Sunday, September 28, 2014

Costa Rica | Our 5th Wedding Anniversary

About a year ago, we decided to go on a low-key beach vacation to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Oddly enough, we've really never gone on a true beach trip - yes we are usually in the sun but it's typically in between lots of activity and adventure. We originally were looking into Caribbean destinations, but when Marriott announced its affiliation to a new Autograph Collection hotel (our favorites) in Costa Rica it was a done deal for us. We booked our stay at Hotel Punta Islita immediately!

We flew into Liberia and rented a car for the 2.5 hour drive to our hotel. I am forever grateful to the Hertz agent who upgraded us to an SUV with 4 wheel drive, as we never would have made it in the tiny car we reserved. The first half of the trek was just fine on a paved road, but the second half was horrendous. The dirt roads were a mess since it was the middle of the rainy season, so we had to drive through a few mini-rivers and up and down the mountains. By the time we got to the hotel I was ready for a drink. I assume everyone else feels the same way upon arrival, as check-in is at the bar and they serve you free guaro sours. Congratulations on surviving the drive, now forget about it! :)

In hindsight this is one place where I do not recommend a rental car since it would have cost about the same to pay for transportation between the resort and the airport, and then we wouldn't have had to deal with driving on the roads. Live and learn.

We were surprised to find out this wasn't your typical hotel, since everyone is in a bungalow! Again they spoiled us with an upgrade to a suite with our own private jacuzzi and a view of the beach. It was incredible. We always stay at Marriotts and they are generally all the same, but their Autograph Collection is a little more unique and boutique-y and this one takes the cake by a long shot! (So far, anyway...we still have many more to visit on our must-go list!)

Our first full day there was our anniversary. We spent most of the day hanging out at the infinity pool and bar area. Could not have asked for a more beautiful day to start our trip!

The one thing we did book in advance was a couples massage for that afternoon. We sure wish that could also be a more regular thing.

That evening we made reservations for a private dinner on the beach. All of the food at the resort was amazing and this was probably the best meal we had of the trip, especially since it wasn't on the regular menu.

Special Dinner Guest!

Since our main goal of this vacation was to get some serious R&R, this was also the first trip we went on without doing any research and with no planned agenda. I will admit I was a little nervous about getting bored and needing something to do, but just in case, our hotel had several awesome excursions we could sign up for.

Turns out we didn't even need all of the excursions, as we are surprisingly quite good at doing nothing and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Even though we both grew up in Florida, we hardly ever go to the beach. And Bo never really wants to just lay by the pool for hours. So much to our amazement we found that both are much more enjoyable when the chairs are already setup with towels, someone brings you food and drinks all day long, and there is plenty of shade to escape from the sun. We are almost always on the go whether we are traveling or not, and this forced relaxation was just what we needed. So much so that we are hoping to make this a more regular thing.

The first big decision we had to make every day was whether we should go to the main infinity pool, the other pool, the beach, or hang out in our jacuzzi and hammock. And the second big decision was which fruity drink to have for the day. Stressful stuff, I tell ya.



After logging several hours at each of the pool bars we made friends with most of the people staying there, especially Melissa and Nathan, fellow Marriott loyal world travelers. We got along really well with them and traded travel recommendations, so we are thankful for all their suggestions for future trips! Hopefully our paths will cross again one day :)

By about day four, we decided to finally move past the resort property and put our rental car to use. We really didn't go very far since technically we could have walked to the nearby town. The one restaurant in town was closed that day, so we stopped in a few of the local shops, and then...back to the resort we went. We waited until low tide and walked along the beach out to the point, which was probably the furthest away from the resort we ever got.

On our last night, we decided to go zip-lining. Neither of us had ever been, and several people told us that Costa Rica was one of the best places to do it, so we figured what better time or place to check it off the bucket list. We ended up being the only ones who signed up for the twilight session, so we got a private tour which is normally double the cost of what we paid. Sweet! It was pretty cool, though I'd recommend a GoPro over the iPhone for pictures :)

We loved Costa Rica. Among other firsts, it was also our first time visiting Central America. Everyone was extremely friendly and happy, we had great food and drinks (that were very reasonably priced, especially at a resort), and it was just beautiful. We definitely hope to go back some day!!