Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Dream trip # 2: Costa Rica honeymoon!

Since last Monday's episode of "The Bachelor", filmed at Costa Rica's Springs Resort & Spa near the Arenal volcano, I've noticed a huge uptick in the number of requests for information on vacations in this beautiful Central American country. So today I'm showcasing a fabulous itinerary - the perfect Costa Rican dream honeymoon!
Day 1:
Fly into Daniel Oduber International airport in Liberia (LIR), and then take a short flight from there to La Fortuna.  After checking into your Honeymoon Vista Suite at The Springs Resort & Spa mid-afternoon, put on your bathing suits (or go au natural!) and sip champagne in your private infinity-edge jacuzzi, which is fed by hot mineral springs. Enjoy a romantic dinner at the resort's Las Ventanas restaurant, where the delicious fusion cuisine is outshone only by the incredible views of the Arenal volcano. After dinner, grab a bottle of wine to go, and head back to your private jacuzzi for some "star-gazing". ;)

Day 2:
After an indulgent buffet breakfast at Tres Cascadas (Three Waterfalls) restaurant, it's time to burn off some calories! A trip to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens fits the bill perfectly. Its 3.5 kilometers of walking trails wind past a butterfly observatory, hummingbird garden, serpentarium, frog exhibit, Tica House, Trout Lake, bird watching areas, wildlife preserve, and of course, waterfalls! From the Waterfall Gardens, you can view 5 stunning waterfalls from platforms above, below, and in front of the falls.
After a casual lunch set to Jimmy Buffett tunes at the open-air Treetops Grill, cool off (or heat up!) in some of the Springs' 18 (yes, eighteen!) pools. Spend some time forgetting your age as you glide down the Monkey Slide water flume carved out of a natural rock formation, then remember you're plenty old enough to enjoy a cocktail at the swim-up La Laguna bar!

Ready for a bit more adventure? Throw on some dry clothes and hop onto a horse for a ride through the Springs' private wildlife refuge. You may be a bit sore afterwards, but that gives you the perfect excuse for a sunset couple's massage at the Springs' gorgeous spa!

After an early dinner at Ginger Sushi, followed by wine and star-gazing in your jacuzzi, head to bed - you've got an early start tomorrow!

Day 3:
Wake up while it's still dark? On vacation??  You'll be glad you did as you soar over the volcano in a hot-air balloon or helicopter! Sip delicious local coffee and nibble on a pastry as you gaze at the amazing scenery below.

Back at the Springs, spend some time at the pools or in your jacuzzi before enjoying an early lunch at Tres Cascadas or Treetops--you'll want a bit more sustenance for the afternoon you have planned!

At 1PM, it's time for a rainforest adventure on the Arenal Hanging Bridges. Over the course of a 2 mile hike, you'll traverse 15 different bridges, 6 of which are hanging bridges that sway high above the forest floor. Here in the tree canopy, you'll spot a variety of wildlife while learning more about the animals, plants, geography, and history of this amazing place.

Arriving back at the hotel at 4:30, head for the Perdido Springs pools for a quick swim and a drink and snack at the Los Perdidos bar, which is surrounded by waterfalls and gardens. After getting ready for the evening (be sure to put on your dancing shoes), enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the resort's 4 restaurants. When you've had your fill of the award-winning cuisine, it's time to make an appearance at the Springs' new Wa Experience lounge and nightclub. Enjoy live entertainment and music while dancing the night away!

Day 4:
After breakfast, it's time to check out of The Springs and head to the airport for your 40-minute flight to Manuel Antonio. Upon arrival in MA, you're picked up and driven to Arenas del Mar, the only luxury resort in town that sits right on the beach.


After checking into your Ocean View Premium Suite, it's time to hit the beach! There are two to choose from here at Arenas del Mar - Playa Espadilla and Playitas. The former is great for those looking to be more active, as it offers better swimming, surfing, walking, and exploring possibilities, while the latter offers a more relaxed and adult-oriented experience. If you'd like to be near a swimming pool and restaurant/bar, Playitas is also the better bet.

After you've had your fill of sun for the day, a couples massage in one of the open-air treatment rooms at the Las Brisas Spa is just the ticket. Don't want to leave the beach just yet? No problem--waterfront massages can also be arranged!

That evening, enjoy a 3-course romantic dinner inside or on the terrace of your suite. Private service and a bottle of wine make for a perfect honeymoon dinner! Once you're alone again, wind down with a soak in your private hot tub underneath the stars.

