70 Best Hotels in Guanacaste and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo

$$$$ | Peninsula Papagayo, Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica

Earth tones and natural details prevail in this Hyatt property created by architect Ronald Zürcher, who utilized indigenous woods, sugarcane, and bamboo in the design of the rooms, each contemporary and bright with ocean views. Golf carts transport guests to infinity pools and pod-shape restaurants modeled after local seeds and cocoons. Standard rooms are housed in three-story buildings, and have rain showers, enclosed balconies, and complimentary bonuses such as minibars, Wi-Fi, sun hats, and sandals. The three restaurants infuse Latin flavors, but the tapas bar is your best option for exceptional cocktails. The Onda Spa includes local products in its treatments, and the deep-tissue massage is conducted with sugarcane reeds. Just past the adult pool is a jungle trail that leads to two small coves. Children under 12 stay free, and the Family Plan provides a 50% discount on a connected room for children. Request a room in Building 3 for the best view of the bay. This hillside property is spread out, so expect to do a fair amount of walking unless you request a golf cart ride.

Pros

  • Friendly staff
  • Free Kids' Club
  • Design reflects natural surroundings

Cons

  • Pricey meals
  • Rooms have dim lighting
  • Small and rocky beach
Peninsula Papagayo, Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica
2690–1234
hotel Details
153 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

Bahía del Sol

$$$ | South end of Potrero Beach, Potrero, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

Snagging the best spot on the beach, Bahía del Sol has a gorgeous beachfront pool and comfortable rooms built around a garden of tropical shrubs and towering trees. Spacious rooms with contemporary furnishings and fabrics open onto a portico with chairs, hammocks, and views of the garden, which has botanical labels to help you identify plants. Deluxe suites also have a back patio with a Jacuzzi hemmed by greenery; the King Sun suite is the only one with a bay view. Spacious one- and two-bedroom suites also have large kitchens and comfortable living rooms, great for families. At the restaurant, smartly uniformed waiters serve jumbo shrimp, lobster, fresh fish, and various meat dishes prepared in an eclectic mix of culinary styles. Seating is under a massive thatch roof or at several shaded tables on the immaculate lawn overlooking the ocean. There's also a full spa, free yoga, and theme nights with live music on the beach. The service and commitment to the environment match the unbeatable surroundings, earning the hotel five leaves in the national sustainability program. Staff are also active in the local community, promoting recycling and beach clean-ups, and teaching English to local children.

Pros

  • On the beach
  • Lovely grounds
  • Excellent restaurant
  • Friendly, first-rate service

Cons

  • Front terraces are not very private
  • Hotel closed during October
  • Some rooms need updates
South end of Potrero Beach, Potrero, Costa Rica
2654–4671
hotel Details
28 rooms
Rate Includes: Closed Oct., Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

Blue Dream Hotel

$ | Bahía Salinas, Costa Rica
Catering predominantly to kitesurfers, this breezy property on a steep hillside is one of the more affordable lodging options in Bahía Salinas, with suites, bungalows, rooms, and dorms just minutes from the water. It's worth bypassing other room categories and opting for the boat-shape suite with a private balcony, stone walls, air-conditioning, and garden shower. If you're on a budget, the wooden bungalows are chalet-style and sleep four, with an added bunk bed for the little ones. Standard rooms are boxy and rustic, but suitable if kitesurfing is your main priority. All rooms have ocean views, Wi-Fi, and hot-water showers, and there’s an on-site pizzeria serving wood-oven pizza and Mediterranean food. The all-inclusive packages with meals, lessons, and lodging are a real bargain. Most people come to combine the adrenaline sport with a bit of relaxation, but if you’re not into kitesurfing (or even wind), you may want to stay elsewhere.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Kitesurfing lessons
  • Water views

Cons

  • Steep climb to top rooms
  • Not much to do outside of kitesurfing
  • Stray animals and neglected grounds
Bahía Salinas, Costa Rica
8826–5221
hotel Details
16 units
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $

Recommended Fodor's Video

Blue Jay Lodge

$ | From El Cruce, 800 m south toward Malpaís, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica

Perched along a forested mountainside, these wooden cabins feel like tree houses; you'll hear howler monkeys and an array of birdsong from your bed. Steep steps lead to the rustic aeries built on stilts, with screens for walls on three sides, comfortable beds, and balconies hung with hammocks. Once you drag your luggage up the hill, you will be rewarded with great views from the upper cabins. Blankets buffer you against the sometimes cool, breezy nights. Blue Jay's three lower cabins are larger, but lack the arboreal charm of the rest. Four new, larger cabins come equipped with kitchens and air-conditioning. Breakfast is in the open-air restaurant, next to an attractive blue-tile pool. Head to the nearby beach and surf break or climb the mountain trail behind the cabins to look for birds.

