Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Junction 4.6km Route 618 turn right onto, Road to Arenas del Mar, Puntarenas Province, Manuel Antonio, 60601, Costa Rica
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At One with Nature at Arenas del MarAfter a short stint in Costa Rica's capital city, San Jose, I was off to sunnier skies in Quepos, the closest town to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park.
The drive itself was pretty thrilling. We stopped along a highway that overlooks The Tárcoles River, which is home to dozens of crocodiles-some as long as 17-feet. There are 30 kinds of exotic birds, iguanas and lizards in the area too, but my eyes were completely fixed on those crocs below.
About a half hour before reaching Arenas del Mar, my driver stopped along the road because there was a whole tribe of Squirrel Monkeys in the tree. As this is a rare sighting even in the national park, I was excited to get a close up look at these cute critters.
By the time we reached Arenas del Mar, I already felt like I was in 'Wonderland,' as the resort is within walking distance to the national park and there are monkeys, raccoons, birds and all types of creatures roaming the grounds at any given moment.
The welcome drink was probably the best thing I've ever had—it's a mix of peppermint, pineapple juice and coconut cream. Such a good first impression. That, and the property is eco-friendly, as part of the Cayuga Collection.
As for my room, it offered a gorgeous view of the crashing waves below. There was a very spacious, marbled and tiled bathroom with an open-air type shower (except it was indoor). My favorite part was the large terrace I had that overlooked both the ocean and the forest where I saw monkeys climbing the trees each morning.
Each room comes with a "Tico bar," that is complimentary and stocked daily with local favorites like chocolate-covered dried pineapple pieces, plantain chips and other snacks. There area also a few local beers in there, but I stuck to the ginger and spearmint-flavored Kombucha.
Since the resort is fairly spread out, the staff offer free golf cart rides to one of two beaches: the first is a semi-private beach complete with a second pool (the first is near the reception and main restaurant area) and lunch restaurant, and the second, a public beach where there are surfboards at the ready. I mostly hung out at the semi-private beach but made sure to take a dip in the water at the public beach, too.
In terms of value for money, it's pretty good. Besides the complimentary snacks in your room, breakfast is included and portions are generous. There's also a few free activities including a "taco making class," which essentially serves as another free meal, as you get to eat your taco at the end. Then there are tours that you can book a-la-carte, with transportation included.
There's so much to do in the area, so I recommend staying at least three nights. If I had planned a longer visit, I would have signed up for one more activity because the nature here is simply magical.