Staying at Hotel Costa Verde Near Manuel Antonio National Park

This year, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We started planning our anniversary celebration trip last year, considering several places we’d never been … then the hubs mentioned Costa Rica. Staying in the rainforest, surrounded by animals and beaches and cocktails? Sign me up. But where to go? We decided that staying at Hotel Costa Verde near Manuel Antonio National Park would give us everything we wanted. Here is why you should consider this as your next vacation destination in Central America!

staying at hotel costa verde near manuel antonio national park in costa rica

First, I have to admit that Costa Rica was not a destination on my short list. It hadn’t made any list. I’d been thinking Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, Italy, countries we had discussed for a while but hadn’t had the occasion to plan yet. Then we started to research it and realized there were so many reasons to bump it to the top.

Why You Should Visit Costa Rica: Our Experience of Staying at Hotel Costa Verde Near Manuel Antonio National Park

When we began looking at Costa Rica accommodations, we considered an all-inclusive resort on the beach. Then we happened upon an Instagram post on the Hotel Costa Verde account, showing one of their cockpit rooms. (They have several full old airplanes that have been retrofitted to be amazing, gorgeous suites.) We were drawn in by the colorful rainforest photos and their motto “Still more monkeys than people.”

staying at hotel costa verde in costa rica

I mean, when you’re on a trip for your 30th wedding anniversary, more monkeys than people sounds good, right?

And they weren’t lying. But more on that later.

Staying at Hotel Costa Verde means you are literally staying in the rainforest. Depending on what building you’re in out of the several on-property, and what direction your room faces, you’ll be immersed in trees, animals and the sounds of nature. If you’re facing west, or have visibility off your balcony, you’ll see the beach, too.

sunset off of manuel antonio beach in costa rica

Hotel Costa Verde offers accommodations for families, singles, couples and large groups. If you have no children under 18 staying with you, look at the Studio Plus building. It’s adults-only, and it includes an adults-only pool with its own bar. Paradise. And they take it seriously. At one point, a family came in from another area, including two young children and an array of pool toys. They walked right past the adults-only signs and proceeded to park on some chairs, amongst where many adults were quietly enjoying the pool, their cocktails, or their books. Hotel staff approached them very calmly and in a low voice let them know that this pool was not for children; they handled it so nicely yet so quickly. We appreciated it, because while we have four children and two grandchildren, we also had chosen this space so we could have a child-free vacation.

adults only pool area at studio plus hotel costa verde

One big bonus for staying at Hotel Costa Verde is that it’s a pick-up location for many of the excursions from Manuel Antonio National Park. You can sign up for a ton of activities, such as parasailing, jet ski, ziplining, park tours, horseback riding, kayak tours in the mangroves, hiking to waterfalls, whale watching tours, catamaran sunset rides, and so much more. Want to see the animals? There are tours for that, too. It’s so convenient having the driver meet you at reception.

The Hotel Costa Verde property is large, but the adults-only building is just a short walk down an incline. No other rooms are back there aside from two of the fuselage suites, so there’s no real traffic. There are bellhops to get your luggage to and from your door, in any building; they also take you to your door and give you a brief tour of your room upon check-in.

the path to our rooms at Hotel Costa Verde near Manuel Antonio National Park

Another big bonus is your proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park. step outside the front driveway and walk 50′ or so and you’re at the bus stop that takes you to right to the entry of the park — or you can take it right to downtown Quepos, about a 15 minute bus ride, depending on traffic. The roads are narrow, two-lane streets, all paved and lit, but they don’t drive crazy fast like we’re used to in many of the states. The pace is slower, but it also brings down your heart rate and allows you to enjoy the scenery. The bus was about $.65 USD, but exchange rate fluctuates; you need colones to ride, but most hotels will help you if you didn’t exchange money otherwise. (We didn’t need colones for anything else during our trip.)

Bus etiquette is typical to anywhere else but you need to push a button before your stop. Even though the drivers we rode with all spoke English, they aren’t going to necessarily remember where you say you want to go, so the button ensures he stops where you need to get off.

