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“Perfect beach vacation”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 27, 2012

We stayed at the Hotel Banana Azul in early October, 2012

Getting there: Not an easy task. The hotel is about a 4 ½ to 5 hour drive from the San Jose Airport over winding, twisting roads so you will need a rental car or hire a transport to take you there. If you are driving, you need to leave San Jose by 2 PM latest. It is dark by 6 PM year round, the roads are narrow and winding, and if you are not used to driving them, it could prove a significant challenge. We have driven in Costa Rica before, and even for us it was a little nerve racking at the end of the trip when it was getting dark.

Accessibility: there is a small ramp from the parking lot into the lobby. The bar and restaurant area are on the first level, as are a couple of guest rooms and there is a ramp over the koi pond to the pool. There is a decent path to the beach that anyone. including those in wheel chairs, should be able to navigate.

Special note: There is a resident cat and two dogs on the property. Because the lobby/restaurant/bar have no walls or doors, the dogs and cats keep native wildlife from coming to visit the guests. They do their job very well. You may return to your room to find a cat lounging on your bed, or you may have to step over a sleeping dog or cat on the stairs on the way up to your room.

Rooms: are somewhat small but lovely. There is a wicker “closet” with a small rod and a couple of hangers, and three shelves covered by a pretty drape. There is also a shelf unit in the corner that you can use to put things on. There is a night side stand that has a lock for placing valuables in. The bathroom is large and squeaky clean, with a bromeliad in a piece of drift wood hanging from the ceiling of the shower (please spray daily) There is a wonderful balcony with a hammock, Adirondack chair, table and a couple of benches where you can hang out and enjoy the ocean breezes.

Bar/restaurant: There is a small, very friendly bar, with great bar tenders. The margaritas and the mojitos are GREAT. Small but serviceable selection of wines to have with dinner. Breakfast (included in the rate) starts with juice, fresh fruit, coffee or tea. There are also several cereals on the breakfast bar. Hot breakfast is a choice of standard breakfast (rice and beans, eggs, toast) or the daily special, which when we were there were burritos, yucca hash brown with eggs, and egg Benedict. All of the breakfast are cooked to order, and are delicious. Thank you Franklin for the great service and the offer of fresh coconut water. Dinner is a set menu, with a choice of beef, fish or vegetarian. The price is always extremely reasonable (much more reasonable than town) and cooked to order. We ate dinner there every night, and found the food to be well prepared and delicious.

Beach: there is a several mile beach for walking. It is essentially deserted on the weekdays, and only slightly busier on weekends. There are lounge chairs, umbrellas and lots of trees to provide shade during the hot midday sun. In the morning the hotel puts coffee out on the beach starting at 6 AM. Nice way to wake up. The only draw back is the rip tides that may carry you out. There are warnings posted in several locations, including instructions on how to get out of a rip tide if you are caught in one. While most of the guests braved the waves and possible rip tides, we chose to take long walks on the beach instead.

There is a tour company on site to help you plan excursions. There is a delightful animal rescue center near-by where a guide provides an educational tour of the facility, including the monkey house where you can play with and hold baby monkeys. The hotel also has several bicycles for rent. The town of Puerto Viejo is about a 20 minute walk or a 10 minute bicycle ride. The town is not for everyone. The surfer, backpacker, and counterculture crowds are firmly rooted here and dominate the scene.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Mrs-K-albany
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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784 - 790 of 1,479 reviews

