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This Central American country has it all!

We flew into San Jose, the capital city, on JetBlue from Ft Lauderdale (a big airline, by the way).

We spent one night at the Carriari Doubletree hotel, then we headed to the state of Guanacaste on the Pacific Northwest coast of Costa Rica. The ride takes about 4 hours depending on the pit stops (not too long for us, the girls were in a rush to get to the resort for some reason). There are many, many options for side trips on this trip. I’m sorry now, in hindsight, that we didn’t take some … like the volcano and / or the cloud forest.

The highway from San José to Liberia (the city where we turn left to get to the coast and the seaside resort) is a section of the Pan-American Highway. As you can see in the photo, the Costa Rican government is rapidly expanding it to a four-lane highway. The expected completion time is about two years. This upgrade will easily reduce travel time between San José and Guanacaste by an hour or more. (The existing two-lane road is in good shape … it is the traffic that slows it down.)

The next five days and nights we reveled in a small duplex bungalow at the Hilton Papagayo All-Inclusive Resort in Papagayo Bay.

We share the other side of our unit with our daughter and friend. Our hillside location proved to be perfect for accessing the “adults only” section of the complex, and the area consisting of the spa, pool, dining room and beach.

The gardens (and trees) that surround our bungalow we share with some very large but friendly iguanas and howler monkeys. A quick note on monkeys: although shy, they are also very curious. We were warned not to leave anything unattended that might be of interest to you, either on our porch or on the beach. Imps seem to have a habit of taking objects, such as towels, cameras, clothes, etc. – back into the trees with them. Then, once their curiosity is satisfied, they leave the objects there. Therefore, unless you want to find your belongings in the treetops when you return, they are best left indoors or guarded.

All non-motorized water sports are included at the Hilton Papagayo. Jet skis and deep sea fishing are extra, but reasonably priced. Newly engaged Joni & Cameron caught half a dozen groupers during a morning excursion, all of which were cleaned, cooked, and served for lunch by the resort’s chef an hour after landing. Talk about fresh!

Small trucks – actually golf carts on steroids – constantly roam the resort’s roads, offering guests rides between the bungalows and various property attractions. We found it best to walk the distance as a way to exercise with some of the wonderful food! As you can see in my shadow on this way to the dining room, I have become taller and slimmer.

We found some not so shy howler monkeys at a zoo located at the base of the zip line facility. One seemed perfectly at home on Savey’s shoulders.

One afternoon, the resort’s spa staff arranged a couples beachside massage … it was a concoction made with honey, ground coffee beans, and moisturizer of some kind. The iguanas and I chose not to participate in that little event.

Did I mention the food? Fabulous! Lots of fresh seafood and several alternative restaurants to choose from … at no extra cost.

The zip line was very different from what we expected. Instead of a single trip to the ground from a tower or cliff, we experienced a series of eleven walks through the jungle treetops. Once elevated to the top level of the tree, it was exciting to travel from station to station without ever returning to land … until the last zip line brought us to ‘mainland’ about an hour later.

We enjoyed an audience of various ‘critters’ as we invaded their lofty domain.

Monkeys are fast! One of our group got too close when taking a photo. In the blink of an eye, one of the bastards grabbed his sunglasses. A coach had to get them back.

Costa Rica is truly a nature lover’s paradise. And the Hilton Papagayo is particularly attractive, all-inclusive and reasonably priced. To see the rates on this property, go here.

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