Pros

  • Natural setting
  • Good value
  • Nice respite from lowland heat and dust, since road in front is paved

Cons

  • Steep terrain
  • Most bungalows don't have air-conditioning
From El Cruce, 800 m south toward Malpaís, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica
2640–0089
hotel Details
14 cabins
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $

BoHo Tamarindo

$$ | Calle Cardinal, Tamarindo, Costa Rica

This chic and charming breezy boutique hotel is a welcome hideaway from the dusty bustle of Tamarindo, but still walking distance to everything. There are eight clean and comfortable rooms with king beds surrounding a refreshing pool. A carefree aesthetic abounds, encouraging you to leave your worries behind. The French owners treat you to a different delicious breakfast every morning and will take care of anything else you may need while you're visiting. 

Pros

  • Good value
  • Excellent hospitality from owners
  • Clean, comfortable, stylish rooms

Cons

  • No coffeemaker in room
  • Not on the beach
  • Doesn't feel very Costa Rican
Calle Cardinal, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
8709--5674
hotel Details
8 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Borinquen Mountain Resort & Spa

$$$ | 13 km (8 miles) northwest of Liberia on Pan-American Hwy., then 19 km (12 miles) north on dirt road toward Cañas Dulces, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, 108-5000, Costa Rica

The spacious villas and bungalows on this 570-acre ranch are lovely, and the room rate includes access to their hot springs, mud baths, and a Costa Rican breakfast. The villas, overlooking lawns shaded by tropical trees on the volcano's windy west slope, have high wooden ceilings, large porches, and plenty of amenities. Elegant deluxe bungalows have king-size canopy beds, and the suites have Jacuzzi tubs. Though 60 minutes from the park entrance, the property holds most of the same natural attractions, including three waterfalls and patches of forest with monkeys, parrots, deer, and other wildlife. Along with volcanic mud baths and hot springs, the spa has a wooden sauna heated by steam from a fumarole (there's a slight sulfur odor near the mineral baths). Sunset views from the large pool are usually spectacular. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, ATV trips, a canopy tour, and a trip to the park in a Land Rover followed by a hike. The rooms are separated from the restaurant and spa by steep climbs, but the staff can transport you in a golf cart. It's worth staying at least three days to experience the activities and natural attractions, but be sure to factor in the cost of meals (roughly $30 per entrée) since there are no other dining options nearby.

Pros

  • Attractive, well-equipped bungalows
  • Peaceful environment
  • Lots of outdoor activities

Cons

  • Far from park entrance
  • 12-km (7½-mile) unpaved road
  • Wi-Fi only in restaurant and reception areas
  • Occasional sound of ATVs, golf carts, and leaf blowers
13 km (8 miles) northwest of Liberia on Pan-American Hwy., then 19 km (12 miles) north on dirt road toward Cañas Dulces, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, 108-5000, Costa Rica
2690–1900
hotel Details
39 units
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

Cabinas Las Olas

$$ | 1 km (½ mile) before Avellanas, on right, Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

Frequented mainly by surfers, this is a good option for anyone seeking easy beach access, relative solitude, and comfortable, if not fancy, lodging. The hotel's spacious glass-and-stone bungalows are scattered across a leafy property behind Playa Avellanas, which guests reach via an elevated boardwalk through a protected mangrove estuary. Each cabin has a queen bed and a single bed, high wooden ceiling, and covered terrace with a hammock. Eight cabins now have air-conditioning, and although four do not, their high ceilings, shady location, ceiling fans, and good cross-ventilation keep the rooms cool at night. Solar panels provide hot water. Monkeys, iguanas, and other critters lurk in and around the extensive, forested grounds. The restaurant, under the shade of a giant guanacaste tree, serves a selection of Costa Rican and Continental cuisine at reasonable prices ($$) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There's also a playground and game room with a Ping-Pong table and other games.

Pros

  • Near beach
  • Surf shop with board rental and lessons
  • Secluded

Cons

  • Mosquitoes a problem in rainy season
  • Simple rooms
  • Patchy Wi-Fi
1 km (½ mile) before Avellanas, on right, Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica
2652–9315
hotel Details
10 rooms
Rate Includes: Closed Oct., Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Cafe Playa Negra Hotel

$$ | Calle Principal De Los Pargos, Playa Negra, Costa Rica

This "boho chic" boutique hotel is charming, close to the beach, and a good value. The simple, modern rooms have built-in platform beds while the suites have freestanding king-size beds, all with comfortable mattresses, high ceilings, large windows, air conditioning, reliable Wi-Fi, and a minifridge. There is an inviting terrace for guests to relax upstairs and an L-shaped pool and enticing restaurant downstairs. The staff is friendly and welcoming.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Great restaurant
  • Short walk to the beach

Cons

  • No TVs
  • Small pool
  • Rough road to get here
Calle Principal De Los Pargos, Playa Negra, Costa Rica
6084--5053
hotel Details
8 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Cañas Castilla

$ | 5 km (3 miles) north from La Cruz, La Cruz, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

