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Trip Report Four days in Ostional, Costa Rica

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Over Labor Day we had the opportunity to spend four nights in the Playa Ostional area. We normally travel to Costa Rica in February (going back this coming February) but we had TACA plane tickets that were set to expire, so we booked a trip to Liberia and chose Ostional for the turtles.

Lodging:
Our hotel for all four nights was the wonderful, sublime Hotel Luna Azul between Playa San Juanillo and Playa Ostional. The one word for this place is 'relaxation.' We felt the stress flow out of our bodies upon arrival. The aesthetic is tropical with European sensibilities. Very sophisticated, but at the same time warm and inviting. The pool with an infinity edge overlooking the ocean and the forest, is very difficult to leave at times.

We were lucky enough to stay in one of the casitas facing the Pacific ocean. The view from the back of our casita was of a sweepisng vista of lush, green hills backed by the ocean. Parrots and other birds flew by on a regular basis. The bathroom is open air, with the shower opening up onto the casitas wrap-around deck. Complete privacy without any walls--nothing between you and the ocean. Sigh.

There are a good variety of birds and lizards at the hotel, and howler monkeys make an almost daily appearance there. You hear them every morning--4 troops live in the immediate vicinity.

The owners/hosts Andreas and Rolf do a wonderful job of making the stay a positive one. They discuss which activities are of interest to you, and work to make sure those activities can fit your schedule. They are also fantastic cooks, and the restaurant is very often in demand from others in the area (hotel guests get priority in terms of getting a table). Overall, you feel like you are staying with friends rather than at a business.

Activities
Our first day was spent hanging out by the pool and then relaxing in our casita in the afternoon. Our second day was spent hiking the Reserva Biologica Nosara, housed at the Lagarto Lodge in Nosara. We saw good wildlife, and probably would have seen better had we gotten an earlier start (it was a last minute decision because the tour we had scheduled needed to be postponed due to tides). It is hot and sticky and in a mangrove area, so be warned. The Lagarto Lodge itself has stupendous views, and from the looks of the grounds we would strongly consider staying there in the future.

Our other major tours were the sea turtle swimming/boat tour with Captain Mike and of course the night tour at Ostional. We weren't there during an arribada (wrong moon phase) but we did get to see three turtles, and got to see one dig her nest and lay all of her eggs, then return to the sea. Amazing experience.

Due to timing (low/green/rainy season) a lot of places were closed. We weren't able to do the boat wildlife tour in Nosara because it had closed for the season, and most restaurants in the area were also closed (lucky for us to be staying where we were).

Odds and ends:
We hired private drivers for travel between Liberia and the hotel, and rented a car locally for our driving around there. It would probably have been cheaper to rent a car in liberia and drive down, but timing (daylight) and general unfamiliarity with the area caused us to be more cautious.

Roads in the area--terrible (as in Monterverde terrible). But, paved roads generally make areas less attractive and pristine due to increased tourism and condos, etc. Eventually it will get paved, but hopefully that won't ruin the area.

Liberia airport--very nice airport, runs very well, Modern, clean, well laid out. But, EAT BEFORE YOU GET THERE. The only restaurant there is the single biggest rip off we have ever seen--we paid $45 for two sodas, a slice of pizza, and a hamburger with fries. Just awful.

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