Old Reviews – Paradisus Playa Conchal

We just returned (July 2005) from a wonderful trip to Costa Rica and stayed at the condos at the Paradisus. Here’s a trip report for anyone who would want to stay there. We would rate the Paradisus as 5 stars. We just returned from a week long vacation in Costa Rica (7/2-7/9). We stayed at the Paradisus Playa Conchal condos and just loved them. We rented a Toyota Hiace van from Tricolor and ate out every meal except for a few breakfasts.

Saturday: We arrived late afternoon so I called the Restaurante Cameron Dorado for reservations for 8 people. We were able to park in their lot, had seats right on the water’s edge, and enjoyed probably the best meal of the whole trip. We had our fingers washed in finger bowls before the meal and all the ladies got flowers for their hair. Although the prices are higher here than anywhere else in the area, we truly did enjoy our meal and the atmosphere. It was a great way to start our trip.

Sun: We headed off to Tamarindo to find breakfast and surfboards. We ate breakfast at Nogui’s Sunset Cafe at the circle in Tamarindo and we loved it so much we ate here at least another 3 times. Again, we were oceanfront, the service was very good, and we loved their pineapple juice (it really is a pineapple smoothie). We rented boards at the High Tide Surf Shop. It was a long and hot process (it took about 1 hour to arrange this transaction). We got advice on where to take our 4 children surfing and once we found the recommended spot, we realized it would have been more convenient to rent at Iguna Surf 2. Iguna Surf 2 is right across the street from the beach area that has good surfing (and also where you can rent some chairs and umbrellas for the day if you do not want to spend your whole time in the water). The kids enjoyed their day at the beach. We had lunch at an oceanfront restaurant called Nibanya and their fish tacos were very good. We returned to the condos for a shower and headed off to the Typical restaurant in Huacos for casadas that were very good.

Mon: We decided to try surfing in Playa Grande. We had breakfast at Kike’s (not very good) and rented boards at Hotel Las Torugas. They were very friendly at the Hotel and even let us borrow two chairs for the beach. (We had brought a cheap umbrella from home and used it often on all the beaches for some shade). The waves were much larger here than Tamarindo and again the kids had a great time surfing.

Tues: This was truly a day of adventure. We drove up to Rincon de la Vieja national park (about a 2 hour drive–half of it up a bumpy dirt road) to the Guachepelin resort for a canopy tour and tubing. We were very niave as to how adventurous this day was going to be. We thought the hard part was going to be doing the zip-line. We did not realize that you would also have to do a rock wall, tarzan swing, and cliff climbing to get yourself out of the river gorge they take you to. We loved!!! this whole canopy tour but I do not think we would have taken my parents if we knew how adventureous it turned out to be. After lunch in the lodge, we were taken on a two hour tubing adventure (and again I would recommend this only to people who are in resonably good shape). Five people in our group rode horses to the river but since I am terribly allergic to horses, 3 of us got a ride in a van down the road and walked the rest of the way to the river. The tubing was great and the guides do an excellent job but you have to be prepared to be flipped out of your tube many times, get beached onto hard rocks and even use a rope to pull yourself out of some difficult spots on the river. It was a very memorable experience and we had a blast. The horses were waiting for those were were riding them back and the rest of us took a jeep ride back to the lodge. We did not have time to do the mud baths (you need to be at the lodge by 9am to be able fo fit everything in one day) and after our adventurous day, I’m sure they would have felt great. One other thing you should do before heading to Guachepelin is make reservations. We did not. They were very accomodating, but I could tell they were not used to people just showing up. We ended up with takeout pizza for dinner from Il Forno back in Brazilito that was very good.

Wed: We decided we needed a down day so we hung out at the resort. The beach is beautiful and if you ask, people working at the gate will bring chairs down to the beach for you at no cost. You can snorkel at the rocks to the right of the beach. I know several posters said that the water at the resort is rough. In our opinion, it is not that the water is rough. It gets deep very quickly and the current sucks you into the deeper end very fast. I think you would have a hard time watching little children swimming at this beach. We had lunch at the snack restaurant (charging it to the card number they gave us at check in). Several people in our group took the ATV tours (booked on the beach) and loved them. It is two hours long and they said they went places it would be difficult for a car to go. They truly raved about the tour. For dinner we decided to drive to Flamingo for dinner at Marie’s. Dinner was fine but nothing outstanding.

Thursday: We had picked up baked goods at the French bakery in Tamarindo and fresh fruit at a fruit stand between our condo and Tamarindo on one of our previous excursions so we had breakfast on our patio overlooking the golf course. We decided to try going to Playa Avellanas for more surfing. It had rained very hard the night before so the road to Playa Avellanas was very muddy and had 3 streams of various depths that we needed to traverse. All in all, I would say this was our most difficult drive. There is a beautiful restaurant on the beach with hammocks, chairs and tables and a bar that advertises great smoothies. The only problem was there is no place to rent boards. The women at the restaurant recommended we drive 2km to Playa Negra for boards. Again, the road was terrible but we made it and found a resort that rented boards right on the beach ($10 a board for the day) and a decent restaurant for lunch. The waves were very large here and there are alot of lava rocks. There are sandy sections of beach for surfing though and again my kids had a great day surfing. We stopped at the Monkey Park on the way home. The animals are very interesting but we did not have a great guide. We had Walter (who is very nice) but spent way too much time talking and kissing his favorite animals. It was very hot and buggy and a quicker tour would have been perfect. Ours took so long and due to the heat and bugs, everyone was a bit cranky afterwords. We went to the Happy Snapper for dinner and had a great meal right at the water’s edge.

Friday: We decided to go back to Tamarindo for a last day of surfing. We rented boards at Iguna Surf 2 and I took a surfing lesson. I was able to get up on my very first try, so I would recommend lessons for anyone. It was a lot of fun. There were only two other people for the lesson so we got plenty of attention. We had breakfast at Nogui’s Sunset Cafe and lunch at Frutas Tropicale (which I think had the best casadas of everywhere we ate). We rented 4 chairs and two umbrellas for the day and we were very comfortable. That night we took a sunset cruise out of Flamingo that was very relaxing. We sailed on the Shannon and had a wonderful time conversing with Jim the captain. He is an American who came to Costa Rica about 18 years ago and just fell in love with it and moved there. His son James (11 yrs old) was just adorable and we had a great time. We had dinner at Il Forno. It is Italian with homemade pasta, great prices, and again, very relaxing.

All in all we had a wonderful vacation. The people are just lovely, the scenery is spectacular, and the pace is so different from home you feel a world away. Pura Vida

Have a great day!!

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