As the sun cast its golden hues over Costa Rica in November, I found myself never wanting to leave this gorgeous country!
My Costa Rica adventure began as a solo journey, with two nights of cherished solitude at Jardin del Eden Boutique Hotel. Woven between tropical scenery, this adults-only retreat proved to be a nature lover's dream, serving up a generous dose of relaxation. Before my friends arrived, I pursued a passion that has never failed to add a touch of magic to my travels: scuba diving. It's always a treat to explore a new country from this unique perspective, and the dive was a great way to kick off the trip.
Thursday came, and so did my squad—all ten travelers were hungry for adventure and a taste of pura vida. Our villa rang with laughter and the echoing of clinking glasses as our private chef whipped up some culinary magic. Flavorful immersion continued at Tamarindo, where we brunched like royalty and ate to our heart's content.
Of course, we had to make time to explore Costa Rica's wild side with an exhilarating hike, a refreshing dip at a Waterfall, and sampling the country's hot springs and mud baths. Not to say we didn't do our fair share of relaxation! Our group also spent a whole day dedicated to the art of unwinding with an afternoon of soaking up some sun-kissed Costa Rica bliss.
Come along as I take you through the highlights of our trip, giving insider tips on the best places to stay, where to dine, and what to do in beautiful Costa Rica.
Where to Stay
Jardin del Eden Boutique Hotel
This undisputed gem, located in the bustling beach town of Tamarindo, combines the allure of a 4-star boutique hotel with the serenity of an adults-only space. Limited to just 46 rooms and bestowed with the TripAdvisor title of '2023 Travelers' Choice Best of the Best', this hotel promises exclusivity at its finest.
The hotel is a convenient 45-minute drive from the airport (LIR), following a well-paved and safe route. Its location is a bounty in itself – positioned ideally within Tamarindo. Leave your car behind; all the essential shops and restaurants are just a short, pleasant walk away. A must-visit is the captivating Tamarindo Beach, known for its varying reef and beach breaks, making it an ideal surf spot for beginners and seasoned surfers alike.
Of the 46 rooms in this boutique hotel, make sure to book one with a balcony. It's absolutely worth it. Set your alarm for the early mornings to catch a glimpse (or a sound) of the local howler monkeys. The lack of music, even around the pools or the beach garden, makes these interactions with nature all the more profound.
The hotel's restaurant provides breakfast and dinner with your stay. The breakfast is a versatile, high-quality spread with options like champagne or mimosas, fresh fruits, pastries, made-to-order omelets or waffles, and more. Dinner is a delicious 3-course meal with two options for each course, emphasizing traditional Latin and Mediterranean cuisine with a unique twist. The menu changes daily, keeping dining experiences fresh and exciting. Plus, we found the morning ritual of choosing your meals for the day adds another unique layer to the dining experience here.
Pro Tip: Don't miss out on the salmon or the lobster shrimp risotto, and add a cocktail or glass of wine to your dinner for an elevated dining experience.
Throughout your stay, it's the small things that build up the experience. The service, I say with utter conviction, was top-notch. The staff makes a wonderful effort to learn each guest's name, a personal touch that goes a long way. The beach garden, which is a little oasis across the street, accessible only to the guests, offers a slice of private beach life with an infinity pool, a bar, and a snack bar. Yes, there are vendors who pass by occasionally with souvenirs, but simply not engaging with them was enough to deter them. Let's not forget the wellness offerings right by the pool should you wish to treat yourself to a massage. Options include deep tissue, Swedish, and bamboo massages.
What struck a chord with me was the hotel's deep commitment to environmental protection. Not just lip service, the place embodies sustainability through initiatives such as solar panels, utilizing local artisanal suppliers, and maintaining vegetable gardens for use in their restaurants. This makes the hotel a perfect choice for eco-conscious travelers.
In essence, Jardin del Eden Boutique Hotel is a slice of paradise, offering an exceptional mix of eco-friendly luxury, tantalizing local cuisine, and warm customer service that exceeds expectations. So, whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or culinary exploration, this delightful boutique hotel will create the perfect Costa Rican vacation, just as it did for me.
Where To Eat
Embarking on a culinary tour across Flamingo and Tamarindo, we discovered a handful of dining spots that were delightful and hunger-quelling.
Starting with our all-time favorite, Garcia La Vid in Flamingo, the pizza you get here is, hands down, the best in town. However, if you're hunting for a spot with breathtaking views to go with quality cuisine, try Garcia at Mar Vista. Here, you can enjoy excellent seafood, delectable tapas, and enticing cocktails, all while soaking in the stunning panorama. They even have a pool if you fancy a dip before or after your meal.
A trip to Patagonia should be on your list, too. Their mouthwatering ribeye and whole fish snapper won us over, and the mango margarita made a splendid companion to the meal.
Looking for a beachfront experience? Hemingway's in Flamingo is a delightful little beach bar that's worth a visit.
Diversifying our palate, we also enjoyed Big Mama's Kitchen, known for its hearty breakfast and seafood offerings. Another recommendation would be Hazel's Steak & Seafood in Flamingo.
In Playa Avellana, Lola's pleased our senses, while Red Door in Tamarindo impresses with its sublime sunset views.
The exquisite eating doesn't stop at dinner. Treat yourself to a memorable lunch at Pico Bistro in Tamarindo, and finish the day off with a peaceful soiree at The Beach House in Flamingo.
In essence, Costa Rica isn't just a visual paradise; it's a foodie's dream come true. So go ahead and savor the country's culinary delights; you won't be disappointed!
What To Do
Scuba Diving with the Nomads: Costa Rica is a top diving destination globally and did not disappoint. Guided by the true pros, Diving Nomads, my scuba diving adventure around Catalina Island was one for the books. Their knowledge of the area allowed me to fully appreciate the priceless encounters with white-tip sharks, vibrant schools of fish, elusive eels, and majestic stingrays gliding silently beneath us. I wholeheartedly recommend this scuba diving experience to anyone visiting the area. It's a gem you don't want to miss.
Beach Days: Not all of Costa Rica's gems are hidden beneath the waves. The beaches here are pristine, with sands perfect for days well spent under palms, where the toughest decision you make is whether to nap or read.
Tamarindo: For your retail therapy, stroll through the streets of Tamarindo, where boutique charm marries a surf town vibe. But when night falls, get ready to ramp up the energy. The Tamarindo Bar Crawl we joined was an unexpected highlight. It featured four bars in one night, with an electric mix of locals and travelers. I danced, laughed, and maybe had one too many shots, but it was all in the spirit of Pura Vida.
Hiking and Healing: Venture beyond relaxation and dive into Rincon de la Vieja National Park. A guided trek to a sulking volcano was fascinating, only made better by capping the day off with a soak in the restorative hot springs.
Getting Around: Tamarindo on foot is charm itself. However, don't hesitate to rent a car (four-wheel drives are your friend here) to uncover more secluded spots. And trust me, they're worth every bumpy road.
In wrapping up our Costa Rica journey, I'm left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for nature and the country's abundance of wonders to explore. The harmonious blend of thrilling discovery with the gentleness of luxury makes Costa Rica a perfect destination for families, couples, or solo explorers. Plus, with the welcoming warmth of the local community, Costa Rica will quickly capture a special place in your heart.
So, if you're crafting your travel bucket list or planning to add a new destination, add in Costa Rica. It promises an adventure of a lifetime with life's most beautiful wonders!
Looking to plan your Costa Rica getaway? Reach out to the expert planners at Travel Queen LLC! As experts in all-inclusive travel, we know what it takes to create the ultimate vacation for you and your loved ones. So let us help create your most memorable getaway yet!
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