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“Banana Azul (and surrounding area experiences)”
Review of Hotel Banana Azul

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Hotel Banana Azul
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 13, 2010

My boyfriend and I stayed at Banana Azul for 8 nights this spring and let me tell you, if you want a quiet place right on the beach with hardly anyone around, stay here! There are plenty of reviews raving about how wonderful the hotel is, and they are right! So this is kind of a "vacation review".

Location: It was a 3 hour ride in from San Jose, so I suggest planning to stay in San Jose the night you get in and the day before your flight leaves. As an aside, we stayed at Hotel La Amistad which was convenient, clean, and worked for a one- nighter (and the breakfast is included, though limited!) Their staff was very helpful arranging transport to the airport, but I would suggest using Gecko Adventures to arrange your transfer to/ from San Jose and Puerto Viejo.
Keep in mind, most transport drivers don't speak English (you ARE in a Spanish speaking country. Don't expect everyone to be bilingual, and don't be rude if they aren't. Get a translation book or app for your iPod! And don't be scared to ask the transport driver to pull over for a bathroom stop! 3 hours and 4 cups of coffee... you do the math!)

We loved the location! From Banana Azul, we could walk a mile into town and shop (most everything is/ are "tourist" souvenirs). I suggest spending the money in the street side stalls where items are hand made and really cheap. I got a beautiful necklace for $3.00 US!

The walk through town is quick, but watch out for crazy drivers (cars and bicycles alike!) At the far end of town is an absolutely FANTASTIC Sushi Restaurant! More about that in the Food section.

I strongly suggest taking the local bus to Cahuita National Park. It is about a 5 mile hike on a well worn path that follows the coast on your right and the jungle on your left. We saw monkeys, an anteater, sloths, tons of lizards (geckos), etc. Bring your camera, good walking shoes, a bathing suit and lots of water and sunscreen! The Front Desk at Banana Azul can help you. They told us to find a stick and carry it with you as the monkeys have been fed, though it is frowned upon, and now think everytime you dip into your bag for your camera you are getting them food! Don't hit them! Just brush them away if they get to close!

Food: Banana Azul has a limited lunch and dinner menu daily with excellent food at all meals and a small fee for the 3 course dinners. Well worth it! There was always a fish option for those who don't like meat.

Chili Rojo was a good place to eat. We stopped there twice as they had drink specials (as did other places, but we were kind of sketched out at some of them) and a second floor eating bar that overlooked a portion of the town and was great for people watching. (People drive totally insanely! Especially the scooters!) I don't remember what we ordered, but the food was good, though a lot of fried options. They do have sushi specials, but didn't try it.

The Lotus Garden: Oh My Goodness! If you even just "like" sushi (we LOVE it!), you have to eat here! We had so much sushi for such a small price compared to the States! The fish was caught that day and was soooo good! (we lived in a landlocked state :( ) You won't get it for $1.50, but then again, would you eat sushi that was that cheap??? I want to go back to CR just to eat here again!

Loco Natural: Food was good. Kind of granola crunchy. Similar to what we already have here in Vermont. And for the same prices. The experience was nice, the food was great, but the prices, not so hot!

Tours: We arranged an ATV/ Zip Lining Jungle Tour and White Water Rafting Transfer Tour through Gecko at the Banana Azul desk. We had such a wonderful time on both of these! A little pricy for some, but worth budgeting for it!

