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costaricalover Mar 1st, 2010 05:24 AM

Malpais and Montezuma Trip Report-Moana Lodge and Ylang Ylang Resort
On to the 2nd half of our wonderful Costa Rica vacation,,,

February 18 and 19-MOANA LODGE, MALPAIS-we flew Nature Air from Palma Sur to Tambor(had the plane to ourselves!) and had a 2 1/2 hour layover at Pavas airport until our 2:30 flight to Tambor. The taxi driver from Moana Lodge had screwed up the day of our arrival, so luckily another taxi took us to Malpais for $45. Really noticed the lack of humidity compared to Dominical area as soon as we got off the plane-this area of CR is much drier, not as green, and dusty. Malpais is very small, hardly call it a town-Santa Teresa (15-20 minute walk down the beach) is where more of the action is. But OK for us, we like peaceful and remote. I was a bit disapointed upon our arrival to Moana-it's set up a small hill and lacked the lushness of the south. And it was HOT, lacking the ocean breezes that we were used to. This was our splurge-it was our one year anniversary (we tied the knot at Ylang Ylang last year) and we booked the "Suite", the most expensive room at Moana. Be forewarned, this is not a level property. We are in fairly good shape, but I'll tell you, climbing all those stairs to our suite was no easy task. But of course, after hard work comes the reward, and the view from our room was out of this world! Ocean view for miles, mountain, incredible sunsets-just gorgeous! The room was over the top, done in an African theme-separate sitting area attached to huge bedroom area, and then sliding doors to the most luxurious bathroom with jacuzzi overlooking the ocean. His and hers showers with bidet, leading to an outdoor lanai with loungers and an outdoor shower. Magazine perfect. Now here's the thing-the room was so hot because of the sun, we had to keep the drapes closed all day long (blocking out the to-die-for view) and even the air conditioning didn't quite do the trick! The room was great early morning and sunset, but in between, not good. I found myself wishing I was back at Villas des lav Aves, in our simple but perfect cabin. Anyway, I would recommend this room for the drama alone, but not in the heat of February. The other units were not as expensive, and were shadier. I also found the place lacking in "pura vida", perhaps more evident in smaller hotels in CR. They have just built a new restaurant on site with gorgeous views as well, pricey but worth it for the views.
On a high note, we walked the beach from Malpais to Santa Teresa and were rewarded with a beautiful sandy beach that went on for miles. Lots of surfers and the population was much younger than other parts of CR. Roads are very dusty, so better for us to walk the beaches.
Note: we really liked TROPICO LATINO, in Santa Teresa, set right on the beach. Beautiful location with nice cabins and great restaurant overlooking ocean, and much cheaper than Moana. I'd stay there in a flash if I returned to that area.

Febrtuary 19-24 -YLANG YLANG RESORT- MONTEZUMA-this place is amazing! We stayed in Dome 4 on the beach, simple accomodation but a magical location! This property is as lush as it gets, palm fringed walkways, monkeys everywhere, iguanas, birds, and the friendliest staff imaginable. Beautiful pool with waterfall, best food we'd had in Costa Rica, and a 10 minute walk to the funky little town of Montezuma. You'll see a lot of men with ponytails, and a lot of ex-pats live in and around this town.
So, as I had menitioned previously, John and I had exchanged our wedding vows on this beach the year before, so obviously a very emotional place for us. As we were looking out in front of our Dome at the spot we tied the knot, we noticed quite a buxom woman, naked, straddling a palm tree, being photographed by a very professional looking dude with not your average tourist type camera. He was laden with equipment. Without going into too much detail, suffice to say that this was not your average tourist couple. So, following a bit of investigation, we discovered that PLAYBOY MAGAZINE was doing a shoot for 4 of the 5 days of our stay at Ylang Ylang! So, every evening just before sunset, the show would go on, right at our nuptial spot! We were fine with it all and had a good laugh, just not sure how the 2 or 3 families with kids were taking it.
I did get some pics, but don't thing Fodors would appreciate me posting them....
That said, Ylang Ylang remains one of my favourite places to visit in Costa Rica. There were many repeat visitors, some who return yearly for a full month. This is surely a testament to the beauty of the whole resort, and also to the owners, Patricia and Lenny, who have poured their soul into making it as special as it is.
Do not miss visiting the waterfall in Montezuma-it is amazing. And Chicos Bar has some killer ceviche at reasonable prices. And the smoothies at Hotel Moctezuma (with milk) are the best I've had in CR.

So, another amazing Costa Rica adventure. We will be returning in late July, early August this year. I have always wanted to experience the green season, which I hear is lovely.

Pura Vida to you all!!!

volcanogirl Mar 1st, 2010 08:45 AM

Sounds like fun, except that palm tree part sounds painful! Ylang Ylang is still on our to do list. Sounds like everyone loves it there. I'm intrigued by Mal Pais, but all the comments about heat and dust have made me wonder if it would be our thing. I think Casa Chameleon looks like a neat spot. Lucky you to already be going back again in July!

colibri Mar 1st, 2010 09:33 AM

What a great anniversary celebration - definitely got more than you expected at Ylang Ylang, too funny! It sounds like an amazing place, hope to get there on a future trip.

