Renting a Car in Costa Rica

Renting a Car in Costa Rica

Renting a Car in Costa Rica

I hope everyone is doing great wherever you may be. I’ve been busy planning my husband David’s big 80th birthday party. Several friends will fly down for the epic event and have asked if they should rent a car in Costa Rica.

I figure you’ve wondered about it too. How accessible are cabs? Can I Uber in Costa Rica? Are there rental cars at the airport or should I have the concierge from the vacation home I rented take care of it for me? Which rental car company is best? These are all great questions. Let’s dig in.

Should I Rent a Car?

To rent or not to rent? That depends on what kind of vacationer you are. Do you plan to get to your vacation villa, unpack, kick back with a cold tropical cocktail, spend time at the pool, and escape from everything? Because, if that’s the case, I’d say you don’t need to rent a car in Costa Rica.

Besides, when you stay at the Discovery Beach House, you’re close to everything. Why leave a car sitting in the parking area when you just want to lay on a float in a pool and hang at the beach. The beach is a 30-second walk from your back door. Stores, ATMs, restaurants, bars, and shopping are just a 2-10-minute walk from the villa.


Costa Rica TaxiTaxis are readily available on the main road. Uber is in San Jose but hit and miss in our area of Manuel Antonio. If you’re adventurous and want a local experience, take the public bus, it’s easy. The public bus stop is right outside the Discovery Beach House gate. Buses pass by every 20 minutes, except for Sundays when they’re on a minimal schedule. It’s only $.60 to ride into town and takes maybe 15 minutes. It’s a cultural experience.

Do I Need a 4×4?

If you’re the type of vacationer who likes to get out and explore, then I suggest you rent a car in Costa Rica. You may want to visit nearby towns or get off the beaten path. You don’t need to rent a 4×4 vehicle unless you plan to visit rural areas of Costa Rica.

How Are the Roads?

The road conditions in Costa Rica have vastly improved over the past few years. The roads around Manuel Antonio are great in comparison to other areas of Costa Rica. When you’re off the main highways, there are still potholes that can swallow your car. So be careful and don’t be in too much of a hurry. Remember the maximum speed limit in Costa Rica is only about 50 mph. If you’d like to know more about driving around in Costa Rica check out my article “Costa Rica Map Tips: One Inch Does NOT Equal Five Miles.”

Mandatory National Insurance

The mandatory national insurance is the biggest complaint we hear from guests renting a car in Costa Rica. Online websites don’t include the mandatory national insurance in their online quotes. Imagine your surprise when you think you scored a deal on a car, then come to find out, it’s much higher than what the website says. The national insurance can add $10 to $25 a day (it depends on what type of car you rent) to the total cost of the rental.

Our concierge has received many phone calls from panicked guests at the airport asking for help. Their deal turned into a not so great deal fast. That’s why we suggest you let our concierge book your rental car. Our concierge service is free for our guests. We only work with reputable companies. We send them so much business, if any little thing pops up, we get priority.

INS a Costa Rican Monopoly

There’s one company that offers car insurance in Costa Rica. The company “INS” (National Insurance Institute) has a monopoly here. Don’t get tricked into purchasing international car insurance for your Costa Rica vacation. Unless your insurance is from INS it isn’t valid in Costa Rica. You’ll either lose your money or have to ask for a refund when you return from your Costa Rica vacation.

Reputable Car Companies

If you book your car on your own, make sure you use a reputable company. Don’t book with a company you’ve never heard of, no matter how good the deal seems to be. If something does happen, you want to make sure you have someone in the office that can help you.

Basic or Full Coverage?

Basic or full coverage is separate from the mandatory national insurance. I like the idea of full coverage because if anything happens (stuff does happen sometimes), it’s nice to know you’re covered.

Most major credit cards include full coverage on cars rented with the card. Call your credit card company and double-check. That’ll save you quite a bit of money and give you peace of mind with your car rental. Basic coverage is just that, basic. Most guests never have problems with basic coverage.

Rental Car Deposits

You’ll need a credit card for the deposit on your rental car in Costa Rica. Rental car deposits range from $300 to $1,500 depending on the company and the type of car you rent. If there’s no issues, the rental car companies will return your deposit within three business days after you return your vehicle. Keep that in mind if you need access to the deposit money after your vacation. Similar to the US, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and be over 25 years old to rent the vehicle.

Now You Know

I hope that by now, I’ve answered most of those daunting questions you had about how to rent a car in Costa Rica. As always, our concierge is here to help you with your Costa Rica vacation planning needs.

See You Soon

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more details on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Flights, San Jose Airport (SJO), and What You Should Know

Costa Rica Flights, San Jose Airport (SJO), and What You Should Know

Costa Rica Flights, San Jose Airport (SJO), and What You Should Know

You take a deep breath and you feel your pulse racing with excitement. You just booked your Costa Rica vacation rental. Congratulations! You’re stoked and walk proud for the sweet deal you got for your family. This Costa Rica family vacation is going to be the best vacation yet!

What will you do about your flights? When is the best time to arrive? Where do you pick up your rental car or private shuttle? No worries. I’ll help you figure out best arrival times and how to get around the airport in San Jose. The San Jose (SJO) airport is actually in Alajuela. Did you know that?

Now Arriving, Costa Rica

You’ve probably already searched every travel site on the Internet to find the best Costa Rica flight deals. There are a ton of them out there and now is a great time to book. It’s important to consider your arrival and departure times. It depends on where your Costa Rica vacation villa is located. You may have to leave at the crack of dawn to arrive at the airport in time for your departure flight. Many airport services are not open when your flight arrival or departure times are too early or too late.

Earlier Arrival, Later Departure

Airport Arrivals DeparturesWhen guests stay at the Discovery Beach House, we always suggest they arrive early in the morning or midafternoon. Now, I understand sometimes that can be tricky. An early arrival will give you plenty of time to get through customs, grab your baggage, stop at duty-free (save money on much cheaper alcohol), get your rental car or find your private shuttle, arrive at your vacation villa, and still have some of your first day to enjoy.

My strategy is to power through the first day after a red-eye flight, so I don’t feel like I’ve lost an entire day on travel. The key is to get a few hours of sleep, so bring a sleeping mask, ear plugs, or a sleep aid to make that happen.

Try to avoid arrivals or departures at rush hour. There’s nothing worse than being super excited to get to your vacation rental then having to sit in traffic for two hours. If you arrive after sunset (about 5:30 pm), it’ll be dark. It isn’t easy driving around an unfamiliar country during the day, let alone at night. If you’re in a private shuttle, you’ll miss the beautiful scenery on the way to your destination. The best strategy is to arrive late morning to midafternoon and depart midafternoon or after rush hour.

Getting Around Costa Rica’s San Jose Airport SJO

You’ve finally landed, now what? San Jose airport (SJO) is very easy to navigate. When you get off the plane, follow the clearly posted signs first to Immigration then to the customs agents. Someone will be there to guide you. You’ll need your passport, so have that handy. There are two lines, one for nationals of Costa Rica and a second for everyone else. Make sure to wait in the right line.

Next in Line

A customs agent will call you to a window. If you’re traveling as a family or couple, you can go to the same window together. If you’re individuals in a group, each person needs to wait until called to a customs agent’s window. The customs agent asks you some questions about your trip or where you will be going. Be patient if the line is long and always be nice no matter how tired you might be. Usually, this line goes quickly and very smoothly. Once you have your passport stamped, it’s time to pick up your luggage.

Where’s My Luggage?