Swiss expats Guido and Agi spent their first years in Costa Rica living off the land without running water or electricity, but today their little paradise is a full-fledged farm with cows, horses, chickens, and rustic cabins for overnight guests. Handcrafted by the owners, cozy cabins are extremely tidy, with high beamed ceilings and patios overlooking the Sapoa River, where you can spend a lazy day in a hammock. Screened windows keep the bugs away, and ceramic-tile floors keep temperatures cool. Each room has a safe, a mini-refrigerator, and air-conditioning. Wildlife is abundant here so expect to see monkeys, birds, sloths, bats, and the occasional crocodile. Agi is an exceptional cook, whipping up Swiss-tico fusion favorites with homemade breads and organic produce from the farm. They have their own moringa plantation, a medicinal plant known to prevent some 300 diseases. There is a small library providing a book exchange and board games, making those rainy days a bit more inviting. Sunny days are perfect for rowing down the river, hiking the well-marked network of trails, or horseback riding on the 160-acre property. The owners can also arrange private tours across the border to Nicaragua.

Pros

  • Friendly owners
  • Nature abounds
  • All rooms are wheelchair-accessible
  • Delicious food

Cons

  • Muddy in rainy season
  • Patchy Wi-Fi in common areas only
  • No phones
5 km (3 miles) north from La Cruz, La Cruz, Costa Rica
8381–4030-mobile
hotel Details
6 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $

Casa Conde Beachfront Hotel

$$$$ | Playa Panama, 3 km (2 miles) north of Playa Hermosa, 50101, Costa Rica

Spread over verdant grounds just behind relatively pristine Playa Panama, this all-inclusive property has an excellent location with bay views, balmy breezes, and a huge swimming pool. Spacious standard rooms are in one-story buildings with old-fashioned charm: red Spanish tile roof; red-tile floors; high, sloping ceilings; and covered front terraces offering a glimpse of the bay through the mature trees that line the nearby beach. Standard rooms are equipped with amenities you might expect from a bigger luxury hotel, including flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and separate vanities and bathrooms. Suites are bigger, more elegant, and more private, but they are set back a little farther from the beach. A four-story Mediterranean-style addition has six rooms with ocean-view terraces. Master suites have a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, walk-in closets, and wraparound patios. The large pool has a waterfall and swim-up bar, and an elegant, airy restaurant serves pizza, pastas, and other Italian fare as well as local seafood and beef. The hotel also works hard at sustainability, earning four out of five leaves in the national sustainability program.

Pros

  • Spacious rooms
  • Immaculate grounds
  • Close to beach

Cons

  • Early check-ins cost $25 per person
  • Rooms near pool can be noisy
  • No activities
Playa Panama, 3 km (2 miles) north of Playa Hermosa, 50101, Costa Rica
2586–7300-San José office
hotel Details
50 rooms
Rate Includes: All-Inclusive

Quick Facts

Casa Romántica

$$ | Nosara, 50206, Costa Rica

Calm, tranquil, and close to the beach, this hotel's name (Romantic House) says it all: the Spanish colonial–style house has an upstairs veranda and a graceful arcade with views of a crystal-blue kidney-shape pool surrounded by a glorious tropical garden. The young Swiss owners renovated the original rooms and built new ones in separate wings. Everything is bright, with big bathrooms and shared terraces overlooking the gardens. Eight have air-conditioning and four rely on sea breezes to keep them cool. There's also a fully equipped and air-conditioned two-bedroom house for rent. The large pool has a huge shelter with hammocks, covered by a soaring thatch roof. A short path through the surrounding forest leads straight to the beach. The hotel partners with a surf school to offer surfing packages. The small patio restaurant where the excellent complimentary buffet breakfast is served becomes a truly romantic, candlelit restaurant at night, when the menu includes Continental favorites like chicken cordon bleu, beef Stroganoff, a creamy shrimp curry, and daily fish and seafood specials.

Pros

  • Very close to beach
  • Yoga sessions
  • Good value

Cons

  • Rooms comfortable but not spectacular
  • Usually quiet but children can make the pool area noisy at times
  • Often full
Nosara, 50206, Costa Rica
2682–0272
hotel Details
13 units
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Conchal Hotel

$$ | Brasilito, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice
It may not be on the beach, but this quaint boutique hotel is certainly a diamond in the rough in rustic Brasilito, with breezy rooms framing an attractive pool-centered courtyard and a second-story restaurant with wholesome cuisine. Guests are greeted with refreshing juice and are escorted to rooms with polished concrete floors, flat-screen TVs, queen beds, high ceilings, spacious showers, and free Wi-Fi. The coffeemakers, hair dryers, bathrobes, and king-size beds are a nice touch in the superior rooms. (The hard-to-come-by Room 1 is your best bet for space and luxury.) Each has a patio looking out to the courtyard filled with hibiscus, plumeria, and red ginger plants. Included in the rate is a continental breakfast of tropical fruit, fresh-baked bread, and homemade marmalades. At night, the garden looks magical as lights reflect off the pool, and by day you’ll be sharing it with iguanas, birds, and the occasional monkey. The owners can arrange sailing, surfing, and horseback-riding tours.

