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Overdue Trip Report-Ojochal, Uvita and Lookout Inn, OSA Peninsula

Overdue Trip Report-Ojochal, Uvita and Lookout Inn, OSA Peninsula

Old Apr 1st, 2012, 08:27 AM
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Posts: 371
Overdue Trip Report-Ojochal, Uvita and Lookout Inn, OSA Peninsula

I've been home for over a month and all I can think about is going back! We spent 4 1/2 weeks in Costa Rica this year, and each year we return (have been visiting over 10 times starting in the mid 80's) it gets better and better!

Here is our itinerary:

January 26. - Pura Vida Hotel- Alajuela
January 27 - TikiVillas Rainforest Hotel - Uvita
January 28 through February 17 - house rental in Ojochal(Finca Maranon)
February 17th - Cabinas Jimenez- Puerto Jimenez
February 18th through February 25th - Lookout Inn, Carate, OSA Peninsula
February 26th - Vista Del Valle, Alajuela

Pura Vida Hotel - First night arrival to this beautiful country is very important to me. I want to luxuriate in the earthy smells, the birdsong and the "pura vida" that brings me back to this amazing country year after year. I thought we'd try something new this year, something a bit closer to the highway getting out of San Jose as we were heading out the next morning to Uvita via the coastal route. Pura Vida is a charming little B and B with a number of sweet little cabinas spread out amongst the gardens, just 15 minutes outside the airport. Downside is the ROAD NOISE!!!! We were lucky enough to get one of the bungalows further away from the road, but I still found the traffic sounds unbearable. Another negative is that the owners have recently opened a restaurant offsite, so they no longer serve dinners. First night dinner in Costa Rica was a cold, overpriced pizza delivered to the hotel. But hey, we were all so thrilled to be here, that nothing was going to get us down!!! Vodka Martinis also helped. Would we return - no. In Pura Vida's favour, they do a lot for the local community and Berni is extremely helpful in arranging rental cars, delivered right to the hotel. Breakfast was delicious.

We (my husband, John, and our friend, Sandra) were up with the birds next morning, and after breakfast, the rental car arrived. We all get in the car, and to our dismay, the front seatbelt on the passenger side did not work. So, we drive back to the Car Rental Place, wait 45 minutes to see someone, and he has the seatbelt fixed in a flash. Slightly embarrassing for us all. Then this guy draws a map to the new highway on a napkin, and we confidently head out with giddy anticipation - our first adventure!!! Well, what should have taken 3 1/2 hours ended up taking us over 5. We took the wrong exit to the highway and end up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere for an hour and a half!!! Lesson learned: sense of humour a must. We laughed our ways silly all the way, finally find the highway, and stopfor lunch along the way at Villa Caletas outside of Jaco.

Villa Caletas is a must- visit spot, for the view alone. You are traveling up a windy mountain road for 15-20 minutes and are rewarded at the top with jaw- dropping views of the Gulf of Nicoya from the restaurant. This is an upscale resort catering to a more cruise ship style clientele. Not my type of place, but the ceviche and guacamole were fabulous. The staff were extremely friendly. Would I stay there? No way! Not my style, but really a great choice if you're looking for a stunning view and constant pampering with a lot of cruise wear.

TikiVillas Rainforest Lodge - Uvita - Finally!!!!! Pura, Pura Vida!!! What a magical place Cindy and Thomas have created!!! Up a steep mountain road between Dominical and Uvita lies this little gem of a lodge, perched on a mountainside in the rainforest overlooking the Pacific ocean. The common area is a Balinese inspired architectural gem with a soaring ceiling fringed by a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the ocean. The Villas are absolutely perfect and blend into the environment seamlessly. There are just a handful of villas (6?) each with a front wall that opens up to the ocean and rainforest, set in beautiful gardens. Toucans flit by in the trees, howler monkeys as alarm clocks, small kitchenette, and indoor and (heavenly) outdoor shower. Huge outdoor deck with comfy chairs. Bed linens to die for! Delicious Costa Rican breakfasts( included in price) of gallo pinto , fresh fruit, eggs and avocado. The crowning jewel are the owners, Thomas and Cindy , 2 of the most gracious hosts I have ever encountered. They are truly beautiful people who really believe in what they do and go out of thir way to make you feel welcome. The other crowning jewel is the price - $130 / night!!! I highly recommend this place and will be returning next year.