Baggage ClaimA short walk down a hallway from customs is baggage claim. Like most airports, look for the carousel with your flight number on it and wait for your luggage to come out. There are luggage porters who help you carry your luggage for a tip. If you have a lot of luggage, it’s worth it. Super-secret insider tip (shhh): if you hire a porter it will also streamline your customs experience. Customs agents are reluctant to tear through luggage handled by porters as it may affect their tip. Having a vacation rental home in a foreign country means I often bring back several household items I can get cheaper in the U.S. The porter puts my heavy bags on the conveyor belt, reloads them onto his cart, and wheels the whole shebang outside. This can be a life saver if you’re traveling with family and a wife who likes clothing options, like me.

If you don’t use the services of a luggage porter, there are carts you can use for free. The carts can’t be taken past the luggage scanning machine unless you have a porter. After that you’ll have to carry your luggage. Baggage claim is small and very easy to get around.

Duty Free

We suggest if you want to have any favorite alcohol on hand, you should buy it at duty-free. You can buy alcohol all over Costa Rica but at duty free it’s tax-free and sometimes half the price! Shopping at duty-free will save you at least 13% – 50%.

I prefer the second duty-free shop after baggage claim.  The second shop has the same great deals as the first one, but it’s less crowded.  The first duty-free shop is normally packed (elbow-to-elbow room) because everyone instinctively goes to what they see first.

Remember, you’ll have to show your airline ticket and passport to prove you didn’t sneak in the back door for a deal.

Leaving San Jose Airport (SJO)

After you’ve done your duty-free shopping and have your luggage, you’ll need to give that form to the person at the luggage scanner. You’ll put your luggage on the scanner and pick it up on the other side. On the other side are the kiosks for rental car companies. The airport is tiny, so the rental car lots are located off-site.

If you have a private shuttle, you’ll find your driver waiting outside as you exit the airport. Be warned!  There are a ton of taxi drivers and people bidding for your attention and business. it can be a bit overwhelming. Look around for someone with a sign with your name on it, that’s your shuttle driver. If you haven’t arranged transportation or a stay at a local hotel, no worries. There are people who will let you make a call on their cell phones. Tip them $1 if you do. Tip more if they help you a lot.

Now You Know

By now you may be ready to book your flight for your Costa Rica adventure. Don’t worry, you’ll navigate the airport like a pro, armed with this new knowledge, and get to your vacation rental home in the shortest time possible because you picked the best arrival time!

See You Soon

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Do You Have Costa Rican Medicinal Cures in Your Kitchen? You Probably Do!

Do You Have Costa Rican Medicinal Cures in Your Kitchen? You Probably Do!

Everyone is worried about healthcare these days, aren’t you? No wonder. We’re constantly bombarded and brainwashed by pharmaceutical ads telling us we’re sick. The medical industry has changed drastically since the horse and buggy days when the local Doc would ride out to your log cabin to deliver a baby. They are no longer about finding cures but rather about treating symptoms that keep you hooked on high-cost meds that only mask the problem. Their bottom line is profit, not your health.

What if remedies for some of your ailments are just steps away, right in your own kitchen or right around the corner at your local grocery store? For thousands of years cultures around the world have relied on herbs and natural remedies to heal themselves. My great-grandfather was a curandero (folk healer), and as a 10-year-old child I remember watching people line up outside his front door in El Paso, Texas to seek help for their ailments. Herbs and plants were his mainstay and people always walked away with genuine gratitude.

David, my husband of 44 years, and I love to eat healthy food. It’s important to care for your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. Why not have an amazing life while you’re here?

As it turns out, Costa Rica is a Garden of Eden full of medicinal plants and herbs. Guess what? You may already have several Costa Rican medicinal plants on hand. You’ve probably used medicinal plants without even knowing it. Here are a few of Costa Rica’s medicinal plants we enjoy that help us stay healthy.


I know cilantro isn’t everyone’s favorite herb. People either love it or hate it. However, after you read this, maybe you’ll come to appreciate it for its medicinal properties. As a Mexican, I grew up eating cilantro in countless savory dishes. Here in Costa Rica, it’s called culantro and we have two varieties; the small-leafy one you may be familiar with, and a long, broad-leafy one with serrated edges. They both grow wild all over Costa Rica and are packed full of antioxidants, an effective cleanser that hugely benefits the digestive system. Cilantro actively treats stomach ailments such as a pesky upset stomach and even more severe conditions such as diarrhea and vomiting. The preparation is simple, just make a tea and sip it. For prevention and pleasure, toss cilantro into a variety of dishes including veggies, rice, guacamole, pasta, salsa, soups or tacos.


Ginger is a magical herb with many applications. Ginger is chock full of antiviral and antibacterial properties to help prevent infections. Slice it and steep in hot water to make a tea or toss it into your next Asian dish. For a sore throat, suck on a piece of peeled ginger for soothing relief. My friend drinks ginger tea as a substitute for coffee and it puts pep in her step. Use ginger to prevent or heal from a cold or the flu. It has been known to cure kidney and bladder issues, morning sickness, and motion sickness. I suffer from seasickness and feel nauseous even on land when someone does that wavy thing with their hand while talking about seasickness. I also get sympathetic seasickness. If someone runs to the side of the boat to barf – I’m right there with them. Ginger is my trusted companion whenever I set foot on a boat. I chew on slices of raw ginger root and it works every time. A cup of shredded ginger in a hot bath is a favorite for body and mind. Oh, the fragrance is delightful, and it will leave you feeling recharged and invigorated.


Mint not only smells and tastes good, but it has medicinal properties too. Steep mint leaves in hot water and drink it as a hot or cold tea. Mint helps prevent cavities and is found in mouthwash recipes dating back centuries. Mint contains menthol oil that calms the nerves, keeps a balance of good bacteria in your digestive system, and aids in overall digestive health. A favorite here in Costa Rica is lemonade blended with ice and mint.


Does this surprise you? It turns out one of my favorite smoothie ingredients is incredibly good for you, like a medicine. Pineapples are a terrific source of Vitamins A, B, and C. If you suffer from arthritis or Inflammation, blend up a pineapple smoothie to ease the discomfort. A pineapple smoothie is super after a hard workout at the gym. It boosts the immune system and cuts recovery time.


Papaya is one of the most commonly grown fruit in Costa Rica, next to the pineapple. Have you ever seen a papaya tree? The fruit grows in big clumps out of the top of the trunk just below its peculiar, snowflake-shaped leaves. It reminds me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Papaya is a diuretic, it eases digestive problems, constipation, and kidney issues. Papaya also lowers blood pressure naturally and is rich in fiber and Vitamin A. Papaya keeps you looking younger with its miraculous anti-aging properties. Add some extra papaya to your fruit salad or smoothie in the morning. A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away.

Did You Look in Your Fridge?

By now, you’ve probably searched your pantry and fridge to see which Costa Rican medicinal plants, herbs, and fruit you may already have at home. I hope this inspires you to think outside the pill box and use medicinal plants in your kitchen when appropriate. To state the obvious, if you break an arm, head for the doctor.

See You Soon

We offer wellness retreats at the Discover Beach House. Book your trip directly on our website. We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more details on Manuel Antonio, the best beach spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica 50 Shades of Green Energy

Costa Rica 50 Shades of Green Energy

Costa Rica 50 Shades of Green Energy

Costa Rica Electricity 99.56% Renewable Energy

Have you immersed yourself in research for your Costa Rica vacation? Have you noticed recent articles or posts about how green Costa Rica is? I don’t mean the usual 50 shades of green you think of when you picture Costa Rica.

Let’s talk about energy, green energy. Few people know Costa Rica now runs almost 100% off renewable energies. For most of 2018, Costa Rica ran off renewable energies, about 99.56% of the time. Renewable energy isn’t new for Costa Rica. They got a head start on this trend in 2014. Costa Rica’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2021.

I’m impressed such a small country can make such a significant impact on the environment. Costa Rica is a great example for other countries to follow.