Pros

  • B&B feel
  • Outstanding restaurant
  • Friendly owners

Cons

  • Some street noise
  • 15-minute walk to the beach
  • Hotel often full
Brasilito, Costa Rica
2654–9125
hotel Details
13 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

$$$$ | Playa Jobo, west of Bahia Salinas, Bahía Salinas, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice
As the first all-inclusive luxury resort in the Bahía Salinas area and the first hotel in Guanacaste to feature swim-up rooms, Dreams Las Mareas stands out from the AI pack with no hidden charges, no restaurant reservations, no towel cards, and no plastic wrist bands. Its location on the bay of Playa Jobo makes for quiet isolation, despite the property's size: 447 rooms, each with ocean, pool, or mountain views. Spacious rooms have satin curtains sectioning off modern bathrooms, with luxurious touches like hydrotubs, stocked minibars, and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Included in the rate are top-shelf spirits, 24-hour room service, and meals at any of the eight restaurants. Selection, presentation, and quality of cuisine are remarkably impressive, especially at the fine-dining Italian restaurant, Portofino. The resort prides itself on offering "soft entertainment," with no drinking games, pool shouting, or DJs to awaken you during your poolside slumber. Still, there’s plenty to entertain like yoga, snorkeling, a kids’ club, disco, cinema, and a 44,000-square-foot pool with a water slide. For pampering, you can indulge in treatments at the Spa by Pevonia or work your way through their eight-step hydrotherapy circuit.

Pros

  • Lovely swim-up rooms
  • Calm beach
  • Designated kids' pool

Cons

  • Isolated on a bumpy road
  • Steep, vast grounds require a lot of walking
  • Patios and bathrooms lack privacy
Playa Jobo, west of Bahia Salinas, Bahía Salinas, Costa Rica
866-237–3267-in U.S.
hotel Details
447 rooms
Rate Includes: All-Inclusive

Quick Facts

El Mangroove

$$$$ | Bahia Papagayo, at Playa Panama, Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica

Barefoot luxury abounds at this hip boutique hotel where an airy courtyard leads to a 45-meter pool lined with beach bungalows and modern rooms. Architect Ronald Zürcher integrated stone, sugarcane, and towering guanacaste trees into the design. Any trees removed during construction were repurposed into bedroom furniture such as tree-stump tables and wood-frame mirrors. Unique L-shape rooms open into enclosed patios, meaning you’re greeted by a hammock and sunshine on your way to the bedroom. Offering mangrove or garden views, rooms have walk-in closets, minibars, Wi-Fi, touch-screen phones (like internal iPads), and thoughtful touches like dominoes, a deck of cards, and Rubik’s Cubes. Only two corner suites have ocean views, but the five poolside cabanas—equipped with TVs and draped in linen—are just a stone’s throw from the sand. Although popular with young couples, the hotel is still child-friendly with a kids’ club, water sports, beach cruisers, surf lessons, and night paddleboarding ($90) with illuminated boards that lure marine life. The casual beachfront restaurant has a sandy floor and a DJ spinning chill-out music, while the more formal restaurant borders the pool and dishes up some of the finest cuisine in the region. If your schedule allows, book a room between September and November, when rates drop by nearly 50%.

Pros

  • 24-hour room service
  • Nice gym and spa
  • Gorgeous rain showers
  • All-inclusive plan available

Cons

  • Poolside cabana costs $150 per day
  • Only two rooms have ocean views
  • Mosquitoes in common areas
  • Staff lack attention to detail
Bahia Papagayo, at Playa Panama, Playa Arenilla, Costa Rica
4701–0000
hotel Details
85 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

Florblanca

$$$$ | 2 km (1 mile) north of soccer field, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

Named for the white flowers of the frangipani trees growing between the restaurant and the beach, this ultraluxurious resort is dedicated to relaxation and rejuvenation. Villas are almost buried in an artistically controlled tangle of mature garden and soaring palms, mere steps from the surf. Each tastefully decorated and spacious villa exudes a South Sea Islands vibe, especially in the outdoor Balinese-inspired bathrooms with rain showers and sunken tubs. Airy living rooms open onto porches with large hammocks. Most villas have one air-conditioned bedroom with a king-size bed; two-bedroom villas have a second room with twin beds. Only four villas have sea views through the trees, so request one of these when you book. Villas 5 and 6 are a little too close to the dusty road. Florblanca's Surf House, slightly more rustic but a little cheaper, sleeps up to 6 people, has its own secluded beach, and the best ocean views. Yoga classes are given in a studio that faces the ocean, and there is a full range of spa services at the hotel's Bamboo Spa. Along with luxury and service, the hotel pays attention to conservation, earning four leaves in the national sustainability program. The only TV is in a comfortable lounge. Bicycles, surfboards, and snorkeling gear are available to guests.

