Sometimes I just prefer to stay in a all inclusive hotel instead of the “a la carte” places in Costa Rica. For me, it just makes for a more relaxing vacation when I can just sit and chill for a while and not be concerned about anything. The ones that I have listed in the Guanacaste area do not require an all inclusive type of stay, another words, there are other hotels in the area where you get “room only” places. Keep in mind that if you choose to go any of these in this area, you are going to better off flying into the Liberia Airport instead of San Jose since landing here will put you a lot closer to where you want to be. Below that I have listed a some of my favorite places in Tortuguero as well as in the Corcovado and Osa Peninsula areas. Places in these areas almost always have to have an all inclusive due to their location. In addition, the only or should I say most practical way to get there is by taking a commuter flight with the local airlines of Sansa and Natureair. Almost always the hotels in these areas will arrange that for you.
For the all inclusive hotels in the Guanacaste area (the northwest), I prefer renting a 4×4 because it gives me flexibility. So for example, if I want to go out of the hotel and take day or half day trip to one of the towns around the area or to a different beach I have this option. Therefore, and with that in mind, I have listed a few of my favorite all inclusive hotels below.
NORTH PACIFIC COAST (GUANACASTE)
For boundless sunshine, lots of vegetation and wildlife-spotting at its best, you’ll want to visit from December through April (The dry season).If you stay in this area check out the Rincón de la Vieja National Park and the Santa Rosa National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves the site of the 1856 Battle of Santa Rosa
The Westin Golf Resort and Spa, Playa Conchal – If your into beautiful all inclusive resorts with monkeys, Cotes and iguanas then you might want to check this place out. And it really is the definition of all inclusive because all drinks and food in your room’s indoor refrigerator, restaurant meals and pool snacks are included. The pool is big and you very close to the beautiful beach. There daily activities at their activity Center so there is never a lack of things to do, of course unless you don’t want there to be.
Occidental Tamarindo – Situated on dazzling Playa Langosta , the location is great for long ( or short) walks on the beach, surfing and walking into Tamarindo (20 minutes walking or $5 cab). Lots of activities going on but some are more geared towards adults so just make sure you know if you bring the kids. You have the choice of the buffet for all three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and there is a snack bar that serves hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, etc. You can also have dinner at the a la carte restaurant once every 3 nights. The hotel is a also great for surfing and scuba diving or just relax on the beach.
Flamingo Beach Resort – This beautiful resort is not on the Beach but a little back from it. There is a very small ‘road’ that leads to a narrow very accessible public beach with warm water & great waves. This place is not exclusively all inclusive but offers options that you can choose to make it so. The kids will like it as the resort has a game room and pool table in the lobby. Bottom Line: If you want a beautiful beach, wonderful sunsets, and a massage this is the place!
RIU Palace – The hotel has four swimming pools (one with a wet bar), jacuzzi, gym, sauna and a wellness center “Renova Spa” with different treatments and massages. They also have a variety of food at the different restaurants of the hotel is which gives to a lot options from Costa Rica classics such as Gallo Pinto to more “exotic” food. Its a beautiful resort with nice modern rooms, friendly staff and great amenities. What else could you ask for.
CORCOVADO (OSA PENINSULA)
The southern coast, renown for its beauty, is one of the more remote areas of Costa Rica. The last Pacific lowland rainforest of sustainable size in Central America is found in Corcovado National Park. Corcovado has been called “The most biologically intense place on earth” by no less an authority than the National Geographic Society. Also, Caño Island offers some or the best snorkeling in Costa Rica.
One of the main reasons people go to the Osa Peninsula is to go to Corcovado National Park as it is home to at least half of all species living in Costa Rica and make for incredible hiking and exploring. Due to the nature of where its located, access is limited. It is widely considered the crown jewel in the extensive system of national parks and biological reserves spread across Costa Rica.
Bosque del Cabo – This place features a 750 acre private reserve, spacious bungalows perched atop the bluffs of Cabo Matapalo, as well as garden room options and private rental houses. Bosque del Cabo has 10 bungalows set among lush gardens, and sits on the bluff with amazing ocean views, modern bathrooms with outdoor garden showers (bit odd at first), and porches furnished with hammocks and easy chairs. Their staff is very knowledgeable and they have friendly guides for walks and bird-watching.