Volcano Power

Costa Rica uses geothermal energy from volcanoes to generate electricity. They harness the heat from volcanoes to make steam; the steam turns turbines to generate electricity. How cool is that?

Blowing in the Wind

As you drive through the cloud forest on your way to Lake Arenal, you’ll pass wind farms perched on hilltops. Costa Rica also uses windmills to crank out energy. Not much grows up here, so this is a perfect place to harvest the power of the wind to generate electricity for Costa Rica.

Dam It

After the cloud forest you drop down into the Arenal area. There’s a massive hydropower plant here. The dam holds Lake Arenal reservoir in a beautiful green valley at the base of the Arenal volcano. Close your eyes (only if it’s safe to) and imagine a Jurassic Park type volcano. Arenal volcano is a tall cone-shaped volcano that juts out of the valley with a bright green jungle that covers one side; the other side has lava charred black sections from past eruptions. It’s such a beautiful winding drive around Lake Arenal, you should take the trip if you get a chance. This hydropower plant generates most of the electrical power for Costa Rica.

Discover Our Green Side

By now, I’m sure you’re impressed with what this peaceful, beautiful country is doing. Costa Rica is well on its way to prevent the use of single-use plastics like straws, utensils, and plastic bags. Some restaurants now use avocado pits, bamboo, and reusable metal straws. We think this is great for the wildlife and environment here.

We ask when on your Costa Rica vacation you think green too. You can do simple things like, opt for the better sunscreens that don’t hurt the oceans or reefs in our area. Don’t buy bug repellents that smell like awful chemicals. The chemicals are not good for your skin and worse for the environment. Instead, use sunscreens with natural ingredients such as lemongrass, citronella, and lavender, which are great repellents for bugs and mosquitoes. Plus, you’ll still smell nice. Who wants to smell like a DEET chemical factory? I once sprayed my bare feet with a product that contained DEET. That night when I took off my flip flops, my feet looked like I still had my flip flops on! The DEET caused the black dye to stain my feet, which couldn’t have been a good thing, ya think?  Even a simple act like buying better sunscreen or repellents can have a positive impact on our beautiful environment.

At Discovery Beach House, We Do Our Part!

We do our best to be green. When my husband, David, and I built the Discovery Beach House, we wanted to have the lowest impact on the environment possible. We installed our own private waste treatment plant to ensure we wouldn’t contaminate the grounds or the beach. We took care to locate our villa so we wouldn’t have to cut trees. We planted 75 new trees, which is one reason the monkeys love to visit us almost daily. The trees are their jungle highways and how they get around the Manuel Antonio area.

As our guest, we have individual recycle bins to help you contribute to being green by placing cans, plastics, organics, or glass in the appropriate bins.  We make sure they go to the proper recycling company. We can all do a small part to help keep Costa Rica beautiful and green.

Green Gardens

Beautiful gardens surround our Costa Rica luxury villa. When you visit us, we encourage you to take a moment to stop and smell the tropical flowers. We plant native trees and vegetation the local wildlife loves. Hundreds of local tropical flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds and make the Discovery Beach House’s gardens their home. Be sure to breathe in that fresh clean rainforest air on your stroll.

See You Soon

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read our other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Travel Tips

Costa Rica Travel Tips

Costa Rica Travel Tips

Do you plan to visit Costa Rica with your family this year? Statistics show 73% of the fun and excitement of a Costa Rica vacation is the preparation. However, the preparation can overwhelm some people. If you’re like me, you search YouTube and other Social Media up down and all around for tips. By now you’ve probably researched so many sites, you can’t remember what you were looking for in the first place.

Before you throw your hands up and scream, “I quit,” I have some Costa Rica travel tips to help your vacation be the best one yet.

What to Pack for Your Costa Rica Vacation

Keep a few things in mind when you pack for your trip. Outside of San Jose, most places are informal, so leave your prom dress, tux, and travel iron at home. You’ll stand out if you show up overdressed. Many vacation rental homes have an iron if you need one, but no one cares if your shirt has a few wrinkles. You won’t need your bling or diamond crusted heels in Costa Rica. A nice comfortable pair of sandals or flip flops will work just fine. Tennis shoes, water shoes, or secure sandals with a heel strap are a must if you plan to enjoy a zipline tour or other adventure tour. Most tour operators won’t let you participate if you don’t wear secure shoes. If your rhinestone-studded flip flop flies off your foot while gliding through the rain forest canopy, there’s no way to stop and search for it in the dense vegetation below.

What to Wear in Costa Rica

Choose light fabrics and breathable cotton blends. Pack shorts, sun dresses, and casual collared shirts or t-shirts. Heavier fabrics will be hotter and make you sweat more. They’ll also take longer to dry in this humid climate. You’ll want a few swimsuits for your Costa Rica trip. It’s no fun having to wear a semi-wet swimsuit under your clothes after a day at the beach or after an adventure tour. Bring a pair of long pants and close-toed shoes but save them for the flight to Costa Rica and the flight back home.

It’s the Humidity

Everyone perspires here. Hey, it’s the tropics, so don’t worry if you sweat or “glow” while you stroll through the farmer’s market or head for a restaurant. I like to think of it as nature’s moisturizer. Everyone’s skin looks younger here. When I visit family in California and go to brush my teeth that first morning, I look in the mirror half asleep then jump back in shock, “Damn, who is that woman who looks ten years older than me? Did an elephant crawl under her skin while she was asleep!?”

A couple of extra shirts to change into after a hot day of exploration is a must. A cold or cool shower will help you adjust to the humidity and make you feel invigorated. If the thought of taking a cold shower makes your teeth chatter, I understand. If it gets below 75˚, I shiver and reach for a sweater. Try this for a starter; at the end of your shower, turn the water down as cold as you can handle it. You’ll feel cool and refreshed.

Protective Gear

By now you’ve got to be tired of having frozen your butt off after this recent winter that broke all records. Some parts of you probably haven’t seen the light of day for a while. Be sure to pack some good sunscreen for your trip. You can buy sunscreen here in Manuel Antonio and around Costa Rica but it’s expensive.

Bring a strap for your sunglasses to keep them on your head while on a tour or on the beach. The waves of Manuel Antonio beach have snatched hundreds of glasses right off the faces of beach goers. I just had a friend lose a pair at the beach last week. He did get a pretty sweet body surfing ride first. The straps are cheap, and you’ll be happy to have your sunglasses during the sunny, warm tropical days here.

Costa Rican Rain

Bring along a dry bag to store electronics and important documents if you travel during the rainy season. Here rain can appear out of nowhere. You’ll be happy to have something to protect your valuables from getting wet if you’re caught by a surprise downpour. You’ll find a compact pocket umbrella very useful on your travels during the rainy season. FYI — it can still rain here in the dry season, but it doesn’t last very long. If you’re looking online for weather forecasts for your Costa Rica trip — beware — they’re mostly wrong. They usually say 80% chance of rain or thunderstorms, but that just means it’s raining somewhere in Costa Rica. Ask your concierge if you have any questions about the weather.

Exchange Your Money in Costa Rica

There’s no need to exchange US dollars for colones before you get to Costa Rica. Nearly everywhere accepts US dollars and you receive a much better exchange rate at local banks than at the airport or banks in the US. Beware of money exchange windows at the airport that say, “no commission.” They may not charge you a commission, but they give you a dismally low exchange rate. Also keep in mind you can get colones at the many ATMs throughout the country.

Last Minute Details

Where is my passport? Oh no! Did it expire? Did I double check flight times? Do we leave at 12:00 P.M. or 12:00 A.M.? Did I lock the front door? Uh oh, can’t remember if I gave the emergency contact information to the dog sitter.