Pros

  • Gorgeous villas and grounds
  • Friendly
  • Great yoga classes
  • No kids under age six

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • On rocky stretch of beach
  • Insects sometimes a problem
2 km (1 mile) north of soccer field, Santa Teresa, 60111, Costa Rica
800-685–1031-toll-free in North America
hotel Details
11 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo

$$$$ | 25 km (15 miles) west of Guardia, 50101, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice
© Matthew Millman

With an indulgent spa, restaurants, and retail boutiques, Four Seasons is one of the most luxurious hotels in Costa Rica, but it's the unparalleled service and secluded location between two golden-sand beaches that make this resort one of a kind. Located on a narrow isthmus and surrounded by jungle, the property provides an ocean view from just about everywhere. Service, provided by a cream-of-the-crop, bilingual staff, is faultless. Expect to find your bags unpacked by housekeeping and to be addressed by name by the valet welcoming you "home." Tropical-styled rooms have king-size beds, marble baths, and screened-in living-room terraces. With roofs designed after turtle shells, the villas have private plunge pools, two or three bedrooms, and full kitchens (personal chef available). From the rooms, a bridge arches over the main pool to three restaurants: Pesce (Italian kitchen and wine bar), Bahia (Latin cuisine), and Anejo (light fare). The 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf course has breathtaking views and is home to the dinner-only Caracol Steakhouse, highlighting local oysters, duck with truffle butter, and perhaps the best steak you'll ever have. It's worth the wildly expensive price tag, but the rest of the hotel's food can be disappointing considering the sky-high prices. A schedule of activities, including guided hiking, tennis, kayaking, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding will help you justify that Swedish massage.

Pros

  • Impeccable service
  • Lovely beach
  • Surf trips to Witch's Rock

Cons

  • Breakfast not included
  • 30 minutes from main road
  • Expensive
25 km (15 miles) west of Guardia, 50101, Costa Rica
2696–0000
hotel Details
159 units
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

Giardino Tropicale Hotel

$$ | Main street, past entrance to Playa Guiones, Nosara, 50206, Costa Rica

In lush gardens shaded by large trees, you'll find comfortable deluxe rooms and smaller, simpler cabinas with fresh linens and rocking chairs on the porches, centered on a sparkling 17-meter (56-foot), salt-filtered swimming pool. The handsome deluxe rooms have everything you need to make breakfast: electric kettles, coffeemakers, refrigerators, and sinks. One spacious suite has two bedrooms, a TV, a Jacuzzi, and a full kitchen with a large porch. The four standard cabinas are smaller and have solar-heated hot water, ceiling fans, coffeemakers, and refrigerators; four have kitchens or kitchenettes. Use of air-conditioning costs $15 extra per night in all the rooms. A screened-in, two-story, thatched-roof rancho has its own kitchen. Inexpensive, hearty breakfasts, típico and international, are served by the pool. The Playa Guiones Surf School is based at the hotel, with lessons and a line-up of surfboards to rent. Guests can also rent bicycles ($7 per day). The hotel has earned four leaves in the national sustainability program. You can sleep soundly, knowing there is 24-hour security and guarded parking.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Laptop-size safety boxes

Cons

  • Road noise
  • Extra charge for air-conditioning
  • Short walk to beach
Main street, past entrance to Playa Guiones, Nosara, 50206, Costa Rica
-2682–4000
hotel Details
4 cabinas, 2 with kitchens; 4 deluxe rooms w. kitchenettes, 1 suite with full kitchen, 1 two-story rancho with full kitchen
Rate Includes: No meals

Quick Facts

Guacamaya Lodge

$$ | Playa Junquillal, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

Spread across a breezy hill with expansive views above the treetops of the surrounding forest and the sea, the Guacamaya is a real find, with affordable, spacious cabinas surrounding a generous-size pool, lawn, and tropical plants. The large restaurant shaded by a conical thatch roof serves excellent Continental cuisine, including such Swiss specialties as Rösti (hash browns with bacon and cheese) and Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (beef medallions and mushrooms in a creamy sauce), various pastas, fresh seafood dishes, and a good salad selection. Meals come with deliciously dense homemade bread. The spacious bungalows with plenty of windows and small terraces are a real deal and the most charming of rooms. Screened windows let in the cooling evening breezes, so you probably won't need the quiet air-conditioners in each room. Well-equipped studios in a two-story building have kitchenettes, big bathrooms, and covered porches; those on the second floor are more spacious and have better views. The modern villa, with a full kitchen and a large covered veranda, is perfect for rental by families. There's also a kids' pool and a playground, as well as tennis and volleyball courts. The place fills up fast with Swiss tour groups, so book early.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Clean
  • Friendly

