First person experiences from past surf trips..
Cashew Hill Lodge - Puerto Viejo (500 yards from Salsa Brava) - Between December and April, Salsa Brava gets loco with consistent East swells breaking two to three times overhead over the shallow reef. Sure you could stay in town, where it's loud and crowded. But how about if you found a spot above it all, with a tower lookout that focuses right on the peak. Through a very safe and quiet botanical pathway you walk, through the gate, and in less than ten minutes walk you're at the beach - where it can look even bigger up close.
The grounds are well kept by the owners, who live on the property and are gracious hosts. The rooms are artistically decorated with a bright Caribbean flair, but with all the creature comforts - including wifi access! Rates are between $45-105 a night for cottages fitting three to eight people. Each cottage features a kitchen, complete with refrigerator, stove, coffee maker, microwave, toaster oven and all the utensils necessary to create gourmet meals. Orthopedic mattresses guarantee an easy night's sleep.
It is important for them to offer the best service, cleanliness, security and accommodations in the area. Daily maid service is included. Laundry service is available. They can schedule your tours and activities and help with transportation.
Dominical and Osa
Jazzy's River House - (Dominical) Nestled in its own tropical jungle, this "tico chic" tree house is a real treat. Travelers can stay in the heart of Domincal but still feel the serene seclusion of this open-air accommodation. It's two stories with a fully loaded kitchen, a gorgeous tiled bathroom with hot water, comfy living quarters and the upstairs bedrooms offer gorgeous views of the sunset over Rio Baru. Sleeps 4 and ideal for families with kids. The hosts, Steve and Kim are great friends and offer their host of unique tico talents like palm sheath weaving, surfing and kayaking. Ideal for travelers who want to live on tico time for a bit while exploring the town and neighboring wilderness.
Costa Paraiso Tropical - Dominical
Villas Rio Mar (Dominical) - I am very close with many members of the staff at the hotel and I know that they enjoy their work and make your experience a comfortable one. The 40 rooms have been refurnished with big beds, A/C, and a tropical patio with many birds flying through the garden paths that lead to each room. The pool is huge and has a swim up bar serving frozen drinks and food from the full service restaurant. For couples, to work conventions , to family reunions, this spot is a favorite. If you surf though, it is tucked away 600 meters from the beach, making for a quick drive or 15 minute stroll through town. (Rooms from $60 to $140)
La Palapa Eco-Resort - (Dominical) - I stayed here with a friend for two nights and our host Christina cooked us a delicious late dinner (chicken carbonara). It is almost a kilometer east of the coastal highway, in the small town of Portalon, with an easy to identify gate and 24 hour secure parking. The grounds are expansive, with the pool and restaurant towards the side and the bungalows spread out enough to enjoy some privacy and hear the sounds of the rainforest. It is not within walking distance of the beach, but there is a waterfall that you can walk to and swim in that is only 1 km. away. The room itself had a comfortable bed, great water pressure and hot water, and had plenty of space for the two beds, a dresser, table, and our gear (surfboards, backpacks), and we had a porch to set stuff out to dry. The wifi was excellent around the pool and restaurant, but was inconsistent in the room. From there it was only a 15 minute drive to Dominical to go surfing or 30 minutes to Quepos (plus another 20 minutes to Manuel Antonio National Park, where we hiked for the day). They are involved with 'Pack for a Purpose', a non-profit that helps local communities collect books/medical supplies from travelers staying at participating hotels. Overall it is a great value and off the beaten track, so you still feel like you are in the real Costa Rica.
Casa Cecilia (Santa Teresa) - This four room guest house is right off a quiet section of beach, about 3 kilometers north of Playa Carmen. Each room has a big comfy bed and a full private bathroom. Snorkeling and surf gear and free for the guests to use, but the hammocks set up in the palm tree lined garden just beckon to be sat in. A surprise was the right point break just out back of the place. It needed to be a couple of feet overhead and a higher tide to work perfectly, but when it does you will never want to leave. Guests are also served breakfast with plentiful servings. (Room rates vary)
Playa Negra Cafe - A short walk from the famous right hander, the cafe is actually a Peruvian restaurant serving some amazing seafood. Fresh bread, coffee, and juice is offered to guests in the six simply appointed cabinas upstairs. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, has hundreds of surf photos of the local breaks, along with surf DVDs sometimes shown on a big screen. If you are on a budget, the rooms without A/C are very secure and comfortable. The Therapuetic mattresses were a joy to sleep on, and the service from the owners, Carlos and Andrea, is unmatched in that part of the country. (Rooms from $17pp to $96)
Club del Sol - (Jaco) - Why get a tiny hotel room when you can get an entire condo for the same price? Club del Sol Luxury Condominiums are the perfect getaway for a romantic interlude, a business retreat, or a family vacation. Their sixteen spacious one and two bedroom residences are located at the south end of Jaco, only a block from the ocean and just across from Carton Surf Shop. At night it is far enough away from the center of town to enjoy a tranquil evening and during the day you can relax by the pool and look up into the mountainous rainforest, catching glimpses of scarlet macaws and toucans in the trees while deciding which of the many adventures to do in the area. Read more..
Marea Brava Beachfront Suites and Villas (Playa Hermosa) - 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.
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.
They offer 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.
A regular room from the second floor had a nice ocean view. They 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. For the surfer who is traveling solo 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 or calling them toll free - 1.866.727-2577.
Hotel Mango - Alajuela - (2 min. from the airport) - If you need to stay close to the airport the Mango Hotel is your ideal arrival/departure nest. The grounds are quaint, with a pretty little poolside café and gardens. The rooms are clean and include hot water, AC and cable television. Also very clean bathrooms. A 24-hour reception desk makes it very convenient for the traveler beat. Room rates are reasonable and include breakfast and transportation to and from the airport. ½ kilometer east of the airport terminal on the old road to San Jose. Nice place. Clean with all of the amenities. Great swimming pool. Planes sometimes fly right over hotel. Pleasant people. $75-85 for a double . Transportation to and from airport and breakfast included.
Costa Rica Backpackers Hostel - (San Jose) - You need a place to camp out in the city, if you get in late or have to leave early the next day. One of my favorite joints is The Backpackers Hostel - www.costaricabackpackers.com For $10 per person it has a swimming pool, tropical gardens, hammocks, sunbathing decks, BBQ night, bar-restaurant, cheap phone calls, cable tv, movie theater room and ALL FREE, internet, coffee, storage, parking, kitchen use. What more do you need? They also can get you a shuttle to the airport for $14.