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.
- 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