Cons

  • Hilly five-minute walk to the beach
  • Meals and taxes not included in rate
  • Some rooms may need updating
Playa Junquillal, Costa Rica
2658–8431
hotel Details
12 units
Rate Includes: Closed Sept. and Oct., No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hacienda Guachipelín

$$ | Rincón de la Vieja National Park, 108-5000, Costa Rica

One of the best values in the Rincón area for hair-raising adventure and nature tours, this hotel also gets top billing for its comfortable rooms, excellent restaurant, and friendly service. The 3,706-acre working ranch is famous for its horses—more than 100 of them. Rugged ranch hands swagger around, giving the place a real cowboy flavor. Guachipelín is also famous for its wildlife and the nature trails that wind throughout this vast, partially forested property; they lead to several scenic waterfalls, hot springs, and mud baths. Older rooms are comfortable and homey, with screened windows to let in cool mountain air. Try to get a room between Nos. 32 and 39, all of which have volcano views from their front terrace. The newer rooms (Nos. 32 and up) are larger and very elegantly furnished, arranged around a garden with towering trees and a gaggle of geese. All rooms have air-conditioning, but you rarely need it here. Avoid Rooms 24 to 31, right beside the corral, unless you enjoy the aroma of horses. Rooms 10 to 23 are closest to the pool. Hearty buffet and à la carte meals feature authentic touches, such as hand-rolled breakfast tortillas made on the spot, and beef and dairy products fresh from the hacienda's own herd. The pleasant open-air restaurant has valley views by day, and a marimba band plays softly at dinner. The hotel's spa offers an array of treatments, from mud wraps to massages.

Pros

  • Near park entrance
  • Lots of activities
  • Excellent value
  • Home-cooked Costa Rican cuisine

Cons

  • Caters to large groups and day visitors
  • Some rooms are near horse stables
  • $50 fee for checkout after noon
Rincón de la Vieja National Park, 108-5000, Costa Rica
2666–8075
hotel Details
66 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hilton Garden Inn Liberia Airport

$$$ | Across from Liberia International Airport on main hwy., Liberia, 50101, Costa Rica

Comfortable and convenient, especially if you're catching an early-morning flight or you need a break from driving before heading south to the beach, this five-story contemporary Hilton has all the mod cons, including Wi-Fi, HDTVs, microwaves, and refrigerators. Best of all are the beds with pressure-adjustable mattresses. There is also a large swimming pool, gym, laundry facilities, and a free business center. Their main restaurant serves an eclectic menu of watermelon gazpacho, tuna tartare with cassava chips, bourbon pork ribs, chicken in mango sauce, and typical casados to remind you that you're in Costa Rica. With all the international flights in and out of Liberia, the hotel can quickly fill its 169 rooms in high season, which means you're likely to hear English and conversations about golf near the bar. The hotel has embraced energy conservation and earned three leaves on the national sustainability scale. There are eight accessible rooms available.

Pros

  • Kids under 12 stay free
  • Excellent amenities
  • Free shuttle to and from airport

Cons

  • No shaded parking area
  • Service is inconsistent
  • Some airplane noise
Across from Liberia International Airport on main hwy., Liberia, 50101, Costa Rica
2690–8888
hotel Details
169 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

Hotel & Villas Huetares

$ | Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica

The best bargain in town, this long-established family hotel offers two-bedroom garden villas surrounding a central pool, as well as a two-story annex with 16 spacious rooms. The annex sits in a quiet corner of the large, lush garden; its no-frills rooms have two double beds, small refrigerators, cable TV, and air-conditioning. Two ground-floor rooms are wheelchair accessible. If you're willing to cook for yourself, the pleasantly furnished villas can accommodate up to six. Be prepared for the sound of kids playing in the pool and garden. The walk to the beach is about five minutes, and there are nearby restaurants and a supermarket. The entire property is gated, including an enclosed parking lot, adding an element of security.

Pros

  • Close to beach
  • Good kitchens
  • Beautiful grounds and pool

Cons

  • Lots of noise from kids, especially on weekends
  • Basic rooms
  • Weak Wi-Fi signal
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
2672–0052
hotel Details
40 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $

Hotel Arco Iris

$$ | Follow signs past turnoff to Playa Langosta and go up hill to right, Tamarindo, 50309, Costa Rica

With eight ultraspacious, deluxe rooms with two queen beds, and five beautiful bungalows boasting high, sloping cane ceilings, handsome contemporary furniture, and sleek marble bathrooms, there's something for everyone on this chic compound, half a block off one of Tamarindo's main drags. Stone pathways lead to each unit, fronted by a private porch, hammock, table, and chairs.  All accommodations include flat-screen TVs, hair dryers, coffeemakers, and mini-refrigerators. There's a small pool and two pleasant cabanas with natural slate floors that keep you cool on hot days. The hotel is also home to the best dinner restaurant in town, Seasons by Shlomy, and the pool bar shakes up some serious martinis. Amiable owner Richard Resnick is usually around to fill you in on the local scene.

