I was feeling much better today so we headed over for breakfast. The restaurant, like most in Costa Rica, was open air. We also had a breakfast buffet included with our room price at this resort. One nice addition was a woman making made-to-order omelettes and scrambled eggs. She was pretty good at remembering what I liked each morning even though she didn’t speak English. (We have found it is very rare for hotel staff not to speak English) It was wonderful having breakfast while listening to the crashing waves.
After breakfast we were ready for some exploring. We headed south along the beach. We quickly reached some large rocks and boulders but that didn’t stop us!
We climbed up and made our way over to the next beach. It was fairly small and led to a few privately owned homes. All beaches are public in Costa Rica so are free to explore.
We made our way back and had lunch at the pool restaurant. We then spent the afternoon reading and relaxing in the pools. We were usually able to find chairs with an umbrella for shade. This would be the routine for most of the 5 days that we were here.
While we were having lunch some Capuchin Monkeys came by for a snack. The cooks gave them some food which surprised us as most restaurants try to discourage the monkeys from coming too close. Many Costa Ricans refer to this species of monkey as “Mafia Monkeys”. This is because they seize any opportunity to enter peoples homes through windows or doors that have been left open, or to rifle through unguarded backpacks. They will also attack Squirrel Monkey babies.
Tango Mar also has some regular hotel rooms. We prefer to stay in Villa type rooms as long as they aren’t crazy expensive.
This was a very pretty resort for us to enjoy a few quieter days….
Today was a quiet day. I had had very little sleep since I had been sick the night before. I felt a bit better in the morning and was fine to go on a long drive. We were heading to our second location – the south east side of the Nicoya Peninsula. We booked a Tiki Suite at Tango Mar. http://tangomar.com
The drive took almost 4 hours. We used Waze to find our way there. We left in the morning and arrived at 1:30 pm with no stops. The roads were mostly good until we reached the turn for the resort. From there it was extremely rough but we were able to drive right onto the grounds and park underneath our villa.
The villa was great and quite roomy. We had an ocean view and were only a few steps from the beach.
View of the Tiki Villas from the beach.
We had a Jacuzzi tub in our villa but didn’t end up using it. We were very close to Cristobal, the main restaurant and a short walk to the three pools where El Pirata Rancho Grill was located.
I was still very tired so I had a nap while Mike went to explore the beach.
View of Rancho Grill restaurant from the beach.
It was a bit warmer here than our last location. It was hot, but not uncomfortable. This beach was very clean but the sand was hot on the feet if you weren’t wearing sandals or water shoes.
We tried to set up some tours for the following days but they said there weren’t enough people interested. We had booked from home but they needed a minimum of four people. We also tried with an outside tour company but they were all booked. Later during our stay another couple wanted to go on the snorkelling tour so we were able to join them.
The beach and the pool areas were very nice here. There were three pools on three different levels with waterfalls running from the highest one down to the lowest. The lowest one was an infinity pool with a swim up bar.
I was still very tired and not very hungry so Mike went down for dinner and brought me back a small piece of steak and some potatoes. I read a bit and called it a day.
Today would be our most action packed day ever! We booked the tour ahead of time through our hotel, Hacienda Guachipelin. They run several exciting tours which are very close to or on their property. We chose the “One Day Pass” which included a variety of activities.
After breakfast we went over to the activity centre to meet our guides. We decided to pay the extra fee to have a photographer for the day. Turned out we were the only two that were doing the canyoning part of the tour. We joined our 4 guides and photographer on a bus filled with giant inner tubes.
We were fitted with our rappelling gear and headed down the trail to a small wooden bridge over a narrow river. I am a bit afraid of heights but mostly when I am standing on something that I might fall of off. I made Mike go first!
Mike’s gloves were a bit stiff so he had trouble gripping the rope. He went down a bit faster than he meant to…..
I was next up. I stuck my fear in my back pocket and off I went!
When they were showing us what to do they failed to mention what would happen when we reached the water. I assumed we would lower ourselves into the water and then unclip ourselves. They didn’t tell us that the rope would run out several feet above the water. I was quite surprised to find myself falling into the river.