Don’t stress out by leaving important details for the last day. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and remember to enjoy the process. A vacation should leave you feeling refreshed and with your batteries charged, not drained from bungled last-minute details before you even leave. I hope these tips will help your Costa Rica vacation or your Costa Rica family vacation be the best vacation yet.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Map Tips: One Inch Does NOT Equal Five Miles

Costa Rica Map Tips: One Inch Does NOT Equal Five Miles

Costa Rica Map Tips: One Inch Does NOT Equal Five Miles

You know that sticker on your car’s side mirror that says things are closer than they may appear? I think all Costa Rica maps should have a sticker that says, “places are waaay farther than they may appear.”

I bet in your excitement over your vacation stay at the Discovery Beach House in Manuel Antonio (or wherever you decide to vacation in Costa Rica) you eagerly broke out your map, felt the crisp paper slide between your fingers as you noisily unfolded and laid it flat on the table. Your eyes quickly scanned the map looking for every must-see place you’ve ever heard about.

Like a ship’s navigator you began plotting your course. Then you spotted the map’s legend in the corner showing you that “[________]” is five miles. A Dr. Evil laugh slips out from between your lips as you predict, “Ha, I can see all of Costa Rica in one week, yes!”

Costa Rica Travel Times

Think again. Costa Rica’s geography and terrain can make travel times a wee bit longer than what you’re used to back home. Here “[________]” can equal three hours of driving time. For example, the distance between the airport in San Jose and Manuel Antonio beach is only about 100 miles (180km) as the toucan flies. Easy peasy right? Not necessarily!

At times the road will hug a mountainside like an old friend. Then suddenly, the road starts winding like a snake being chased by a wild boar through the tropical forest. But wait — up ahead it stretches out straight along the amazingly beautiful azure coastline. You finally reach the Pacific coast, then Manuel Antonio, where you roll down your window and deeply inhale the smell of the sea and the salt air.

Road Signs You’ll Find in Costa Rica

BTW — don’t get too excited when you see speed limit signs that say “80km.” Remember, distances here are measured in kilometers not miles — a kilometer equaling 0.6 miles. Pretty much the entire country has a maximum speed limit of 80km (about 50mph). Be sure to calculate a maximum speed of around 50mph into your drive times between places. Unexpected traffic jams, iguana crossings, cows on the road, weather or other delays can turn that four-hour trip into a six or seven-hour trip.

When you see signs that say “Ceda” that means “Yield.” Make sure you pay attention to avoid close calls on the road. When driving here, stop at signs that say “Alto.” When you see a sign that says “Puente Angosto” be careful, there’s a narrow bridge up ahead. Many of the narrow bridges here have just one lane, so yield to oncoming traffic if a “Ceda” sign is on your side. Don’t be in too much of a hurry and wait your turn if there’s traffic to cross the bridge.

Don’t Panic

Heaven forbid you should have an accident in your car but here are some tips just in case. It’s very important to not move the car. Fight your instinct to get the car out of traffic, even if you’re blocking all the lanes, stay put. It’s against the law to move your car before the police arrive at the scene. Take some pictures of your car and the other car for your records. Have the rental contract handy. Call the rental company, if you can, to report the accident. If you’re concerned about driving in Costa Rica, it might be a good idea to get the full coverage for your rental car. That way, if anything does happen, you’re covered, and it will give you peace of mind. Our concierge can help you find the best prices on rental cars for your stay.


If you have an unlocked cell phone, you could buy a Kolbi SIM card at the airport for $5. Have the person activate the data so you can use the GPS feature. You can also buy an international plan that covers Costa Rica. That way you have Google maps or Waze to help you find your way. We’re still a rural country dotted with rainforest-filled valleys and mountains. Sometimes cell service is not always available but then you’ll miss so much if you’re married to your cell phone while on vacation.

By now you’ve got to be ready to plan your Costa Rica adventure. Armed with your new Costa Rica map knowledge, you’ll be able to make the most of your Costa Rica vacation time. Remember, when planning drive times that even though it’s just an inch away on the map; it might be a three-hour side trip to see the biggest papaya tree in Costa Rica.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Things to Do in Costa Rica and Manuel Antonio

Things to Do in Costa Rica and Manuel Antonio

It’s no wonder Costa Rica tourism has taken off over the last few years. Costa Rica’s geography and natural wonders draw tourists from every continent. The climate is perfect for those yearning to escape the cold and nasty grip of winter. There are a ton of things to do in Costa Rica. I’d like to share some of the best things to do, mainly in the Manuel Antonio area.

Costa Rica Tours

If you’re planning a Costa Rica family vacation or your first trip to the country, we can help you set up everything to make this the best vacation yet. Our concierge service at the Discovery Beach House is included with your rental and will make Costa Rica travel packages and itineraries for you. We will help you select tours that are the best for your group and adventure levels. Speaking of adventure, let’s jump into the tours.

Costa Rica tours come in a wide range of activities, from a relaxing boat ride through mangroves looking for wildlife, coffee plantations tours, jungle night walks, butterfly gardens, ziplines, or rappelling down a cascading waterfall. No matter if you’re the adventurous type or just wanting to chill out and relax on vacation, there’s something for everyone. That’s one reason we love the Manuel Antonio area so much. It has 24 of the 27 tours Costa Rica has to offer, all in one convenient and breathtaking place.

A very popular tour in our area is a full day waterfall tour. This tour is great for the whole family and adventure seekers alike. You visit four different waterfalls located along the Southern coast ending at the remote Playa Ventanas beach. At the waterfalls you can swim, climb up with the help of professional guides, and jump off into the fresh clean pool below. Our guests come back from this tour so pumped up and energized. They can’t stop raving about it.

We also have a waterfall zipline tour. You’ll zip from platform to platform up a valley until you cross a rope bridge. Now you’re at the top of the waterfall. Your heart races, you grin from ear to ear with excitement, then you grip tight as you swing over the top and rappel the waterfall. How many can say they’ve rappelled over a huge waterfall? There are several zipline companies that are great in our area. Depending on your adventure level determines who we recommend. Be sure to talk to your concierge about any tours you’d like to do while on vacation at the Discovery Beach House.

Manuel Antonio is for nature lovers!

Manuel Antonio National Park has plenty of nature for you to see and experience. The Discovery Beach House is visited daily by wildlife including the adorable Red-backed Squirrel Monkey and the playful Capuchin Monkey. You’ll be shocked at the amount of wildlife you see while enjoying your world-famous Costa Rican coffee in the morning sitting by the pool. I know David and I still get excited when we see so much wildlife right in our own backyard.

A short drive inland is a birder’s paradise. Or how about tantalizing your taste buds with a tour of tropical and exotic spices on a vanilla farm tour? Feel like a kid again as you stand with hundreds of brightly colored butterflies fluttering about you at the butterfly garden. Boat or kayak through mangroves filled with water birds, lizards and monkeys.

Costa Rica sunsets are an awesome occasion!

Our concierge can help set up renting a 27’ boat with built in GPS to follow and you’re the Captain of your own boat. Explore where you want along the picturesque coastline of Manuel Antonio. You can also have a captain provided, so you can sit back and enjoy the view.

One of my favorite tours is a catamaran sunset tour. You motor out and look for dolphins and whales as you enjoy unprecedented views of the majestic coast. You can snorkel in a protected bay and jump off the catamaran or take a ride on the wild side and shoot down its waterslide. The best part comes after dinner when you motor out to watch the sky transform into magnificent hues of mango, crimson, sapphire, and lavender. It’s an amazing way to watch the sunset here.

Do you want to do a little sport fishing or catch tonight’s dinner for your group? We can help schedule with reputable boats that follow sustainable fishing practices.

