First of all, I feel like I should start off by saying that my husband and I don't usually travel to places like this when we go to Central America, so our definition of luxury may not meet yours. =) We're more of the upper end hostel or eco lodge type of individuals, and we know to expect bugs, power outages, a slower paced way of life, and just all kinds of little hiccups when you're traveling anywhere remote and "private." But we wanted to try something different for our very belated honey moon, so I scoured trip advisor and settled on Oxygen Jungle Villas after being horrified by the prices for places like Rancho Pacifico (Really? 500-1200 per night in Costa Rica?). At about $175/night, Oxygen still provided the glass room experience, modern luxuries like AC/mini fridge/hot shower, and the amazing views that the others did without the crazy price tag.
Anyway, my husband and I booked 6 nights at Oxygen from Dec 9 - Dec 15th. December is really the beginning of the dry season, so I was expecting some rain, and if you're going to Costa Rica, you should probably always be open to a little (or a lot) of water. ;) We flew in from San Jose and then flew SANSA Airlines to Palmur Sur on a little 12 person plane. This was a really fun experience for us, but if you don't like little planes, you should probably get a taxi or rent a car in San Jose. I hear the bus takes about 6-7 hours, but it's pretty cheap, so there's that too. Anyway, you can fly into Palmar Sur (South) or Quepos (North), and I believe it's about 1 hour taxi ride from either airport to get to the town of Uvita. Make sure it's a 4x4 taxi picking you up that knows how to get up those mountain roads and the hotel can help arrange this for you quite easily if you email them.
Ok. I want to touch on the car situation a bit. My husband and I went back and forth many times trying to decide if we should rent a car or not. Since this was our first jaunt to the Pacific Coast, we decided we would rather play it safe, fly on the little plane, and then have a 4x4 from the hotel pick us up. We figured we could rent a car in Uvita if the feeling struck, but honestly, we just used Chuck (works at the hotel) or had the local 4x4 taxi company drive us everywhere the whole time.
That's not saying that a car wouldn't be helpful, and there's ups and downs to both options. First of all, if you've never been here, driving through San Jose might be a terrible idea. No one really has addresses in Costa Rica, and almost none of the streets are marked. Through in some bad GPS service, and you're in trouble. That being said, outside of San Jose, there's really only one big main highway that is paved, so you kind of know if you're going the right direction.
In addition to the address issue, there's the driving itself. People are crazy here when it comes to driving. Passing on blind curves, hills, the wrong side, anything. Once you're out of San Jose and larger towns, the only paved road is the main highway. The hotel, and many other fun things like zip lining, horseback riding, waterfall tours, etc, are way up in the mountains. The roads are tiny, muddy, rocky, and extremely steep. If you're going to rent a car, you MUST get a 4x4 and request off - road tires. You also MUST be able to drive stick shift. We saw all these poor tourist trying to get around in 4x4 suzukis, but they had little street tires that just couldn't grip in the slippery mud. No one wants to fall off the mountain on vacay, so if you're a nervous driver, better to pass on the car rental here. ;)
Now, if you're not going to rent a car, you have to realize that the hotel is pretty far up there in the mountains. It takes about 15 minutes for a 4x4 to get up from Uvita and the main freeway to Oxygen. That's not too bad, and the taxi will charge you about $10 each way, but if you're going to walk, it takes about 30-45 minutes down and 45-60 minutes up depending on your fitness skills. And it is STEEP. Don't think you're going to run up and down in flip flops in 15 minutes. =) That being said, my husband and I really like hiking/walking, so we were fine going up and down a lot. Also, if you're staying at the hotel for a few days like we were, often the workers or other guests would drive past and give us a ride in either direction. But you can't count on that, so if you don't have a car or a cab, prepare to be tired, especially on the way up.
As far as other car prices go, it cost us $14 each way to get to the beach, about $50 for a round trip to Nauyaca Waterfall tour, $80 round trip to Osa Mountain for zip lining, and about $50 for a quick trip to the surf town of Dominical. So taxi rides do add up, but there aren't too many gas stations around either, so keep that in mind if you're renting.
The hotel itself is beautiful. The workers are nice, the rooms are clean, all of the villas seemed very private, and like they had a nice view. In addition, the pool area was beautiful too, and we don't really like pools, but we found ourselves in this one at least 1x day, rain or shine. When we arrived, Zoe at the front desk gave us a welcome cocktail and showed up to our room, Villa #7 - Ocean View. It was lovely, and I don't think any of them looked bad, but #3&4 had the best positioning. Also, Most of the ocean view ones still had jungle view and even pick up wireless from the pool area. Surprisingly, it was pretty fast!
We had a couple of issues with the room, but hey, it's the middle of the jungle people. The power went out about 4 times during our week stay, but most was only for about an hour. Once it went out for about 5 hours, but they gave us complimentary beverages, and we sipped them by candlelight looking at the sunset over the ocean, so really...who can complain? The only thing I will say is that our mini fridge didn't work. We told Zoe twice and Marco once, yet it was never replaced. Not a big deal for us, but for someone else it might very well be. In addition, our emergency light for power outages didn't work, but we didn't need it either.
