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Love this place. Love pulling up to that gorgeous view at the Anaconda, where we have breakfast every morning. Love the view from B-12 and the amazing sunsets from the adult pool (skip the pricey "sunset dinners" and just get a drink here). Love being greeted by sloths and monkeys right outside our rooms. It's not the fanciest place you'll ever go, but it's one of my favorites.
Abundant wildlife meets gorgeous beaches. HIke the trails if you're not a beach lover, or take a tour. These guides seem to be able to spot absolutely any living thing... and there's lots to be seen. Bring your camera, too.
3. Surf lessons with Alex
Just ask for him on the main strip - everyone seems to know him. This year he took my 5 year old son out and he was "rippin' it" with Alex's help!
4. El Avion Restaurant
One of many great views in the area, but the kids love the airplane that serves as this restaurant's bar. The food's just ok, but I say that about most places around.
The Blue Monkey serves at the home base of Kids Saving the Rainforest - a great little place to bring your kids and teach them about some of the animals they'll be seeing around. Founded by a young girl, there's a library and even a little kids camp. The gift shop has a lot of great things, including books illustrated by children from the organization.
6. Butterfly Garden and Reptile Zoo, Manuel Antonio
Ok, I can't remember exactly what it's called, but it's right across from Si Como No on the main road. Go on the hour for a great little tour. I figured my son would go crazy for the reptiles, but it was the butterflies he loved. They really give you a great hands on experience with them and what a fun way to learn.
7. Titi Canopy Tour
Perhaps one of the more "mellow" of the canopy tours, this is a great option if you have younger kids or nervous first timers. The guides here are fun and friendly and great about pointing out any interesting wildlife. Even our 3 year old enjoyed it. The other great thing about this tour is that you're back at your hotel by about 10:30am with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the day.
When we first got to this quiet surfer town, we thought, "pretty, but not much else". 24 hours later we were in love with this place and crushed that we hadn't budgeted more time here. Beautiful private beaches and amazing swimming holes at the base of waterfalls... tarzan ropes to plunge into the water and even waterfalls that serve as slides. It's a place full of hidden gems. And that little surfer town grows on you, too.
Set on the water, where the waves crash up against the beautiful black rocks, this place was a find. Just a few comfortable bungalows, a nice little pool and a few great little community spaces where friendly travelers share stories about some of the places they've been. Doug, the owner, is warm and relaxed and just sets the tone for the whole place. It's "chill". A little rough around the edges (one of our sinks didn't work, we had no washcloths), but Doug does whatever he can to make you feel comfortable. Comes with a little continental breakfast, but for $3 you get a great little typical plate with some of the best rice and beans I had anywhere.
10. Andy's Burger Shack
Thank you, Doug, for pointing this place out to us. It's one of the best burgers I've had anywhere! Worth asking around for directions, this place has great fish tacos and burgers. (Also check out the Jungle Surf Cafe in Playa Hermosa outside of Jaco)
11. La Parcella, Dominical
For a more romantic dining experience, this is probably one of the best views you'll get in Dominical. Parking can be a little tricky, but worthwhile once you're spotting whales while dining on some yummy ceviche.
12. Vista del Valle Plantation Inn
Can't think of a better place to end a visit to Costa Rica. Over looking the Rio Grande Canyon, with it's Japanese architecture and beautiful jungle gardens, it's one of the most pampering experiences you'll find. You're greeted with a tour and a "welcome cocktail". All the meals I've had here are amazing... organic, fresh and supporting local farmers. This place gives back, too... so you can feel good about all the pampering.