With their year round sunshine, immaculate beaches and amazing natural attractions, there’s just so much to do! From their famous Costa Rica canopy zip lining tours, to a quiet Nature hike through a RAIN FOREST with the kids, this destination has something for everyone! Where else can you sit on the beach watching monkeys eating leaves in the trees or have a pack of Coati’s run through the pool area! The kids will love it!
I visited this Central American country for the first time and it made me feel good to support a country which is so respectful of the environment. Tourism is their number one source of income and they maintain a sustainable Tourism Certification Program. The Costa Rican government is working toward the goal of becoming a carbon neutral community. They are the only country without an Army of any Kind! Pura Vida means Pure Life! It’s not just a phrase to these peaceful people, but a way of life! No matter where we went, we always felt safe and welcome!
Some Diverse Hotels in Costa Rica
- Villa Acacia Beach & Garden Hotel
- Hotel Villa Del Sueno – Moderately Priced
- Hotel Riu Guanacaste – Affordable All Inclusive
- Condovac/La Costa Villas – Inexpensive
- Westin in Playa Conchel – A Luxurious Five Star All Inclusive (Beautiful grounds)
Being our first visit to Costa Rica we chose the Condovac/La Costa Villas on Playa Hermosa Beach as our first destination. The complex is on a large hill so the view of the ocean is always in the background! Small carts make it easy to bring you from your villa down to the beach or up to the pool area which has a great infinity pool and swim up bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The units have a very cozy feel and the small kitchens are clean and equipped with everything to cook a meal. There is a small porch with chairs out front where we sat every morning sipping coffee. Hearing the waves and the howling monkeys in the distance quickly reminds you that you are in a tropical paradise. There is a small grocery store on the premises with limited items but had everything we needed for the week.
Playa Hermosa had great snorkeling spots right off the beach! We encountered many colorful fish and my husband even saw a sting ray!
Restaurants in Playa Hermosa!
- Marios – Rated #1 on Trip Advisor (Great Experience!)
- Ginger Restaurant & Bar – Asian Fusion – Rated #2 (Great food not on the beach)
- El Quijote Bar & Restaurant – Rated #3 (Didn’t eat there)
- Robertos – American, Seafood – Rated #4 (Great view)
- Aqua Sport – Rated #5 (Ordered Fish Tacos, not great)
Two of the restaurants we ate at were on the beach, so wear your flip flops since it’s a short 10 minute walk in the sand. Go early and catch the sunset! Seating at Roberto’s and Aqua Sport is just steps from the ocean. We sipped our frozen margarita’s while our view was a pink sky and a sail boat between two palm trees! Best spot on the beach! The sunsets here are breathtaking so we went back to Roberto’s for their buy one get one free sparerib night! The music was great at Aqua Sport, but I didn’t love my meal!
Mario’s Cuisine ranked #1 in Trip Advisory so it was a must on our list of Restaurants but it was difficult to find. It was about a twenty minute walk on the beach then another ten minutes a few blocks off the beach. Mario has been a chef for 17 years and is a local fisherman of Playa Hermosa. He now serves a four course gourmet dinner in his home with his wife Ericka, which includes his fresh catch of the day. After dinner, they sat with us sipping wine and we talked about the history of Costa Rica and what they liked about living there.
View from our table at Roberto’s
The locals of Costa Rica are what makes this place so special. In just a day or two we became familiar with the Tico’s or Costa Rican’s who are happy to share their specialties with you. Just a few steps away from our hotel, you can get a massage on the beach for only $30.00 from Maria or Rodrigo will take you fishing for a negotiable price.
Melvin is another local we met on the beach, who was off to catch some live scallops and octopus with just a hook and a sack! I sat on a rock watching him fish and after only about 1/2 hour he came out with his sack full of fresh fish. He then cut up some cilantro and limes and made fresh Ceviche for lunch! At only $4.00 a cup, it was the best I ever had! What an organic experience!
Things To Do & Excursions in Costa Rica!
- The Arenal Volcano – Prepare for an unforgettable experience as you join one of the most popular tours in Costa Rica. You’ll explore two of Costa Rica’s most visited attractions, the Arenal Volcano and natural hot springs. Mix adrenaline with relaxation on this full-day Central American tour.
- Monteverde Cloud Forest & Butterfly Garden – Explore the tropical treetops of Costa Rica on this canopy tour in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve!
- Buena Vista Rainforest Tour – Discover the beautiful Rincon de la Vieja National Park on this Buena Vista rainforest combo tour in Costa Rica! Experience hot springs, volcanic mud facials.
- Vida Aventure Tour – Enjoy a perfect mix of adrenaline-pumping adventure combined with relaxation on this full-day tour at Vida Aventura Nature Park in the beautiful Guanacaste (This is the tour we chose & loved it!)
With so many tours to choose from, we had a hard time deciding what to do. We chose the Vida Aventure Tour since I never went Zip lining before and Costa Rica is the place known for this activity! The highlight of the trip was the quarter mile slide built into the mountain! After a long climb to the top, you get into the slide and wait until they release the built up water coming down the mountain, held back by a small levy. As you sit and wait for the release of the water, the anticipation alone is a thrill! The water comes out slowly and then a gush comes rushing out pushing you down the slide at a great speed!
My first zip lining experience! Loved it!
Off to the Westin Hotel in Playa Conchel
After a week in Playa Hermosa, we drove to Playa Conchel which is also located in Guancaste about 45 minutes from the Liberia Airport and 10 minutes from the town of Tamarindo. We spent four nights at the Westin Hotel. This exclusive oceanfront all inclusive resort is absolutely beautiful. A very elegant hotel in stunning natural surroundings with an award winning 18 hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II, a state of the art Beach Club and Spa. I got a massage while my husband played golf! Lots of kid friendly pools with slides and lifeguards!
We had dinner and went shopping in Tamarindo which is a busy town with lots of small shops and boutique hotels. I picked up a colorful woven beach bag for myself and a few souvenirs for the kids! Great town for your destination!
If you’re into surfing, Tamarindo is more of a beginner spot with the waves about waist high but if you’re looking for a more advanced spot, you may want to hit a beach with better conditions such as Playa Grande which is North or Langosta to the South.
The beaches here in Costa Rica vary tremendously. In Playa Conchal, a white sand beach is made up of tiny crushed Conch shells. In Playa Hermosa the sand is very dark and although not as attractive, I enjoyed the warmer waters and all the trees and agriculture that lined the beach. The crystal blue waters of Flamingo Beach is perfect for snorkeling and then my favorite, Honeymoon beach. Not accessible by land so we stopped there for a short visit with wave runners from the hotel. I wished we could have spent the day, but the 20 minutes we had to snorkel was enough time there! It was truly paradise!
The Sunsets here are like no other!
Costa Rica is a special place and I will definitely go back, but next time, I will stay at a rustic retreat which offers unique volunteer opportunities in exchange for beautiful accommodations and access to a vibrant community so that I can get to know the Costa Ricans a little bit better! As they say in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida!”