A great vacation to Costa Rica!
Costa Rica | Sep 26 - Oct 1, 2022

D
D C.
Chicago, IL | Reviewed on Oct 11, 2022

We booked a trip to Costa Rica to check out the Caribbean coast, and it was fantastic! Our local specialist, Olman, set everything up and all we had to do was show up. We were picked up at the airport and driven to our hotel in San Jose for the first afternoon, where we did a little sightseeing downtown. The next morning we got picked up and driven on a nice bus across the mountains to board a boat to the lodge in Tortuguero. The resort was very nice and laid back, with lots of wildlife to... read more

We booked a trip to Costa Rica to check out the Caribbean coast, and it was fantastic! Our local specialist, Olman, set everything up and all we had to do was show up. We were picked up at the airport and driven to our hotel in San Jose for the first afternoon, where we did a little sightseeing downtown. The next morning we got picked up and driven on a nice bus across the mountains to board a boat to the lodge in Tortuguero. The resort was very nice and laid back, with lots of wildlife to see. The next day we returned to the mainland and picked up a rental car to drive south to Puerta Viejo de Talamanca for a couple of nights. Here we enjoyed the beach, saw the wild sloth staying at our hotel, hiked in the national park, and checked out the local nightlife. After our stay, we drove back to San Jose for one more night before flying out.

The best thing about this trip was that everything was arranged in advance (except my navigation skills on the self-driving part). We didn't have to hassle with arranging tours or getting reservations, and they even delivered our rental car to the lodge's restaurant. When I left my ID at the boarding area for the boat, Olman worked a minor miracle and arranged for me to pick it up on our return.

Everyone we met on the trip was helpful and friendly; the tour guides were great all around. Next trip like this we take, I will definitely book this way again.

Hotel Reviews
Gran Hotel Costa Rica
San José

Great location right in the middle of downtown. Everything worked, the room was very nice and very clean, and the breakfast was great.

Authenticity & Character
I don't know about "authenticity", but it's a modern hotel with the normal amenities.
Location
Staff
Super friendly!
Cleanliness & Comfort
Clean, nicely appointed.
Mawamba Lodge
Tortuguero

The individual lodges were a little spartan, but nice enough, and it added a little bit of charm. We really only used our room to store our stuff and sleep. They had nice porches with hammocks. The grounds are pretty cool, with some short nature trails and easy access to the beach, though the beaches apparently have strong currents and are not great for swimming. You can use the beach to walk to the town to pick up souvenirs or have dinner and drinks on the lagoon. The restaurant/bar was excellent. It is not a buffet style, and there was a wide selection. A few specialty items had upcharges (fresh seafood choices). The boat tour we took was great, and our tour guide was hilarious in at least 5 languages.

Authenticity & Character
I loved the atmosphere of the lodge; you can be as active as you'd like to be, but if not, it's relaxing and laid back.
Location
You have to travel there by boat, which was an adventure. The scenery is amazing.
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
The room amenities were less than you would get in a super luxury resort, but that wasn't what we were looking for. There's no AC in the rooms, though it was pleasant at night and we didn't spend much of our day in the room.
Le Cameleon Boutique Hotel
Puerto Viejo

This is a very modern-design hotel. It's got an open space in the middle with a nice pool and a hot tub, and each room has balconies looking into the jungle. The rooms open into large stairwells that lead directly to the pool area. The restaurant is right across the road and has indoor and outdoor seating with beach access. We really liked Le Cameleon!

Authenticity & Character
There is a sloth that came to visit the hotel!
Location
Everything
Staff
Friendly, efficient
Cleanliness & Comfort
Our only issue was that the water on our side of the hotel kept going out, but they were keeping an eye on the situation and got it fixed pretty quickly each time.
Activity Reviews
San Jose - Tortuguero
Costa Rica

We were picked up at the hotel right on time, and we joined a group of other people for the ride to Tortuguero. The drive was through the mountains and across the eastern side of the country; the driver was excellent and our guide was entertaining. He pointed out the sights and gave some commentary, but left plenty of time for napping and watching the scenery. Lunch was provided at the Mawamba lodge restaurant in Guapiles. The boat ride to Tortuguero was fun. We saw lots of wildlife on the way.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Wildlife Boat Tour in Tortuguero
Tortuguero

Spent the morning on a boat cruising around the lagoons. Our guide and boat pilot were excellent at spotting wildlife, including a crocodile, monkeys, turtles, iguanas, etc. Our guide was really funny and spoke something like 6 languages.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
It leaves from the lodge, no transport needed.
Guided Hike in Cahuita National Park
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Cahuita tours provides several different packages. We did only the nature hike (about 2 miles). Some of our group did snorkeling for part of the morning and met us for the hike back, but on the way out it was just us. Our guide was really good at spotting animals and was very knowledgeable. She was really friendly and didn't mind our tourist questions.

Quality of Experience
Food
Local restaurant, good food, good beer.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Got picked up at the hotel and driven in a van to the park (~20 minutes).
Drive to Jaguar Rescue Center
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

The drive to the Jaguar Rescue Center took us about 45 minutes, except that we were driving to the wrong place (I blame my phone map). The actual Jaguar Rescue Center was literally next to our hotel. We ended up running about 5 minutes late to the tour after figuring out our mistake, but the staff understood and we got connected to the tour group. We saw a baby sloth, and a bunch of other animals. Definitely worth taking the tour to see some of the wildlife up close. The rescue center is a legit rescue operation, not a zoo, which was important to us.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Local specialist: Olman Romero
Olman
Olman Romero
Local specialist in San Jose, Costa Rica | Reviewed on Oct 11, 2022

Hello Derek,

Thanks for your kind words.
I am so happy you enjoyed your time in my country.
I enjoyed a lot planning this great itinerary for you, especially because you visited the Caribbean Coast, which is a great destination to travel to in September.

I hope you will visit Costa Rica again to continue exploring new destinations!

Pura Vida,
Olman