I recently returned from a fantastic one-week getaway to Costa Rica! We started in San Jose with a welcome cocktail and tour of Double Tree hotel- an easy drive from the airport and wise way to get some sleep before a packed schedule full of adventures. You feel as though you’re staying in a rainforest wandering around the resort. The pool and bar area was ideal for our small group to gather around. Fun fact- the Double Tree hotel is known for their famous chocolate chip cookies that you giddily receive upon check in. And proof of just how delicious these cookies are- they were the first ever food baked in space!
Quinta Galeon Lodge
We awoke early and started our trek through the mountains stopping at family-owned Quinta Galeon Lodge along the way. Mountain views greeted us along with dozens of different types of hummingbirds. An ideal spot for professional photographers. Did you know Costa Rica is home to 52 different hummingbird species? And these tiny birds have to eat every 15-20 seconds to survive! I enjoyed this brief meditative experience in a surreal location listening to the hymn of so many colorful birds.
Cristal Ballena Boutique Hotel
Our next stop was Cristal Ballena Boutique Hotel located near the city of Uvita and the Marino Ballena National Park. We made it just in time for the breathtaking sunset! I immediately noticed the yoga center perched on a hill and thought what an incredible spot for a yoga retreat. That night we ate a traditional Costa Rican dinner (chicken, rice, beans and plantains). I explored early the next morning and took the trail hike to the top. I witnessed a surreal stairwell in the rainforest. I loved the views here, peacefulness and I could’ve spent an entire day enjoying the pool.
White Water Rafting
I learned that level 3 rapids in Costa Rica is NOT the same as level 3 in the states! It had just rained so part of our journey was more like level 5. I was placed upfront in the raft and got most the action (and water!) Two people in our boat fell overboard and had to be rescued. That was scary! I was soaked from head to foot and exhausted by the time we reached the waterfall where we took a short break. My stomach hurt from laughing so much! After a rather un-adventurous year this was exactly what my soul needed. Rafting in Costa Rica is an experience you do not want to miss!! But I don’t recommend it if you are faint of heart.
Hotel Cuna del Angel
Wet and exhausted- we arrived at Hotel Cuna del Angel. Each room had an angel name which was fitting- there was something angelic about this hotel. It served gluten free food and the views were enticing. Currently it is the start of rainy season- so most afternoons we experienced rain and this evening was no different. Which was perfect for a low-key night of relaxing.
Kayaking and Monkeys
The next day we toured two more stunning properties before our next water adventure- kayaking! Shana Hotel is such a romantic spot. Perched on a hill with incredible views, a fun vibe and energetic pool. I saw a lot of couples here. You can walk down a staircase to the beach. Multiple restaurants and bars are on the premise.
Top of my list to-see was monkeys! During our Kayaking excursion down Isla Damas, we witnessed a group of White Face monkeys playing- it was awesome! One was even carrying a tiny baby on its back. We watched in awe and with big smiles. I could witness their silliness all day! There are four types of monkeys in Costa Rica- Howler, White Race, Squirrel and Spider monkey.
Los Altos Hotel
We toured popular Los Altos hotel and once again were amazed at the views! This is an ideal hotel for a family vacation- spacious and affordable 2 and 3-bedroom suites are available with a nice common room and full kitchen. There was also a game room, infinity pool, and the beach was just a short walk away.
We arrived at the sister property, Jungle Vista hotel, ready to see more animals. I loved that the pool was literally in the jungle- surrounded by lush trees and wild animals. The rooms were spacious. We finally saw our first sloth! He was lazily hanging out on a limb outside one of the rooms. They move so slow! However, they are great swimmers and can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. I am in awe of sloths!
Manuel Antonio National Park
After breakfast we explored Manuel Antonio National Park- which is a must visit! You can walk around for hours and see monkeys, sloths, Toucans, lizards, flowers, waterfalls and even crocodiles! Various trails branch out, if you enjoy exploring this is your spot! The beach within the park is the prettiest I have seen in this part of Costa Rica and seemed to go on for miles. I wish we had the afternoon to stay and enjoy it! Since it was Monday it was not busy- but I hear weekends are packed. I recommend making Manuel Antonio National Park a full day visit!
We had to stop for a coconut break of course on the way to Parador Hotel where we enjoyed a fantastic lunch (best food yet!) and trade show. I ate fish tacos and ceviche and it was so delicious!! We toured the various suites, and I cannot picture a more luxurious accommodation. The views were the best yet of the trip! Equipped with a pool, beach access, spa, yoga- what more can you want?!? This is a dreamy luxury honeymoon or family vacation spot!
Hotel Villa Caletas
My favorite hotel visit was saved for last. The eclectic Hotel Villa Caletas is perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and just outside the town of Jaco. It is a resort + museum and incredibly interesting to explore! The flashy owner wanted to showcase his travels around the world. We toured the Africa suite (you truly feel like you are on a Safari) the Egyptian Room, Oriental Suite, New Age room and more. They had honeymoon suites that were to die for- equipped with a private pool and jacuzzi. Views for days and a beautiful infinity pool. It was such a challenge to leave! If you are looking for a high-end and unique resort in a great location, this is your spot.
Grano Oro in San Jose
We next made our way to San Jose where we got our mandatory COVID test to return to the US. Everyone tested negative! Next was the trade show where we met with dozens of tour operators, hotel manages and various travel agencies. We learned a lot and made some great connections! I am looking forward to working with these partners moving forward in order to make my clients stay unforgettable.
Our last night was spent in the hotel Grano Oro in San Jose. A beautiful hotel with decorations ranging from Victorian style to Latin American antique. You can tell various nationalities make up Costa Rica with all the unique decorations. My halibut dinner was absolutely fantastic. We all sadly said our good-byes. I cannot wait to visit this eclectic and adventurous part of the world again!