So we stayed for 4 nights at the famed La Paloma Lodge in the heart of Osa's beautiful tropical rainforest along the coast of the peninsula. I'll start by saying that it really is a beautiful part of the world, and that monkeys are pretty darn cool - but, at the conclusion of our time there, I couldn't help but wonder if the ABSURD amount of money I'd shelled out was really worth it.
A bit about the lodge itself:
Run by ex-pats, I really do give them respect for what they've managed to do in such a totally remote and inaccessible part of the country. The lodges are very nice, with gorgeous views of the water/sunset/wilderness. Everything is clean, the service is great, etc etc.
BUT, you really need to ask yourself if, for the price you're paying, you truly feel like sleeping under a mosquito net at night and fending off bird-sized bugs throughout your stay. All the buildings are built without screens and with plenty of open windows (to allow for a much-needed cross breeze to keep you cool) - but this indeed means that the bugs can and will have a jolly good time in your room. Anyway, it's just something you should think about - realistically - when planning this very, very expensive vacation.
Second - I'd like to address the piles of rave reviews of the food that everyone seems to be writing on this board. Yes, the food was fine. Very fresh, cleanly prepared. And perhaps if you come from a landlocked state that has no fresh produce or fish, you'll find La Paloma's cuisine to be new and exciting. But trust me - if you come from ANY major city that has a decent restaurant scene, the food here comes up pretty short. I'm sure it is far better than you'd get at any of the other lodges in the area, but it still isn't anything to rave about.
As far as the included activities go, the tour of the national park was pretty great. Our guide was indeed fantastic, and (thankfully) our group was really small. Definitely a highlight of the trip. The boat trip out to Canoe Island, however, was a complete and total waste of a (very expensive) day. We did get to see some dolphins and whales on our trip out there (which was fun, despite the screams and squeals from the family of bratty kids that were on the boat), but then they dropped us off on this rather dirty beach along with about 50 other tourists from all the other lodges. Now, call me crazy, but when I'm given the option of spending the day at La Paloma's own beautiful, secluded, clean, private beach versus this noisy crowded stretch of sand that's covered with empty bottles and candy wrappers, I think I'll opt for the former - and I really can't for the life of me see why the folks at La Paloma would think that we'd prefer to do otherwise. I imagine most people head to Osa specifically because they DON'T want to be surrounded by fat, ugly tourists - so to drop us off on a beach full of them for an afternoon was indeed not very fun.
We opted to do the canopy zip-line tour on our last day, not included in the price (an additional $60 per person). Fun, but not life changing. Again, if you're stuck with a group of small children, I imagine it would be rather tedious.
I realize that I'm coming off here sounding like a hater of kids, but I have to say, I do wish that I knew beforehand that La Paloma attracted so many families. If you're looking for a romantic or peaceful vacation, or even worse, a honeymoon spot, I'd have to suggest you look elsewhere. At dinner, you eat "family style", i.e. are forced to share a table and conversation with the other visitors. Again, fun for families, not so fun for those of us looking for some peace and solitude.
Again, this really is the best and nicest place to stay in the area, but given that, for 2 people, you're looking at spending nearly $500 a night, you really may want to think about whether or not this is how you wish to spend your hard-earned vacation money. In the future, I think I'll opt for some super-luxe hotel in the south of France.....but then again, that's just me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We have outstanding views of Drake Bay and the Pacific Ocean from our Lodge. Our standard rooms are large and include a private bath and an ocean view balcony. Our ranchos are one and two-story private cabins that also offer balconies with stunning ocean views. They hold up to 6 people and are very spacious. Some are equipped with a bathroom on both the upper and lower level, and are suitable for families or two couples traveling together. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- La Paloma Hotel Drake Bay
- La Paloma Drake Bay
- La Paloma Lodge Costa Rica/Drake Bay