On to the second part of our Costa Rica trip where we stayed at Hyatt’s Andaz Papagayo for 4 nights! The best part was this beautiful resort was free thanks to my Chase Sapphire Preferred! At only 15,000 points per night it was a great value as it was going for $500+ per night for Easter week. Whereas our first couple nights in Costa Rica was on a volcano, this was directly on the beach on the Papagayo Peninsula in Guanacaste. It was truly a beautiful area as we explored the nearby Prieta Beach Club and drove to the beach town Playas del Coco.
Read up on some of my other Costa Rica and El Salvador posts!
The Setup: Upcoming Trip to Costa Rica & El Salvador
Part 2: Costa Rica, Andaz Papagayo, & Beaches
Part 3: El Salvador & Santa Ana Volcano
Hotel Hyatt Andaz Papagayo
Coming down from the volcano we drove through Liberia, Costa Rica and decided to stop to get some supplies. We knew that the Andaz Papagayo would have expensive food and was pretty isolated so we went to the Peri Mercado to pick up some breakfast foods and alcohol. A very nice grocery store by the way, they were offering free rum tastings! We also picked up Subway, ordered Aguacate (Avocado), and they literally cut a fresh one and give you half of it. The total drive was about two hours coming from El Rincon de la Vieja National Park to the Andaz, if you come from the Libera airport its only about 35 minutes.
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Upon check-in we were traveled via golf cart to our room 434 which is the furthest building from the lobby. While being the furthest from the lobby there is a decent amount walking required to get to the restaurants and family pool but it was super convenient to the adult only pool and the beaches. The room itself was spectacular and it measured up to the reviews I read previously. My favorite part was the massive shower which had two shower heads and opened up to the beautiful balcony. A couple fun things in the room were the complimentary hats and sandals for you to keep. Also everyday an attendant would restock the complimentary beverages and snacks. The snacks were nothing special but the drinks were great after being in the heat all day–fruit juices, tea, club soda, coke, waters, and milk.
Everyday at the resort we at least spent a couple hours by the pool or beach. There are two pool areas–one for adults only and the other more family oriented. We spent more time at the adult pool as it was just below our room and it was definitely quieter. Also a great place to see monkeys! They wake up just before sundown and found them everyday by the adult pool.
For the beaches at the Andaz there are two choices onsite, the bigger one has beach chairs, water activities, bar, and food service. The smaller one is more secluded with no services but it was more beautiful and a great beach to walk on at low tide. Going into the trip, I read reviews about the Andaz’s beaches and was a little concerned, but I was pleasantly surprised that they beat my expectations. Just take note that the tides make a huge difference in making the beaches smaller or bigger. At high tide the sand is almost gone but it is still great for swimming and water activities. Speaking of water activities, the paddleboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling were all complimentary! Beth went paddleboarding two times and I went paddleboarding and snorkeling once. There is a small reef area to the right of the main beach with a decent amount of fish, we even saw a sea turtle while paddleboarding! We named her Salena. The water is very clear and because it is in the bay there are rarely waves.
I expected the food options to be limited and expensive, because they only have three restaurants onsite. We ate at the lowered restaurant, Rio Bhongo, for most lunches which still ran about $20 per meal thanks in part to the 10% service charge and 13% tax. While the food there was good, it was not worth the price and the service was always extremely slow with a very limited menu. The other restaurant, Chao Pescao on the other hand was great! It is a tapas restaurant with a better menu and a huge selection of drinks. They claim to have one of the best mixologists in Costa Rica and I have to agree the drinks were amazing! Beth tried a Pina Vodkada, which was delicious! While I can’t remember all the drink names… they all had pretty unique mixtures and is totally worth to try!
Prieta Beach Club
The peninsula that the Andaz Papagayo is located on also includes a couple other resorts, The Four Seasons, and the Prieta Beach Club. During the day the Andaz provides free complimentary shuttle service every hour to the other resorts until 6:00 pm and after that it is $25. We were lucky to have our own car so we visited the Prieta Club twice on our own time and stayed later to watch complete sunsets. Tip, the beach club also has free complimentary parking so no worries there. Having access to the Prieta Beach Club really made staying at the Andaz Papagayo worth it, to me it was the best part! The beach club is located on the Pacific Ocean instead of the bay so there are real waves but the water is still very clear. People were surfing, boogie boarding, paddleboarding, and jet skiing on this side of the peninsula. I did a little body-surfing and didn’t eat too much sand. The Prieta Beach Club has a full bar and restaurant as well as very nice infinity pools with tons of chairs. The beach is also a lot bigger than the Andaz beaches so we took advantage of that and hiked out to the rocky point on one end and had a magnificent view of the coastline. There is also wooden walking path on the other side of the beach that is literally all stairs but connects it to The Four Seasons beach, I don’t recommend the path it is long and all up or down hill.
I almost forgot! A monkey pooped on my head while laying out under the trees on the beach! So watch out for those monkeys in the trees, they will get you!
Playas del Coco
In the middle of the week we ventured out with our rental car to Playas del Coco to get a little local flavor and explore a new area. One thing we thought was weird was the complete lack of tourist souvenirs on our whole trip, the only time we found some shops was here at Playas del Coco. Many locals were on break because it Easter week so it was pretty fun laying out on the beach. Many families had setup their own picnics in the grassy area next to the beach so we setup there too underneath a tree. We grabbed lunch at Tiki Coco, nothing amazing but it was right on the beach and watched some locals play volleyball. If you want cheaper and better food walk into the little town a little bit and there are a lot of great options. Playas del Coco wasn’t the prettiest or cleanest beach to be fair but it was different than the others one we visited. On the way we stopped at the grocery store and Subway there for another cheap dinner to go!
Flight Leaving Costa Rica to El Salvador
After finishing up the Costa Rica portion of the trip we had to get home somehow but…. In order to get our award tickets to Costa Rica I had to book a two night stopover in San Salvador (SAL), El Salvador by flying Avianca Airlines. Another tip, before going to the airport grab a bite to eat at La Choza de Laurel next to the Budget rental car place alot cheaper and better than the limited options at the Liberia airport. Honestly I was really excited for the flight and it was great! This was my first time flying them and also was on a propeller ATR 72 which I also haven’t flown. It was only a one hour flight but they even provided a small lunch for everyone on board! Ridiculously awesome by my USA flying experiences! The flight path went straight along the Pacific coast and was truly beautiful!
Costa Rica is a beautiful country and I would recommend anyone to visit both the volcanic and beach areas. The wildlife is everywhere in the country and was really fun seeing monkeys everyday just like how I see squirrels back at home in Indiana. My one complainant was the service in the whole country, I always assume service will be slow when taking these tropical vacations but it was worse than usual. This was evident even at the luxurious Andaz Papagayo. The resort was beautiful and the beaches are really underrated but just be prepared for the low service. A lot of people staying at the resort did not rent a car but I think it is necessary if you really want to explore and experience the country! This concludes the Costa Rica portion of the trip but stay tuned for El Salvador!!