Staying at Hotel Costa Verde gives you a really good shot at seeing a lot of wildlife in its natural habitat, unhindered by tours and crowds. Each morning, around 5:20am, we’d sit on the balcony, coffee in hand, enjoying the show. The monkeys would come from the trees on the far side of the pool and bar area, swing from tree to tree branch to sail to pole, then over to the other side of the tree line, then disappear. The thing is that we’d see 40-50 monkeys each time they made the journey, and many would take detours across the balconies. More than once, a mama monkey would carry her baby on her back, slowly walk along our balcony ledge, look us in the eye, then hop off into the trees. What an incredible sight!

Speaking of incredible — the sloths! Our first day, the bartender called us over to see the sloth at the top of the path. Sometimes there were two, and we saw them on the path to the pool or to the reception area every single day.

adults only pool and bar at hotel costa verde near manuel antonio national park

The pool area is also home to several iguanas of very sizes. They’d wander along the edge of the pool and up into the bar area, where they also deliver food from the onsite restaurants. Don’t underestimate their interest in your food! (And don’t feed them, they won’t leave you alone and they can jump.)

We ate breakfast every day at the Anaconda Cafe. Every table has a view of the Pacific Ocean and the “whale tail” portion of the national park. It’s a beautiful way to start your day! There are four main tables along the rail where the monkeys visit the most, and another 4-5 scattered between the restaurant and one of the fuselage suites; those are where we saw the majority of monkeys at that restaurant daily. Each breakfast was entertaining — and the daily Chili Guaros at breakfast were pretty cool too. (They are like mini-bloody marys, but made with Guaro, a Costa Rican alcohol that is amazing.) No seat is bad but if you want to increase the risk that the monkeys will make an appearance at your table, look to sit there if you can. The earlier you arrive, the better.

Lunch we ate at various areas around Manuel Antonio and Quepos, other than the day we took a private bus to the Canopy Safari Zipline experience. (10/10 recommend!) Your fun ends with an authentic Costa Rica meal amongst the trees up in the mountains. Dinner each night was at one of Hotel Costa Verde restaurants, most frequently La Cantina. Live music nightly, seating for so many, historical buildings (including an old wooden rail car) and a varied menu for food and beverages. And the staff! They are amazing.

Another winning restaurant that you must experience is El Avion. It’s made around another one of the Iran Contra Affairs airplanes and you can drink in the belly of the plane at the bar, where you can also climb into the cockpot. It’s pretty spectacular. The sunset from El Avion was one of the best we saw anywhere, but you need to get there early for happy hour or score a table for dinner along the main rail. If you don’t though, no worries, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Each of the restaurants are along the main road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio, and the roads are inclined, with not a lot of room to walk in some places, so stay off the road to be safe, and use hotel shuttles; you can call the front desk and they will have one waiting for you at reception. This is particularly helpful at night.

Biggest recommendation? Book your stay far in advance. Look through all the options and choose what fits your budget, as it has a big range, but if you’re on a childfree vacation, spring for a room with a tub on the balcony. It’s not for a ‘take your bath’ kind of experience, as there is no guarantee of privacy (people can look up) but each morning, we enjoyed coffee in the bath. It’s also a great way to end the day. The fuselage rooms are amazing, but they do cost significantly more, and since you may or may not be in your room a lot, consider what is most important to you. When we go back again in a few months, we’re staying in the same building we stayed in last time, overlooking the adult pool. Even though we had neighboring rooms, it was still quiet and we felt very private.

balcony at hotel costa verde

I wrote a blog post about what to pack for a trip to Costa Rica, so be sure to read that before you start packing. I’ll be covering some other things to do in Costa Rica in a different post; I’ll come back here and update with the link when it’s done.

Staying at Hotel Costa Verde also means you’re only a 5-8 minute walk to the beach. Costa Rica doesn’t allow private entities to block the beach to non-guests, so don’t worry about not getting access. Take that walk down to the shore, but stop at Buena Vista Restaurant while you’re there.

