Costa Rica Journals

The Green and Gold of Costa Rica

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A July 2008 trip to Costa Rica by travelswithkids

Flamingo Beach Resort Photo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica More Photos
Quote: Our family had a great time exploring a little of Costa Rica, from San Jose to cloud forests to gorgeous Pacific beaches.

The Green and Gold of Costa Rica

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Overview

Poas Volcano Photo, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Quote:
We sampled a little of the Green and Gold highlights of Costa Rica.The Green: the wonderful nature and forests of Costa Rica and its reputation for eco-tourism.The Gold: We started our trip with a visit to the Gold Museum in San Jose, and ended the trip with 3 days along the Gold Coast (the northwest Pacific beaches). Costa Rica has some gorgeous beaches, with relatively little development on most of them. With our rental car, we were able to explore several of them.More green: we visited Costa Rica during its Green Season (their euphemism for rainy season). Airfares and hotel rates are slightly lower at this time. The rain didn't really interfere with our enjoyme...Read More

Orquideas Inn

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Hotel | "A Beautiful Place to Start your Costa Rica Trip"

Orquideas Inn Photo, Alajuela, Costa Rica
Quote:
Most travelers start or end their Costa Rican vacations at the airport in San Jose. The Orquideas Inn is about 15 minutes from the airport in Alajuela. Alajuela, the airport area, and San Jose can be pretty ugly, but Orquideas is an oasis of colorful lush gardens where you will be happy to relax after your flight. It isn't just a cookie cutter chain hotel like a Hampton Inn, but you feel you've arrived at someplace special and different from home, without sacrificing your comfort.Included in the room rate, they serve a very nice breakfast, with fresh fruit, cooked-to-order omelets, the national dish of pinto gallo, sausage, plantains, and more.The Marilyn Monroe themed bar &...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 12, 2008

Orquideas Inn
Cruce de Poas/Cacao
Alajuela, Costa Rica 3009
+506-433-9346

Flamingo Beach Resort

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Hotel | "Really Nice Beach-front Hotel"

Flamingo Beach Resort Photo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Quote:
Flamingo Beach Resort is right on the very pretty Playa Flamingo. Technically, there is a dirt road separating the hotel property and the public beach, but it doesn't really matter and doesn't get much traffic other than hotel guests. The hotel's charms definitely grew on us during our 3 day stay. It isn't a huge place, with sort of a colonial style to it with wide, open air, arched hallways which allow the occasional bat to fly through at night.When we were there, its front gate wall was under reconstruction, so you had to drive (or walk) in from around the back, along the beach. The construction made a poor first impression on us, but the nice room with air conditioning and cool tile ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Flamingo Beach Resort
Playa Flamingo Santa Cruz
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
011-506-2-654-4444

Marie's Restaurant

Restaurant | "Great Restaurant in Playa Flamingo"

Quote:
We enjoyed dinner at Marie's, which is in the typical open air style beside the shopping center right across the street from the Flamingo Beach Resort. We thought it was a very nice restaurant. A tasty selection of dishes including fish, of course. Most main dishes were about $10-15, with a couple cheaper items on the dinner menu. Marie's had a very relaxed atmosphere, but you still felt you were someplace special.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Marie's Restaurant
Playa Flamingo
Guanacaste

Outback Jack's

Restaurant | "Fun Atmosphere, Disappointing Food"

Quote:
Our drinks had come, we had some nice chips & salsa, and a local guitar quartet was going around to play for tables. Our daughters had fun watching the local cats and we were enjoying the laid-back atmosphere, reading their goofy signs.Unfortunately, then our meals arrived, and the food was really not that great. In their defense, they do claim to specialize in barbeque and we had ordered other things.Outback Jack's is the most obvious place in Playa Brasilito, which is a pretty small settlement. There are a couple signs (and a rusted van) advertising it on the roads nearby. Outback Jack's is right down beside the beach. As you might guess from the name, they have a casual A...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Hotel Sugar Beach

Restaurant | "Best View on the Coast and Good Food, Too"

Hotel Sugar Beach  Photo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Quote:
After a drive on the worst 3 km of road we experienced in Costa Rica, we were richly rewarded with the views of Playa Pan de Azucar ("Sugar Beach"). The Sugar Beach Hotel is the only place on this beach, and it sits on a hilltop overlooking the gorgeous curving beach. Without knowing exactly what was there, we had decided to go visit the beach in the middle of the day, and when we got there, we found the hotel pretty much had the prime location. Since it was lunchtime, we decided to try the hotel restaurant. The food was very good, not too expensive (several lunch main dishes in the US $7-8 range).But the real reason to come is the atmosphere and view. The restaurant is o...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Hotel Sugar Beach
Playa Pan de Azúcar
Guanacaste
+506-2654-4242

Liberia Airport Lunch Counters

Restaurant | "Worst Food in the Entire Country, Easily"

Quote:
Do whatever you can to grab some lunch or snacks before you get to the Liberia airport if you are flying out of there. The food at their lunch counter was horrible. Easily the worst we experienced in the country.