In order to rappel down a second time we had to climb out of the small canyon. There were metal hooks scattered up the rock wall. A few of them were more spaced out than I would have liked as I am only 5 feet tall. This was actually the part I found the scariest.
After the second rappel we stayed in the river and headed toward the bigger waterfall. We climbed out onto a platform and rappelled down a rock wall beside Victoria falls.
Once we were down on the second platform we got to swing across the river and back into the falls. There was a guide holding one end of our rope controlling where we went. When we had had enough, they caught us on the other side of the river.
Next up was river tubing. We walked up the trail to the top of the waterfalls and waited for the rest of the group to join us. There were approximately 45 people in the group, mostly young people in their 20’s and 30’s. We dropped off our rappelling gear, chose an inner tube and headed back down the trail to the base of the waterfall where the tubing tour started.
The tour ran along the Rio Colorado in class 2 rapids. It lasted a full 30 minutes and we went over many rapids. This was possibly my favourite activity of our entire trip- it was so much fun!
Mike and I got separated a few times. I also got stuck a couple of times but people always came to my rescue. The tour company moved many boulders to try to keep the flow going but there were a couple of spots where you could get stuck in some small eddies.
I was sad to see this activity end but we had worked up an appetite and it was time for lunch. Our resort served up a nice buffet lunch. Once we were full, we headed back over to the adventure centre. They got us set up with our zip lining gear.
We had to wear our masks for this part of the tour. We would be nose to nose with the guides when they hooked us onto the zip line and would also be very close to the other tour participants as we would have a very small platform to stand on in between the runs. There were 9 lines and the first line was accessed by a small set of stairs. After that it would be a series of platforms.
On the third line we had the option of going upside down. Mike and I, of course, had to do it! Unfortunately they didn’t have a photographer at that location. One of the lines started with a short slide and when we got to the end they sent us backwards and said to lower our masks so they could take our picture.
One of the platforms required us to climb a set of hanging stairs. It was very scary so I did it quickly. The scenery on this tour was amazing- for part of it we were in a gorge. At one point we had the option of rappelling down to a platform above the river and then climbing back up. Since we had already done that earlier in the morning we chose not to. We were also a bit tired from all the intense activities.
Toward the end of the tour we had to get across the canyon from one platform to the next by swinging on a rope. The young woman going ahead of me was very scared and I wasn’t far behind! Once you passed the first platform of the day you had no other option than to continue. They kept us moving through the lines pretty quickly so we had less time to be afraid.
The rest of the group did the horseback riding part of the tour while we were canyoning, so again we ended up with a private tour. We walked over to the stables with our guide from the Adventure Centre and met our horses.
This ride would take us to Las Chorreras waterfall. It was a leisurely ride. Sometime on our way there I started to feel unwell.
The area of the waterfall was beautiful and the water was a pretty blue colour. We went in the water for a few minutes and then got back on our horses to head back to the stable.
We walked back to our room and unfortunately shortly after we arrived I became very sick. It lasted for several hours and during the night I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make the drive to our next location the following morning. At breakfast the next day Mike noticed a bird licking a serving spoon at the restaurant’s buffet and wondered if that was what had made me sick.
In retrospect, we decided that we should have spread these activities over two days. It was a lot of adrenaline for one day!
The nightly rate at Guachipelin included breakfast so we headed over to the restaurant when it opened at 6:30. We were up at 5:30 because the time there is one hour behind ours at home. They had a nice buffet set up with glass in front of the food and servers ready to fill our plates as we pointed out what we wanted.
The grounds at the resort
In the morning there were tons of birds in the big tree near our room. They were extremely loud! We don’t have a great camera, but I think these are Crimson-Fronted Parakeets. We also saw our first Mot-Mot of our trip.
The first activity I had planned was a self hike in Rincon de la Vieja National Park. It was a short drive up the road from our resort. We saw some Brahman Cows on the way there.
