Welcome to Pura Vida!
Costa Rica | Mar 6 - Mar 16, 2023

Ocoee, FL | Reviewed on Mar 21, 2023

The moment we decided in November 2022 that Costa Rica was going to be our honeymoon adventure vacation set for March 2023, I set out to create an itinerary that would be a blend of natural, cultural, and heart-pumping experiences that would fit our time and budget considerations. Since this would be our first visit to Costa Rica I sought the expertise from a couple of tour agencies which included kimkim. At kimkim we were introduced to Bryan, a specialist on his home country of Costa Rica. Before, during, and now, a few days returned from the trip, it's clear that planning with Bryan through kimkim was the best thing to happen for us in creating our getaway.

From the jump, Bryan listened to our ideas, asked all the right questions, made wonderful recommendations, provided incredibly prompt and personal responses to our itinerary requests and considerations, and within a short amount of time put together a personalized, 11-day, self-drive, "we can't wait to go," Guanacaste adventure.

Pura vida! We can say it now, each and every check-in along the way was flawless and anticipated by the receptionist; from car rental pick up and drop off, to each of the 4 hotels we stayed, and all 10 tours we booked.

The accommodations that fit our budget and were available at time of booking included Hacienda Guachipelin in Ricon de la Vieja; Volcano Lodge in Arenal; Fondavela in Monteverde, and Golden Palms Papagayo.

Below is a listing of the notable, day by day highlights*, raves*, and faves* of our 11-day Costa Rica adventure:

After touching down in Liberia we picked up our rental car and dined next door at *La Choza de Laurel

Rincon de la Vieja:
*Hacienda Guachipelin breakfast buffet and dining area
*Hike to Las Pailas and Oropendola Falls with guide *Johnny
*Hacienda Guachipelin tubing the Rio Negro with guides
*Hacienda Guachipelin room and balcony

*Rio Celeste self-hike

*Volcano Lodge flora and fauna
*Volcano Lodge private hot tub and view of Arenal Volcano
*Variety of birds gathering at "banana breakfast buffet" at Surá Restaurant
*Volcano Lodge grounds yoga pavilion, out door workout area, and pool
*The welcoming energy of the entire receptionist staff of Volcano Lodge
*Robert at Surá Restuarant
*La Fortuna Waterfall hike with guide *Kenneth (Arenal Star), sighted 3 toucan species, Deivar providing fresh fruits
*Sloth family viewed at Volcano Lodge parking area
*Ecotermales Hotsprings with buffet dinner
*Arenal 1968 hike w/ *Kenneth, anteater encounter, Pablo providing fresh fruits
*Great cups of coffee on Don Juan’s Coffee and Chocolate tour
*Dinner at Pollo Fortuneño in the city of La Fortuna, *Marlon offering great service

*Santuario Ecologico visit and hike
*Night Walk: Children’s Eternal Forest with guide *Marvin
*Fondavela Hotel perimeter walk
*Selvatura Park: Canopy tour with *zipline guides, hanging bridges, sloth and butterfly tour. Great lunch and best cup of coffee of the entire trip.

*Palo Verde National Park Boat tour with guide, *Ulysses and Capt. Miguel.
*Great lunch served at Hacienda El Viejo

*Golden Palms Papagayo resort: receptionist *Angie; comfortable room, lovely pool; easy access to Playa Buena; great rocky beach walk around point
*Kuna Vela morning “sail” and snorkel in Culebra Bay with *Capt. Israel and *First mate Andres.
*Lunch and dinner at Hacienda Blu Beach near Golden Palms
*Lunch at Eco Camping Papagayo

*Suzuki Vitara 4x4, Sport Mode setting, total miles driven about 340

Hotel Reviews
Hacienda Guachipelin Volcano Ranch Hotel & Hot Springs

Hacienda Guachiplein offers a full range of adventures, activities and dining options. Many of the offerings we were not able to utilize on this visit as we were there for only two nights. The fact that HG is only 40 minutes from the Liberia airport is a huge plus if you are looking for an easy and accessible gate way into the Guanacaste region. Raves and Faves Hacienda Guachipelin breakfast buffet and dining area Hike to Las Pailas and Oropendola Falls with guide Johnny Hacienda Guachipelin tubing the Rio Negro with guides Hacienda Guachipelin room and balcony

