Fantastic, special and unique place - a must! I want to share my experience, and give you lots of tips in case you go.
We just returned from Costa Rica and visited two cities; Quepos and Drake Bay. We were looking for a true Costa Rican, rain forest / jungle experience, while also staying in a beautiful place. La Paloma is both! Quepos was ok (Manuel Antonio is beautiful, but you can get the same but more with Corcovado in Drake Bay, and it's a bit commerical in Quepos). If I did it again, I would visit Arenal for 2 days and Drake Bay the rest - two totally different type places; volcano and National Park. We were in La Paloma five days.
When we stepped foot off our boat (super fun transfer, an added bonus to have to take a boat to your hotel! we saw crocodiles, bird, and some little settlements on the way), and walked the breathtaking stone path to La Paloma's club house, we were greeted with fresh baked bread (at every meal), fresh juices, and lots of delicious and healthy lunch options. THIS is what we came for!!! Heaven!
When we stepped foot in our room it took our breath away. The rooms have lots of windows (no screens or glass) all over and whether you are in the bedroom or bathroom, you are looking at panoramic views of the Pacific and rainforest. Look at the photos on the web site. I watched monkeys and macaws while I showered! At first I was slightly worried about such an open room and no AC, but it completely adds to the experience and where you are. Evenings cool down and the ocean and fans keep it breezy. They offer mosquito nets at night, which we actually never used, but others there did. They will put them up and take them down for you. I wanted my kids to have a complete different experience from home, and they had it and LOVED it! The Osa Peninsula (area where Drake Bay is located) is very remote and the real jungle.
The staff is wonderful - they are patient, accommodating, learn your names and make you feel at home. Dinner is family style - you eat at a large table with whomever else is there (you can request your own table if you want). We were reluctant at first, b'c we were using this trip as family time, but we tried it the first night and we all, kids included, loved it! We made new friends, shared our days adventures, and it really added to the trip. One couple was from Germany, another from Cali, and another from NC. Our favorite excursions were a day of horse back riding (they will let you cut loose on the horses if you want, and we galloped and cantered on the beach), bug lady (we saw red eyed tree frogs among other things), snorkeling, and a hike at Corcavado Park. They always pack lunch for you, which is so nice - they take care of all those logistics. You can also just spend a day at the beach, which we also did. It's a little hike, 5 minutes, and pretty. The staff will set up chairs and bring you a cooler on a moments notice; so wonderful. You need to go at low tide if you want to swim; the undertoe and ways are pretty rough otherwise. We did this an enjoyed swimming in the warm ocean water. I advise, if you are traveling with kids, to try and leave a "chill" day in between excursions.
Food is great. There are always Costa Rican and AMerican options at all meals. Dinner is so fun; appetizers first (I will miss fried plantains and guar!) along with a glass of wine. There are always two choices for dinner, which you decide at breakfast time. Dinner has mult courses; soup, salad, bread, meal, dessert. A lot of food! Very delicious. My fave was fajitas - out of this world. I thought the portions were big, and asked for less so I would waste such good food. Very healthy, lots of fresh fruit and veggies.
Another very interested thing - the sun goes down at 6pm and it's dark! The jungle wakes up at 5:30 am and it's bright and noisy. We fell into a pattern of going to sleep at 8:30pm and waking with the jungle at 5:30am. Don't let that scare you!!! I'm a night owl and usually hate to get up early, but there is something about your body going with the natural rhythm of the earth that just works. No TV and electronics meant my kids played and played, really grew closer on this trip (what I wanted) and my 12 year old even read a book (oh my). We all felt so rested. There's something to this concept of sleeping when dark, rising when light. Novel. I don't think the USA will allow us to carry out that schedule unfort, but I can't help but think that's how nature meant it - sleep when dark, rise when light.
The monkeys!! So so so cute and fun! What more can I say. We had a great time just watching them, right on the lodge site. We came across a family with a baby and we were only about 3 feet away and watched them play. Where else can you go where monkeys are wild? And sloths? Not many!