In the park there were two main trails to choose from. For our first visit we chose the path less travelled. By which I mean the path to the waterfall. There was only one couple ahead of us so we didn’t see any other people until we arrived at the waterfall. We saw a small reddish coloured animal dart across the path but it was so quick we couldn’t identify it. We also saw many large blue birds but were unable to get a picture.
The terrain and scenery was quite varied as we headed up toward the top of a mountain. At the top you could almost see the pacific ocean. We passed a few streams and crossed a couple of bridges.
We enjoyed seeing all the different types of plant life. We then had to follow the path back down to reach the bottom of the waterfall. This is where the trail became a bit more technical. The last 500 metres to the waterfall was very tough- both going in and out.
When we reached the waterfall another couple was relaxing on the large rocks. They finished their snack and headed back to do the other trail. We had the waterfall all to ourselves for about 15 minutes.
Even though it said you weren’t supposed to go in the water, we did of course. We had a short swim and a snack. The water was cold but not as cold as the waterfalls in Hawaii. Shortly after we left the falls we met a young local couple and chatted for a bit. They were very friendly and said they were hoping to move to Canada. We saw them again later and they waved goodbye like we were old friends.
There was quite a bit of climbing- my watch says we climbed 570 metres. Some were steps, some were rock. It was a bit technical so a bit challenging in spots. The total distance was about 12 km. It took us 4 hours including stops. We started to see more people as we got closer to the ranger station.
We carried water with us as well as a filtered bottle. We were able to get some water from the river when we ran out of what we brought.
After we finished the hike we headed back to the resort for lunch. The salad I ordered was very good. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and relaxing by the pool. It was a bit windy but not too hot.
Each afternoon some clouds rolled in and it looked like it would rain, but we only had a bit of rain one afternoon.
We enjoyed our dinner back at the resort while watching the sun go down. They had a buffet set up and the chicken was excellent. Mike chose a striploin steak but had the buffet the following evening so he could enjoy the chicken as well.
Today was another day of exploring on our own. We were very happy to have a car because we had three different places to visit. Our first hike was a short one on the resort property before we went for breakfast. We found a trail right across the road from where we parked our car. There were several signs with information about the area as well as some artifacts they had placed beside the trail.
The trail took us to a small river where we found the “turquoise pond ” and the “red pond”.
We had this trail all to ourselves.
After breakfast we got in our car and drove to Rincon de La Vieja Volcano national park for our second visit. (The name translates to “old woman’s corner.”) This time we took the shorter trail which would lead us around the area of an active volcano.
The trail here was well maintained and had a fair amount of climbing but mostly on steps rather than uneven rocks. Some of the steps were awkward as they were very long.The trail was fairly short at 4.5 km. There weren’t many people here which is the way we like it. There was one big tour group but we just sped up a bit when we caught up to them and lost them fairly quickly.
We were very lucky to spot an Agouti early on as well as a Tapir relaxing alone in the forest. Agouti’s are fairly large rodents. They are about 56 cm long and eat seeds and nuts. The rare and endangered Tapir is the largest land mammal found in Costa Rica. They can be 2.1 metres long and they eat leaves from bushes and trees. We also saw monkeys, several Black Headed Trogans and a White-Throated Magpie-Jay.
Signs of the active volcano were all around us but we weren’t able to see the cone or crater. We saw bubbling mud pits and many steam vents.
We enjoyed looking at all the different types of trees that grow in Costa Rica. Ficus trees are very interesting- they start out as an epiphyte on a host tree and then take over by strangling it. They grow roots down to the ground which often twist and grow together. The host tree dies often leaving a hollow in the centre of the tree.
Some trees use different defence mechanisms- the tree on the left has shed it’s bark to deter epiphytes and insects. The tree on the right has many sharp protrusions that might make it uncomfortable to climb.
After our hike we went back to the hotel for lunch. We found this Variegated Squirrel waiting for us in the parking lot.
We ate at the pool restaurant again where we both enjoyed the Ensalada Tropical. It rained a tiny bit off and on so we headed to the gift shop. Mike got some new water shoes at a reasonable price.