Pros

  • Transportation service and concierge
  • Boutique feel
  • Great restaurant

Cons

  • Not a lot of privacy in bungalows
  • No water views
  • Small pool
Follow signs past turnoff to Playa Langosta and go up hill to right, Tamarindo, 50309, Costa Rica
2653–0330
hotel Details
13 units
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hotel Belvedere

$$ | Sámara, Costa Rica

After a day on the beach, it's refreshing to retreat to this small hotel buried in a dense, cool garden on a breezy hill overlooking Sámara. There are two swimming pools and a cool whirlpool. Friendly German owners Manfred and Michaela run a tight ship, keeping the garden moisture out of the large, bright rooms housed in the original two-story white-stucco building. A newer two-story building with its own pool is a little quieter, set in a lush garden traversed by a natural stream. The upper rooms have private balconies. The best room is the separate "honeymoon" cottage. Breakfast (not included) comes with ocean views. The beach is a 5-minute walk through town. Everything considered, this place is a hard-to-beat bargain.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Clean and quiet
  • Rooms renovated annually

Cons

  • Five-minute walk down to beach and a bit longer climbing back up the hill
  • Wi-Fi is not reliable and TV shows are all in Spanish
  • Breakfast not included
Sámara, Costa Rica
2656–0213
hotel Details
22 units
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hotel Bosque del Mar Playa Hermosa

$$$ | Playa Hermosa, 50503, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

This beachfront hotel on the southern end of Playa Hermosa features luxurious rooms and suites on a beautiful, spacious property shaded by century-old vine-draped trees. The most popular activity here is lounging on the beach, but floating in the blue-tile pool surrounded by lush landscaping is a close second. You can also rent kayaks for paddling in the sea. Flashes of sunlit ocean, just a few barefoot steps away, periodically penetrate the cool greenery, and now and then an iguana, bird, or monkey rustles the foliage above. Garden-view suites in two-story buildings are mostly wood and glass, with sitting rooms and balconies or terraces. Ocean-view deluxe suites are the most sought after, with Jacuzzis, plasma TVs, and sofa beds. Teak and marble feature prominently in the upscale decor, and all the rooms have refrigerators. A huge penthouse suite above the restaurant is over-the-top luxurious. The vast, open-air Niromi Restaurant is practically on the beach, with an ambitious, modern menu (from $20) that focuses on fresh fish and seafood, and beef tenderloin raised on the owner's ranch. There's also a breezy upstairs bar lounge.

Pros

  • Superb garden and beachfront location
  • Beautiful restaurant
  • All rooms have terraces

Cons

  • Some rooms near the pool are dark
  • Mosquitoes
  • Expensive for the area
Playa Hermosa, 50503, Costa Rica
2672–0046
hotel Details
33 units
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

Hotel Brasilito

$$ | Brasilito, Costa Rica

Budget travelers who don't need amenities will love this rustic two-story wooden hotel's affordable price and seafront location, if not its no-frills but adequate A-frame rooms. You won't find much in the way of decor, but you will find hot water, Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning (in most). Be prepared for noise: kids playing, roosters crowing, dogs barking, and motors revving. Ask for one of the two larger rooms above the reception area; they have hardwood floors and TVs, and share a veranda with unobstructed sea views. Budget rooms do not have air-conditioning or TVs, so book accordingly. It's not for everyone, but you can't beat the price for seaside rooms. Breakfast (not included) is served at their beachfront restaurant which specializes in tapas and Asian dishes.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Beachfront
  • Family owned and operated

Cons

  • Boxy rooms, some without TVs, A/C, or phones
  • Can be noisy
  • Rooms need upgrading
Brasilito, Costa Rica
2654–4237
hotel Details
18 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hotel Bula Bula

$$ | 3 km (2 miles) east of Playa Grande, Playa Grande, Costa Rica

At the eastern edge of the estuary in the Palm Beach Estates gated community, this pleasant hotel (the name means "Happy Happy") has its own landing for ferrying guests and restaurant patrons the 1 km (½ mile) to and from Tamarindo. The hotel forms a 45-degree angle to the curvy pool bordered by a garden. Decorated with native art and pottery, rooms have king-size beds and high ceilings, and open onto a portico with wicker rocking chairs. They don't offer a lot of privacy, but the rooms, painted in brilliant colors, have orthopedic mattresses, cable TVs, coffeemakers, mini-refrigerators, and other upscale amenities. Included in the rate is a made-to-order breakfast ranging from French toast and banana pancakes to eggs Benedict and custom omelets. They can arrange a two-hour boat tour of the estuary, or rentals of nearby houses. The menu at the alfresco Great Waltini's Restaurant & Bar reads like that of a U.S.-style eatery: seafood enchiladas, peel-and-eat shrimp, pork chop, filet mignon, and New York strip steak. They have good fresh seafood specials. Save room for the homemade tres leches dessert or the Philly-style cheesecake. The bar is very popular, especially during U.S. football broadcasts.