By now you must be searching your calendar for dates to take a Costa Rica vacation. I’m sure you’re excited about all the fun things to do in Costa Rica after reading this. I hope I’ve sparked or rekindled a sense of adventure in you. Manuel Antonio has so much to offer, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with the area too.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Vacation Rentals: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Costa Rica Vacation Rentals: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Are you having a hard time deciding on a Costa Rica vacation rental? If you’re planning a family vacation or just looking for vacation rentals in Costa Rica, the task can be daunting. A lot of properties will pop up when you do your search. Which one is the perfect choice for you? In this article I’ll go over a few different things to look at to help you pick the best option for your vacation.

I’ve traveled to and from Costa Rica a great deal over the past 20 years, so I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with the ugly and work our way back to the good and end on a high note.

Pay attention to the response time

It’s a good sign when someone gets right back to you when you inquire about a Costa Rica vacation rental. For example, at the Discovery Beach House we usually respond within an hour. If you send an inquiry and it takes four days or a week to get back to you, that’s a bad sign. Think about it, if they don’t respond quickly, how will they respond if you have an issue with their rental? If an air conditioner breaks down or you’re accidently locked out, will they take four days to respond? You don’t want to waste precious vacation time dealing with bad customer service.

Now we move to the bad

If you’re looking at a luxury villa, the listing should have several quality photos. If it doesn’t, that’s an ugly and move onto the next one. There are too many amazing places here to settle for a bad one. When you look for vacation rentals in Costa Rica, think about what kind of rental you need. How big is your group? Where are the Costa Rica vacation rentals located? How far off the trodden trail is that villa? Will you need to rent a car to get everywhere? Is there enough parking for the number of cars you rent if you come with a large group?

How close is the vacation rental to the beach? Beware of vacation rentals that claim to be right on the beach when they may only have an ocean view, however spectacular that view may be. Ask, “are you directly on the beach or do I have to drive there?” and “when you say walking distance, exactly how many minutes does it take to get to the beach?”

How close is it to amenities like super markets and tours? It’s good to figure out on the map where your vacation rental is in Costa Rica compared to the activities you want to do.

By now you must be wondering about the good vacation rentals in Costa Rica

Costa Rica vacation rentals have become more popular than ever. I think the more personalized service you receive at a vacation rental in Costa Rica beats a hotel any day. For the good, check to see if concierge service is included with your booking. Is there a human you can call and speak to on the phone? If you have questions before your Costa Rica vacation, they should be there to answer them all in detail. Do they help schedule your transfers, book tours, reserve personal chefs, and help you plan spa treatments?  Do they include daily maid service, or do they charge extra? Do they have a full house staff or are you just left to fend for yourself after check-in?

The Discovery Beach House has a personal concierge that works with you before your Costa Rica vacation. She’s there for you before, during, and after your arrival. If you need anything, just give her a call. Our concierge can help you book a rental car or can provide private door-to-door transportation from the airport right to our villa. We do all this for free for our guests. We love our clients and go the extra smile for them.

Our staff keeps your villa in tip top shape always. They also love to point out monkeys, sloths, and iguanas that visit our gardens, so you’ll never miss out on daily wildlife visits with our staff as your wildlife spotters.

FYI, the Discovery Beach House is perfectly located right on the main public beach in Manuel Antonio. You’re within walking distance to restaurants, Manuel Antonio National Park, bars, super markets, ATMs and gift shops. Public transportation is equally convenient with public buses passing by every 20 minutes or our concierge can call a taxi for you.

Our staff always delivers five-star customer service. Always.

I hope this helps you decide on which vacation rental in Costa Rica to choose. When you get a chance, check out the Discovery Beach House. If there’s anything we can do to help, please contact us via our website.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Best Beaches in Costa Rica

So, you’re looking for the best beaches in Costa Rica? You’re in luck, Costa Rica beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. The variety of beaches here range from secluded jungle beaches, hidden coves, stunning bays, and mile-long empty beaches, to resort and tourist-packed beaches.

Before we get started, I want you to close your eyes for a moment and forget the craziness of your day. Inhale the scent of salt air slowly and deeply, feel fine powdered sand caress your toes, and listen to the waves crash on a deserted beach as a warm tropical breeze grazes your cheek. Ah, don’t you feel better already? If you’re planning a Costa Rica trip, then experiencing the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica is a must. Here’s a quick overview of some of the best beaches in Costa Rica.

Caribbean Coast

Let’s start our journey on the Caribbean Coast. The Northeast beaches in Tortuguero are a must if you’re a sea turtle lover. Each year several species of sea turtles make their migration to lay eggs on these remote beaches. South of Limon are Playa Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Playa Manzanillo. The national park in Cahuita is a beautiful Costa Rica beach that is dotted with hundreds of sand dollars. Puerto Viejo is a favorite among surfers. It’s fun to sit at a local beach restaurant sipping on a fresh tropical drink watching the surfers find that perfect wave. Playa Manzanillo is a secluded beach at the end of a dusty, bumpy dirt road. It’s well worth the drive given the possibility of just you and a couple dolphins enjoying the water. It’s a beautiful rainforest beach with abundant wildlife. The warm crystal blue water and coral reefs are great for snorkeling. I think it’s one of the best beaches in Costa Rica on the Caribbean Coast.

Pacific Coast

Are you ready to head over to the Pacific side? Okay, let’s check out Playa Flamingo in the Northwest of the Guanacaste region. Playa Flamingo gets its name from the pink hue of the white sand beach. That’s right, a pink sand beach. Although it’s very subtle, it’s still pretty amazing. Can you imagine how beautiful an aquamarine wave breaking on a pink sand beach is? One caveat, this beach is a lot more touristy than other Costa Rica beaches and quite busy during the high season.

Playa Conchal is another one of Costa Rica’s best beaches. This beach is not as busy as the more popular Tamarido beach nearby. Conchal beach is great for the whole family. The warm tropical water is calm, so not many surfers are here. Hidden beneath the turquoise water are a couple coral reefs. This makes Conchal a perfect place to take a swim and do some snorkeling. Or you can relax with a good book and work on your tan.

Located on the Southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula is Montezuma. This beach is lined with beautiful dark volcanic rock, which makes Montezuma unsafe to swim but it’s a favorite spot to catch that next ride of a lifetime among surfers. This lush jungle beach is great to look for hidden gems in the many tide pools at low tide. Just remember to take only photos and leave only wet footprints.

In your search for the best beaches in Costa Rica you’ll need to stop by Playa Uvita and the Whale’s Tale. Playa Uvita hides a secret that can only be discovered during low tide. As the water recedes during low tide it uncovers a natural sand bar in the shape of a whale’s tail. If you’re making a day trip from the Discovery Beach House, ask your concierge when low tide is. You won’t want to miss seeing this phenomenon of nature.

Playa Ventanas is a stunning beach located in a big cove with beautiful rock features in the Southern Pacific zone. On the right side of the beach you’ll notice two “ventanas” (windows). Over the centuries the powerful ocean waves have worn away two long holes through the rocks. These ventanas can be walked through only during low tide. The dark volcanic rock with lush green rainforest and azure water is something I never get tired of seeing. I’m sure you’ll love it too.

Award Winning Beach

I’ve saved the best for last; Manuel Antonio Beach at Manuel Antonio National Park. This is the best beach in all of Costa Rica in my husband David’s and my opinion. But don’t just take it from us.  Forbes rated it as one of the top beaches in the world and TripAdvisor rated it the best beach in Central America. It was love at first sight for us. If there were ever a beach to have a love affair with — this is it. Here the mountains and jungle mingle seamlessly with the shore in an elegant union of pristine rainforest and volcanic black rocks that crop up along the soft sand beach. The colorful shells scattered on the beach add to the magic.