Reviewed October 25, 2012

We just returned from spending part of our honeymoon at Banana Azul in the Howler Suite (best beach view in the house)! The food in the restaurant is amazing, and I'd recommend having all of your meals right there. I eagerly anticipated breakfast through dinner daily. The property is well located to walk into town on the beach and partake in the area activities. We went deep sea fishing one day and the staff generously (and deliciously) prepared our catches for our dinner which was a real treat! Morning coffee is even set out directly on the beach, which made the sunrises that much more enjoyable. The setting is just beautiful, both Banana Azul itself and the grounds surrounding it. It is obvious that the property is very cared for and that a lot of attention is given to the landscaping. Now, being the tropics, the reality is there will be some "nature," i.e; the very occasional little bug. I'm an extra jumpy city slicker (cue my husband's eye-roll), so falling asleep our first night in paradise was a tad tricky for me. Not for lack of comfort, but just me imagining all the things that might come out of the jungle to specifically crawl upon me (though honestly never did:) Solution the following nights? Sidle up to Banana Azul's absolutely outstanding bar, complete with warm and friendly staff, and order yourself a couple post-dinner beach themed cocktails!! Just 2 tasty daquiris and I was happy as a clam, sleeping like a baby! By the last night I was even sleeping without a net...like a Caribbean tightrope walker (cue husband's eye-roll). We slept with the balcony doors open, and it was lovely to fall asleep listening to the waves. Don't let the lack of AC in the Howler Suite deter you at all, the provided fans and natural sea breeze make the room incredibly comfortable. The resident pets are all as lovely as the property they live on, and we kept joking that they were our rental pets. There's a definite reason this place is number 1, and Banana Azul has you covered for quality and scenery. If you're traveling to the Caribbean side don't think of staying anywhere else!

Room Tip: The Howler Suite has the best beach view
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Skullatone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2012

My boyfriend and I planned on staying at Banana Azul at the end of our 3 week trip in Costa Rica. We had booked on the recommendation of a lesbian couple who had just gotten married and stayed there for their honeymoon. When our 2 day rafting trip got cut short due to high water, we didn't know what to do except show up a day early as our trip planner (another highly recommended) Gecko Trails was located at the hotel. By the time we got there, Gecko and Banana Azul had a room lined up for us. One of the most comfortable places that I've ever stayed. Rustic Caribbean charm, right on the beach, wonderful staff, lovely food, very pleasant clientele, fresh everything in drinks that they serve right on the beach. Also, excellent massage service right on the beach. The resort doesn't cater to families, so if that is your need, elsewhere is better, and there are many options in Puerto Viejo. For us, it was perfect. Colin, the owner of Banana Azul, has created a jewel on the Caribbean side that is comfortable for gay and straight clientele. Give yourself at least a few days to let the 'pura vida' settle in!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Stephen S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 20, 2012

Wonderfully relaxing, whether lounging on the beach, soaking in the pool or hammocking on the balcony. Great food and drink, and friendly, helpful team running the place. Puerto Viejo town centre was a bit a wander but we didn't feel tempted to leave the property at all.

Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
1  Thank 5six73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 17, 2012

What more can I say that has not been said in all the other reviews.... I had a wonderful time at The Banana Azul Hotel the first week of October, 2012. The weather was good with the bit of rain daily. The staff are so friendly and helpful. I am an early bird so the coffee on the beach was just delightful waiting for the sun to rise. Dogs always at my side. My room, #8 Dolphin Room, was great with a wrap around corner balcony. Never needed the net over the bed and with the fan is was very comfortable. The bartenders were so attentive, even on the busiest of days/nights. The food was great and good portions. The owner, Colin, is always available and always with a smile. Great stay and would definitely return to Banana Azul in the wonderful town of Puerto Viejo! Thank you everyone.

Room Tip: Stayed in #8, Dolphin Room and it was wonderful. The two Sloths rooms have just been renovated and a...
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled solo
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Thank Turner S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 16, 2012

I found this place when planning my trip to the east coast back in December 2011 for October 2012 travel. I loved the look of the place and fancied the garden bath room (although the howler room talked to me too) but the price was so right and I love a bath. Not many people seem to rave this room as the ocean view and others seem more popular (by tripadvisor) I was a tad bit nervous when there was finally a review prior my departure on this room that said it was way too humid and dark and .prior reviews noisy.

There are 2 ( I think only garden bath) are on the bottom floor under all the ocean view and other rooms. The website does say smaller than it looks... i think not. There is your bed . It's cosy bedroom with TV . There is a door leading to the garden bath room. Lovely... has plants .. a lovely feel to the room. There are 2 fans in the room that cool off the room. To the right of the room is a full bathroom... shower and toilet. I lovwd this room.

