I took my boyfriend on a week-long vacation to the Grand Papagayo. We did not want to leave. The room was nice and big, large bed, large shower, large bathroom, mini-fridge always stocked with beer and drinks. We had a first floor room near the back of the the grounds, so very peaceful. Some gregarious and playful Costa Rican coatimundi entertained us at various hours, but never interrupted our sleep.
The pool was a decent size, always a recliner available, and the grounds were fun to wander around. There wasn't a swim up bar, but my drinks were never empty. There are howler monkeys in the trees that were pretty entertaining to us. There are alot of stairs tho to get to the lobby, so if you can't handle steps, call for the golf cart service in advance.
We got a great deal on a flight to San Jose, but realized later that internatinal flights also fly direct into Liberia Airport, which is much closer to the Gulf of Papagayo. We ended up flying into San Jose Int'l airport and then walking next door a bit to hop on Taca Airlines for domestic flights. It was a small 10 seater plane...fun for me...not so fun for my boyfriend. A direct flight to Liberia would be recommended for those that can't handle their stomach dropping.
We took a few additional tours, cuz I love to explore and can't lay in the sun for 7 days straight before I get bored. I highly recommend the sunset cruise. The Grand Papagayo is on the west coast of the east side of the gulf, so you can't see much of the sunset from its beach. But the cruise took you into the gulf and then into the ocean. We happened to see sea turtles (possibly mating if that's their mating season, as they were on top of each other) and dolphins. They had a snack and drinks for us, we turned up the music and danced on the deck to the setting sun. There were maybe 6 couples total, so I would think that even if it were just us 2 that night, they would have brought us out to sea and it would have been our own private cruise boat. It was awesome. Then on the way back, it was dark enough to see the plankton glowing green in the water near the beach.
The beach was also nice. There was no lack of lounge chairs and they had the shaded fake palm tree tables. We went kayaking, but the water is so dark in the pacific ocean as compared to the carribbean that it kind of scared me a little. Found some cool seashells as souveniers.
We also did an ATV / zip-line tour. This was sooooo much fun. The ATV tour seemed to last 2 hours. 1 hour to get to the trees and 1 hour to get back. Going thru rivers and creeks. It was so much fun. And the zip-lines were awesome. We were taking video of it with our camera. They seemed to be never-ending trees to glide to. The instructors were well trained and nice.
For these 2 tours, we used the tour guide that was located near the pool equipment. There are other tour companies in the lobby area, which we used for the volcano tour mentioned below. I don't know if the companies matter much in difference, but apparently you know which one I would recommend.
I would recommend skipping the full day tour to Arenal Volcano. We set up a tour that took us to a rainforest (which was interesting for us since we are into flora) and met an indigineous tribe that makes masks out of the wood found in the rain forest. Then we went to a thermal hot springs location, but I was not impressed. I'm well rehearsed with hot springs and spas in other countries, that this place was not that impressive. First, the tour only gave us maybe 1.5 hours there. But the spa (Baldi) boasted many different spa pools, so I wanted to try them all. And the grounds were so big, we didn't even get to find the ones that didn't just look like a large swimming pool of thermal water. So if this is a destination of yours, try to spend the whole day there, not just 2 hours!! Then when we finally got to the volcano, the cloud cover was too low to see the molten lava flowing down the side as every volcano picture touts to you. It rained in the rainforest and it rained near the volcano. I was ready to go back to my beach blanket and have another cocktail.
The restaurants were delish. Buffet had fresh fuit all the time, the starfruit and papaya were unbeatable. Buffet always had everything from the basics to specialties of whatever theme was going on that night. The wait staff was helpful. If we asked for it, they brought it to our table. As for the reservations for the specialty restaurants, I think we got 3 or 4 for the week. So on the first day we arrived, we looked at all the menus and decided which ones we wanted to try. Then the next day we let our concierge know our preferences for which restaurant. But since we are not stuffy people who put up a fuss, we told our concierge to schedule us as best he can based on those preferences and if we needed to change a date cuz of a tour we booked, he did. He did a great job, and we were always seated for dinner between 7:30 and 8 (our preferred time). He was extremely polite and helpful.
There is a dance club at this resort, but the night air was so nice that we only spent one night at the club and met a few others from the midwest. One of the single ladies was hitting on the bartender really hard, he was getting embarrassed. The music was ok. I think it was a lot of techno, then I remember a Bob Marley song thrown in.
Overall, the week at the Occidental Grand Papagayo was well worth the money and I would definitely go back. I'd also like to try the Occidental Allegro Papagayo, which is on the other side of the gulf, so the sunsets might have better views. My sister went there Feb 2010 and loved it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- On the unspoiled northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica(home to wild parrots and endagered sea turtles), striking volcanic cliffs dramatically descend to powdery sand beaches and crystalline coves. Elegant and respectfully situaded within this breathtaking haven in the five-star Occidental Grand papagayo. Reverently aligned with its majestic surroundings, the resort offers a new kind of luxury all inclusive vacation. It is nothing short of extraordinary.Couples, families and friends who visit experience premiun service, discover gourmand dining and select from an impressive gamut of activities and sports. The resor´s natural setting and luxury amenities also make it the ideal locale for an incomparable wedding or honeymoon. In short, the Occidental Grand Papagayo is a perfect vacation spot for anyone and any reason. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Hotel Gulf Of Papagayo
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Gulf Of
- Occidental Grand Papagayo Costa Rica
- Grande Papagayo Costa Rica
- Grand Papagayo Liberia