Day 5:
Wake up early, and take a sunrise stroll down the beach. Once you've worked up an appetite, grab a table at Arenas del Mar's El Mirador restaurant, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.
After finishing the last of your delicious breakfast burrito, meet up with your guide for a private tour of Manuel Antonio National Park. As you walk along the trails, you'll likely spot monkeys, sloths, toucans, and other exotic wildlife--the park is home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds, as well as many species of reptiles and amphibians. Your guide will also point impart knowledge on various plant species and their uses, along with other information on the park and surrounding area.

Once the tour is over, enjoy a picnic lunch (the resort can pack this for you with advance notice) on one of the park's four beautiful beaches. After a nap in the sun, head back to the resort to shower and change for the evening.

A short cab ride will land you at Gaia Hotel & Reserve. This resort's overall design is a bit too aggressively modern and out-of-place for my taste (I spent 4 nights here on my first visit to Costa Rica in 2006), but I do love their beautiful and comfortable Ambar Lounge. This open-air restaurant and bar is the perfect place to enjoy yummy cocktails and tapas and watch the sky turn 1000 vibrant colors as the sun sinks into the ocean. Once darkness has settled, take a seat at the connected La Luna restaurant and try one of their delicious entrees featuring local seafood or beef. Order a bottle of champagne, and toast another fabulous day in paradise.

Day 6:
Order breakfast from room service, and enjoy it on your private terrace overlooking the deep blue waters of the Pacific.
Mid-morning, get picked up and driven to the marina, where you'll board a catamaran for about 4 hours of adventure on the high seas. Today's activity is a dolphin and whale-watching cruise, with stops for snorkeling and lunch.

Back at your resort, spend the afternoon on the beach or by the pool - or maybe even back in the spa (there's no such thing as too many massages)! A late afternoon soak in your hot tub followed by cocktails at El Mirador Bar will leave you perfectly relaxed. For dinner, cab it over to El Avion, home to Manuel Antonio's famous "airplane bar".

Day 7: After breakfast, check out of Arenas del Mar and catch a flight back to Liberia. Here, you'll be picked up by one of the drivers from Los Altos de Eros Inn & Spa, located about 20 minutes outside of Tamarindo.

I've saved the best for last here, as Los Altos is truly an amazing and unique property, and one of my personal favorite places in the world! just gave this hotel three separate honors in its 2011 Traveler's Choice awards, including Best Service, Best Relaxation and Spa, and #8 in the Top 25 Hotels in the World! These types of honors are not new to Los Altos, though - they have received similar recognition every year since 2007. You can see reviews and photos from my first trip to Los Altos here; I should also have a review from my 2nd stay there up shortly (it was every bit as fabulous the second time around)!

After the hour-long drive from Liberia to Los Altos, you'll be warmly greeted by their amazing staff, and offered a cold drink before being shown your room. All beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages (be sure to try the fresh fruit smoothies) are included in the room rate, along with daily breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and dinner on Tuesday and Saturday nights.

Since its your honeymoon, splurge on the Eros Suite if it is available! If it's not, the queen and king poolside rooms are also lovely.

After dropping your bags off in your room, change into bathing suits, grab the bottle of chilled white wine from your room, and sip the grapey goodness as you float in the infinity edge swimming pool.

Lunch is a multi-course affair, featuring different dishes each day. At the communal dining table, you'll chat with whichever other guests around around that afternoon as you feast on perfectly prepared seafood, salads, and other delicious dishes. You can also take your meal by the pool if you'd prefer a bit more privacy. But one of the best parts of a stay at Los Altos is getting to know the other guests, so I do recommend eating at least most of your meals there at the table!

After lunch, take another swim, then plop down on one of the cushy lounge chairs and crack open that book you've always wanted to read. Or just stare out over the lush countryside that slopes down towards the ocean in the distance. Have some more wine or a few Imperials (Costa Rica's national beer) - hey, you're on vacation! Don't be startled when you hear something that sounds like lions roaring - that's just the howler monkeys who live in the trees around the resort. If you can't spot them, don't worry - a staff member surely soon will, and will let guests know so that they can get a closer look and some photos! As you relax, the exceptionally attentive staff members will make sure you always have anything you need just when you want it. Mid-afternoon someone will come by with delicious goodies - the chocolate macadamia nut cookies are my favorites, but I've never had a bad bite of anything at Los Altos!

After whiling away the afternoon in pampered luxury, take a long bath in your private jacuzzi (Eros Suite), or take advantage of the private outdoor shower in your Queen or King Room and listen to the sounds of nature as you soap up. Head back outside from a sunset walk through the property, or just sit by the pool and watch the sun sink slowly into the sea.