The owner advised me he has plans to better this room. He really listens to any complaints. I think it's perfect but he did mention sound proofing (which shows he listens) and a koi pond ...door in the front for privacy. I have to go back to see.

As for the rest.... gardens are imaculate. Alot of time and effort were put into these gardens I could tell.

Staff - are the best I've seen. Really!! Athough I love Franklin. Ask that sweetie to make you a frozen coconut in the morning and you will be rejuvanated.

Truely a great place. i miss my dog friends.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank lesab33
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 15, 2012

We stayed at Banana Azul four years ago and just got back from another great trip, this time with 2 friends joining us who loved the hotel just as much as we do. The second time around was even better with improvements of a new pool and some other tweaks to the property here and there. It didnt even need these improvements as it is the staff, the grounds, the service and the owner that make this place one of those places you actually feel like you left old friends or family when you leave. Any room is great at this place. The staff are warm, friendly, fun and just make your vacation their top priority. The food and drinks are amazing including the free breakfast and dinners are inexpensive and delicious. Stay for Miss Helenas caribbean night on Fridays, she is a delight to talk with, try the home made ginger ale with rum, YUMMY!! Colin the owner is such a delight and a big part of the running of the hotel. He sees to it that all guests are happy and you can tell that he appreciates his staff and many have been with him since our last visit 4 years ago. He treats them all well and you can see that everyone is happy working there. The staff just cant be beat. Ana Rosa, Franklin, Eduardo and all of the staff made our stay amazing and they should all be commended. The pool is beautiful and the beach is right at your doorstep as you walk through the most amazing landscaped grounds to it. On the beach there are hammocks and chairs and a staff member brings around complimentary coconuts to sip on. We had a massage by Luis who was very good both in the beach hut and in the room. There are a few dogs and a cat which only add to your stay. They are sweet and a good substitute for your pets at home while on vacation. They will walk along the beach with you. Colin is so nice and should be proud of what he has built in this great little caribbean town of Puerto Viejo. If you are thinking of going, do it and dont think twice, you will love it. If you want a beautiful, tropical vacation with 5 star service but in a place that is casual and not stuffy with a friendly staff for a great price in a great location with lots to do, book it now before it books up, because it will be full and you may miss out. Gecko Tours, which is on site was also great for transportation to and from San Jose, white water rafting and ziplining. Everything from Gecko went without a problem and they were always on time and did a great job. Thanks to everyone at Banana Azul for a spectacular vacation. We miss everyone and everything already.

Room Tip: The sloth cabinas are great for couples traveling together and are slightly away from the other room...
  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank drdanieldc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Banana Azul

Address: Playa Negra, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Limon > Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: $74 - $162 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Banana Azul 3.5*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Banana Azul hotel is a small and simple hotel north of town on Playa Negra. The small boutique hotel has been created with care using local products and a philosophy that emphasizes relaxation. We cater to adults, 16 years and over. Blooming gardens adorn the property, as does several freely-hanging hammocks, providing the perfect spot for afternoon napping or leisurely reading. A meandering pond inhabited by fish and turtles flows through portions of the property adding a lighter element to the ongoing natural soundtrack of waves crashing against the shoreline. The hotel consists of 22 beautiful guest rooms with private baths, fans (some with A/C), and free WiFi. Most rooms are on the second floor of the main building, and open onto a large veranda with sweeping ocean views and of the garden. Banana Azul offers its guests a quaint restaurant that serves a complimentary filling breakfast, variety of lunch options and refreshing drinks throughout the day and a relaxing three entre dinner option in a romantic atmosphere at night. Caribe Fun Tours is on site to assist with tours and transportation needs and can assist with a variety of package options including visits to the Arenal Volcano, canopy tours, snorkeling trips, and even rafting excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Banana Azul Hotel
Banana Azul Puerto Viejo
Hotel Banana Azul Costa Rica/Limon

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