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Costa Rica Trip

When did we go….

  • Mar 28 – Apr 7, 2023


Why did we go…

  • we wanted to go back to Costa Rica as our last trip there was in 2005, and I was in the midst of selling our company, so I was not very mentally present at that time
  • we were joined by our daughter Stephanie and her partner Cody who had never been to Costa Rica



How did we get there…

  • 7-hour direct flight on Westjet from Calgary to Liberia and the same on the return
  • 1.5 hour drive from the airport to our hotel and a harrowing 1-hour return drive in the early morning (our driver was going double the speed limit)



Where did we stay…

Cala Luna:

  • boutique hotel
  • located in a suburb of Tamarindo called Langosta (15-minute walk into the center of town)
  • an onsite restaurant called Originis had excellent food and beverage choices
  • yoga/fitness studio (excellent yoga classes)
  • we had a two-bedroom unit with ensuites, a large courtyard, a private pool, a full kitchen, and dining and sitting areas
  • main pool area, including a lounge and often live music or a DJ at night
  • 3-minute walk on a pathway to the ocean (some lounge chairs on the beach)
  • beachside sunset cocktails were included every night at 5 p.m. (glorious sunsets, fun servers who snuck me an extra drink here and there)
  • the service was quite good although they had to be reminded of a few things and our door key cards kept malfunctioning
  • we had one server we called ‘Grumpy Guy’ but we broke him down by killing him with kindness and joking around with him
  • our unit had a lounge across the street that played music from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., but we managed to drift off at night
  • the property had beautiful foilage throughout



Where did we eat…

  • breakfast was included at our onsite restaurant, which had a great buffet selection
  • most of our lunches were at the hotel and our final dinner (excellent healthy food choices)
  • Farm to Table (dinner, hotel offsite property, world’s largest labyrinth, incredible spiritual site, organic garden, fun dinner sitting at a long table with 30 people, sat with a chap from California who spoke 7 languages)
  • Ay Caramba (lunch, we all enjoyed tacos)
  • Dragonfly (dinner, excellent food, and service, very loud with the band and a packed venue, went there twice)
  • Patagonia (dinner, the food was a bit disappointing but it was a popular spot)
  • La Baula (dinner, only pizza, average food)
  • Pangas Beach Club (dinner, nice beach setting, food was decent, good service, the neighbors Great Dane (Lilly) joined us for most of the dinner, some other people brought a lawn chair for their boxer to sit at their table which was bizarre)
  • Red Dor (dinner, beach setting, great service, food was only average)
  • Barefoot (dinner, sushi, cool boutique hotel courtyard setting, joined by Lilly the cat for most of the dinner, sushi rolls were terrible which we think was due to a power outage prior to dinner that made the rice soggy)
  • Waffle Monkey (lunch, huge selection of waffles, not my thing but the rest of our gang enjoyed them)



What did we do…

  • hung by the hotel pool and often snagged one of the cabanas by getting there before 7 in the morning (very relaxing and lots of reading and dipping in the pool)
  • walked the beach which went for miles in either direction but you had to be careful to either have shoes on the hot sand or stick to the wet section near the ocean
  • enjoyed watching the howler monkeys that frequented our hotel
  • enjoyed the complimentary evening cocktails on the beach, watching the sunset and dipping into the ocean
  • walked around town checking out the various shops
  • massages out front of our hotel on the beach (lovely Swedish massages at a much cheaper price than our hotel)
  • spa treatments at our hotel (extraordinary setting and cool gongs noise as part of the service)
  • surfed four times (great instruction by Victor (son Kia) and Andrew (from Ireland) and some cool photos from Yoyo (from Spain), Tamarindo Surf Academy, we all did quite well at getting up and cruising into shore, we did sustain some injuries as Steph got hit in the head twice with surfboards, me once and I sprained my wrist falling into the shallow sand)
  • did a driving tour to Volcan Rincon de la Vieja (cool walk through the jungle exploring birds, trees, and volcanic pools and a soak in the Rio Negro Hot Springs which had 10 hot pools, a cool river dip, and a mud process, driver Jose was fun and informative)
  • boogie board down the beach from our hotel which was a bit of a jaunt to get to areas that were free of the lava rock but got some decently long rides
  • boat tour (not as elaborate a boat as we expected, too rough to snorkel, caught five Bonita fish and it was the first time that Steph had caught a fish, retrieved an errand surfboard in the middle of the ocean, driver Juan)
  • estuary tour (interesting mangrove trees which convert salt water into freshwater, two groups of howler monkeys, an iguana, three crocodiles, and lots of birds)
  • spent one morning hanging out on the main beach where Steph and Cody boogie boarded and we all dipped into the ocean watching throngs of people learning to surf (cost $25 to rent a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella so that caught us off guard)
  • enjoyed pre-dinner evening cocktails at Diria Hotel and Tama Onda (excellent band)
  • rode rickety hotel bikes with Cody around Langosta and into town




  • Tamarindo is a town in the Guanacaste Province on the Pacific coast
  • known for its beaches with strong surf
  • the mangrove-lined estuary of Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge protects animals such as howler monkeys and crocodiles
  • population of 7000 people
  • Costa Rica is known as one of the five Blue Zones in the world where people reportedly live longer than on average




What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

  • check out some of the other towns along the coast including staying in other locations and possibly an inland retreat
  • rent an electric bike and check out some of the surrounding villages
  • check out more of the live music venues



Final thoughts:

  • the weather was beautiful, with highs in the mid 30’s and lows in the mid 20’s (we all did a good job of avoiding major sunburns)
  • we always enjoy our interactions with the locals and other tourists gaining insight into the county we are in and other countries around the world
  • the traffic in Tamarindo was crazy and as the locals even say ‘there are no driving rules’
  • the countryside is categorized as dry forest so it is not as vibrant as I expected but is beautiful in its own way
  • the howler monkeys are incredibly loud but fun to watch
  • there were some small skunks on the property that looked like large rats
  • there were a lot of unique birds including the White Throated Magpie Jay that frequented our pool area
  • the food at most restaurants was below expectations which was surprising and disappointing