The bed was extremely comfortable, the rain shower warm and inviting, and even the toilet, that most people complained about, was just fine. Yes, it's in a frosted glass box and no, you can't put toilet paper in it. You can't flush toilet paper anywhere in CR, so prepare yourself if that makes you uncomfortable. You can kind of hear what the other person is doing in there, but as long as you're ok with that, there's nothing wrong with the bathroom. They kept the place spotless our whole stay, yet planned the maid visits whenever we were out and about so it never felt awkward.
Bugs. Ok. You're in the jungle. There will be bugs. Especially at night. If you leave the front light on in your villa, go to dinner, and then come back, there will be tons of bugs by the door, some of which will come in when you open the door. Duh. Turn you lights off at night, and shut the sliding glass door after the sun goes down. Sure, you can have a reading light or something, but there will be bugs. Also, if you leave plates of food on the floor in your villa, the ants will find their way in, so stop being lazy and walk them back up to the restaurant. ;) Seriously though, bugs were not bad, and I only got a few mosquito bites (I usually get massacred) when walking to the waterfall on the property or hiking in the jungle. Much better than expected. Recommendation: A screen option you can roll down by the doors. It gets so pretty at night, but we had to keep the doors shut to keep out the bugs. Have a roll down screen or something would be great.
Oxygen has its own restaurant, and it's very good. It was in the midst of a change when we got there, so things might be a bit different now. They serve breakfast from about 7-10. By the pool or in your room. I recommend the traditional Costa Rica breakfast, but you can ask for things off the menu. They put together an amazing fruit plate for me for about $5. Never had lunch there, but some lovely sandwiches and salads. Dinner when we were there was still a "Surprise Dinner." You tell them by 2pm if you want to eat that night. Stop whining. You're food is crazy fresh. They need to know by 2pm so they can go get it for you and make it. It's a 3 course meal, and yes, it's a surprise. Appetizer, main, dessert. You can express likes and dislikes as well as allergies. My husband is gluten free, and they were just fine with that. Most of the dishes are gluten free anyway, but whenever something wasn't, they made a special dish for him. We LOVED dinner there. It isn't cheap (about $42/person) but we ended up eating there 4 times over the 6 nights. There were two chefs, and we preferred the wonderful one from Argentina, but both were excellent. I heard the day we left they were starting another dinner option. A regular menu with a beef, fish, chicken, and vegetarian dish, in conjunction with the surprise dinner. I would still get the surprise, but hey, some people wouldn't. My only recommendation: More fresh sea food.
There isn't a fitness facility at Oxygen, however, there is a spa. The front desk can arrange anything for you, and we got 90 minutes massages, which were reasonably priced and very nice. Also, if you want some fresh and delicious cocktails, I recommend Marco's margaritas. Marco is definitely a better bartender than Zoe (sorry Zoe), and everyone should try one of his special margaritas or passion fruit margaritas. Amazing.
As far as being a cool place to stay, Uvita was perfect. It has the very small town feel, but still things that you might need. The supermarket had everything we needed, there was a bank with an ATM dispensing dollars and colones, a doctor's office (which we visited), a vet, and even a dentist. In addition, there are tons of wonderful sodas (little CR restaurants). We loved Soda Ticolombia, but I also heard Soda Ranchito De Maria is good too. The people were very nice, but you do have to watch out for theft. They know tourists have some expensive gadgets, so NEVER leave valuables anywhere except for the safe in your room. If you're not carrying them with you, leave them in the safe. On the beach, don't expect you can go swimming and leave your ipad or camera in your bag on the beach. Don't try to hide things in your car either. We had a couple get their fancy camera stolen from their vehicle in the middle of town and another who had everything (money, passports, iPads, iPhones) stolen from their car. Just carry it or leave it. We had no problems and there are warning signs about that kind of stuff everywhere.
There's tons of stuff to do around there. I recommend the Osa Mountain Zip Line tour and Nauyaca Water Falls (horseback, swimming, 2 meals). We had a lot of fun walking on the beach at Ballena National Park and also exploring the beaches and little shops in surfer/hippie Dominical. There's a nice little waterfall you can walk to on the Oxygen property, a yoga hut, and a variety of tours that the front desk can help you with. Others recommended Corcavado National Park, and the Sierpe River tour.
Overall, it was an amazing vacation. The food was amazing, in and out of Oxygen. The customer service was amazing. Thank you Chuck, Marco, Zoe, Gabriel, and our great chefs. The rooms were clean, beautiful, and the whole trip was both relaxing and adventurous. At an affordable price, we will most likely be back to Oxygen and DEFINITELY back to Uvita for some additional exploring. This is a place to go if you want to spend some quality time with your significant other, take in natures, but still have some luxury, wine, dine, and do some serious hiking/walking/swimming/horse back riding. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and always try to keep in mind that you are in the middle of the jungle, on a mountain, overlooking pristine beaches, in great company, so how can it be anything but amazing?
Ocean View Villas are the way to go, and believe me, you get to see the jungle too. =) #3 & #4...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.