After the first four jam-packed days in the hot, humid jungle of Costa Rica, we headed west to the hot, dry beaches. Our first beach stop would be Playa Azul.
While we expected there to be some dirt road driving to reach our hotel, we didn’t expect almost 25 miles of bumpy dirt roads to reach a resort hotel! Remembering that many of the roads in Costa Rica are dirt, though, we should have known.
I don’t have a single photo of our drive through the countryside of Costa Rica, but it was beautiful. The cities of Nicoya and Santa Cruz, though, struck me as somewhat dirty, crowded, and unorganized – and then I read that Nicoya pretty much leads the world in longevity! That just goes to show how distorted and unrealistic the “tourist experience” can be.
After a very long, bumpy, dusty drive, we neared Playa Azul, where we had reservations at the Azul Ocean Club Hotel. The place looks absolutely incredible on the website – and it IS incredible. But before you get to the resort, you have to pass a few of these.
Abandoned building projects, victims of the 2008 recession. It seems that the region was in the midst of quite a building boom, when everything went bust. In addition to abadoned projects, we also saw a LOT of for sale signs. I must admit, I was concerned about what we were getting ourselves into. But then we came to this…
…and my concerns pretty much evaporated into the soft, warm ocean air!
Yes, the resort is isolated. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain to get to. No, there’s no night life to speak of. But all those things also contribute to what makes this place wonderful!
Our accommodations were very comfortable. We had our own two-story townhome! It’s obvious that these were originally meant to be sold as vacations homes (the master closets are huge!), but that plans changed at some point. But that was fine with us. Look at this place!
(The mattresses and bedding are extremely luxurious and comfortable!)
(Yup, that’s an outdoor, private lava shower, right next to the indoor shower!)
When we first arrived, late in the afternoon, we explored the grounds and the beach and enjoyed a gorgeous beach suset.
(What? You expect people way out here?!)
There aren’t many (as in, any) real restaurant choices, other than the resort restaurant, but fortunately the food at the resort is excellent!
On our first (and only) full day we enjoyed the (included) breakfast – including phenomenal Costa Rican coffee…
…and then set out for some pool time – and swim-up bar time!
There might not have been crowds of people at the pool, but we were joined by some natives…
I expected the iguanas to be a bit disconcerting, but they were more like timid dogs – hanging out with us, but not letting us get too close to them. They were actually even kinda sweet!
In the afternoon, we drove a few kilometers further on the dirt road to San Juanillo beach which, like Poipu beach in Hawaii, boasts a tombolo – a narrow stip of land between two beaches.
(The neighborhood bar sits on the beach!)
While our animal friends at the resort were iguanas, our animal friends here were vultures! Seriously. I’m not sure what they were waiting for, but they were definitely gathering as the sun went down.
And the sunset was far prettier than the vultures.
Michael, who seems to befriend people wherever he goes, had met a man who lived nearby. He led us to the home of a local fisherman who sells fresh fish from his home, so we bought some fish from him and went back to the condo where Suzie made the most delicious dinner in our small kitchen!
The next morning, Suzie and Michael headed back eastward to do some filming in the Monteverde rainforest, while Tom, the girls, and I set out north to Bahia del Sol at Playa Portrero. Although we had gone camping as families with Michael and Suzie, we had never actually traveled with them, and it was sad to say goodbye!