by Stephen Jermanok
When you picture Costa Rica, you imagine a rainforest overflowing with ripe foliage, silky sand beaches that serve as a welcome mat to the pounding surf, and a landscape abundant with wildlife viewing opportunities. A hummingbird would be nice, but even more exciting is something with fur, like a monkey or a sloth. Well, on the outskirts of Manuel Antonio National Park, located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, there’s a resort called Arenas del Mar that offers all the above. Indeed, the boutique property is as close to tropical paradise as one can get in a Central America family vacation.
Spacious suites are nestled into the rugged cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Walk onto your outdoor deck in the morning and you will see the waves crashing against the rocks and spewing its foamy spray on the beach. You may also find a white-faced monkey popping his head out of a branch to greet you, or discover a sloth sleeping under the shade of a large banana leaf.
If the surf is mellow, you can swim in the ocean after a day of touring Manuel Antonio. There are also two pools, one near the beach and one off the main lobby at the resort. High up the hillside, morning breakfast is served around the lobby pool, with stupendous vistas of the Pacific and the nearby islands and golf carts will carry families around the resort with ease.
At first glance, you might assume that this type of property caters only to honeymooners or romantic couples. Yet, the resort is equally split between families and couples, with many kids swimming in the pool. The front desk staff goes out of its way to arrange off-property activities for families, such as a local zipline tour or a naturalist-led hike at Manuel Antonio. At Arenas del Mar, you can relax as they cater to your every whim.
Our Editor Loves
- Mix of rainforest and Pacific Ocean beach
- Opportunity to see monkeys and sloths on property
- Large balconies with ocean vistas
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
All of the guestrooms feature air conditioning, a television, DVD players upon request and jungle or ocean views. Adjoining rooms (a superior room plus a suite) are the best option for big families, as they accommodate up to five people. A stocked mini-fridge with rotating snacks and drinks is also included in your rate.
The Ocean View Premium Suite houses up to four people and features a spacious deck with a private hot tub. The suites feature a bedroom and separate living area with a sleeper sofa, a kitchenette with a stocked mini-fridge and dining table for four. Two bathrooms can also be found in some of the suites.
These guestrooms feature an outdoor sitting area on the covered deck. A kitchenette can also be found on the deck. These guestrooms are most suitable for couples but can adjoin to a suite.
by lisa t
I truly cannot day enough great things about this resort.
The location is great, you get the perfect mix of rainforest and beach for which you have the option of private beach (Playitas) or public beach (Espadilla) - we preferred Playitas. The walk into town is not easy but you can take a shuttle for a small fee, or walk up the massive hill if you wish. We took the shuttle there and walked back, which was doable though hot. Also unique to this hotel is that you can walk along the public beach all the way to the Manuel Antonio National Park entrance, a 20-25 minute walk. We walked through the park without a guide and found that sufficient, but you can also get a guide through the hotel.
The staff are AMAZING! So friendly, helpful and accommodating. Truly wonderful people.
The resort is on a hill which makes for amazing views but the walk can be tiring. We walked up and down between the main ‘lodge’ and beaches most of the time, but they have golf carts available 24/7 if you ever need or want a ride so not to worry.
We stayed in an Ocean Breeze Suit and Ocean View Superior room during our week stay. The suit was a splurge and sooo nice. The room was perfectly sized and also with an amazing view. We were not disappointed with either.
The food at the resort was all very good, as were the cocktails. You can eat at the main restaurant or during theme nights on the beach. Highly recommend the Street Food night on the beach. Also take advantage of the cocktail class if you like a good cocktail.
Finally, and this may not always happen, but we saw more wildlife at the resort than we did in any park - monkeys, sloth, iguanas, etc. Very cool. Oh, and there are little Halloween crabs scurrying around everywhere at night, if you hear rustling in the bushes :)
Choose this resort and enjoy!!!
We are still here but after reading a few bad reviews I thought I would comment before we leave .