After lunch we drove to the Oropendola waterfall. It is part of the Rio Blanco river and stands 25 metres tall. The entrance was right beside the parking lot to the national park we had visited in the morning. After a short hike there was a hanging bridge / ladder leading down to a deck which had a ladder you could use to climb down into the water. There were quite a few people visiting here. I was not a big fan of the rope bridge / ladder.
Our next stop would take us to the Rio Negro hot springs. It was free to visit as guests of Hacienda Guachipelin. It was a short hike down to several walled off pools of hot water which was brought in from the hot springs. We wandered around and sat briefly in one of the pools.The water was very hot.
Sitting isn’t really our thing so after a few minutes we headed across the street to explore the Rio Negro waterfalls. There was a series of four waterfalls. We headed to the one furthest away.
We had to keep our eye on the time because it gets dark shortly after 6 pm. This is true year round since Costa Rica is quite close to the equator.
We went in the water at all four waterfalls. The water was chilly but not super cold. During this hike we only saw one other couple walking on the path. They were either in a hurry or not brave enough for the cold water!
We made it back before dark and enjoyed our dinner at the resort restaurant. Tonight we both had the buffet. The chicken and ribs were very good.
It was incredibly windy overnight and quite noisy. We could hear rain along with the howling wind. In the morning the ground was dry but we found this large tree near our car blown down.
I was so excited to be heading back to Costa Rica! We didn’t travel in 2021 because of the pandemic. Last May we booked this trip for February 2022 hoping it would be over. It wasn’t, and I thought about postponing our trip but with all the safety measures in place we felt we would be OK. Costa Rica required mask wearing in indoor places, in all shared transportation and while walking through a restaurant. This was pretty much the same as what we were doing in Canada. If we were vaccinated (we were triple vaccinated) we didn’t need to have a negative test, but could simply upload our vaccination status on the “health pass” that they required. I was still nervous about being in a crowded airport and plane but we decided to just take all the precautions we could as we were desperate to go back!
One of our daughters was able to get us some N95 masks for our travel days. I also ordered several cloth masks for Mike and I. I got a cute one with hearts for Valentine’s Day and some with flowers and butterflies to match the summer- like weather.
We followed the same plan as our last visit- we would fly to Montreal and stay overnight there so we could be on the 9 am direct flight to Costa Rica. We were supposed to fly out of Ottawa around 4 pm but while out on my morning run my brother (who would be staying at our house with his wife to take care of our dogs) called to say the Trucker Protest was headed to the airport. I ran directly home and we grabbed our bags and headed to the airport. The police were there and we were able to drive right into the parking garage, so it wasn’t an issue. Air Canada was able to get us on on earlier flight so we arrived early to Montreal and relaxed in our room right at the airport.
This time we flew into Liberia so we could explore some areas north of our last visit.
Our flights with Air Canada went well and we arrived in Liberia at about 2 in the afternoon. Even with a bit of a wait to get into the airport, it was much faster here getting through customs and collecting our bags than it was in San Jose on our last trip. We were done in under an hour and headed to the car rental counter.
This time we decided to rent a car as the places we were staying were 3 to 4 hours apart. We were also planning to do several things on our own. On our last visit we had a driver because we were nervous about finding our way in a new country especially considering that they did not have names for their streets. We were advised to use Waze on our phones to find our way around and it worked perfectly except for the day we left for the airport. We were driven over to the Budget rental lot and we picked up our car without any issues.
We had an hour drive to our resort. It was in the Guanacaste region. It wasn’t very far but the roads were extremely bumpy so driving was very slow. You also had to keep watch for all the loose dogs and iguanas roaming the street.
The first place we stayed was Hacienda Guachipelin. They are in a great location near the parking lot for Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park. They also run several excellent tours. We explored a bit, had our welcome drink (which left a bit to be desired) and settled into our room.
The room was fairly basic- two double beds and a bathroom but the rates here were very reasonable. The mattress wasn’t very good and the walls were a bit thin but we enjoyed having air conditioning as well as a ceiling fan. Many resorts here don’t have air because they run on solar energy. The hot water was solar powered.