Next up - Ojochal Rental House
costaricalover is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2012, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Ooh, I'm so excited to read your report, especially about Ojochal/Uvita. We're seriously thinking about going there next year with our kids, and about getting a rental house, so I'll love to hear about your experience. BTW, we spent 5 heavenly nights at your beloved Ylang Ylang (inspired by your past trip report) in February and loved it!
janenicole is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2012, 01:01 PM
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Thanks - great details and a good read , much appreciated!
Cattail is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2012, 01:37 PM
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Yeah, finally! Good start, looking forward to the rest.
tully is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2012, 01:50 PM
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Janenicole- so cool that you went to Ylang Ylang and loved it!!
Tully, I know, I know! But better late than never.
costaricalover is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2012, 03:18 PM
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Ojochal - Casa Miles - I almost hesitate to talk about this area and the house rental, because I like that it's a bit off the tourist radar and I have fallen in love!!! Firstly, Ojochal is a small village approximately a 15 minute drive south of Uvita. The village consists of a handful of restaurants ( from the more upscale Exotica and Citrus and Ylang Ylang) to a smattering of not as expensive( but equally as good in their own right) like Adelante, Mamma y Pappa's Italian, and Boca Coronado. There is a small bakery(pancita) , a police station, and a wonderful organic farmers market held every Tuesday at Citrus. Beyond the village and up the mountain road are a number of residences, many with incredible views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This was our third visit to the area, the last 2 years spent in a rental house, Casa Miles.

We spent 3 1/2 weeks in the house this year. It consists of 2 bedrooms, each with ensuite, a large open, living area, and a fabulous outdoor space with a hammock, table and chairs, and a lovely swimming pool. Views from the house are heavenly. There are toucans and parrots and an assortment of other birds that come visit every day. The jungle behind the house is home to a raucous group of howler monkeys. Casa Miles will be our destination yearly, as long as it is rented, unless we break down and buy something!

It is situated on "Finca Maranon"' what used to be a cashew nut farm. There are a lot of ex-pats that reside here - some full-time, others for the winter. Every morning, we would walk down the mountain to have breakfast at Diquis, a charming small resort run by a lovely French Canadian couple, Pierre and Renee. I would highly recommend this place in Ojochal if you decided you didn't want to rent a house and just wanted to kick back and not cook. We had many meals here, and met a lot of the guests, who were lovely. Many guests opted to stay long- term, a month or more. It is very reasonably priced and sits on a gorgeous piece of property.

We took a number of day tours when in Ojochal. The horseback riding trip to Nayauca falls should not be missed!!! I actually did it TWICE when we were there, with 2 separate groups of guests that stayed with us. This is a full day trip on horseback with a stop for lunch and breakfast at the owner's home. The falls are the most beautiful I have ever seen anywhere in Costa Rica. Great for swimming and splashing around under the falls. This tour is a must-do! Another winner was the mangrove tour from Sierpe by boat. We saw caimans and a boa and all sorts of water birds such as Ibis's and cranes. Lots of monkeys, too! And do not miss the bird watching tour at Hacienda Baru, the national park just north of Dominical! Pedro is an experienced guide and pointed out so many birds that we would have missed on our own. You can also stay in the park and the accommodations looked basic, but really all you need, as you are a 2 minute walk from the beach which is deserted, wild and had the biggest waves I have ever witnessed. No swimming here!!!

So many restaurants in Ojochal for such a small village! Our fave was Citrus, and Adelante for lunch. Diquis also has wonderful dinners, and they are priced very reasonably.

There are so many stunning, deserted beaches on the coast stretching from Dominical to Ojochal!!! I LOVED going to the Whale's Tail at low tide in Ballena national park first thing in the morning. You can walk forever out on the sandbar and there is great swimming in certain areas. The beach is so tropical, edged by all these beautiful shade palms, so Robinson Crusoe!! Another favorite was Ventanas beach closer to Ojochal where you can swim through these cool caves out to the ocean at low tide. There are a number of other beaches in the area, all great, and all relatively undiscovered. This is NOT Jaco or Tamarindo!