After reading some of the reviews we were a bit wary of our arrival .
How wrong could we be We are on day five of a seven night trip . The holiday has been fantastic the staff could not do enough for you . Nothing is to much trouble . They remember your drinks order when you sit down for dinner from the first night to introducing us to Honeyrum and knowing that this is our nightcap .
Don’t be put off by any bad reviews the hotel is great the staff our welcoming and go out of their way to help you . One day the lift was broken down to the pool and they took my friend through the kitchen as she is on a mobility scooter to make sure she didn’t miss out on the pool .
If we ever return to Tenerife this is where we will come back to thank you Arenas del Mar
Families will love the two outdoor pool, which overlook the Pacific Ocean. Lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas surround the pool decks.
Within Manual Antonio National Park are a series of beaches but the park and the beach close at 4 p.m. Public beaches can also be found nearby.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Arenas del Mar employs their own knowledgeable naturalist who will escort you around Manuel Antonio National Park. The joy of walking with a naturalist, especially one with a scope, is that you can see that rare green lizard, tarantula or large grasshopper hiding in the bush. Most people simply zip by these intriguing critters on their way to the beach. There's a good chance you'll also spot white-faced and/or howler monkeys, sloths and even the occasional toucan.
The resort is happy to set up tours like ziplining, hiking, night wildlife tours and so much more for your family. Two onsite tours -- Making Tortillas and Easy Being Green -- are included in rates.
El Mirador Restaurant & Bar
Wake up in the morning and catch a golf cart to the lobby for an al fresco breakfast overlooking the Pacific. Start with fresh papaya, pineapple and cantaloupe, served with freshly baked pastries. Because the hotel is in Costa Rica, the coffee is rich and strong. Next, move on to the main breakfast offerings, such as the kid-favorite banana-cashew French toast, blackberry almond pancakes, eggs benedict and huevos rancheros. Breakfast is included in your rate.
El Mirador also serves dinner. Children will enjoy the Tico spaghetti, served in a tomato base with local farmers' cheese. Other entrees include a grilled steak with onions, tamarind-glazed half chicken and a tender panko-encrusted salmon.
Playitas Restaurant and Bar
For lunch, head to Playitas Restaurant, adjacent to the pool and beach. Family-friendly options include pizza, a grilled caprese sandwich, grilled chicken over a house salad and hamburgers. Afterward, you can stroll to the hammock and nap.
Gluten free options are available as well as in-room dining.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The hotel service was exceptional, from the front desk staff that helped book tours and restaurant reservations to the friendly waiters at both restaurants to the golf cart drivers who were waiting for you as soon as you called for a ride. It's the type of place that as soon as you arrive, they'll take care of all your worries and needs.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season rates apply from December through April, the dry season months on the Pacific Coast and time of year when the majority of North Americans want to travel to a warm-weather climate. If you can wait until the shoulder season months of May and June, the price will drop. In July and August, rates are further reduced since this is the "green season," the rainiest time of year. However, most of the rain usually comes in the late afternoon and evening, leaving you a day on the premises at a bargain price.
The resort is about three hours from San Jose's Juan Santamaria International Airport in the town of Quepos. Daniel Oduber QuirÃ³s in the Guanacaste region is more than four hours away. For a fee, an airport shuttle can be arranged with the hotel.
The resort is on such a steep incline that your only walk will be from your room to the beach. Otherwise, golf carts will pick you up to drop you off at the main lobby or other areas of the resort. You simply call the front desk and a golf cart will escort the family to and from your room. The cart drivers will stop and show the children monkeys and sloths if they spotted an animal.
For Mom and Dad
Treat yourself to a hot stone or couples massage, a soothing wrap or a facial, courtesy of the resort's spa, Las Brisas. Many of the treatments are done on a private section of the beach, where you'll relax to the sound of waves as they wash ashore. Who needs soothing music on a CD when you have the genuine sound?