I woke up Tuesday morning and sat out on the balcony just marveling at the beauty in front of me. We had the most spectacular view, and I couldn’t wait to go exploring. I left Clint sound asleep – he needed it – and off I went exploring the resort. This resort is unlike any other we’ve ever stayed in. It just had a totally different feel to it. From the restaurants, the swimming pools, the spa, and even the beaches, everything is hidden in nature and it’s up to you to find it. There will be trails and signs, but after that, you’re on your own. I love the element of discovery and that everything isn’t just handed to you right in the open.
I came back so excited to wake up Clint and show him all the hidden jewels and gems of the place. But first, breakfast. I was hungry! The buffet breakfast at Rio Bhongo was amazing! The set-up is something you would find at a Disney resort. Nothing is ordinary, everything extraordinary. The made-to-order omelettes and homemade chocolate chip bread was the bomb! And again, we sat overlooking the ocean. It definitely pays to come in the low season.
After breakfast, we took the complimentary shuttle to the Prieta Beach Club. The only people allowed at the Beach Club are Four Seasons and Andaz guests and millionaires who reside on the Papagayo Peninsula. We totally pretended that we fit in and even talked with the agent about lot prices. They start at $600k. Not bad at all! The Beach Club is absolutely gorgeous and has everything you could possibly want. They are even building a kids club! Our kids would love it here!
The Beach Club even has plush lounge chairs and beach butlers who set everything up for you. Wow! This felt way too nice!! We ordered a pina colada and sat and relaxed under palm trees listening to the waves crash for what felt like all afternoon. And it was only 1pm. And we still had the whole rest of the day. A huge perk of traveling without kids.
The beach was absolutely gorgeous! The water was clear blue and there was no seaweed to be seen. Just beautiful seashells and volcanic rock. I’m not much of an ocean swimming, but we decided to go feel the water. It was WARM!! The water was WARM!! I was LOVING this!!!
We had so much fun splashing around and dodging the waves not having to worry about which kid would drown next. We meet some great people, including family with four kids (almost exactly eight years older than our kids), a family our age from The Woodlands that own a beach home on the Papagayo Peninsula (they spend the summers here), and even ran into one of Clint’s advisors and his family. Small world!! We spent the rest of the early afternoon exploring the amazing tide pools, relaxing some more on the beach, and planning out our early retirement in Costa Rica. Clint found some amazing houses on the Papagayo Peninsula. I think we’re set.
I was curious to check out the Four Seasons, so we hopped on the free shuttle and headed to the Four Seasons for a late lunch. I will say that the hotel was setting was, without question, pretty incredible! Picture in your mind a peninsula that narrows in the middle to about 1500 feet. The Four Seasons is situated right there! The main pool and lobby are the middle and the ocean is to either side. It’s SO cool because the beach is on both sides of you! That said, the hotel, although spectacular, is looking it’s age and doesn’t have the modern architectural feel of the Andaz. I think the Four Seasons realized that because they were about to shut down for a $40m renovation.* We had an unimpressive lunch on the beach at the Four Season. It was hands-down my least favorite meal of any meal ever in Costa Rica, which made me appreciate the Andaz even more.
Out in the ocean we saw people riding in on jet skis. Sweet! Let’s check it out!! It was only $70 for two people for 30 minutes. Sign us up!! We stowed our belongings on a lounge chair, and headed out to sea. Little did we know that we would soon be stranded in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks. Just like the movie, The Shallows, everything was beautiful and peaceful to begin with. We went exploring around the other side of the peninsula, found some incredible inlets and huge rocks, and then were speeding through the waves.
Clint likes to go fast and took a sharp turn just as we were hitting a big wave. We both went flying off the jet ski! The key also went flying off the jet ski and sank to the bottom of the ocean! Realizing my fate, I jumped back on the jet ski. I held my feet up and just pictured the circling sharks under me. We were totally stranded. Without a key, we couldn’t get back to shore. We were way too far from shore to be seen, a storm was coming in, and the sun was starting to set. I tried to remain calm, but was freaking out inside. We sat for hours (okay, it felt like hours) and no one was coming.
I felt like a was in a movie. We were literally stranded in the middle of the ocean, the sun was setting, and a storm was coming in. There probably weren’t sharking circling beneath us, but in that moment, I was absolutely convinced they were there and about to eat me. I began to go in all out panic mode and began searching the jet ski for any hidden compartments, anything that might help us. I found the safety compartment. Sure enough, there was an extra key inside. And it worked! THANK GOODNESS!! I switched places with Clint and drove us safely back to shore. We were two salty wet rats, but we were alive! I still remind Clint that I saved our lives that day!
After being gone for the day, we were SO excited to get back to our hotel. The Four Seasons was nice, but in a pretentious sort of way. The Andaz hotel was anything but, and was definitely more our style. There was such a cool hip, yet calming vibe to it!! Everything in the resort has an open-air feel to it. At any given moment, you’re not quite sure if you are indoors or outdoors.
While we were getting ready for dinner, we heard some amazing live music outside our balcony. So we decided to follow the music to dinner! I’m so glad we did! The music lead us to an amazing tapas bar called Ostra, which felt nestled right in the treetops. I felt like I was in a restaurant at Disney World. Even the straws were made out of wood. Clearly, the Disney Imagineers had been here.
This time I tried something I’ve never done before – I let the waiter order for me. I told him that I loved the chicken Casado at the Rio Bhongo and he brought me something equally as flavorful and delicious! As we waited for our food, we had live music playing right in front of us, a four-piece Costa Rica band that was as lively as they were entertaining. They were so good!! I could have sat there all night! After dinner, we grabbed some seats a bit closer and listened to the band some more. I’m a total sucker for live music. At that moment, life was pretty perfect!
* Update: The Four Seasons just completed their renovation on December 4th. The new resort is absolutely GORGEOUS and looks remarkably similar to the Andaz Hotel. Go figure! But, you’ll pay three times as much for a room. I still love the Andaz!