Had a fantastic CR vacation March 2012. Our main goal was to go somewhere slightly less traveled with great chances to view wildlife. Didn't have enough time to travel around a lot so stayed the bulk of the time where we really wanted to be: Drake Bay. I picked Pirate Cove thanks to tripadvisor because it was more affordable then the other lodges nearby and it offers rooms with air conditioning.
My husband and I are used to the heat, being from Arizona in the USA, and were expecting it to be very hot on hikes and excursions, but somehow sleeping in the heat is just so much harder. I knew if my husband couldn't sleep it would ruin our hard earned vacation so I really wanted to find a room with a/c. Pirate Cove just added three rooms upstairs in the main building with a/c and we enjoyed it there. Personally, I would have preferred the bungalows as they have large private terraces and it did cool off very nicely at night anyway. But it was nice to have the a/c after a 6 or 7 hour hike.
The food and staff were all WONDERFUL. Did Corcovado Sirena station and enjoyed it. I was slightly disappointed to see only one species of monkey (spider) and no sloths but the Tapir was awesome and we did see several groups of spider monkeys and coatis. Our guide was Edwin or Edward and very nice. Without him I know we would have missed most of the wildlife. He knows what to listen for. Also snorkeled at Cano and it was nice, a little too cloudy to see far when we were there (just after full moon and high tide) but what you could see was lovely and abundant. Saw a humpback whale and calf on the boat ride there, spotted dolphins on the way from, and really loved watching wild scarlet macaws up close and personal at lunch near San Josecito beach. The macaws were probably my favorite thing about Drake, and I'm not really a bird person. The day we arrived we checked in and then went straight out to the wonderful beach steps from Pirate Cove and immediately 2 scarlet macaws flew right overhead! Great welcome!
One day we hiked on our own about three hours one way up the coast and that is a lot of fun too. Costa Rica has public trails following the coast which are a fantastic, free option for those like us on a budget. And Pirate Cove will back you a lunch. We didn't see any monkeys on that hike and I am sure we were just missing them. The advantage of having a guide is they know what to listen for to spot wildlife and we didn't. Still a lot of fun though, and the maccaws announce themselves so loudly even we could spot them. Also saw toucans which was cool.
I was hesitant to book a place with family style dining, not really my thing on vacation, but we turned out to really enjoy it a lot. Meeting like-minded travelers from all over the world and sharing stories of where they've been, what's worth the time and what's not, and enjoying great fresh food and cold cervezas was fun. Never had a bad meal either, and even though PC doesn't offer a menu of options, we were never disappointed with what was served. The staff was also extremely accommodating to those with dietary restrictions according to some vegetarians we met there.
Some very slight things I wasn't thrilled with: The hotel isn't far from the main dirt road to Drake town and the road was being worked on with big trucking equipment which we could hear, though not very loud, in our room. This sort of took away from the "jungle getaway from it all" feeling, but is neither the hotels fault nor a permanent problem. Also the air conditioned room, being new, smelled of wood and varnish, which coupled with the lack of terrace made me slightly claustrophobic. But I am sure this will quickly fade as the rooms are very new. And the solution is easy: walk downstairs and sit in the lovely open air dining room or better yet hang out on the beautiful beaches right out front. And we did have a nice view of the tree tops nearby out the second story window, which made for easy and enjoyable iguana watching!
All things considered, a GREAT place to stay and we would return anytime. Nelson was great and very accommodating, as well as the young Tico girl who worked there, I didn't catch her name. All the staff: cooks, guides, front desk/excursion planners etc were wonderful. PS thanks to tripadvisor, I was able to plan my whole trip to a country I had never been too with a language I don't speak and the whole trip went off without a hitch! I think that's really awesome and I want to give back by leaving my review for others to benefit from. Thanks!