Hilltop Hotel Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Tropical Rainforest
Perched 1,500 feet above the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by lush Costa Rican rainforests, Villa Caletas overlooks some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Almost everywhere you turn there’s a panoramic view of crystal-blue waters and swaths of jasmine and fiery-red heliconia plants. The views are among the many reasons the property was named one of Central America's top five hotels by Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2009, 2011, and 2012. There’s also a private volcanic beach on site and a restaurant set in a Greek-style amphitheater.
A complimentary shuttle runs guests to and from Caletas Beach, which is located about a mile away. The resort’s well-marked rainforest trail, sprinkled with waterfalls and plunge pools, also leads there, and you’ll likely see white-faced monkeys and toucans along the way. With its tiny coves and curtained sun beds, the beach is a romantic spot to watch the sun set over the Gulf of Nicoya. The resort’s infinity pool is another idyllic lounging spot. Surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens, guests can take in endless ocean views and order cocktails from the bar.
Mirador Restaurant, one of two fine-dining spots at Villa Caletas, serves fresh seafood such as herb-crusted grilled salmon and red-snapper rolls stuffed with lobster. At the open-air Anfiteatro Bar & Restaurant, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner with views of the Pacific Ocean.
Each of Villa Caletas's junior suites connects to a private terrace that overlooks the ocean or mountains. On the balcony, a bubbling jacuzzi provides a setting for a romantic soak under the clear night sky. The resort villas, which are scattered throughout the 300-acre property, have terraces with ocean, garden, or mountain views.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Scarlet Macaws, Surfing, and Eco-Adventures
Located along the Pacific coastline, Puntarenas is Costa Rica’s largest province, extending more than 500 miles from the Panama border to the Gulf of Nicoya. In Puntarenas, you’re never far from beaches, national parks, and nature reserves. The beachside town of Jacó attracts surfers from all over the globe, thanks to consistently big waves and good breaks. Just a few miles inland, Carara National Park, an 11,600-acre nature reserve, is home to crocodiles, two-toed sloths, and hundreds of scarlet macaws—a rare sight in most parts of the country.
About 60 miles northeast of Jacó lies the Costa Rican capital of San José, a bustling city filled with open-air artisan markets and street vendors selling tamales and pupusas (stuffed flatbread). Wandering the streets here you'll see a confluence of architectural styles—part Spanish, part Moorish—and some of the older neighborhoods still have homes made out of wood and adobe.