When we first started planning our trip to Costa Rica, we knew that we wanted to spend some time on the beach. Our first thought was to stay in Guanacaste on the pacific coast. This would be the easiest solution since it is close to the La Fortuna area where we were staying earlier on our trip and beautiful. Although there are a lot of hotels in the Guanacaste area, the prices over Christmas break when we were looking to stay were quite expensive. Another negative were that very few were beachfront, most were cliff-side overlooking the water.
I did some digging to find a reasonably priced hotel right on the beach. Without realizing that I had broadened my search parameters to include all of Costa Rica I found the Banana Azul. The hotel was exactly what I was looking for – right on the beach, within budget and had nice views. After doing some quick calculations on drive time, I discovered that the drive from La Fortuna to Puerto Viejo was 4.5 hours instead of the 3.5 hours to Guanacaste.
After a beautiful drive through the Costa Rican countryside, we arrived at the Banana Azul. We made good time and arrived before our room was ready. While the cleaning staff finished prepped our room we pulled up 2 chairs on the beach and just soaked in the beautiful view. Shortly after the front desk associate came to the beach to advise us that our room was ready. We got a quick tour of the grounds and then headed up to our room.
We opted to stay in the sloth caribbean cabana, the most basic room at the Banana Azul. We knew going in that we wouldn’t have views of the ocean but loved that it was pretty inexpensive and had a great patio with a hammock. For our purposes the room was perfect. Everything was very clean and the balcony was a huge plus.
The beach was a dark sand beach and I was worried would be very coarse. I could not have been more wrong. The sand felt like baby powder on my feet and the water was very warm. One of the small things that I really appreciated was that there were always available lounge chairs on the beach. I hate staying at resorts where you have to be aggressive to get a chair or have the people who throw their towel on their chair in the morning and hold the chair all day. It is worth noting that the Banana Azul does not offer beach towel service so make sure that you pack your own if you stay here.
While the Banana Azul felt secluded, it was only a 15 minute walk along the beach to town. Although the hotel advised guests not to bring any valuables with them when walking to town, we never felt unsafe walking. We were actually frustrated that we listened to the advice, leaving our camera at the hotel and missed some great photo opportunities the first night. A taxi to town was a cheap $2 and quick 5 minute ride. Not wanting to walk home when it was extremely dark, we always took a cab home from dinner in town.
Another thing that I really liked about the Banana Azul was that they had resident animals on site. Being an animal lover and missing my cat Gingerbread, it was very nice to be able to go sit down and pet an animal. It really blew my mind how well behaved all the animals in Costa Rica were. Owners typically did not have their dogs on leashes but they stayed close to their owners and rarely barked.
Since we were at the Banana Azul over New Year’s Eve, we picked up some champagne at the grocery store to pop open at midnight. The bar staff was very nice and kept it chilled in their fridge until we grabbed the champagne and 2 glasses later that evening. We rang in the New Year on our balcony, the perfect location for us. No crowded bar, just me and Andy together in a beautiful location.
The following morning, to celebrate New Year’s day, the hotel offered a breakfast buffet complete with mimosas. We thought we weren’t going to be able to enjoy this breakfast as we had to leave before it was set up to go on a nature hike, we were able to catch the tail end when we returned. It worked out well for us as every restaurant in town that we passed was closed for the holiday.
There were only 3 things that we didn’t enjoy:
- We had a slight issue with ants getting into our room and climbing up into our luggage via the closet. Something that comes with the beauty of all the greenery around the hotel I’m sure.
- The key to our safe was on the room key that the hotel had us keep at the front desk. Although I knew that it was going to be fine, I did feel uneasy that my passport and cash had the possibility of being so easily accessible.
- We received free drink tokens when we checked in but when we ordered piña coladas on the beach, they were excluded. It rubbed me wrong that there were exclusions to the drinks as the pricing was the same as drinks that were not excluded.