By now you must be dying to get your toes in the sand on one of the best beaches in Costa Rica. Think of how exciting it will be while you watch monkeys swing and jump from tree to tree or a mama sloth and baby sleeping above you on a branch. Manuel Antonio National Park has the rainforest, peaceful hidden coves, and beautiful white sand beaches. There is a ton of wildlife in the area, so you’ll be sure to see some while on your vacation at the Discovery Beach House.

Alright, I’m ready to kick off my flip flops and go for a sunset walk on the beach with David and our dogs Frida and Diego. Thanks for coming along with me on this tour of the best beaches in Costa Rica. This list is nowhere near a complete one of all the beautiful beaches here. Costa Rica has over 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) of shoreline with gorgeous beaches strung like pearls the length of each coast.

By now, I hope you’re so excited about your Costa Rica beach vacation, you can’t wait to book your flight. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

10 Fun Facts about Costa Rica You’ll Love

10 Fun Facts about Costa Rica You’ll Love

I find Costa Rica amazing! For such a tiny country, there’s a lot packed into it, from its resplendent wildlife, gorgeous beaches, lush rainforests, picturesque mountains, sweet people, and more. There’s beauty everywhere you look. I always enjoy learning something new and interesting about Costa Rica, so here are a few fun facts about Costa Rica you’ll love.

  1. You can drink the water. When people talk about Costa Rica, many think we’re on an island or Costa Rica is a third-world country. Not at all. We’re pretty advanced down here. There’s pure, clean drinking water in all the cities and surrounding areas. So, you can take that water purifier out of your suitcase, order ice in your drinks, and brush your teeth with tap water with no problems. It’s nice not worrying about the drinking water on vacation. Save space in your luggage for souvenirs.
  2. The national dish of Costa Rica is “Gallo Pinto,” literally meaning, “Spotted Rooster.” This is normally a breakfast dish of rice and beans (usually black beans) stir-fried together in a pan. Gallo Pinto is served with your choice of scrambled or fried eggs, and a slice of local white cheese or sour cream. Some places add a piece of toast and give meat options like bacon or sausage. While on vacation here, ask your concierge where to try the best Gallo Pinto. You can also have your concierge book a private chef for you and your family to enjoy local and international cuisine. There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of fresh brewed Costa Rican coffee and a big plate of mouthwatering Gallo Pinto to start your day off right. It’s delicious.
  3. The national animal is the White-Tailed Deer. I know, right! Probably not what you were expecting. I was surprised myself to learn it’s a White-Tailed Deer. You’ll find it on the 1000 colon bill. I thought it was a Howler Monkey or another primate. We’re lucky at the Discovery Beach House because the White-Tailed Deer can be found nearby in Manuel Antonio National Park. You’ll melt when you see its sweet innocent face, perked ears listening intently. and white fluffy tail bobbing.
  4. Costa Rica is GREEN. It isn’t just green with lush tropical rainforests, it’s environmentally-friendly green. Ticos know the natural beauty of Costa Rica is one of its biggest assets. They produce a whopping 90% of their electricity using renewable energy. They’re also proactive and have banned the use of many single-use plastic items, which is great for the wildlife and environment. The Discovery Beach House is part of the solution and has clearly marked recycle bins for easy disposal.
  5. Costa Rica has five active volcanoes. Costa Rica was dramatically forged from fiery volcanoes. Although there are no active volcanoes in Manuel Antonio, there are several near San Jose: Irazu, Turrialba, Poas, and Rincon de la Vieja. If you’re exploring other parts of Costa Rica, each of these volcanoes has a dazzling national park worth a visit. Plenty of dormant volcanoes pepper the landscape throughout Costa Rica.
  6. You can watch the sunrise on the Caribbean and see the sunset over the Pacific that night. Pretty cool huh? You’d need to rent a car to do this. You could watch the sublime sunrise on the East coast then jump in your car and drive over to the West coast in time to have a cocktail and watch an unforgettably vibrant sunset. It’s a gorgeous drive with vivid landscapes to fill your senses with wonder. The drive takes about six to nine hours depending on where you go on the West coast.
  7. Costa Rica holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Costa Rica has only about 0.03% of the earth’s surface. However, it packs a whopping 5% of its biodiversity into a teensy-weensy area. We enjoy oodles of wildlife right in our beachfront backyard at the Discovery Beach House. Sip on a delicious freshly brewed cup of coffee, take in the warm morning sun, and voilà, a troop of Capuchin monkeys show up to play around the pool. The baby monkeys are the cutest, most adorable creatures on the planet when they wrestle or play leap frog. They’ll mesmerize you. I’m always delighted and grateful when a troop traipses by. I’m sure you’ll love the monkey show too.
  8. Costa Rica has no military. They abolished the army December 1, 1948. Seventy years later, they have no regrets regarding the decision. I think this is a great reflection on the Costa Rican people. They’re peace-loving, non-confrontational, and choose to live a stress-free lifestyle. This leads to the next fun fact about Costa Rica.
  9. Costa Rica has one of the top five “Blue Zones” in the world. Blue Zones are special. They are areas of the world where people commonly live well into their 100’s. Researchers believe part of the reason they live so long is a healthy diet, positive social interactions with both family and community, and overall life satisfaction. Notice they didn’t mention what type of car they drive or job they have. Here, a simple, happy life has more value than material things. The Nicoya Peninsula is Costa Rica’s Blue Zone.
  10. Costa Rica is the happiest country on earth according to several polls. I think the previous three Costa Rica fun facts help with the overall happiness Costa Ricans share. I know I’m my happiest here in this tropical paradise. For me, there are too many reasons to list why Costa Rica is the happiest country in the world but one more worth mentioning is the ready smile on a Tico’s face. I miss it when I travel. Costa Rica isn’t a rich country by any means; however, its people find value in a happy, family-centered lifestyle. To them a rich life has a more grounded and enduring meaning.

By now I bet you can’t wait for your vacation at the Discovery Beach House. I know you’ll love learning new things about this beautiful little place on your visit. It really has so much to offer in such a small package.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Experiencing an Epic Day in Costa Rica — (Part 2)

Experiencing an Epic Day in Costa Rica — (Part 2)

Experiencing an Epic Day in Costa Rica (Part 2)

Greetings from paradise. In part one of my epic day in Costa Rica, I returned to the Discovery Beach House from running errands around Quepos and Manuel Antonio. While I was out and about, I kept thinking to myself how fortunate we are to be in such a special place filled with beauty and so many conveniences to offer.

Picking up from where we left off in the last issue, David and I were leaving to meet friends for sunset at Barba Roja. (If you didn’t have the opportunity to read part one about the Quepos area, you can find it here.)

Moving on to the second part of my epic day in Costa Rica, we’ll explore the conveniences you will find in Manuel Antonio.

Once you leave Quepos and start heading up into the mountains, you enter Manuel Antonio. The road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio is about eight kilometers long (five miles) and ends at the public beach next to Manuel Antonio National Park. Hold onto your seats as the road winds through steep hills covered with rainforests at times with sneak peaks of breath-taking ocean views. There is a very steep part of the road known to us locals as “Cardiac Hill.” You will know because you’ll feel your heart beating a bit faster as you climb up, up, up this winding hill. Once it flattens out, you have reached “the hill.” Here you’ll find the local soccer field, a few smaller supermarkets, and “restaurant row.”

Restaurant row in Manuel Antonio offers a variety of dining options. There’s a sushi place, Mexican food, a bakery, a hole in the wall burger spot and a Costa Rican “soda.” A soda is not a soft drink here, it’s what we call a typical Costa Rican-style restaurant. Get your fill of rice and beans, chicken, pork, or beef, with sides when you order a “casado,” the working man’s lunch. As you walk restaurant row, your nose will be delighted with the aromas of freshly cooked onions, peppers, and savory meats. You hear the “phhssst, phhssst” sounds of the pressure cookers making homemade beans and soups.

