Old Reviews – Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa

We went with Vargas Tours and were EXTREMELY pleased with all of their tour guides and level of excellence in their service. This had to be the BEST decision we made while on our trip. We did a total of 4 tours with them, 2 of which we were the only couple and 2 of which we were 1 of 3 couples. Talk about personalized tours! Whenever we wanted to stop on the side of the road to take advantage of a good photo opt, the driver pulled over. They totally cater to the tourists and have that ability since they do not run tours with more than 8 people. The other tour companies on site took groups of 20-50 on charter buses. From talking to others who had used those companies, the tours seemed to have similar itineraries, but there experiences were not as personal and enjoyable as ours were (to say the least). Vargas Tours was slightly more expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for! So, I guess you can make your own decision based upon your budget and your own expectations of what you want on your tour. Here were the tours we did:

1.Miravalles – short, easy hike, with main focus being a beautiful waterfall.

2.Palo Verde – boat ride down a river in search of wildlife. What you see is hit or miss – we saw monkeys, crocodile and lots of birds. If you are looking for adventure – skip this one! It is a very relaxing of tour. The food we ate for lunch was one of the highlights.

3.Extreme Canopy Tour – of course, a must do!! A once in a lifetime experience. The views along the zip lines were amazing! Lunch at the private ranch was probably one of the best meals we had our entire two-weeks. The horseback ride to the first platform was short, but enjoyable. After the zip lines, you have the opportunity to enjoy the natural sauna (if you can stand the smell of sulfur), a natural mud bath and hot springs pools. If you are looking for a combination of adventure and relaxation, this is your tour!!!

4.Arenal Volcano Tour – another must see! This is a long trip that is broken up into various segments including a stop at an animal refugee center, a long medium-difficulty hike (with hanging bridges), photo opts of the active volcano (weather permitting) and a magnificent all natural hot springs resort. If you are lucky and the weather is clear at night, you can watch lava flow down the volcano before you head back for the night. We were not so lucky, but we talked to several tourists who were on other nights. It’s a total crapshoot, but we did get some great pictures of the volcano in the day time, which made the trip worth it.

Short Tours: We did two short tours (2-hours each) with the Resort Divers Company that was on the premise of the Fiesta Premier resort.

1. Jet ski tour – this tour was great! We followed a tour guide (you can choose a one-person or a two-person jet ski) out of the bay making stops at a couple of different white sand beaches, and a cave, which we were able to walk through because the tide was low. The highlight of the trip was definitely watching 3 dolphins jump in and out of the water only a few yards from us. We also saw plenty of pelicans and other exotic birds while in route in and out of the bay.

2.ATV tour – this tour was a lot of fun, but be prepared to be a little sore afterwards. We followed a tour guide through a rural area and then through a jungle as he pointed out monkeys just above our heads and other wildlife. The bulk of the trip was just for the excitement of the riding through rough terrain and crossing through streams of water. Very adventurous!

Of course, having stayed for two weeks, we were able to take advantage of lots of tours, while still feeling like we took full advantage of the all-inclusive resort. If we went back again, which we plan on doing someday, we would stay at Fiesta Premier for 5-7 days and then travel to other parts of the country the rest of the time. We heard that there were many other great things to see (more volcanoes, waterfalls, etc.), but the drive would have been too far from where we were.

So, whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation, you’ll find it on this trip. Pura Vida!

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