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“We miss Bula Bula!!”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Hotel Bula Bula

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Hotel Bula Bula
Ranked #4 of 7 Hotels in Playa Grande
Certificate of Excellence
New York, NY
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“We miss Bula Bula!!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 15, 2006

We first arrived at Hotel Bula Bula after a 5 hour car ride from Tabacon. We were hot and tired and had no idea where we had just arrived but it seemed like the middle of nowhere. I had booked the hotel mainly from reviews on this site but i still wondered what i was doing at this hot, tiny hotel at the end of what seems like a long dirt road.

Where we were was our own little piece of paradise. Bula Bula and Playa Grande at that, are not for those who mind being off the beaten track and at a low maintenance beach. But it definitely felt like we were in Costa Rica and NOT at a random resort that could have been in Mexico or Florida!

All it takes is one visit on the water taxi ($2) to Tamarindo to see that yes, you are right next to the biggest surf town in Costa Rica, full of Surfers, Americans and the best shrimp tacos in the world. But it's even better to be in Playa Grande which is essentially your own private beach, where the developement is just beginning and it won't be packed with Ex-pat Americans for a few more years.

Wally and Todd are great hosts and helpful with accomodating all of your plans. They arranged a local taxi for us to the Paradisus Playa Conchal on our second day for us to play golf. We were the only ones on the golf course b/c apparently the end of April and beginning of May are slow season. This was fine by us as $75 let us play as many rounds of 9 hole golf as we could want! (the back 8 were being fixed) We even got to check out their beach and it solidified how happy we were to be staying at Playa Grande. It is far and away prettier than Playa Conchal!

The food at Hotel Bula Bula was great and we ate 3 out of our 4 dinners there. I couldn't write this review without recommending 2 places to eat in Tamarindo though. Simply put, the tacos at Nibbana are the best in the world. Nibbana acted as our oasis from noon to 2 as the sun is so hot you can't lie on the beach and you have an ocean view sitting at Nibbana. The beers are $2 and the scene is priceless.
We also ate at Dragonfly and it was one of the best meals i have ever had in my life. It might be the best restaurant in Tamarindo and it's shocking how inexpensive it is (compared to new york prices)!

I would also recommend seeing at least one sunset in Tamarindo as it is something out of a movie. It's hard to believe when you are alone on the beach at Playa Grande, that there is such a scene in the beach across the estuary. I have never seen so many people in the water with their surf boards at sunset waiting to ride the last wave. EVERYONE is on the beach drinking cervasas and taking in the sunset and it's just a surreal experience. One more recommendation would be to ask Todd at breakfast when the low tide will be and cross the estuary by foot. It's fun and shows you just how close Bula Bula to eveything.
The taxis at night from Tamarindo are about $20-25 to Bula bula (and 30 minutues) so we only did it once. But we never really felt the need to leave Bula Bula at night....the food's good, the pool's warm, the beer's cheap.....Pura Vida baby.

  • Stayed May 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank jenp47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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368 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (55)
Date | Rating
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English first
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 21, 2006

Hotel Bula Bula was a calm oasis among the hot, touristy, and noisy surrounding areas. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly, especially Fatima, who was always willing to assist with a smile. The restaurant was great, affordable, and relaxing (minus the native mosquitos) and we rarely ventured out. The pool was always inviting and even romantic as it was never crowded. Tamarindo nightlife wasn't quite as exciting as we thought it would be and we didn't mind just relaxing at Bula Bula. As for the water taxis, they techinally stopped running at 4pm, but if you want to arrange an alternate time, they are available for the right price. One night we were stuck in Tamarindo and had not made arrangements for transportation, so we simply crossed the estuary mouth to the ocean, which was about chest high at the time, and then we walked the 10 minutes back to Bula Bula on the beautiful beach. I highly recommend wearing your bathing suit at all times and carrying a small pack to put clothes and misc. items in for moments like these! Bula Bula provided sarongs which were very useful for daywear around town. As for day trips, we highly recommend planning one big day of adventures as the roads are almost unbearable to travel on and you wouldn't want to drive them everyday. We did not get a rental car and had no problems getting around. We took a two hour sunset horseback ride that delivered our horses right to Bula Bula. It was amazing and very affordable. Overall, it was extremely relaxing and romantic, as well as the perfect spot to unplug from the busy world and recharge your batteries. P.S. Bert is a real hoot! We miss you all....

