Travel Costa Rica: Where to Stay

Travel Costa Rica- Where to Stay

When I traveled to Costa Rica last month, we stayed at The Westin Golf Resort and Spa, Playa Conchal. (Read my full review.) I was pleased with our stay, and as a first time international traveler, I took a certain comfort in staying at American hotel brand. The level of cleanliness, food and service was consistent, and I certainly appreciated that.

On the other hand, I can stay at a Westin in the U.S. (and I often do. I’m a Starwood Member, and I highly recommend it if you find yourself staying in hotels very often.)

If I were to go to Costa Rica again and take my family (and I certainly hope to!) I think I would enjoy getting to experience more of the culture. As we drove along the rugged roads in and out of the resort, I found myself wanting to stop and explore.

Here is the view of Costa Rica from my airplane window as we took off from the Liberia airport to go home. See how rugged and untouched it is.


Despite that, it is a haven for many expats and retirees. One evening, we experienced Las Catalinas, a new town being built with the purpose of connecting people with each other and nature. I thoroughly enjoyed this trek off property. On the way, we took a detour to a scenic overlook that was achingly majestic. While we stood in full sun, we could actually see a rain storm across the water, one that we would eventually meet when we reached our final destination.


Las Catalinas is not a resort. It is actually a small town that will eventually be a place where people will live and work, permanent residents will mingle with tourists, kids will go to school, the adventurous will snorkel, surf and ski, and people will live in harmony with nature and each other. THIS is the kind of place I would love to come back and visit as a tourist.


It certainly wouldn’t be defined as rustic . . .


but it’s off the beaten path. It’s not a resort, although it has all the activities and amenities, but rather a community that you can experience for a time. I love that concept!

Of course there is a wide variety of places you can stay in Costa Rica. You can certain “rough it” if you want to. You could also go through Homeaway and rent a house for a week or two.

I asked Andrea, our host for the ROAR14 Retreat and current expat living in Costa Rica, for some suggestions for where to stay in Costa Rica. Then I did some poking around on my own so I could make a list of 8 places to stay if you’re considering a vacation to Costa Rica in your near future. Here’s what I came up with.

8 Places to Stay in Costa Rica

1. The Westin Golf Resort and Spa, Playa Conchal (read my full review)

2. Hotel Tamarindo Diria Beach Resort (very popular, according to Andrea)

3. Best Western Tamarindo Costa Rica Vista Villas (“for real – its super nice” says Andrea)

4. JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa

5. Vacation Rentals in Las Catalinas (see above)

6. Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort (this looks SO cool!)

7. Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort (a 5-star luxury resort, gets great ratings on Trip Advisor)

8. Homeaway Vacation Rental

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? Where did you stay?

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9 Responses

  1. Hubby has that Marriott on our list of places to go in the next few years since we do the Marriott point thing. If you were to ask him what his #1 on his “places I want to visit” list, Costa Rica would be the answer. We’re definitely doing it in a few more years – waiting for the boys to get old enough to really remember and enjoy it. Loved your photos. And btw, I can’t believe that was the first time you were out of the country?! Great first spot to go!

      1. This is a pretty common phenomenon here in the tropics. I live in Costa Rica and know a few people who have had bot flies (the usual culprit). It sounds gross, yes, but in the end they usually dont do any permanent damage. In fact, I had a kooky bio prof here who actually chose to let his fly stay in his scalp to see how the process progressed for a time. Ew!

  2. We stayed at Arenas Del Mar and LOVED it – the website doesn’t do it justice. It was our favorite hotel (of many great ones) that we stayed at in Costa Rica – possibly anywhere in the world. It’s the one place we keep dreaming about going back to.

    We also stayed at The Peace Lodge (oh my!) and the Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens. All of which were better than any chain hotel could hope to be. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

    In case it helps someone, we traveled with CostaRicaOnline.com – which was a great experience. Everything was pre-arranged and taken care of for us ahead of time. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip!

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