The property is very large and has over 100 units. They are very spread out though so it never felt crowded. This is not a fancy resort but it has everything you need and the activities here make a stay very compelling.
We headed over for dinner. I had pasta which wasn’t great but Mike enjoyed his chicken.
The evenings were a bit cooler here so I wore a sweater. We headed to bed early so we would be rested for our hike the following day.
Today, sadly, was our last full day in Costa Rica. We had two exciting tours planned for today. While waiting for the restaurant to open we walked around and took a few pictures.
We started the day with breakfast at TuleCafe. This morning we tried a different egg dish – it was very good but the breakfast the day before was still our favourite.
Shortly after breakfast we walked up to the main office for our first tour of the day – The Sloth Walk. We met our guide upstairs at the Sloth Institute and she led us through the property pointing out the sloths and other wildlife as she spotted them. The first sloth she found was a mother and baby.
The Mexican Hairy Porcupine is nocturnal and arboreal but he was awake and yawning when we took his picture. They have prehensile tails unlike the porcupines here in Canada, which makes it easier for them to move around in the trees.
We enjoyed walking around the grounds with a small group of other hotel guests and our guide. You must be a guest of Tulemar to participate in this tour. We saw a few more sloths and several monkeys. Unfortunately we had to call for a van to take us to the office before the tour ended. We were headed for an adventurous waterfall tour next.
We booked this tour with our concierge before we left home. (http://tulemarresort.com) This waterfall tour was a contrast to the tour we did in Drake Bay. There was a fairly big group of us and we were ushered onto a very fancy bus. We also had 5 guides that kept us entertained and made sure all our activities were done safely. We really liked the guides and they seemed to genuinely enjoy their job.
Our first stop was at the smallest waterfall. We all took turns jumping. This jump was about 3 meters high and took place from a small rock cliff.
“You can’t make me!” ” Oh, alright!”
The next stop had a bigger jump – about 5 meters. There was a wooden path and stairs leading to the area we would jump from. On my first jump I had a lot of water rush into my sinuses so I tried plugging my nose for the second jump. I hit the water with such force that it knocked my hand away from my nose, so that didn’t work. On our way out we had the option of jumping a third and forth time and we did. Before getting back in the bus we had a nice snack of fresh pineapple and watermelon.
Our next stop was a unique waterfall. The rock is smooth at the top so you can slide down it like a waterslide. The guides were there to help get us set up properly to slide down safely. One of the guides offered to take our watches just in case they got knocked off. This was also the reason we weren’t able to take pictures on this tour. There was no where safe to carry a phone or camera during all the jumps. It was great that they had a photographer there who only charged a small amount for our pictures.
A young boy had an action cam in his hand and they warned him and his dad that he would probably drop it and they wouldn’t be able to retrieve it. He took the chance and sure enough, he lost it. We were told later that someone was able to dive in and found it for him.
I had a bit of a surprise on my way down – the slide part ended about half way down and then it was a free fall into the water. The drop on this one was about 5 meters. There was also the option of jumping from a higher point for a jump of about 7 meters but I chose not too. Only a few people did it. Three of the guides helped get them into the right spot and then they had to jump way out to make sure they didn’t hit any rocks on the way down. (The jumping off spot was to the right of the waterfall on the highest part of the rock that you can see in the above photo.)
Our final waterfall stop was a smaller but different kind of jump. First we were told to lie on our back with our feet towards the waterfall opening while holding a rope they had put in place. Then we had to pull ourselves against the current until we were behind the waterfall. Once there, two guides helped us crawl up onto a large rock. From there we had to leap forward through the waterfall.
While I was waiting for Mike to finish his turn I had a mud facial. When we were done here we headed across the small dirt road to have some lunch which was included with the tour.
To finish off our tour, we got back in our air-conditioned bus and headed over to Ventanas beach to check out the caves and play in the ocean. This was our third visit to this beach!
The tide was out so we were able to go quite far into the cave and play in the waves. This was a much calmer activity so I was able to carry my waterproof phone and get some pictures of my own.
Some of our guides enjoying themselves!
The tour photographer also got some candid pictures of Mike and I.