Next up - The drive to Puerto Jimenez and Cabinas Jimenez
costaricalover is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2012, 04:02 PM
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Reading and loving it. Can't wait to go back.
xyz99 is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Thanks for the great details. Sounds like the Uvita area is right up our alley. So glad you had a wonderful trip. Looking forward to reading the rest!
janenicole is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2012, 06:16 AM
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Great trip report! I'm definitely interested in this area now! You really bring the beauty and atmosphere of each location out so well in your descriptions! I can't wait to read more!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2012, 08:00 AM
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Ojochal to Puerto Jimenez - Cabinas Jimenez
It was very sad to leave Ojochal,but time to move on for another adventure! We did the drive in approximately 2 1/2 hours, with a stop along the way at a lovely little lodge (can't remember the name!) overlooking the mountains. As we got closer to PJ, the beautiful Golfo Dulce displaying it's fabulous vista on the left, we knew we were getting close. We arrived at Cabinas Jimenez as soon as we entered the town; the beauty of the location is that it is walking distance to anywhere in town, but tucked away from the hustle and bustle overlooking the Gulf.

Cabinas Jimenez was fabulous. We had the cabin on the far end of the hotel, (#1) and it was roomy, clean, with a large deck overlooking the ocean. We were steps away from the beach, and the views of the boats in the harbour were beautiful. Very reasonably priced, as well.

I love Puerto Jimenez!!! It is a funky little hot, dusty town with a load of character. I just loved walking the town, stopping for a cool drink at Soda Carolina's, and people watching! At this point in the trip, I was so infused with the pura vida spirit that I think it became infectious - seemed I was meeting people where ever I went and connecting somehow. I really do believe "pura vida" enters your soul after being in Costa Rica for a while, and that others can pick up on it, and subsequently pass it on to others they meet! Then you get this critical mass of travellers all high on pura vida, and it's.....pura pura vida!!!!

We had dinner at Pizza Mail-it (used to be a post office, or next to a post office) and it was probably the best pizza we had ever had! We took one look when it arrived, and decided we could never finish it, and would ask for a doggie bag. Well, no need for that! Completely polished it off. I would highly recommend this place for dinner, great ambience too!

So, back to Cabinas Jimenez for one night, and very excited for the next day - Lookout Inn at Carate. Can't wait to tell you all about it!!!

P.S. There were scarlet macaws in the trees everywhere in PJ!!
costaricalover is offline  
Old Apr 8th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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If Casa Miles has a website, would you be willing to share it? I can't seem to find anything and it sounds interesting.

KPlumm is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2012, 12:02 PM
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Hello KPlumm, you can email Karen at [email protected] or
[email protected]. Good luck!
costaricalover is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2012, 03:00 PM
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Enjoying the detail!
shillmac is offline  
Old May 14th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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costaricalover; your itinerary was so helpful! I have been looking at lots of different islands and also Belize for a christmas - new years trip, but after researching your stops and the places you stayed, my husband and I got so excited we decided to return to Costa Rica (but it will be a completely different area than where we were about 5 yrs. ago and we went ahead and booked our flights.

Maybe you can help. I am considering Shelter from the Storm or Tikki Villas. It appears that they are pretty close to each other, Shelter does not include meals, Tikki includes breakfast. I would love to hear yours or anyone's opinion about the main differences between the two and if you recommend one over the other. From the websites I like the way the rooms look in Shelter; the ones at Tikki look fairly generic.

Also, can you tell me about Lookout Inn? Was it worth the drive? We always love off the beaten track unique lodging experiences. My last trip I discovered La Carolina and Ylang Ylang and they were highlights! Not to sound too wimpy, but did it at all feel unsafe to be in the open air rooms (which looks like glorified camping) while being in the jungle?