Travel so light. You can do laundry there; $8 for as much as you can stuff into a large laundry bag (cheap compared to the first place we stayed in Quepos). Shorts and tops that are not too expensive in case they get dirty, one long sleeved rash guard, sun screen, swim suit (not white). Rain ponchos. Flip flops, keens (shoes that stay on your feet but can go from wet to dry and you can hike in them), maybe rubber boots or some old sneakers or hiking shoes). Bring one pair of long pants for horse riding, or if you want your legs covered during park hikes (I just wore shorts, but I saw some wear pants). Ladies, keep the cosmetics minimal. It's humid. I used a good face wash for after a day of sweating, moisturizer - no make up (just not necessary; not the vibe). I could have saved myself the trouble. They provide soap and shampoo (I prefer to use my own). Perfume is not a great idea b'c you will just attract bugs. That said, there are no gnats, and some mosquitos but really not buggy surprisingly. We are from east coast USA and constantly fight biting bugs.
-They provide waterproof day packs and water bottles
-If you travel in the rainy season (basically USA's summer time), bring footwear that you are ok with getting MUDDY and wet! Keens work great, but on one trip we needed closed shoes b'c it was so muddy and it's the jungle, so I'd bring old sneakers and even leave them there when done. Another good idea would be rubber rain boots, but there are also bulky to pack.
-If you leave from Drake BAy to go home, fly out from Drake to San Jose, and then book your international flight for the NEXT DAY (sleep in San Jose one night). The in-country flights are often late and could cause you to miss your connection.
-Drake Bay, being rain forest, is very humid, and things do not dry. Bring materials that are light and dry out fast. La Paloma has a dry room and they let you put your things there overnight at no charge to help dry things out.
- I was going to bring my nice, big, fancy camera, as there is so much to take amazing pictures of, but I opted for my pocket size point and shoot. I'm so glad I did. We zip lined, horse back road, fished on a boat, and got stuck in many rain showers. I think it would have been so inconvenient to always worry about a big, expensive camera, not to mention I wanted to feel hands free. I used a small pouch and put my camera in a zip lock so it would stay dry.
- Bring a box of gallon size zip lock bags. They come in handy for everything.
-Fishing boat and whale watching - we did this and saw whales and caught a tuna, which the lodge prepared for dinner! Yum and amazing. However, if you are not used to being in a boat on the ocean, be prepared. My family got pretty queazy, and so did another on a different day. I do not usually have a motion sickness problem. We even wore sea bands (can get them at pharmacy) but I'm not sure they worked. Dramamine? Just be aware.
- Rain - well, it is a rain forest! Rain comes and goes. We brought super cheap ponchos from a sport store that have a hood and almost look like a trash bag. Not glamorous, but again, things get muddy and dirty, so leave your North Face home and bring these to stash in your back pack, then pitch them or donate them when you leave.
- La Paloma supplies you with nice, big umbrellas; a nice perk. You don't need to pack any.
- bring simple, flat flip flops. Nice to have to go to dinner when your other shoes are wet from the day.
- NO cell service, and no room phone or phone to a "lobby." If you need something, you walk to the club house and ask. They will do anything you need they are amazing. We brought walkie talkies so we could communicate with each other in case one went to the pool, the other to the beach. They use walkie talkies too, so you could tune into their channel.
- Shots before you go? We got typhoid, hep A, and tetnus (TDAP or something). The last two are routine for kids and yours either have had them or will need them anyway. Typhoid is to protect from dirty water. Then our travel doctor recommended malaria pills. We got them, despite the fact that insurance did not cover it AND they cost $600 for our family!!!! After taking them 3 days and experiencing nausea, vomiting, tiredness, we stopped. We then learned there is no threat of malaria in the Osa P / Drake BAy. I believe it's possible in the Limon area (more east/Caribbean side). SAve yourself the money and pain. I can't believe we are out $600 and felt awful the first few days. Do get your shots - they do not hurt. Do it 2 weeks or more before in case of slight reactions. The DTAP made my 10 year old very tired for a day or so.
- You cannot drink the tap water there, but La Paloma provides an abundance of reversed osmosis water, the best there is. We drank it and brushed our teeth with it.
- have fun! this is true Costa Rica at it's best. We will def be back.
We stayed in RAncho 1; two floors, we are a family of five; had one king, one queen, one single, two...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.