On our drive back to Tulemar one of the guides made souvenirs from some fronds. They asked us some trivia questions related to what they had told us over the course of the day. I answered two of them correctly so I got a fish and one other design. I passed the second one to the family sitting behind us.
After a long day outside we were looking forward to our dinner at TuleCafe. Tonight we enjoyed our dinner while watching the beautiful sunset.
After dinner we sadly headed back to our room to pack for the flight home the next day.
Costa Rica 2020, Day 15
Our flight home didn’t depart until 2 p.m. so we were able to have a leisurely breakfast. With the remaining time, we went for a walk to enjoy the wildlife one last time.
During this walk Mike and I both spotted a Sloth on our own for the first time. We also saw a few Monkeys as well as a Banded Owl Butterfly. This butterfly is about 8 cm wide and the theory is that the circle resembles an owl’s eye and therefore scares away predators.
We met our driver in the front lobby and headed off towards the airport. It was a new driver for us again. He overheard us saying that we hadn’t seen any crocodiles so he offered to stop at the Tarcoles river bridge.
We also made a quick stop at a souvenir store. I was a bit surprised to hear my name when I went through the door- our favourite driver was there and recognized me when I walked in! I was happy to buy a couple of T-shirts for myself as I hadn’t had the opportunity to get anything for myself so far on the trip.
We then headed to the airport. We checked out the gift shop but everything was very expensive so we didn’t buy anything. Our Air Canada flight was on time and we had a safe trip back to snowy Ottawa, ON.
Today we were supposed to be going on an adventure tour to do ziplining and rappelling. A couple of days earlier I received an email asking if we could change our date but being at the end of the trip it wasn’t possible. We ended up having an unexpected free day but we had no problem filling it.
Mike was up before me as usual but I was up early too. The restaurant didn’t open until 7 a.m. so we sat on our deck and read. As soon as it was 7 we headed to the restaurant.
Mike and I both ordered the Huevos Rancheros. This was by far our favourite breakfast. I even tried to duplicate it when we got home but of course it wasn’t as good.
I thought the shape of the tables by the railing in TuleCafe were very clever. They were triangular so it didn’t matter which seat you took – both offered the same stunning view of the ocean.
While we were eating there was a sudden racket on the plastic and partially see through roof. A troop of Squirrel Monkeys was passing through. We looked up and saw their shadows running across to the other side. They were chattering away and sounded a bit like birds.
Video @ Cindy Southgate
They were very cute and fun to watch. This was the first time we had seen this type of monkey on our trip but not the last. Many of them live on Tulemar property.
We headed back to our room to prepare for our beach day. I wanted to get down there early to hopefully snag the chairs under the tree that the sloth was hanging out in.
We enjoyed the scenery on the way down to the beach. We knew as long as we were going downhill we were going in the right direction. Even so, we took one wrong turn. Some of the signs we saw were entertaining.
We were the first people to get to the beach. We claimed our chairs under the sloth tree.
Overnight we had had some rain. This is what the poor sloth looked like in the morning. I spent a lot of time watching her. She spent some time grooming herself until her fur was straightened out.
Video @ Cindy Southgate
After reading and relaxing we took some kayaks out along with our snorkel gear. I have very small feet and I have a hard time finding masks that don’t leak so it’s easier to bring my own gear. The beach concierge told us that there was a spot to tie our kayaks on the other side of the bay.
While snorkeling beside the shore we noticed this tiny beach so of course we got out to explore.
This view is looking back towards the resort. As you can see the houses and villas are well hidden.
When the beach waiter started his rounds we ordered our lunch. They brought the food down from the restaurant. I also ordered a cocktail. Those were made at the beach bar and I was disappointed because they couldn’t make me a Pina Colada without electricity. They have strict rules about how close plumbing and electricity can be to the beach.
After lunch we did a bit more snorkeling. We explored around the rocky areas to the sides of the beach but there wasn’t much to see. Then we spent a bit of time playing in the waves.
We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and watching the sloth and I may have ordered another tropical drink.
