Doing some last minute holiday travel planning? Wondering where you can head for warmer weather and almost guaranteed sunshine? Consider Costa Rica for your holiday travels. December is the perfect time of year as the rainy season has just come to an end, yet everything is still green and lush at the beginning of dry season. And January starts the breeze season with refreshing Papagayo winds in Guanacaste.
Here are a few destination recommendations for all types of holiday trips, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Costa Rica, or traveling with family or friends. Below is a Costa Rica sampler platter for every budget and traveler this holiday season.
Las Catalinas (Guanacaste Provence) – Las Catalinas is a picturesque coastal town that blends classic style with modern accents. If you appreciate good architecture, this town has the best architecture in Costa Rica. It is one of the few places that is excellent for both families and couples. You can have a romantic escape in one of their studios or 1 bedrooms, or rent a whole casa for a family. And they have the gorgeous, newly opened Santarena Hotel. The Las Catalinas Beach Club has the best swimming pool in Guanacaste with full lap lanes, ocean views and food and drink service from the Beach Club. They also have an adorable ocean view sauna that is built like a giant barrel, WAKE day spa, paddle board rentals, and hiking and biking trails. Las Catalinas is also within walking distance to some of the best restaurants in Guanacaste with Sendito Norte’s farm to table meals served with panoramic views, Lemonada has casual Costa Rican-American cuisine with beachfront hammocks, swings, kids games and live music. And the new and noteworthy Ponciana serves up dishes that are Tico-Basque fusion on the first floor of the stunning Santarena Hotel.
Kinkara (San José Province) – Kinkara puts the glam in glamping. Not only a foodie paradise, but the best glamping in Costa Rica. These well appointed tents offer comfy beds, lighting, luggage racks, sleeping to the sounds of a babbling brook and amazing views of the mountains and town below. Perfect for someone who wants to be one with nature without sacrificing any luxury. And they offer memorable dining as their meals are some of the best meals that I have had in Costa Rica with excellent earth-to-table dishes prepared with food from their garden. They have yoga in the middle of a giant mandala garden with 360 views, and hiking or horseback riding to a waterfall. And I hope I’m not over-selling it, but Kinkara also has the best shower in Costa Rica in their amazing modern spa-like open-air bathrooms.
La Carolina Lodge (Alajuela Province) – Looking for the best farm stay in Costa Rica? At La Carolina Lodge, you can go milk the cows in the morning, feed the pigs and chickens, ride horses, then tour Rio Celeste waterfall, all before lunch that is a traditional Costarican meal cooked over a wood stove. And children get to watch as the milk they got out of a cow is turned into hot chocolate. La Carolina Lodge is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a rustic farm to table experience. It is great for families, as children can run free in the flower and bird filled courtyard or play in the children’s open air playhouse cabin. They even have a river that runs through the property and hot tubs that are heated by a burning wood fire. In addition to all the animals living on the ground, the tall canopy of trees on the property is home to lots of exciting wildlife. Every time I have been to La Carolina Lodge, I’ve seen dozens of types of birds as well as monkeys and sloths in the wild. And it is only a short drive to Rio Celeste, one of the most photographed waterfalls in Costa Rica. (Don’t be scared away from the term “farm stay” as the actual animals are a short 5 or 10 minute walk from the cabins so there’s no barnyard smells in your cabin.)
The Springs (Alajuela Province) – The Springs is always a solid vacation option no matter what time of year. The lush green mountainside property offers tubing, horseback riding, ATVs, tubing, hot springs, mini animal rescue and National Geographic worthy photos of Arenal Volcano. They have a sloth sanctuary on site as well as tiered pools and accommodations. The sloping style of the resort gives guests a closer view to the tops of trees where sloths like to hang out, as well as every room has a front row seat to the Arenal Volcano. If sloth gazing is on your bucket list, I recommend heading to The Springs.
Nosara (Guanacaste Province) – December is the best time to be in Playa Guiones or Nosara. With rainy season over, the dirt roads have started to dry out, but it’s before the dry season when things get a bit dusty. Playa Guiones is the epicenter of yoga in Costa Rica and is also known for it’s surfing. The Treehouse is a beautiful 2 bedroom airbnb that is between Nosara and Ostional. Perfect for 2 couples traveling together, or a family with older children as each bedroom has it’s own separate entrance. 1 bedroom occupies the upstairs and the other is downstairs with a shared pool and outside seating. I also highly recommend Lagarta Lodge for it’s stunning ocean views, yoga amazing dining and hospitality. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘lodge’ it is actually a beautiful modern hotel.
Le Caméléon Hotel (Limón Province) – A beautiful boutique hotel in Puerto Viejo. If you want to enjoy the festive Caribbean side of Costa Rica, this is the place to go. This area of Costa Rica is great for kayaking, snorkeling and swimming because of the calmer waters. The NOA Beach Club at Le Caméléon Hotel has great food and is right on the beach at Playa Cocles. The hotel property is lush and green with wooden walking paths. The green natural exterior is a stark contrast to the modern all white rooms. Hotel is family friendly and offers yoga and tours. Puerto Viejo Beach is right near the Panama border, so if you want to extend your vacation, it’s easy to take a shuttle to Bocas Del Toro Panama which is another must see travel destination.
Hotel Mono Feliz (Puntarenas Province) -Mono Feliz or ‘Happy Monkey’ is the perfect name for this happy little hotel. The adorable no-frills rustic chic cabins are great for accommodating families. The property is right in Ojochal, close to restaurants, but with the stream and yoga platform on the back of the property, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Mono Feliz has a great breakfast where you get to watch hummingbirds in their flower filled garden. Ojochal is one of my favorite places in Costa Rica because of the beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants and it’s easy to access paved highway from San Jose.
Feliz Navidad y Happy Holidays!
*Opinions are all my own. I am not being compensated by businesses, hotels or services to promote them. No affiliate links. Just sharing my travels of the world with the world.
Follow on Instagram at @FindingPuraVida