The Pacific Ocean Beaches – Costa Rica
With the entire west coast of Costa Rica on the Pacific Ocean there are many places to stay and play. Most people stay in the central region of the pacific coast. The big hotels like the Four Seasons, etc. are in the Guanacaste area. You’ll see a lot of Americans and Europeans, which is not why I really went to Costa Rica. I have friends that stay across the street from the Four Seasons at Punta Islita every year, and they claim it is a little slice of heaven with lots of locals. If you want active nightlife, this might be the area for you.
We stayed a little further south off the beaten path at Xandari on the Pacific in the Esterillos Este area. After we stayed there, the hotel was bought by a group in Vail, CO called Red Rock Resorts, so there might be changes afoot. Each stand alone room is a hacienda style villa decorated with Costa Rican color. No high rises anywhere close. There is not even a huge front desk area, they want it to feel like a home, not a hotel.
This area is pretty secluded and with any more than 3 nights, you might get awfully sick of the restaurant even though it is fantastic. You can walk down the beach to the restaurant at the Hotel Monterey Del Mar for a change of menu. My son raved about the beef tenderloin there.
The Xandari hotel can arrange just about anything and charge it to your room, even a shuttle to and from San Jose. You can take advantage of bike riding, a spa, the beach, two pools, a TV lounge (vital to football bowl season for my husband) surfing (lessons if you need them), kayaking in the mangroves, crocodile safaris and the list goes on. We did biking (through backroads) and a mangrove kayaking tour (booked on our own).
Our biking tour was on New Years Eve and ended at the beach complete with sodas and beers awaiting us. The kids got a kick out of yelling Happy New Years in spanish as we rolled through town, banana and palm plantations. Since it was a holiday, all of the ticos (Costa Ricans) were outside enjoying the day. Many times they would wave and be surprised at our small boys attached to our bikes with a piccolo. It was a tiny connection with the people and culture that I will never forget.
The mangroves were an experience all their own. I had never kayaked through one, but the wildlife in Costa Rica did not disappoint. We saw Jesus Christ lizards, amazing crabs, and white faced monkeys. The local guide brought along fruit and snacks for break time for us. Which was what attracted the monkeys. There were small motor boats doing the same tour, but I liked being close to the water in the kayak, as well as the quiet when after the small boats had passed by. And burning some calories by rowing wasn’t so bad either.
After the tour ended, we stayed another night at the Xandari hotel. We wanted to relax from all the activities of the last week. Which I would highly recommend, if you are thinking about an active group tour. So we lazed around until it was time to catch a shuttle and flight home. Mom got to spend a little time in the spa too, aka, heaven;)
AHHHHH!! Pura Vida!!
Footnote: My family paid for every dime of our Backroads Costa Rica vacation. It was a milestone birthday gift for the whole family. I just want my readers to know, so they can be sure that my opinions of this trip, including it’s overall value, are all my own.