Do you know anything about Drake Bay? What do you think of switching Lookout Inn to go to Drake Bay instead? I am having a tough time getting a good sense about the area but it doesn't seem like it's in the jungle like Lookout. Love to hear your thoughts.
Juldie is offline  
Old May 15th, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Somehow I missed this trip report the first time around, but this is a fun read, and I'm glad you had such a great time.
volcanogirl is online now  
Old May 15th, 2012, 11:02 AM
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Oh, Juldie!! I just lost 30 minutes of writing in response to your email!!!
So, in a nutshell, I preferred Tiki Villas because of the
openness of the villas to nature, but Shelter was also lovely!
Fabulous hosts at either place, although Cindy and Thomas at
Tiki really went above and beyond the role of host to
make our stay enjoyable. Tiki has a better pool ( infinity overlooking
the ocean.) but , trust me, you will not go wrong with either!!

Regarding Lookout, I LOVED that place! Saying that, I prefer a more
open cabin to be closer to nature. There are some rooms that you can get
that have walls, but the beauty to me was being right out
there in the open with the elements. You can check out my Tripadvisor
review, my screen name is "addicted to costa rica", if you want
to read a very detailed report of my stay there. Be prepared for a lot of stairs and
communal dining. It's a very happy, social place!!
costaricalover is offline  
Old May 15th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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I have not been to Drake Bay yet, but will visit next February.
Btw,I got married on the beach at Ylang Ylang! Love that place
and plan to return someday soon!
costaricalover is offline  
Old May 15th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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But you haven't finished the report
tully is offline  
Old May 15th, 2012, 12:26 PM
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Oh Tully, my lurking Fodorite pal! Thought I had
gotten away with it! Ok, I'll write later. And of course, I'll
be expecting a fully detailed report when you return in June!
I'll be lurking!
costaricalover is offline  
Old May 15th, 2012, 12:37 PM
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My husband and I have been travelling to Costa Rica for 12 years now, and we have visited the OSA peninsula 3 times. We have seen most parts of this beautiful country, but I will say, hands down, The Lookout Inn is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited! From the moment we arrived, we felt as if we were staying in a long-lost friend's "home" as opposed to a "hotel". Terry and Katya are warm and wonderful hosts, and made sure we lacked nothing for the week we spent with them. The Inn is perched on a hill with jaw-dropping views of a virtually deserted piece of the Pacific Ocean below you. Many other hotels in the area have lovely views, but none have the proximity to the ocean like The Lookout. We walked for miles down the beautiful beach every morning, and loved to hang out right in front of the hotel in the afternoon, reading un the hammocks and watching the magnificent scarlet macaws fly above. Did I mention the birds at the Lookout??? You need not leave the Inn to witness the very best of Costa Rica birding!!! Macaws everywhere, brilliant blue honeycreepers, birds I have not seen anywhere else on all my visits to Costa Rica! Capuchin monkeys and coatis come to feed every afternoon at the "banana feeding station".
We stayed in the Monkey House, literally open on 3 sides overlooking the wild Pacific with an outdoor shower. Heaven!
Ok, the food question... Never, and I mean NEVER have I been privy to such a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes!! My favorite was the freshly caught tuna, grilled to perfection. Melted in your mouth. And there was always a delicious home-made soup, a variety of salads, Terry's home-made cheese, and decadent deserts. ( Muchas gracias, Juan-ky!!) Everyone eats together in the open- air dining area, and by the end of the week, I added some fascinating people to my repertoire of friends who I hope to keep in touch with. One of the highlights of the late afternoon was joining the other guests and Terryand Katya for the " sunset viewing happy hour". Craig, the wonderful bartender makes a mean margarita, perfect for watching that beautiful golden orb sink slowly into the ocean. The highlight of the week was chartering a boat with two other guests and heading over to the Sirena Ranger Station for a hike in Corcovado National Park. We saw 30 peccaries crossing over a path right in front of us!! A National Geographic moment for sure! I also did a 6 a.m. Yoga class with Julie that was out of this world!

I could go on and on, but suffice to say that if you love nature, a storybook setting, a friendly environment and delicious food, just GO!!! I have stayed at two other lodges in the area that were a lot more expensive and lacked the feeling of ever-present "Pura Vida" at the Lookout. I will be back!!!!
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