As you continue down the road, you’ll come to Barba Roja. Barba Roja is one of the first establishments in the Manuel Antonio area. It has been a local hang out ever since it opened in 1975. The dishes are tasty, with delectable sushi and a sunset view to die for! Ask your concierge what specials they’re running.

Across the street is a wonderful little deli. Manuel Antonio Deli has scrumptious deli sandwiches, meats, cheeses, and breakfast. They make their own hearty sausages, smoked bacon, corned beef, and zesty hot sauces. I love their sizable breakfast burrito and their divine egg and sausage English muffin. By now all this food talk has made you hungry, right? It’s making me hungry!

Next to the deli and across the street are boutiques and handicrafts shops. The Captain’s Booty is located just to the right as you walk into the entrance of Barba Roja. It features only items made in Costa Rica, a rare quality and definitely worth a visit. You are sure to discover the perfect tropical gifts for everyone on your list. There’s even a shop that has clothing made from bamboo, banana, and hemp fibers. Try them on and you will love how soft they feel against your skin.

Be sure to visit the renowned coffee shop, Café Milagro. This is the quintessential place to grab an exquisite cup of coffee any time of the day. Café Milagro roasts their own premium coffee locally, David’s and my favorite coffee.  I’m sure you’ll find their restaurant menu irresistible, too. If you like live music, Café Milagro is a great spot to catch it every night of the week. We love the variety of live music Manuel Antonio has to offer. Do you want to bust a move or learn salsa dancing? Be sure to ask your concierge where to go for live music each night of the week.

Just a few steps from Café Milagro is Plaza Vista shopping center. Here, you can find an ATM to withdraw US dollars or Costa Rican colones. The shopping center offers a full-service bank, charming boutiques, souvenir shops, mini-super, wood-fired pizza restaurant, and the best gym around with an iconic view of Manuel Antonio National Park. If you’d like to work out while on vacation, let our concierge know, as we can get you a discounted day-pass or a multiple day-pass through the Discovery Beach House.

As you travel a few more steps past the shopping center, here is another one of my favorite restaurants, Agua Azul. What a cute little place. By little I mean there’s about nine tables, and it gets packed. If you want seafood, this is the place to go. If there’s a birthday in your vacation group, stop by Agua Azul for dinner. Without giving away the birthday surprise, let’s just say it’s loads of fun and the whole restaurant gets into it.

Other restaurants we enjoy close by include Z Poolside Bistro and Jolly Roger. These two are next door to each other. Jolly Roger is a pirate-themed chicken wings bar. They have live music on the weekends and 24 different chicken wing sauces to choose from. The sauces range from no spice to super spicy with delectable flavors including garlic, honey, curry, red wine, and of course many buffalo and BBQ sauce choices. So, there’s individual flavors for everyone. Z Poolside Bistro is just that, a great little bistro next to the pool. Bring your suit if you’d like to have lunch or dinner and take a dip to cool off. The fusion of fresh flavors and local ingredients in the dishes are fantastic.

Keep heading toward the Discovery Beach House, and you’ll run into an old US C-130 supply plane called El Avion. This supply plane was shot down in Nicaragua during the fight between the Sandinistas and the Contras. It was left abandoned for years until the current owner rescued it, brought it to Manuel Antonio where it found a second life as a restaurant and bar. You can even go inside and snap a few pictures in the cockpit. Indeed, this is a one of a kind experience!

After El Avion, the road starts its descent down to the Discovery Beach House and the beach. You’ll know you’ve reached the main beach because it’s the first time you’re actually the same level as the beach, the rest of the time, you are up on the hill. At the beach, you’ll find a couple mini-supers, even more souvenir shops, and a few restaurants. There is another ATM near the Super Pura Vida mini-super. This is the closest ATM to the villa.

You will feel so peaceful and secluded at the Discovery Beach house. Yet you are only a short walk from the backyard of the Discovery Beach House to the main beach, shops, bars, and restaurants.

I get excited talking about this area and why I love it here so much. It truly is a place to visit and experience. We look forward to your stay with us.

If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @Discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Best Restaurants in Manuel Antonio – Barba Roja – Family Restaurant

Best Restaurants in Manuel Antonio – Barba Roja – Family Restaurant

Many of the families who stay at the Discovery Beach House will often ask Sabrina, our Concierge, where is the best family restaurant in Manuel Antonio? We always recommend Barba Roja. It is one of the oldest restaurants in the Manual Antonio area and has always been a fun place to hang out for the locals and visitors to Costa Rica.

What is even more fabulous is their two for one hamburger nights on Tuesdays. If you love ribs, then you definitely need to try the Barba Roja smoked savory ribs. For adults, the Barba Roja happy hour is every day from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It’s a great place to unwind after a day of Costa Rica adventures.

You can sit and watch the sunset, then listen to the live band at night. The locals think Barba Roja has one of the best views of the Costa Rican sunset. When you come to Manuel Antonio, we hope you will be our guest at the Discovery Beach House. Have Sabrina fill you in on all the great restaurants in the Manuel Antonio area, especially Barba Roja!

Experiencing an Epic Day in Costa Rica — (Part 1)

Experiencing an Epic Day in Costa Rica — (Part 1)

An Epic Day in Costa Rica (Part 1)

Have you ever had one of those “ah-ha” moments? You know the kind when clarity illuminates like a light bulb in your brain. You’ve figured something new out, and now you must share it. Or maybe it feels like hearing great news, like a family member getting married or earning a big promotion. I’m having one of those remarkable moments right now.

I walked into the Discovery Beach House kitchen to set down my groceries when it hit me. Wow, we live in an incredible place. My husband David and I often refer to it as our “heaven on earth” or “having found our paradise.” It’s so beautiful with so many amenities to enjoy. I just had a world class epic day in Costa Rica, right here in Quepos/Manuel Antonio. By now you’ve got to be saying, “Tell me about it.” Let me put these groceries away, change into my flip-flops, and relax with a cold beverage outside by the pool.

Ah, much better. At the Discovery Beach House, you have a “chef’s kitchen,” and we encourage you to enjoy it. It’s stocked with items you may need, including spices. Don’t be afraid to get in there and make some tantalizing meals together. Some of the best memories are friends, family, all cooking, laughing and dining together. They say the kitchen is the heart of the house. It definitely is in ours.

One of the advantages of this area is the availability of supermarkets where you can grocery shop. Don’t get me wrong, it can be charming to spend the day learning where to find the best fruit, veggie, meat, and other vendors, or to buy eggs from the guy driving around with the loudspeaker mounted on his truck.

But it’s convenient to get a variety of products right in town and in one store. Head’s up, you might not find exactly what you’re used to. For us locals, there’s been a vast improvement from even just a few years ago. You can even buy organic produce. Do you have gluten intolerance? You can find many products and restaurants here with gluten-free options.

Quepos has grown quite a bit from its humble beginnings as a mangrove turned banana export hub. For a long time, you could only get here via banana train. The streets of Quepos finally got paved only a couple decades ago. Now, there’s so much more to do here, and Quepos is still growing.

The seawall or “malecon” in Spanish, is the perfect spot to take a stroll and enjoy an epic sunset view. Imagine sitting on a bench taking in the beautiful scenery, smelling the salt air, the sun slowly dips below the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. Above you, the clouds turn a smattering of red, orange, pink and purple. You soak in the warmth and the charm of local fishing boats puttering by and listen to the rhythmic beat of Latin music. It’s a beautiful place to be, especially when live bands play music on the seawall stage during festivals.

Quepos is about six feet below sea-level and the malecon helps prevent floods during heavy rains and high tides. Every Friday night from 5 pm – 9 pm and Saturdays from 7 am – 1 pm, right in the heart of Quepos, across from the seawall and Marina Pez Vela, you will find a variety of fresh produce and artisan goods from the local farmer’s market.