To add insult to injury, it is also the most over-priced garbage, with the mark-up even exceeding what you'd pay for similar fast food at US airports like O'Hare.

Ick ick ick.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on August 15, 2008

Restaurante Pleamar

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Restaurant | "Fresh Fish on Your Plate, Live Crabs at Your Feet"

Restaurante Pleamar Photo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Quote:
The Plea Mar restaurant is a casual little beachfront place at the end of the marina, at the opposite end from Playa Flamingo. It's on the main road as you turn along the ocean towards Playa Flamingo. When I say "beachfront", it is really as close as you can get without getting wet. Little (harmless) crabs come up from the beach into the restaurant and scamper underfoot while you're eating.The place reminded me of what you would get if you transported a small Wisconsin lakefront bar and grill to Central America. One waiter for the whole place, thatch roof coverings over the tables with little Christmas lights, and a nice view over the water.We enjoyed our inexpensive dinner ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2008

Restaurante Pleamar
Guanacaste
Guanacaste

Playa Conchal

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Attraction | "Snorkeling at Playa Conchal"

Playa Conchal Photo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Quote:
At Playa Conchal, there is a stand where they rent a snorkel, mask, and fins, for US $5/hour. This was the only beach where we found you could rent the equipment on a walk-up basis.One corner of the beach is somewhat protected from the waves by some rocks and the corner of the bay, and that's where you snorkel. The snorkeling was really pretty good and we saw yellow-and-black striped zebra fish, angel fish, little irridescent blue fish, bigger schools of regular silver fish, 3-foot long needle nosed fish, rainbow colored parrot fish, a leopard fish, a really big clam, an eel, and a nice assortment of other multi-colored tropical fish.Playa Conchal is unique among the Costa ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Playa Conchal
Guanacaste
Guanacaste

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Nature Spa & Hotel

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Attraction | "Hike the Los Angeles Cloud Forest at the Serene VillaBlanca"

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Nature Spa & Hotel Photo, San Ramon, Costa Rica
Quote:
Villa Blanca is a peaceful, away-from-it-all resort outside of San Ramon. It's about 1/3 of the way from San Jose to the Arenal/La Fortuna area, so stopping by is a nice way to break up the drive. The resort is beside the Los Angeles Cloud Forest nature reserve. It isn't a huge cloud forest, but we weren't going to make it to the Monteverde cloud forests on our trip, so we stopped by here for a 2-hour guided hiking tour (US $26/person).They have some primary (uncut) cloud forest, some that was re-planted 20-40 years ago, and some more recent replanting, and it was interesting to see the contrasts. While hiking, the tour guide pointed out the usual plants and insects, such as leaf-cu...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Nature Spa & Hotel
San Ramon
San Ramon
(506) 2461-0300

Poas Volcano

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Attraction | "Smell the Active Volcano on a Poas Volcano Hike"

Poas Volcano Photo, Monteverde, Costa Rica
Quote:
Under an hour's drive from Alajuela is the active Poas volcano. There isn't hot lava here, but the caldera of Poas emits steam and noxious fumes and is filled with acid water.You want to get an early start because it often clouds over later in the day. We had clear views of the San Jose central valley all the way up to the volcano, but by the time we reached the caldera, it had completely filled in with clouds. It was still easily worth the trip however, and we made the short hike to the other, now extinct crater which contains Botos Lagoon. Botos Lagoon, which is filled with rain water instead of acidic volcano emissions, was still clear, so we got some nice views of it before clouds ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano National Park
Monteverde, Costa Rica

Gold Museum

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Attraction | "See the Pre-Columbian Gold Artifacts of Costa Rica"

Gold Museum  Photo, San Jose, Costa Rica
Quote:
The Gold Museum, in downtown San Jose, teaches you about the indigenous settlement and culture of Costa Rica. It describes some of the different tribes that used to live here and gives some description of their settlements. But as the name implies, the focus here is on gold artifacts from pre-Columbian times. They have a nice collection of ornaments of different shapes, including jaguar, butterly, bat, crocodile, and lobster shapes, among others.The museum also traces the evolution and migration of the gold casting technology used here. According to the exhibits, the goldsmithing methods and influences moved into Costa Rica from Columbia, and the Mayan's to the north aren't real...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 14, 2008

Gold Museum
Calle 5
San Jose, Costa Rica
+506-243-4202