Ellen and Mike normally pack a lot into their busy city-break trips. So for their November honeymoon they wanted to make sure to go somewhere relaxing. They wanted warm weather, delicious food, and the opportunity to take it easy and really enjoy each other’s company. We knew just the perfect place — Costa Rica. With a private casita at the Amor Arenal and a suite at the El Mangroove resort! And they had a perfectly relaxing time. Here are their thoughts on what it’s like to take a Costa Rican honeymoon right now.
We were picked up at the Liberia airport by Central American Tours (CAT) for our transfer by Francisco. He was really kind and acted not only as a driver but a tour guide. The drive to the Arenal area was really long (2.5 hours), so we were grateful to have some context of what we were seeing throughout the drive. He also stopped to let us get lunch on the way. We got up at 3:30 AM EST that morning, so we were running on fumes! Everyone we encountered from CAT was like this, and we were so grateful to have kind, trusted, and professional drivers from this company.
We arrived at the Amor Arenal hotel and checked into our casita. We really have nothing but good things to say about this hotel. It was a real gem for honeymooners like us! Since we stayed in this area for so long, it was also really nice to have a larger space to relax. Our casita had an outdoor space with seating and a jacuzzi, and it was totally private. We also loved how small the property was.
That, paired with the privacy aspect of all the rooms, really made you feel like you were the only people there, and the service really matched that sentiment.
Our tours in this area were great too. Our favorite was the Coffee Tour. We found this one the most interesting and interactive. It was also pretty short, so we were able to do that in the morning and go to the wet bar in the afternoon!
Our second favorite was the River Float, we saw a lot of wildlife on the tour and the format of the excursion (drifting down a river in a raft) was unique. The only con about this tour was that it was pretty far away. I know we had issues with this tour and rescheduled it many times, but the original format closer to our hotel would have been perfect!
The third tour we did of the Hike/Boat Tour/Hot Springs was our least favorite, but still enjoyable. We saw a sloth on the tour which was awesome, but it was with a bigger group. Also, given that we had a jacuzzi at our casita we didn’t necessarily need to have a similar experience at the hot springs. Still glad we did it, though!
The best food we had on the trip was in the La Fortuna downtown area for dinner. We ate at Don Rufino and Snapper’s House. Both were really excellent and well priced for the quality they served. We also enjoyed getting off the resort and seeing something new on our own!
We left the Arenal area for Guanacaste with another great CAT driver (Manny). Again, he let us stop and do some errands since we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to do that in Arenal. We arrived at El Mangroove and checked into our room.
We had a beautiful suite with water views and I am so glad we did that vs. booking a standard room. We had a large outside area with seating, a hammock, and a plunge pool (it was not heated though so we did not spend a ton of time using it).
I am also glad we did not book any excursions here. It was nice to relax and do nothing! We had a few very leisurely days where we had drinks, ate, swam, and napped! This hotel did feel very “American” to us, which was truly fine. But I think we had a more authentic Costa Rican experience in Arenal.
We talked about going off the resort for dinner, but never ended up finding the energy! There were two restaurants at the resort, one was more of a beach bar (we had lunch here) and the other was more upscale and this is where we had dinner a few nights. We were really impressed with the service and offerings at both restaurants.
We purchased the at-home proctored COVID tests, and I am so happy we did! As soon as we could test, we did so in our room and we were both negative. We were really diligent throughout the trip and wore masks anytime we were with others, even though we both have the vaccine. (Mike even got the booster prior to departure). I will also say that all the Costa Ricans we encountered wore masks, despite the low infection rate, and a high percentage of the population who had received the vaccine. Maybe this is due to the touristy areas we were in, but it was very reassuring for us.
Manny was our transfer back to the airport.
We were happy to go home, but also couldn’t believe it was over! The trip was the perfect amount of time and we wouldn’t have changed a thing!
There were so many times on the trip where we said “Thank god for Ann!” or “This was a great recommendation from Ann!” You helped us book amazing hotels, tours, and transfers that I could have never done on my own. I also truly do not think I could have managed all the COVID materials, research, and documentation without you. You gave me a detailed list and breakdown of everything pre-departure, and I was still kind of overwhelmed, lol! I am so happy we had you book this trip for us and we SO look forward to doing it again!