Playa Hermosa Paradise at Marea Brava Beachfront Suites and Villas - May 2008
The crash of the surf woke me up just after sunrise. Was I dreaming last night that I had arrived in paradise?
It was a bumpy ride from Dominical to Quepos, and another hour north to Playa Hermosa. I was arriving late, and hoped that someone was still up and knew I had a reservation. I pulled in and the night watchman was very friendly, contacting the night manager and then helping me with my bags and surfboard. When I entered the room, all I remember was thinking how big everything looked and how good a hot shower with good water pressure felt, and how comfy the mattress was. I slept with the angelitos that night, dreaming of long rides in the morning.
Another set boomed out back, and I knew that to beat the tide and get good offshore winds, I would have to get up. I stepped out on to the back balcony and soaked up the scenery. A few surfers were already out catching overhead waves right behind my room so I popped my fins in my 6'6" and paddled out. It was cool looking back towards the beach and thinking, "That's where I'm staying." Behind the hotel is a jungle covered hill with a few houses perched along the ridge.
After a couple of hours in the water I was getting thirsty and hungry so I took one in. The sand was a lot hotter on my feet than earlier and I was stoked that the hotel was right there. I used the outdoor shower to rinse off and then took a quick dip in the pool, which was just the right temperature. After drying off using the pool towels provided by the courteous staff, it was time to get some breakfast.
In the room where I stayed there was a complete kitchen setup with an oven, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, blender, full fridge and freezer, plenty of dishes, glasses, cookware, and even an outdoor barbeque grill. It was perfect for a group of six to load up with food and beverages at the local supermercado and then enjoy cooking fresh seafood right on the spacious front patio. But all I needed was some coffee and a filling breakfast. Luckily, only a couple of hundred meters up the road is one of the tastiest restaurants on the Pacific Coast, the Jungle Cafe. It is known primarily for its big breakfast omelets and unique dinner creations using the freshest fish and poultry.
What happens after going surfing at dawn for two hours and then spending the rest of the morning enjoying breakfast while reading the local newspaper, the Tico Times? It was time to find some shade for a little siesta. The Marea Brava has some great places for just lounging around. There's a shaded tent with lounge chairs right on the beach, and another palm frond palapa set back by the pool. There is actually two pools, a shallow one for the little ninos and another for the big kids, with floaties and boogie boards for guests to use along with a swim up bar serving tropical libations. If you want to get uber-relaxed, try out their professional messages which they do in a private cabana right off the sand. I ended up in one of their many double hammocks, shaded by the palms all around me. The hammocks were not the typical threaded ones, but had a soft cotton weave that made it nearly impossible to get up from.
When you are staying at the Marea Brava, there is always a tough choice to make. To try out some of their great adventure activities or just relax by the pool and on the beach. Marea Brava offers kayaking, white water rafting, jetski rentals, ATV tours, horseback riding, and zipline tours. They can arrange a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park, located only an hour's drive away. They can customize the activities for one day or for the whole trip. And they pick you up right from the front office, so you don't even need transportation.
For this trip, surfing was my primary purpose. In Playa Hermosa you can catch good waves in the morning or late afternoon when the wind dies. It is better at midtide coming in, and the best months for overhead waves are from March to October. While waiting for the tide to fill in, I took a walk around the hotel and met a nice family visiting from California. It was their first time in Costa Rica and they were enjoying their trip immensely. The really liked the rooms and how peaceful the place felt, there were no sounds of construction or obnoxious guests. Just the surf, the wind through the palms, the occasional call of a toucan, the scrape of an iguana on the rooftop, or thud from a falling mango.
The clouds gathered quickly in the afternoon and when the first few big drops of rain fell, I retreated back indoors. Early in the rainy season, Playa Hermosa usually gets a daily deluge that lasts only an hour, and maybe gets a second shower in the evening. While waiting for the clouds to clear, you can enjoy the 42" flat panel TV with satellite cable and a DVD player or just listen to tunes on the stereo. There is another TV in the master bedroom, while the second room fits another double bed and two extra wide single beds. The living room is furnished with a wrap around leather sofa and ottoman, and in the dining area there is a table set up for six.
I guessed that all the rooms could not be this lavish, so I asked the front desk if I could see some of the other accommodations. First they took me to a regular room, which was still enormous and from the second floor had a nice ocean view. Those had minifridges and a microwave, with a queen sized bed. The next larger room was a suite which would fit a four person family quite nicely. It had a double bed in one bedroom and a bunk bed in the other room. There was also a small sitting room that included a microwave and refrigerator. And then the last one floored me. It was the penthouse, a third floor ocean view to dream of with all the features of their other two bedroom villas - the huge kitchen, entertainment centers, back and front patios, and enough beds for six guests. And every room had its own A/C unit, so those who need it cool can it keep it cool without freezing the rest of the family.
Then I asked, "What about the surfer who is traveling solo and just needs a bed and a safe place for their gear?" Well, Marea Brava accomodates this type of traveler as well. They have a 12 person air-conditioned ranchero with six sets of bunk beds. There are three full private bathrooms to share among the guests in those quarters and a safe in the front office to keep valuables and passports. So everyone is taken care of at this hotel, and you can stay in the ranchero for as little as $35 a night.
The other rooms are still quite affordable. l/s = low season and h/s = high season. For the two person room ($107 l/s, $133 h/s). The four person suite ($133.00 l/s, $158 h/s). The two bedroom villas that fit six ($158 l/s, $210 h/s). And the penthouse two bedroom villas ($185 l/s, $266 h/s). Remember to add the 16.39% room taxes and double check the dates you want to reserve since certain times of the year the cost of the rooms will be higher. You can get all the details and make a reservation by going to their website - www.mareabravacostarica.com or calling them toll free - 1.866.727-2577.
The sun poked back out around four and the wind died off, leaving me another glassy surf session before dark. The sunsets at Playa Hermosa are always amazing, and I used up the batteries on my digital camera snapping shots as the clouds turned pink, then orange, then purple as the sun disappeared beyond the Pacific. This was a perfect last day in Costa Rica at the perfect location in Playa Hermosa. I was already planning my next trip back.