If it happens to be a Tuesday night (and let's just assume it is!), you can join in a cooking class featuring local/traditional Costa Rican dishes. Afterwards, enjoy a multi-course gourmet dinner and lively conversation around the dining table.

Day 8:
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, meats and cheese, cereal, breads, and local dishes. Be sure to try the gallo pinto (rice and beans), a traditional Costa Rican dish.

Afterwards, take the resort's free shuttle to Playa Avellenas for some beach time. The staff will even pack you a beach bag with towels and bottles of water to take along! If it gets too hot out on the beach, duck under the shady cover of Lola's beach bar and restaurant for a delicious frozen cocktail or 3. If you're lucky, you'll even spot the bar's mascot - a large pig named (what else!) Lola! Around lunchtime, get picked up and driven back to Los Altos, or grab a bite at Lola's if you're not quite ready to leave the sand yet.
Late in the afternoon, walk down to Los Altos' spa for your sunset couples massage. Enjoy an amazing rubdown side-by-side in one of the open-air treatment rooms overlooking the trees, as the sounds of the jungle both soothe and thrill you. When the massage is over, the masseuses will leave you to enjoy champagne and strawberries in the treatment room or by/in the jacuzzi for as long as you'd like.

After a quick shower back in the room, head back to the spa for your private dinner. At a table for 2 near the jacuzzi, with a small waterfall on one side and the rainforest on the other, you'll dine on inventive salads, local fish, beef, or other entrees, freshly baked bread, and amazing homemade desserts. Afterwards, hit the jacuzzi, or just lay in the nearby lounge chairs sipping wine and enjoy the gentle night. The spa is all yours for the whole evening, so enjoy!

Day 9:
Yesterday was blissfully relaxing, but now it's time for a bit more adventure! A zip-lining tour through the canopy is a can't-miss activity in Costa Rica. Have a blast zipping through the trees far above the ground, and let the adrenaline flow! Afterwards, enjoy a lunch of local specialties before heading back to Los Altos for some pool time.

Later that afternoon, take a sunset catamaran cruise with Blue Dolphin Sailing. Enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres as you glide through the water and enjoy uninterrupted views of the sun sinking into the water on one side, and casting beautiful light over the land in the other direction.

Back on dry land, have dinner in town - Nibbana, Carolina's, and Kahiki are some of my top recommendations. After returning to Los Altos, sip more wine or beer poolside and enjoy the brilliant stars overhead.

Day 10: 
For the last 24 hours of your honeymoon, take advantage of the amazing food and service at Los Altos, and spend the whole day here.  Relax by the pool, take a walk around the property and look for monkeys, indulge in more food and wine or beer than you ever would at home, and just let the staff pamper you!
In the afternoon, how about another sunset couple's massage? It is your honeymoon, after all!

Later that evening, order a delicious dinner from the set menu, and enjoy it with your new friends around the dining table as you share stories and laughter.

Day 11: 
After one final breakfast, pack your suitcase with your freshly laundered clothes (Los Altos offers complimentary laundry service), and say good-bye to the wonderful people you've met during your stay. Try not to cry. And don't forget to make a reservation for your first anniversary, so you have something wonderful to look forward to as the plane lifts off to carry you home...

I hope you've enjoyed reading through this itinerary as much as I enjoyed putting it together! For any questions or to book this or other international travel, please don't hesitate to contact me at!


Stefanie said...

Damn I wanty! Looks so amazing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Caroline... hope you are having wonderful travels!! Haven't had an update in quite a while, I'm sure you're off exploring the world and taking tons of gorgeous photos. I live vicariously through your travels until I get student loans paid off and can travel again :) Please keep us posted

Caroline said...

Thank you so much for the kind words, and so sorry I've been MIA! It's been a crazy spring, but I'm hoping to start posting regularly again soon!

Lauren said...

The Springs Resort & Spa looks like the perfect resort for a honeymoon. Costa Rica is such a beautiful spot.

Unknown said...

awesome blog mate I've been studying it for a few days trying to suss out a bit of a plan. Just wondered if you could give your opinion on a potential itinerary. I have just over 3 weeks in Thailand and will be spending a about 5 nights in Bangkok (2 at the start, 3 at the end) so have just over 2 weeks to visit the islands.
adult couples resorts

Day Outing Packages Near Around Delhi said...

Dream Island Resort, Damdama Lake Gurgaon, Damdamd Lake Day Picnic Packages Comment Thanks for sharing good information !


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