It’s an unassuming restaurant amongst the palms behind the Buena Vista Hotel. There are a lot of basic tables close to the bar area, but if you want to sit closer to the water, the management will place a table and chairs out as near to the shore as you choose. We enjoyed an amazing sunset view while drinking Guaro Sours and eating the best ceviche we’ve ever had in our lives. Paired with patacones, it goes great with a side of the cheesy black bean dip. We ordered three plates! You can take your leftovers with you if you want…or you can just order another cocktail and savor your food slowly as the sun drops below the horizon. The shore will clear of people and before you know it, it’s just you and a few other restaurant guests at candlelit scattered amongst the trees.

Our suite had a kitchen, so when our driver picked us up at San Jose Airport, he stopped at the closest grocery store before dropping us off at the hotel. We picked up a couple bottles of wine, several bags of snacks and a few hydration types of beverages. (Grab sunscreen and bug spray if you didn’t bring it with you; most hotels do not have stores where you can purchase it.) You can also get the ingredients you need to cook meals, because Hotel Costa Verde furnishes their kitchens with all the gear you need to prepare your food. There are also coffee makers in each room, complete with good ground coffee. Most hotel coffee is not good, but this was the exception. We truly enjoyed each cup, black and dark and rich, and since we’ve returned home to California, we drink it black still.

kitchen in our suite at hotel costa verde

While sitting on our balcony, we’d see parasailers glide down the beach, so we learned that if you call the reception of the hotel, they’d set up the excursion for you, all the way down to setting up payment and pickup times. So convenient! Be sure to download and set up WhatsApp on your phone; it’s how most companies contact each other. It’s free, as long as you have WiFi or cell service. The hotel also helped the hubs set up an in-room massage for me on the morning of our wedding anniversary. She was amazing and even sprinkled rose petals around the room and used handmade oils and lotions. It was the best 90 minutes!

manuel antonio national park

Exhausted and need a break, or it’s raining and you need to head into your room for a bit? The lobby of Hotel Costa Verde has a book and game shelf you can borrow items from. Each room also has a flat screen TV with shows in English. (I did not inquire what other languages were available, but I know when we were in Paris, we had the option to choose from many languages for dubbing.) The rooms are air conditioned, the beds are comfortable, and there is a same-day laundry service available. You can also order food from any of the onsite restaurants to be delivered to your room.

staying at hotel costa verde near manuel antonio national park

If you’re staying at Hotel Costa Verde, it is a drive you can safely make in a rental car. It’s not recommended you do it at night if you’re unfamiliar with the area, but the roads are all paved. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive, though it can be a little longer depending on your arrival time. There is ample parking at the hotel, but we were fine without a rental car. We took the bus into downtown Quepos, where we shopped, ate, wandered, got our first Caipirinha drink, and walked by the marina. All the other excursions came with rides.

If you take the excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park, inquire about your ride back. Those set up from the park itself do not include the return ride, but the driver will wait for you if you leave the $5 fee with him prior. (It is set up this way because many people want to take additional time in the park after the tour is done. The tour ends at the beach, and if you bring your swim suit as is recommended, it is a wonderful swimming spot.) There are a lot of places to eat or drink by the park entry, and the parasailing companies set up from a beach not far away as well.

Consider visiting Costa Rica for a dream vacation. The country is beautiful, and while not big, there are distinct areas that require multiple trips OR a lot of time. On our next visit, we’re staying in La Fortuna to see the volcano (Arenal) and stay at the hot springs resort so we can enjoy the natural hot springs and experience the waterfalls and bridges at the top. We’re then heading back to Manuel Antonio because we loved it so much. We think you’ll feel the same!

the beach at manuel antonio national park

My last parting bit of advice: avoid rainy season if you aren’t sure about continuing to travel and adventure in heavy rain. The rain is not always bad, and it’s often just in the afternoons/evenings, but some people plan an incredible itinerary and then don’t want to complete it due to rain. The rain can sometimes be bad, but it’s also what grows the lush rainforest, so it’s necessary. Don’t spend a lot of money and get a bad taste for a beautiful place by being unprepared.

Pura vida!

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