Marina Pez Vela is a world-class marina.  My husband and I love to go down for a sunset cocktail or to dine at one of the many fine restaurants. Z Gastro Pub is right in the center. At Z they serve a creative seafood menu and marvelous food. If you crave a steak instead, go upstairs to Gabriella’s where you’ll be able to enjoy delicious food and stunning views of the marina and coastline. You’ll also love the Asian fusion at Sunrice. There is a yummy gelato spot, too. Is your mouth watering yet?

Marina Pez Vela has unique gift shops, Promerica Bank with ATM’s and a small pharmacy. Mademoiselle Salon is a lovely place to get pampered. We all deserve a little pampering, right ladies? That said, if you ever want to be pampered while on vacation at the Discovery Beach House, please let your concierge know. We can arrange in-villa spa treatments or a visit to a spa or salon for you.

Alright, David just reminded me we’re meeting friends for sunset at Barba Roja in Manuel Antonio. Barba Roja is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. I’ll tell you about my epic day in Manuel Antonio in the next article. There’s so much this area has to offer; you really need to come and see it for yourself.

We look forward to your vacation with us at the Discovery Beach House. If you haven’t read my articles, please click here for more of my articles. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check availability, please visit Discovery Beach House. You can also check out our YouTube Channel for fun and pertinent information about Manuel Antonio and Quepos, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Best Restaurants in Manuel Antonio<br>Samui Thai – Traditional Thai Food

Best Restaurants in Manuel Antonio
Samui Thai – Traditional Thai Food

One of the requests guests at the Discovery Beach House will ask is if there is an authentic Thai restaurant in Manual Antonio. Today’s happy hour tour is at the Samui Thai Bistro. We love it here!

The restaurant uses locally grown food here in the Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica region. The owner, Angie, and her sister, Cherry, who manages the restaurant, are from Thailand. This is the only authentic Thai restaurant in the area. They serve a 100% traditional Thai iced tea, which is absolutely delicious. They have a wonderful selection of authentic Thai appetizers and entrees.

Happy hour has some great deals with their bottomless Sangria and house wine, along with a bucket of beer (six beers for the price of five). Evelyn and Sabrina tried a couple unique drinks… healthy and spicy!

When you visit the Discovery Beach House, you will definitely want to put this restaurant on your must go to list!

Is Costa Rica Safe? Travel Tips

Is Costa Rica Safe? Travel Tips

Is Costa Rica Safe? Travel Tips

Yes, Costa Rica is safe.

There’s been a few recent incidences in Costa Rica on the news lately. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people affected. Although it is not the norm, if you watch your local news, they might give the impression it’s full of crime and tragedies. It’s not.

I want to take a few minutes to ease your minds if you have any concerns about vacationing here in paradise. As I said, Costa Rica is safe. Here are some tips on how to help ensure a safe and fun vacation in Costa Rica. It’s mostly using your common sense while traveling. Many tourists arrive and fall in love with the beauty, wildlife, people, laid-back lifestyle, and Pura Vida. Sometimes tourists feel so relaxed, they let their guard down, and do things they may not usually do while at home. Like many places in the US or Europe, there is petty crime. No matter where you live or travel, thieves always look for easy targets.

For example, let’s say you have our concierge arrange a car rental from your local car rental company, say, for you at the airport. If you prefer, she can have your car delivered right to your door at the Discovery Beach House. Before you load your bags in the car, take off the airline luggage tags. Nothing says new tourist arrival like bag tags flapping around.

As you drive there may be places you want to stop and park the car. Make sure to roll up the windows and lock the car before you walk away. It seems simple but many people get excited because they see a sloth or a beautiful waterfall. They jump out of the car and take pictures. They come back and a bag might be missing because they didn’t remember to secure the car. Not saying it will happen but taking simple precautions can help you avoid a problem. I still sometimes forget to lock my doors or roll up my windows, and fortunately my stuff is still there when I get back.

If for some reason something does happen, you can always call our concierge. She’ll do her best to help you.

Furthermore, if you’re coming from abroad, I’d suggest using a site like PharmaVaccs to determine whether you need any vaccines before you arrive. Costa Rica is a beautiful place, but there is always a risk of falling ill when travelling, so looking after your health while on vacation is incredibly important.

When going to the beach, use common sense. You don’t need to bring your bling to the beach. At home, you probably wouldn’t set all your stuff down and then have everyone in your group leave to take a long walk down the beach. It’s good practice to keep an eye on your stuff and don’t walk away.

Now those of you staying at the Discovery Beach House shouldn’t worry about this as much because the villa is right on the main beach. If you need anything, you can walk a few steps and get what you need. Or if you want to take a nice long beach walk, set your stuff inside the gate and enjoy your walk.

At the Discovery Beach House, we have taken steps to make our guests feel safe and comfortable. We have a 24-hour guard who patrols the grounds while still giving you the privacy you want on vacation. Our staff is like family to us; they love what they do and would never steal anything from our guests. They’re highly respected, paid well according to country standards, and love their jobs. Most of the staff have been working with us between 10 and 17 years. They’re here to help you have a carefree vacation. We also have safes if you would like to keep smaller items secure. Your concierge will show you how it works.

I hope this helped ease some concerns about the safety of Costa Rica. Every year Costa Rica receives over 1.5 million tourists. Nearly all of them have an incident-free vacation. The odds are in your favor of having your best vacation ever in Costa Rica.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us. Check out our YouTube Channel for resources on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

The Shady Side of Quepos and Manuel Antonio

The Shady Side of Quepos and Manuel Antonio

Are you all settled in after the holidays?  Do you think this year is going to be a great one? I hope you’re as excited as I am for 2019.

I was out running errands and caught myself doing something very “Tico.” In case you don’t know, “Tico” is slang for Costa Rican. They have some distinctive customs.  I find most of them to be a wonderful way to live a slower, less stressful life. I often catch myself doing things the “Tico” way.  Here’s an example that gave me a chuckle.

Why I love walking on the shady side of town.

From reading some of my other blog postings, you’ve probably discovered winter in the United States is called “verano” or summer in Costa Rica. The average daily temperature is about 86o – 98o F.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to take a stroll around town. It’s only a few square blocks in size.  As you walk around town, you’ll feel the bright sun shining down on you. You’ll hear red scarlet macaws, toucans, and other tropical birds squawking. You’ll inhale the fragrant smell of onions and red peppers coming from open-air restaurants. As you walk along the sidewalk, suddenly, people in front of you cross the street to walk on the other side, then a little later they cross back over to the side they were just on. You might think to yourself, “What the heck are they doing?” You’ll see this all over town. Or you’ll be driving along the road and pass pedestrians and think, “That’s a weird place to be walking on the road.”

By now you must be wondering what they’re doing. After living here for a while, I too look for the shady side of town. Since December through April is hot here, people weave their way, seeking shade until they reach their destination.

Usually, there’s shade from trees or buildings. Around noon, when the sun is high in the sky, the shade is at a minimum. You might notice people walking very close to a building, wall, bushes, on sidewalks or roads. That’s because they’re walking in whatever minute amount of shade they can find.

It’s the charming little things like walking on the shady side of town that make me love Manuel Antonio and Quepos. I think you’ll enjoy the little things here too.

While you’re on vacation at the Discovery Beach House, we hope you discover new ways about life here that you’ll incorporate into your life when you get back home. Sometimes the small things we do make a big difference.

We have a lot to learn from doing things the “Tico” way. Living our lives with less stress, taking a moment to say hello to someone, making ourselves take a step back from the hectic pace of life now and then, and walking on the shady side of the street.

We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other blog posts, feel free to check them out here. You can follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us.  Watch our YouTube Channel for more information on Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.