Authenticity & Character
The grounds were well cared for, rustic charm. Ranching vibe was evident. Room was open and simple. Nice balcony area. Dining area open, breezy, welcoming. Activity centers and meeting points for excursions are within a few yards of reception and dining area. Food was fresh, great variety, with plenty of authentic Costa Rican dishes to choose from.
Short travel time and distance from Liberia airport. Immersion into the lowlands of the Guanacaste region is immediate.
Efficient and attentive. Perhaps they could have been a bit warmer. We arrived at the end of a full travel day and could have used a few moments to settle in before getting the full tour and schedule of the place on the resort map and brochure.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Enjoyed the simplicity, openness and breeziness of the second story room. The hammock chair was a nice touch on the balcony. The only downside to the room was finding the mattress too firm for our needs.
Volcano Lodge
San Carlos, Alajuela

RAVES and FAVES Volcano Lodge flora and fauna Private hot tub and view of Arenal Volcano Birds gathering at "banana breakfast buffet" Volcano Lodge grounds layout and walking trail, yoga pavilion, out door workout area, and a variety of pool and hot tub areas The genuine welcoming and helpful attitude of the entire receptionist staff, Robert at Surá Nice breakfast buffet and dining options

Authenticity & Character
A nicely laid out and maintained, mid range, unpretentious resort with amenities like out door table tennis, yoga pavilion, workout area and equipment, sauna, pools, and wet bars. The hot tubs are clean, welcoming, and accessible. The view of Arenal Volcano is the center piece for the meeting and activity areas.
View of Arenal Volcano from room, pool and dining area. Easy access to excursions in the area. Variety of birds. 5 minute drive to downtown La Fortuna.
Each and every staff person was warm, attentive and seeking to be helpful. We were welcomed in our room with a thoughtful and clever towel arrangement and complimentary snacks and beverages to celebrate our honeymoon.
Cleanliness & Comfort
The room was clean and comfortable. The private hot tub was a terrific surprise and the view of Arenal Volcano extra special. The bed was a bit too firm for our needs.
Fonda Vela Hotel

Our 2 story room itself was intriguing and had a chalet feel to it. However, the view was only of a gravel parking area. The breakfast buffet was simple, standard, but gave us the energy we needed for the day. There was construction and remodeling going on in the central dining lodge so the open air view overlooking the vista from the restaurant was limited to the glass-enclosed area of the first floor. It seemed as though the hotel was engaged in seasonal upkeep before the rainy season was to start in a few weeks.

Authenticity & Character
As I mentioned it seemed as though the hotel was using the middle of March to do some upkeep and remodeling of the main structures. The lodging areas ranged from relatively new and crisp looking, to a bit worn and weather-weary. La Taberna, the smaller restaurant at Fondavela, has a cozy, fireside charm to it, and the dishes served there were quite good. It would have been another star had the view from the room featured more of the grounds and vista.
Fondavela is a bit off the beaten track but put us within easy reach of Children's Eternal Forest and Selvatura Park. The grounds have a neat 30 minute trail that takes you through some nice forest area.
The staff at reception and in the restaurants were attentive and generally welcoming.
Cleanliness & Comfort
The room was clean, a bit worn, but suitable to our needs. The bed was comfortable.
Golden Palms Papagayo

Golden Palms Papagayo is an open, unpretentious, cozy, beach resort. There is one main area that serves as reception, dining room, bar, and pool deck. We felt we had the place to ourselves. The grounds are well-maintained, and they seemed to be doing some mid-March upkeep on the place before rainy season. : Receptionist Angie; comfortable room, lovely pool; easy access to Playa Buena; great rocky beach walk around point

Authenticity & Character
A welcoming, mid range, no-frills, beach resort hotel. The pool is clean, clear, and soothing, surrounded by Guanacaste trees, occasional howler monkeys and lively bird activity.
The proximity to the beach and Coco for our sailing excursion. GPP is located only a few hundred yards from Playa Buena (adjacent to the Occidental Resort) and made access to that white sandy beach, clear water, snorkeling area, and rocky tidal pools, very easy. We were also able to walk a few hundred yards to the east to dine at Hacienda Blu Beach (twice!). The view of Culebra Bay and the surrounding coasts is enchanting.
Angie at the front desk is a lovely, kind and generous person who always made us feel welcome and looked after.
Cleanliness & Comfort
Comfortable, clean, tiled, split level room, spacious shower area and super comfortable bed.
Local specialist: Bryan Leon
Bryan Leon
Local specialist in Cartago, Costa Rica | Replied on Mar 21, 2023

Hola Dan,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your recent honeymoon adventure vacation in Costa Rica. It sounds like you had an amazing time!

It's great to hear that we were able to make wonderful recommendations, and provide incredibly prompt and personal responses to your itinerary requests and considerations. .

Thank you for sharing your experience with me, and I hope you have many more amazing adventures in the future.

Pura Vida,