Casa Corcovado – The lodge is the closest to Corcovado National Park, which is the last remaining Pacific lowland rainforest of sustainable size in Central America. Located on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica, Corcovado is the “crown jewel” of a world-renowned national park system. This unique lodge has rooms built with the environment in mind and it shows in how it sits and compliments the landscape and the environment. There are no roads to Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge (pretty cool huh?) and you can only get there by boat. When you book with this hotel, they handle all those particulars
Aguila de Osa – Located on Drake Bay in the secluded Osa Peninsula, the Aguila de Osa Inn has great fishing, hiking, diving, and eating options. They also have, in case the other stuff doesn’t interest you, such as kayaking, horseback riding, beach combing or just hanging out in a hammock. You are close to both Corcovado National Park and the Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve and you are surrounded by lowland tropical rainforest with minimal development. Whats great about this area is that some of the most scenic spots are still only accessible by boat.
Lapa Rios – Set in a private nature reserve spread over 1,000 acres of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, Lapa Rios Ecolodge overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean, making it the destination that matches every one’s idea of paradise. The main lodge and bungalows line three ridges connected by walking paths and steps. Built over 350 feet above the sea, Lapa Rios catches the cooling tropical breezes. The main lodge, housing the restaurant and bar, soars 50 feet and is built of local, natural materials. Palm thatched roofs meet a three-story hardwood circular stairway. Climb to overlook the forest canopy and breathtaking ocean vistas.
TORTUGUERO (CARRIBEAN COAST)
Tortuguero National Park and Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Refuge together form a regional conservation unit. This whole area is linked by canals and cannot be reached by car.
Tortuguero National Park protects a unique series of natural inland waterways that are home to many species. More than 300 species of birds live in Tortuguero for all or part of the year. Birdwatchers commonly see keel-billed toucans, slaty tailed trogons, Montezuma oropendulas and a variety of parrots. Birds common along the canals include green and great blue herons, egrets, belted kingfishers, anhingas, jacanas, sun grebes and several species of hawks and kites. Other animals commonly seen are fishing bats, three-toed sloths, iguanas, basilisk lizards, poison dart frogs, and howler, white-faced and spider monkeys. Caiman are commonly observed in the waterways, which also are home to manatees and crocodiles. Jaguars and ocelots inhabit the park, but are rarely seen.
Tortuguero is the largest nesting area in the Caribbean for the green sea turtle. They return to Tortuguero every two to four years to mate offshore and dig their nests. Green turtle nesting season is from July to mid-October. The leatherbacks come in fewer numbers and are less regular about their arrivals, but they usually nest in March, April, and May. You may see nesting turtles at any time of the year.
Climate: Tortuguero is warm and humid. Daily temperatures average 26 degrees C (79 F) and annual average rainfall is over 5,000 mm (200+ inches). Warm days are tempered by trade winds and cool nights.
I do not recommend a one day stay as the travel time required either leaves little time to explore the area or makes for a very long day.
Manatus Hotel – The hotel is charming (couldn’t come up with a better word right now) with only 12 rooms with queen size poster beds and an indoor AND outdoor shower along with TV and minibar It also has air conditioning. They have a Naturalist on staff there and can answer almost all your questions and the location is great, on the river, only a short boat ride from the town, airport and national park river ways. In a nutshell – the wildlife is abundant and the guides and restaurant staff great
Evergreen Lodge – Located in the northeastern corner of Tortuguero, 5 minutes by boat from the main entrance to Tortuguero National Park. The lodge is set in the rain forest and is designed to blend in as much as possible The Lodge has communal eating which is a great way to meet other people and see what they have done while there. The rooms are minimal but comfortable and there are no hairdryers, so don’t expect to dress up for dinner (lol). There’s a very nice pool with full service bar. TIP: Don’t forget your bug spray and sun screen
Laguna Lodge – This is a beautiful place wedged between the canal and the Caribbean sea and to top if off there is unforgettable boat journey to get there . Each basic cabin has a private bathroom but be aware that they don’t have air conditioning. The fans work great and you really feel like you are in someplace unique. The lodge has great looking gardens and great food. The bar and dining place have a nice setting on the riverside.
Pachira Lodge How bad can a place be when get woken up to howler monkeys? This place is located only 5 minutes away from the famous Tortuguero National Park and A 1.5 hour boat ride from the nearest paved road; It right across the main canal facing the town of Tortuguero. It is surrounded by a network of very scenic canals, this is considered one of the most exotic regions of the world, known by its rich in flora and fauna. It is 5 minutes from the Tortuguero National Park main entrance. Tip: Try the guava jam
Tortuga Lodge – The town of Tortuguero is approximately 1 mile from the lodge and you get there by boat or, after crossing back over to the airstrip, walking the beach road. The guides at the hotel are extremely knowledgeable about the flora, fauna, geology, and ecology of the area and are happy to sit and talk about the history. Tortuga lodge is right in the middle of a river filled with crocodiles, cheetahs, sloths, monkeys and many other beautiful animals. Oh should did I forget to mention: The food was simply amazing! I recommend the turtle nesting tour (season permitting) and going to see the manatees.