After an amazing first half of our trip in the hills at El Silencio, we entered the second half of our vacation week and were headed to the beach. This was another beautiful venue for a new set of adventures!
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Punta Islita, Autograph Collection
About 5 hours away from El Silencio, in Guanacaste province on the Nicoya Peninsula, is the beach resort of Punta Islita, Autograph Collection. This is nestled in the hillside overlooking the Pacific ocean. Needless to say, the reality far exceeded our expectations. We even had a rainbow show up during our check-in.
The ride to the resort, however, was an adventure by itself.
The road to the resort, for about 20 kms, is gravel. It is not smooth gravel, but pothole filled and loose gravel, and with steep gradients. We were in a 4×4 vehicle, and we also saw sedans with 2 wd traversing this road with not much of a problem. Part of the reason this area does not have good roads, from what we learned from locals in the resort, is to keep it hard to reach to prevent this area from being commercialized. This goes with the overall concept of eco-consciousness and environmental friendliness, which I have come to understand and appreciate. In any other western country, this would have become highly commercialized.
Arrival and a Welcome at Punta Islita
The whole resort is built on a hill. The reception and main areas at the top and the rooms along the sides of the hill that slope down to the beach. Villas are on a separate area overlooking the water. Even by the beach the amount of greenery and forests around us were unbelievable. What was even more incredible were the howler monkeys in these forests. They try to be the loudest. Even if you clapped, they start their howling and growling in return to assert their dominance. This is something spectacular to experience. It was hard to capture them on camera since they were in the thick trees, but could hear them very well.
During check in, to our surprise, we were upgraded to a 3 bedroom villa at the top of the hill. With an open-to-the-outside living room with a hammock, the views of the ocean and forest was unbelievable. The pool that came with this villa was almost double the size of what we had originally booked. I guess this is one of the benefits of booking in the off-season when traffic is low and they want to fill all the rooms. The villa also came with its own golf-cart, which we used to go for breakfast and the beach club, which are spread throughout the sprawling property.
Activities at the Sea in Punta Islita
The resort in Punta Islita had its share of complementary and paid activities as well. Being tired from our trip to El Silencio and doing the activities there, we decided to slow down and relax by the beach. My wife and I took part in the mixology class and my son and I did the Mangrove Forest Kayaking, which was an amazing experience. We rowed the local river till it met the Pacific Ocean.
Mangrove Forest Kayaking
Mangrove Forest Kayaking involved kayaking the river Ora till it met the Pacific Ocean. We went through a mangrove section on the river and learned how essential these mini environments are for conserving water, encouraging habitat growth, and having a beneficial environmental impact for the the area.
The river is one of the biggest in the region, and is calm and slow. On the day, it was low tide. Rowing towards the ocean was slow and pleasant, and we kept with the flow of the river. It was cloudy and cool. So overall an excellent day to be out on the water.
The area where the river meets the ocean is a view to behold – you can hear and see the waves crashing onto the shore. This is something I had never experienced. Checkout the video of this Punta Islita river adventure.
Mixology Class at Punta Islita
The mixology class took place in a swim-up bar by the beach. The bartender showed us how to mix two cocktails – one with mezcal and hibiscus flowers, and another with ginger beer and citrus. We are going to try replicating these at home.
Our Food and Drinks in Costa Rica
Similar in offering to El Silencio, we had good vegetarian options for breakfast and dinner. The food and drinks tasted incredible anywhere and everywhere we ate during our trip. Starting with the basic casado and patacones you can build up a custom menu with and without meat in any restaurant. We indulged more than we should have.
And for drinks, we tried to go for local juices such as watermelon, orange, and delicious passion fruit, locally called as maracuya. This was very good in a mojito like cocktail, especially by the sea!
During one of our breakfast, a local iguana paid us a visit. Another guest at a nearby table pointed out the iguana sitting directly behind me. I got startled for a second! But he behaved himself and was only looking for treats – his favorite seems to be papaya!
Planning Our Next Trip After Costa Rica
On the last day while packing up, we got really sad leaving the one-in-a-lifetime experience behind. We are happy we experienced it. But like anything else, it had to come to an end. While in the airport waiting for our flight back home, my wife and I were already planning our next vacation. We are thinking somewhere in Africa, or South America. Or would it be somewhere in Asia?