Video @ Cindy Southgate
We headed back to our room to change for dinner. While we were at our room we saw some monkeys using the rope bridge.
We wanted to stay by our room to watch the sunset and take some more pictures so we went up to dinner a bit later than usual.
Dinner was great as usual! It was our second last night so we both ordered a fancy drink. Mike’s was a non-alcoholic version of mine.
Fun Fact: If you are visiting from North America or Europe you don’t need any shots before visiting Costa Rica and the tap water is safe to drink.
Today we said goodbye to Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula. We gathered our things and Erik drove us down to the restaurant where we had our breakfast each morning. It is right on the beach so we could wait here for the ferry that would take us back to Sierpe.
Again the ferry ride was more like a tour. During the hour long ride the captain stopped a few times to point out monkeys as well as the owl on the tree stump that we saw when we were heading to Jaguar’s Jungle. I started to wonder if it was actually real but it moved it’s head so I knew it was. The captain drove the boat quite fast for the ocean portion of the ride but then went slowly through the mangroves. Some of the channels are quite narrow so big waves from the boat would have disturbed the wildlife. We really enjoyed the slower pace so we could take in the scenery.
Our favourite driver was at the dock waiting for us when we arrived. We were excited to be heading to our final destination – The Tulemar Resort. http://tulemarresort.com This hotel consistently ranks as one of the top 3 hotels in the world on Trip Advisor. I read many great reviews and decided we would splurge a bit for our last three nights. The room we chose was their standard villa and wasn’t super expensive at about $260 a night.
Tulemar also has the Sloth Institute on their property. They study sloths and have a release program on their 33 acre grounds. As a resort guest you can sign up for the “Sloth Walk” and tour the grounds with one of their researchers.
Our driver didn’t rush to get us to our hotel. Check in wasn’t until 2 so we were able to relax and take our time. He wanted to show us Ventanas beach. I mentioned that we had already been there but I’m not sure he heard me. I didn’t have the heart to say we didn’t want to stop because he seemed quite excited to show it to us. We stopped there for a short break and checked out the caves again. The tide was out this time so we were able to walk deeper into the caves.
We really enjoyed having a driver. Today’s 2 hour drive didn’t feel long as he told us stories about his family and answered questions we had about his country. I was very glad I wasn’t navigating for Mike because once we got off the main road, we made many turns. With no street names it would have been quite confusing. Once we arrived at Tulemar our driver helped us bring our bags into the lobby.
While they were checking us in, I checked out the gift shop. They didn’t have much in the way of souvenirs but I found some really cute books for our 3 granddaughters. We both got a hat as well. Our room was ready at 11:30 so they delivered our bags via golf cart to our room. We got in the shuttle van to drive to our room.
Tulemar has several vans that circulate the grounds. There are phones beside the road in many places so you can call to be picked up. They will take you to your room, the beach, the restaurant or the office. The resort is spread out over a fairly steep mountain. This ensures privacy in your room but it also makes walking up towards the office a bit challenging. Mike and I are very fit so we only called for a drive when we were in a hurry. Our room location was perfect – an easy uphill walk to the restaurant and a longer downhill walk to the beach .
Our room was beautiful and so was the view! You can lie on the bed and gaze out at the ocean through the floor to ceiling windows. No one can see in unless they are standing right at your door. We loved sitting on our deck but unfortunately the hammock wasn’t very comfortable.
After checking out our room and unpacking a bit, we walked up to the restaurant for lunch. We ended up having almost all our meals there because no matter what we ordered it was excellent and the service was outstanding. The staff were very friendly. They noticed our Ironman tattoos and mentioned that one of the other waiters was an Ironman as well. We kept hoping to meet him but unfortunately his shifts didn’t match up with when we were there.
When we finished lunch we went pool hopping. There are four pools on the property. They are all different and there for all guests to enjoy. We decided to start at the top and work our way down to the beach. We managed to get lost a couple of times – because the paths are on a steep hill and there is a lot of foliage, you can’t really see where you are going.
The first pool we went in was the adults only pool and spa area. There was no one there the entire time we were there. It was very tropical and serene.