Pros

  • Friendly
  • Water taxi to Tamarindo
  • Lots of amenities

Cons

  • Rooms small for price
  • 10-minute walk from beach
  • Mosquitoes
3 km (2 miles) east of Playa Grande, Playa Grande, Costa Rica
877-658–2880-in U.S.
hotel Details
10 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hotel Capitán Suizo

$$$$ | Playa Langosta, 50309, Costa Rica Fodor's Choice

Nature, tranquility, luxury, and an unbeatably beautiful beach setting make this environmentally conscious boutique hotel the most elegant choice in town. Nestled in a tiny forest between Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta, the hotel offers a variety of room types. Balcony rooms surround a large, curvaceous pool shaded by native trees and greenery. If there's ever been a place to splurge, it's on Room 75, with stunning hardwood floors, a private balcony, and a linen-draped canopy bed that looks onto the sea. Enclosed by walls of glass, the airy bungalows have Jacuzzi tubs, outdoor showers, and sunken lounge areas. Second-floor rooms in the main building have high, angled ceilings and lots of screens, offering an ocean breeze as an alternative to air-conditioning (which the rooms do have). Lower rooms are smaller and a little darker, with terraces edging the lush garden, which is visited by iguanas, raccoons, howler monkeys, and birds. A beautifully decorated and romantically illuminated terrace restaurant, overlooking the pool and beach, serves upscale, contemporary cuisine and hosts beach barbecues (December 21–May) with live marimba music every Wednesday and Friday night.

Pros

  • Secluded beachfront hotel
  • Excellent restaurant
  • Lovely gardens and pool

Cons

  • Not all rooms are beachfront
  • Pricey
  • No TVs
Playa Langosta, 50309, Costa Rica
2653–0075
hotel Details
35 units
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, Usually closed for maintenance between Sept. and Oct.

Quick Facts

Hotel Casa del Mar

$ | Main beach strip, 45 m east of school, Sámara, 50205, Costa Rica

Facing the beach, this small, pleasant, well-tended hotel is one of Sámara's best values. The bright, tidy rooms have dark-wood furniture, white walls, and ceramic floors. Eleven of the rooms have air-conditioning and private bath; six lack air-conditioning and share baths, but they also share a common balcony with an ocean view, and sea breezes help to cool them. The premium room is No. 19, with a private balcony overlooking the beach, air-conditioning, and a small fridge. The hotel has a giant cold-water whirlpool shaded by a vine-enlaced tree in a small garden. There's a small, pleasant bar and breakfast area, and a huge mural featuring a quetzal. Limited private parking is available and the beach is just across the road.

Pros

  • Close to beach
  • Easy on the wallet
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Not right on the beach
  • No swimming pool
  • Some noise from road
  • Six rooms have a shared bathroom
Main beach strip, 45 m east of school, Sámara, 50205, Costa Rica
2656–0264
hotel Details
17 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

  • $

Hotel El Jardín

$$ | West end of main road, Montezuma, 60111, Costa Rica

Spread across a hill a few blocks from the beach, this hotel has refreshed rooms and villas with ocean, pool, and garden views. True to its name, rooms are scattered around a lush garden populated with bright-red ginger flowers and faux-stone indigenous sculptures. Teak paneling and furniture, stained-glass pictorial panels, and terraces with hammocks give this hotel style as well as comfort. If you don't mind the climb, ask for an upper room and you'll get a better view. There's no formal breakfast, but coffee, tea, fruit, and cookies are laid out in the reception area each morning. There's also Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.

Pros

  • Central location
  • Good value
  • Spacious rooms

Cons

  • A few rooms catch a bit of noise from bars in town
  • Steep paths to climb
  • No breakfast
West end of main road, Montezuma, 60111, Costa Rica
2642–0074
hotel Details
16 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $$

Hotel El Velero

$$ | Playa Hermosa, 50503, Costa Rica

This laid-back hotel is right on the beach, and, though nothing fancy, it has comfortable rooms and is an excellent option if you're watching your expenses. The palm-shaded, open-air bar and restaurant is often hopping with local expats and visitors exchanging fishing, boating, and real estate stories. Rooms have tropical decor with terra-cotta tiles, bamboo furniture, and large windows. Those on the second floor are nicer, with high, sloping wooden ceilings. Only two rooms (Nos. 211 and 212) have ocean views, but you're likely to spend plenty of your time in one of the many chairs and hammocks overlooking the beach—some are a shell's toss from the surf at high tide. The hotel runs daily snorkeling and sunset cruises on its own handsome 38-foot sailboat. In the restaurant, jumbo shrimp and always-fresh mahimahi are fixtures. Come on Wednesday or Saturday for beach barbecues. Drinks are two-for-one every day during happy hour, 4 to 6 pm.

Pros

  • On the beach
  • Affordable
  • Friendly
  • Informal

Cons

  • Tiny pool
  • Most rooms lack views
  • Some rooms are dark and boxy
  • Neighboring disco can be noisy on weekends
Playa Hermosa, 50503, Costa Rica
2672–0036
hotel Details
22 rooms
Rate Includes: No Meals

Quick Facts

  • $$