Helpful?
6 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia
Level Contributor
70 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 151 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 6, 2006

When we tried to book two rooms at the Hotel Bula Bula, they were full. Instead of just turning us away, the owners arranged for us to stay at our own villa for the same price of the two hotel rooms. The villa was a small two bedroom house with its own pool. We couldn't swim the first day because the pool had crabs in it, but after it was cleaned, it was very nice. The beach entrance was a five minute walk and Hotel Bula Bula was a ten minute walk. We enjoyed eating at the restaurant, and the hotel staff was helpful in arranging tours, transportation, etc. Just let them know that you want to check the price of excursions/activities before commiting. Everything they arranged was reasonable. Also check the price of drinks before ordering so you won't be surprised by the close to $10 signature drink.

The villa itself was a good value for the price. The common areas had good air conditioning, and the bedrooms have ok air. One got really cold, but the other was a little more difficult to cool off. They just need to seal around the AC wall units. The house isn't owned by Hotel Bula Bula, just managed by them.

Overall this was a great experience, and I would recommend it to other travelers!

Stayed March 2006
Helpful?
5 Thank jatravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Level Contributor
20 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 3, 2006

Absolutely loved Bula Bula. I almost don't want to tell anyone so it doesn't get too crowded! Bula Bula is the perfect place to go if you just want to sit and relax. Far from the noisy, dirty, touristy streets of Tamarindo, Bula Bula is an oasis of calm. Lovely rooms with nice amenities, wonderful pool with shaded areas and hammocks, and an inviting bar and restaurant with friendly staff. It's a short walk to the beautiful Playa Grande where you basically have the beach to yourself.

Keep in mind, if you don't have a car and you want to leave the property, it is a real pain. Water taxis have to be called and only exist before 4pm. The road is long and painful and expensive to get anywhere. I definitely recommend Bula Bula for relaxation (and even the lovely estuary tour) but not if you want to leave the hotel much during the day.

  • Stayed March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank sbaron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 16, 2006

We stayed 10 days. Comparing on a fair level to other places in Costa Rica:

Pros:
- nice setting (hotel itself, exceptional beach, 10' easy walk)
- small hotel, with a private touch
- clean, good house keeping
- small supermarket nearby

Cons:
- customer service not as exceptional as descriped in other reviews.
- everything rotates around the restaurant - you don't get service at the pool
- restaurant is closed on Monday (no support available / emergencies?)
- rooms are small
- no internet connection
- water taxi to Tamarindo stops at 4:00pm, car ride is 30' and USD25
- not recommended if you don't have a car

  • Stayed March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Thomas P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 19, 2006

This was our first hotel experience in Costa Rica. We were impressed with this place from the start, and are even more impressed when comparing it to the other less than stellar accomodations we experienced on our trip (Lavas Tacotal Lodge in Arenal and Hotel El Velero in Playa Hermosa).

The atmosphere is intimate and authentic. As of the date of this writing, Playa Grande is still in its development infancy, so the place is quiet and laid-back. One can only hope it will retain its charm through its inevitable growth.

The restaurant is a fabulous open-air space, and the owners and staff are friendly and helpful. The food is EXCELLENT! We were expecting Denny's fare (which is what we got for the remainder of the trip), but were pleasantly surprised to find five-star quality- all at reasonable prices. There is also a market within walking distance and a refrigerator in the room for snacks.

The hotel is a quick and beautiful estuary boat taxi trip away ($2 each way, per person) from Tamarindo if you need more excitement. We went over once, but actually thought Tamarindo was too crowded for our taste! (One tip: when researching the place, we were under the impression that the boat taxis run on a regular schedule. You actually have to call a taxi ahead of time and they generally stop running at 4 p.m., although you can arrange a later time if available. We were unable to secure a return trip, so we had to take a regular land taxi, which was a bumpy half hour car trip that cost $30.)

We highly recommend Hotel Bula Bula for anyone looking for an oasis. The owners put a lot of hard work into the property and it shows. It is a beautiful place.

  • Stayed February 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Bula Bula

Property: Hotel Bula Bula
Address: Playa Grande Road, Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Playa Grande
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Family Hotel in Playa Grande
#5 Romantic Hotel in Playa Grande
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Bula Bula 3*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set outside Tamarindo in the beach village and national park of Playa Grande. We offer the romantic, the surfer, and the active traveler a tropical oasis amid the tourist stops. Superior rooms with modern amenities compliment the elegant restaurant where exceptional seafood, steaks and local specialties are served. Friendly and attentive staff ensure your stay is a satisfying one. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bula Playa Grande

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