I can go on and on about this vacation (and usually do!). I hope this review helps you decide to come to Puerto Viejo, bring some money to the area, enjoy, love and respect the natural beauty and lack of "super resorts". The laid back peacefulness makes me think back with fond memories and look forward to the day I return.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank aikieltweed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 9, 2010

Upon arrival at banana azul, I immediatly knew that this was beyond my expectations. Myself and two girlfriends where more than comfortable and pleased with the apartment we stayed in. Quite frankly, I could live there. I loved the open feel and hearing the water rushing nearby lulled me to sleep every night. Its the best rest I've ever gotten. I absolutly adored how the cats stayed with us in our room, the red one ecspecially (named him Gato). All the other animals that appear to reside at Banana Azul looked well cared for and loved.
The Staff at the hotel were most accomadating and friendly. It was great to get to know them and feel comfortable enough to be on a first name basis. The evening we arrived, we just wanted to dip our feet into that water, and one employee made sure us girls walked to beach saftley with a flashlight, which is only a few steps away from the hotel. It was also very simple to get a taxi. A staff member was always available to make the call and have one ready to go in no less than 5 minutes.
We had breakfast a few mornings at the hotel, which were deliciously home cooked meals that was hearty and healthy. Excellent cooking.
After getting familiar with some of the other hotels in Peurto Viejo,we knew we hit the jackpot.
I can't thank you enough for making this, so far, the best vacation of my life. I had not been on a proper getaway for eight years and this experience will be at the top of my most favorable memories. Thank you for being a part of this new beginning of my life. WE WILL BE BACK.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Adrienne77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2010

Four of us stayed for three days in this lovely hotel with beautiful grounds at the edge of the Carribbean. The location was a shortish walk to town and taxis are cheap for an evening.Breakfasts great, staff helpful and the owner could not have been more helpful. (Everyone gets negative reviews - ignore them here.) Totally recommended. Also a lovely area.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank rfsb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2010

The gardens are gorgeous, the rooms beautifully situated and furnished, the staff friendly and helpful. The hotel's website pictures of the dining and lounge area do not do this lovely space justice - a very comfortable spot for hanging out at any time of day or evening, conversing with other guests, enjoying an expertly made, all-fresh-ingredients cocktail. The availability of VOIP phone for international calls ($2 for 10 minutes) is a really thoughtful guest service. Massage on the beach is heavenly! Banana Azul is a peaceful, convivial spot where one feels instantly at home.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled solo
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Thank Cattaraugus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2010

I stayed here for 5 days in November of 2009. There was a slight mix-up, and their website accepted my booking even though they were closed for renovations. Atter apologizing profusely, they put me up in an absolutely stunning beach house down the road -- all for the same rate. All in all, it was probably the best 5 days I had in 2009! Stay here, you won't regret it....

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled solo
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Thank Man On The Lam T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2010

We spent our honeymoon at Banana Azul in December, 2009. We were able to completely relax and enjoy ourselves. The hotel is delightful - 12 rooms, fantastic balconies with hammocks, open air restaurant area serving 3 meals a day and a full bar, a very tropical pool, quiet private beach, and impeccably maintained grounds with lots of plants and trees and flowers. The turtles and fish in the little moat surrounding the dining area were fun to watch, and the occasional well-behaved visiting dog or two made it feel homey.

The staff were all very friendly and helpful, especially Franklin who manages the bar. The room was clean and comfortable. The mojitos were amazing!!! Breakfast was wonderful and offered something different every day.

The only drawback was the lack of "sound" privacy -- the rooms are open-air-ventilated, so you can hear whatever is going on outside your room on the balconies, at the pool, etc. It wasn't a problem for us as all of the guests were very considerate and it stayed pretty quiet throughout our stay. Just something to consider if it would bother you to hear other folks on their porch while you are in your room (or vice versa!)

The area of Puerto Viejo and the surrounding towns was fun to explore, and we got around just fine on bikes (cheap to rent from the hotel), public transit, and (very affordable) taxis.

Banana Azul was a perfect place for our laid-back honeymoon holiday, and we hope to return. It is a trek from the airport in San Jose, but well worth the effort!

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank emily2sticks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 19, 2010

My husband and I stayed at Banana Azul for five nights which definately was not enough!
Colin and Roberto have done a wonderful job with this place...the grounds, rooms, food, and service were all perfect. We can't wait to go back.

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank dinahicks
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 On the Beach Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
#1 Family Hotel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Price Range: $66 - $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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