Now we began our walk down towards the beach. There were a few people in the next pool.
The third pool was beside the restaurant. This tended to be the busier pool because parents could get food and drinks while their children played in the water. Even though we didn’t have children with us the children there never disturbed us.
This was one of two infinity pools. It’s always fun to sit at the edge and admire the view.
The fourth and final pool was the closest one to our room. It also had a small bar. There were several people playing in the water at this pool. This was the second infinity pool.
On our walk through the property we saw lots of interesting things. There are ropes connecting the trees so that the monkeys and sloths can make their way all over the property without climbing on the buildings. We also saw all the different kinds of accommodations here. There are quite a few large houses for rent as well as different villas. One of the houses looked very interesting – inside the house by the front door there was a walkway surrounded by water. Families with very small children are not allowed to rent that one.
I also liked that they had several signs identifying some of the plant life.
Next up was the beach! All beaches in Costa Rica are public but this one can only be accessed from the hotel property. Because of this it was never crowded. It’s in a small bay so the water is calm enough to swim safely. They also had kayaks for guests to borrow.
The sand here is much whiter than the sand around the Osa Peninsula region. We liked this beach because it had some trees so you could get out of the sun. There was also a nice picnic area in a treed area. The only downside was that the restrooms were a bit of a walk up the hill. There is no access to plumbing this far down the hill and also no electricity. Costa Rica has a regulation about the distance that plumbing and electricity has to be from the water.
This beach also had a fun surprise – a sloth hanging out in a tree!
We played in the small waves for a while and then started the climb back up to our room. We had to get ready for our evening activity – a sunset stand-up paddle tour that we had arranged through the hotel.
We were driven down to the pier where we met our paddle guide. We were the only ones on the tour. The water looked a bit rough and there was a lot of rock where we were entering the water so I was a bit nervous. This was the roughest water we have paddled on and I had a hard time relaxing on my board because of it. There was also an area where we had to pass between some rock outcroppings and the waves were larger there. Amazingly, Mike and I both made it through the whole tour without falling off our boards.
We paddled out of the small bay and waited for the sun to go down. The plan was to sit and watch the sunset from our boards.
We paddled around for a while waiting for the sun to go down. Our guide took our camera and took lots of pictures for us. Then it was time to sit and relax.
Once the sun was down we headed back into the bay. We paddled close to the shore. Our boards had lights under them so we could see a bit under the water. They didn’t work super well but we did see a few small fish.
To finish the tour we lay down on our boards to gaze at the stars. It was very relaxing and peaceful with the sound of the ocean and the gentle rocking of our boards.
After a quick snack of pineapple we were driven back to Tulemar. We spotted this mom and her baby Sloth crossing the road on our way to TuleCafe Restaurant.
We enjoyed a late dinner. We were pretty hungry so I forgot to take a picture of our meal until we had gobbled up most of the vegetables. The dinner was excellent!
With help from a flashlight we made our way back to our room.
Fun Fact: Costa Rica has two main airports. One is in Liberia and the other is in San Jose. You can choose the one closest to your destination or if you are moving around the country you can fly into one and out of the other.
This was one of our favourite days. We spent most of the day hiking along the coast towards Corcovado. We covered 8 kilometers on the way out but that includes all of our stops to explore the beaches and climb over the rocks. The hike back was only 6 kilometers. We packed lots of water and snacks and I wore my SPF shirt and tights so I wouldn’t have to worry about the sun.
We walked down the hill to the beach. Then we headed west: we would have to pass two hotel properties before the real trail started. It was very pretty walking through there. On this well used path we saw many beautiful trees, plants and flowers.
We also saw some odd looking rocks.
After a small amount of climbing we had to go down this very narrow cement path.
Next we had to cross a hanging metal bridge. The Rio Agujitas was very calm and quite pretty.
Just before the first beach there was a small stand of Bamboo. Bamboo is very strong and is sometimes used in Costa Rica as a building material. It is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and can grow up to 90 centimeters in one day.
After passing through here we were finally on the ocean side trail. From this point on we only saw a handful of people. Just the way we like it!