, thus negating the cheap prices for the hostel...

Stayed August 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Level Contributor
66 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2014

I stayed here for 6 nights in June. I arrived with a friend and she left a few days earlier so I was there alone and it was the perfect hostel to meet people, and explore the area.

I arrived there when I was ill, and after my experience with food poisoning in a 16 person dorm in Nicaragua, I wanted the peace, quiet, and coolness of a 4 person dorm with air conditioning which costed 16 per night. I slept on the bottom bunk near the window the first night and the air conditioning leaked water onto me so I asked to switch the next few nights and then didn't have that problem. I was very comfortable and my sheets were changed out for me a few times while I was there, which is a nice surprise for a hostel!

The view is beautiful. I loved having breakfast overlooking the beautiful farm overlooking the ocean each morning and retiring to the hostel for a home made dinner with friends and to look out onto the rainy ocean. My one criticism of the breakfast, is that it's not really a breakfast, but white or wheat bread with jam, butter, and coffee or tea. Still better than nothing! We enjoyed a few hours of rain most evenings we were there. The porch has hammocks to lounge in, and reading up there was one of my favorite things to do! The supermarket near the hostel is small, so I'd recommend going to the Pali supermarket in Quepos to stock the hostel fridge with a fresher, greater variety of foods. The kitchen is very small, so don't plan huge, involved meals, but most of the time I had no problems and didn't have to fight others for the use of the small stove. Warning: there are cockroaches in the cabinets where the pans are held. This is not because the kitchen is not clean. It's very clean! It's just something you have to deal with in the Costa Rican climate. Because of this, I rinsed all pots and pans before using them. The restaurant has very reasonably priced and DELICIOUS food! I recommend the nachos! It's TONS of delicious food for $8. Way more than I could eat. They also have a fridge that sells some snacks and drinks. No beer, wine, or hard alcohol so bring your own (it's ok to keep in their kitchen.)

I had read these reviews wrong and thought the hostel was 150 Mts north of the Manuel Antonio National Park. It's not. It's 150 Mts north of the school, which is near where the bus picks you up (for 50 cents) to take you to the beach or national park. The bus ride takes about 5 minutes and runs every 20 minutes, I believe. Or you can take it the opposite direction to Quepos. Also 5 minutes, 50 cents.

The people that work there are wonderful, accommodating, nice, fun people! They played cards against humanity with us, helped us switch rooms, knew a lot about the tours and activities offered around the hostel, helped people get to and from San Jose, and were just awesome in general. I loved the dogs hanging out around the hostel. Mica and Asha are the sweetest.

The hostel just has a really laid back, nice, vibe. It's not super crazy. Not your typical party hostel, but I really liked this part about it. There are bars nearby to go to if you want, but if you'd rather just hang out and meet some nice people, drink some beers on the patio, then you're welcome to do that as well. I don't know if it was just the time I was there, but I also liked that there were some "older" people at the hostel. It wasn't just 18-23 year olds but I met many that were 26, 28, 30 years old.

There is a common area inside with a TV, games, and DVD player with a sizable DVD collection as well. Lots of books to borrow as well! There is also WIFI offered, or if you're like me and just had your phone stolen in nicaragua, you can use their computer which is a bit slow, but works! They have a skype-like program on it to use to call the states, or your home country of choice.

I loved this place and would like to return again and again!!! It is inexpensive, beautiful, peaceful, and very accommodating of its guests needs.

Room Tip: I really enjoyed the 4 person dorm rooms and thought that for just $4 extra, it ensured a good night...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2014

This was one of my favorite hostels in costa rica.. it had a chill vibe, stunning views and super friendly staff. the rooms were average, very clean. Be sure to grab a smoothie at the smoothie bar!! a short walk to the bus and the "center" of manuel antonio.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
18 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 14, 2014

We rented the Loma Linda (top floor) for 7 nights. We had a great time with our three kids. Very spacious, lots of light. Very well located, close to many restaurants, food stores, ATM etc... A 20 min walk to go to the Playa Beisanz beach ( a good workout to come back up on the way back). An easy bus ride to the Manuel Antonio beaches and national park and to Quepos. We enjoyed being able to cook our food (but you need to go to Quepos to find a large enough and reasonably priced food store). The kitchen has all the basics, but the pots and pans are pretty worn out and some would need to be replaced. Although well located and surrounded by vegetation and a mango tree, the house is close to the main road and a somewhat noisy at night.

Room Tip: Get the top floor if you can.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Milpitas, California
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2014

When I left Costa Rica, I couldn't stop thinking about the amazing vibe at the Hostel Vista Serena. Everyone, staff included, had such a positive, welcoming, energetic, infectious and loving aura! VS really depicts and represents the popular Costa Rican term "PURA VIDA". It has to be one of the best hostels in Manuel Antonio!

As mentioned by other reviewers, the ocean view is amazing. I spent many of my nights watching the sunset and relaxing in a hammock on the terrace with a good book. FYI, you will be blown away by the sunsets.

And you can't go wrong with the home cooked meals (specifically referring to breakfast), prepared by the amazing kitchen staff.

The hostel is a 5 minute bus ride to Manuel Antonio beach and MA National Park, and a 10 minute bus ride to Quepos!

Will be returning to Costa Rica in a year, and I definitely plan to visit Vista Serena!

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hostel Vista Serena

Address: 150mts north of the manuel antonio public school, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Manuel Antonio National Park
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #11 of 28 Specialty Lodging in Manuel Antonio National Park
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 7
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Also Known As:
Vista Serena Hotel Manuel Antonio National Park
Hostel Vista Serena Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio National Park

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