Discovering Costa Rica

by Emma Hackwood

While there is something for every type of traveller in Costa Rica, choosing the right accommodation is very important as each property offers something unique. Our Flightie Laurie recently visited Costa Rica and shares with us her favourite hotels and some recommendations of places you must visit next time you’re there: 

With some of the most advanced Eco-tourism techniques applied, the cultural mosaic known as Costa Rica is the model for environmental practice around the world.  Whether you are a nature lover or adventurer, the lush forest, virgin beaches and warm hospitality will have you forgetting about the pile of work you left behind at home.

Most of the Tico(Costa Rica people) population lives in San Jose where the comforts of modern life, including a vibrant nightlife are found.

While  sugar cane, fruit, tobacco, and coffee bean farming are some of the most common ways to earn a living, the pace is slow and life is simple.  I think we could all learn a bit from the Tico’s practices. Getting to know the staff of the stunning properties we visited opened my mind to their culture and practices.  Their aspirations, views, eco-sustainable ways of life and pure warmth was like a breath of fresh air.

costarica1I recently travelled to this natural paradise with Air Transat and Nolitours.  All seven days brought clear skies and scorching sun. We landed in Liberia, the hub of the northwest.  Our shuttle took us to the the Allegro Papagayo where we would be staying for the next 2 days.  Similar to many hotels in Costa Rica, the reception and lobby bar are set atop a hill, with the rooms scattered down to the main pool, restaurant and black sand beach, like many hotels in Costa Rica.  The property is just 30km past the city, through the thick bush and up a windy road with spectacular views of the ocean surrounded by lush gardens.  Minutes after arriving, we were greeted by 2 families of  white faced monkeys.  A wonderful start to an amazing trip!

My favorite of the hotels we visited was the Paradisus Playa Conchal, now known as The Westin Playa Conchal Resort and Spa.


It is a 5 star property approximately 75km from Liberia airport, with exquisite grounds and a renowned golf course on site. This huge property is an all suite resort perfect for large groups, family travel, and weddings.  The pool was absolutely stunning, with many different depths and a very popular pool bar. This property has a wide white sand beach, where you can shop local vendors and watch the sun set across the bay.  If food is your forte, this property has the best breakfast buffet featuring international fare and chef’s stations making your ready to order omelettes, smoothies, fresh fruit juice and local specialties.  They even have a private breakfast room for the families with small children.


Most travellers that spend a week in Costa Rica, do at least 3 excursions.  My Top 2 Must-See’s are:


Arenal Volcano

Located on the eastern end of Lake Arenal, this young volcano boasts amazing hikes, stunning views by day and at night time, you can see the intermittent explosions of red-hot lava!  Most Arenal tours are paired with a trip to the stunning Tabacon hot springs, where there are many pools with different temperatures and surrounded by lush flora and fauna.  Complete paradise!


Palo Verde National Park

Guided tours by boat, with sightings of crocodiles, monkeys, lizards including the notorious “Jesus Christ lizard”, and with the highest concentration of birds in Central America. You may even see some of our native Canadian feathered friends that made their way south, to avoid our harsh winters.  Can you blame them?

While there is something for almost every type of traveler in Costa Rica, one must be careful on picking where to stay to ensure sure it is the right fit for the particular travelers needs,  as properties and experiences in Costa Rica are unique.

I left for Costa Rica excited to learn, and I came back with cultural experiences, and memories that will last a lifetime.




Looking to plan your next trip to Costa Rica? Laurie Halliday is an International Travel Consultant at our College Plaza location in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached by E-mail or calling 1-866-478-2930.

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