We were around Brasilito in March - never again at that time of year, way too hot, dry and dusty. Temps in upper 90's - low 100's, better in green season, I think, for that part of the country, too.

Have fun on your second trip later this year!

costaricalover Mar 1st, 2010 09:49 AM

Thanks Vgirl and Colibri. Can you tell me how the weather compares in July/August to February? I know you get a bit more rain, but is it cooler? We usually go February because, well, we're Canadian, and winters can be unbearable. So we we'll continue to go in the winter, but are now thinking of taking our summer vacations there as well. Can never get too much of this place....

hipvirgochick Mar 1st, 2010 11:18 AM

Thanks so much for your report. Playboy, eh? LOL! I'll cross my fingers for PlayGIRL then in a couple months. J/K, J/K!

I'm so excited to check out the beautiful grounds at Ylang Ylang. Wish I could swing 4 nights, but 3 is all I can do. However, we'll be getting there pretty early as my flight is from Tortuguero early morning. Besides Curu Reserve and Tortuga Island - I think we'll mostly enjoy the surroundings and good food!

costaricalover Mar 1st, 2010 11:29 AM

Hi Hip, I ran into someone at YY who did the Tortuga island tour and she did not enjoy herself due to hoards of tourists and the smell of diesel from the boat. But I think you should be OK because you're going in off season. But fyi, it was only a full day tour offered when we were there, I'd have a hard time leaving the resort for that long if only there for 3 days...

hipvirgochick Mar 1st, 2010 12:24 PM

Thanks crlover I've read some negative stuff too but like you figured it's off season...well I'm booking before we get there so we'll see! I read that there are some locals that will take you at times avoiding the tourists too so I thought I would ask the bartender LOL!

hipvirgochick Mar 1st, 2010 01:31 PM

I meant to say I'm NOT booking before we get there...

shillmac Mar 1st, 2010 05:15 PM

What a great story. I dare not tell my husband--he'd probably just love come upon an unexpected scene like that!

We have been to Malpais/Montezuma area in both March and July. As costaricalover stated, hot, dry, and dusty in March. Our experience in July wasn't much better as it was SO unbearably hot. However, that July, it was unseasonably hot all over the country, on the Caribbean as well as the Pacific and points in between. There was not a drop of rain to help cool things down. Anywhere. For several weeks. 2005. Monteverde was hot. Puerto Viejo was hot. Turrialba area was hot. Montezuma was hot. It was miserable!

Usually, July brings some cooling rains, cooler breezes, and is quite pleasant, particularly in the evenings. That year, the evenings and nights were especially unbearable and we hadn't reserved air-conditioned places--usually you don't need them in July! And I hope that will be the case for you when you return--most likely it will!

Dyer Mar 10th, 2010 09:03 AM

This 56 yr. old lady just e-mailed her 20 something year old children and "gave them permission!!" to buy the next several issues of Playboy and asked them to let me know when the Playboy models are Costa Rica so I can go buy my first Playboy magazine to look at the scenery!!

costaricalover Mar 10th, 2010 11:44 AM

Too funny, Dyer. After your "children" discover the Costa Rica issue, can you also let me know, so I can also buy my first copy of Playboy. Don't know if I'd be too comfortable flipping through the pages of Playboy in my small town convenience store...

hipvirgochick Mar 10th, 2010 11:54 AM

Dyer -- Be sure to let us ALL know then too, ok?!?! Was it a Tico shoot or imports?

costaricalover Mar 10th, 2010 12:24 PM

All American. The whole crew (and there was at least 15) were from the States.

Dyer Mar 10th, 2010 05:55 PM

I'll let you know. Good point, costaricalover - I will need to drive to the big city of Sioux Falls, SD so I am not caught buying or browsing through Playboy. I wonder if DH would accept that challenge? Great report, by the way!

hipvirgochick Mar 25th, 2010 09:38 AM

costaricalover - You have me sold on this place! I have an inquiry in to see if I can change from 3/n to 4/n. :-)

costaricalover Mar 25th, 2010 10:17 AM

OK, but don't just do it on account of the Playboy shoot...I can't guarantee a repeat!
But seriously, I don't think you will regret it, Hip. It is such a cool place!

shillmac Mar 25th, 2010 02:14 PM

Too funny! Dyer, what a hoot!

That would be a good place for us to take Isabelle maybe--after Playa Flamingo.

shillmac Mar 25th, 2010 02:24 PM

Pardon me if this has already been covered in the post and I overlooked it, BUT when you say Dome 4, which type of accomodation are you speaking of?

And hip, which did you reserve? Thinking that for us, the beachfront units would be a good deal for 2 adults, one child, with the 2 queens.

Any comments?

volcanogirl Mar 25th, 2010 02:59 PM

Good question - I'm confused about the room styles too. Are domes the same thing as the jungalows?

hipvirgochick Mar 25th, 2010 04:08 PM

shillmac -- I just went for the beachfront room. We just aren't in our room that much to warrant anything more...however if once we get there the suites are available and seem much better who knows...? In off season the prices aren't that huge of a difference.

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