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Costa Rica had long been on our travel wish list. And finally, this year we actually made it a reality. After our arrival we continued to asked ourselves “why has it taken us so long to get here?”
Located on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast on picturesque Herradura Bay in Punta Arenas, Marriott Vacation Club at Los Sueños is an ideal home base from which to explore this Central American paradise. Our focus on this family trip was outdoor adventure – exploring the national parks, waterfalls, local flora and fauna including the exotic wildlife of the region. Not only did Los Sueños deliver on its ideal location, the resort itself is absolutely breathtaking.
Los Sueños is an hour’s drive from San Jose’s airport, and yes, we rented a car during our stay. It was easy to get around and I’d highly recommend doing this for the freedom it provides.
About Marriott Los Sueños, Costa Rica
Surrounded by so much natural beauty, flowing streams and waterfalls, and rainforest canopies, Marriott at Los Sueños is an absolute jungle-y paradise. Nestled between the rainforest and the ocean, Los Sueños translates to “The Dream,” and that’s exactly what we felt the moment we stepped on property.
The vacation club, completed in 2021 is the newest of Marriott Vacation Club Properties and shares the 1,100-acre location with the beautiful Marriott Resort Hotel. The benefit to guests is that we can enjoy all the amenities of the resort but get to stay in a brand spanking-new villa with all the conveniences of home.
La Iguana Golf Course is one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. The 18-hole championship course meanders through the natural, unspoiled landscape of the central coast. The Sibö Rainforest Spa & Retreat offers luxury spa and healing packages, well-worth taking advantage of. And the fitness center features state-of-the-art equipment, though we found that walking was our main source of exercise as there’s so much to explore just on the grounds of the resort and the surrounding area.
Guests can book a complimentary Eco-Tour, which we highly recommend. The one-hour experience transports a small group of guests by golf cart through the golf course area to explore the exotic environs and view some of Costa Rica’s native wildlife. We saw sloths, white-faced monkeys, crocodiles, and scarlet macaws. What a fabulous introduction to the area!
The resort also offers multiple restaurants for dining. Both these and the nearby picturesque harbor marina restaurants offer a myriad of choices featuring authentic Costa Rican dishes along with lots of fresh seafood, steaks, and other tantalizing international cuisines.
We Loved the Pools and Beach
The resort features a large stunning pool and aqueduct that wanders through the property under bridges and water features fronting Herradura Bay. There’s also a separate “adults only” pool and guests of the Vacation Club have their own private pool as well.
Herradura Beach is an impressively large and sheltered bay dominated by two picturesque headlands. Kayaks, jet skis, and other active water sporting equipment can be rented from the hotel or vendors located right on the beach. And it’s a delight to be in these warm tourmaline waters.
Amazingly Impressive Los Sueños Villas
Marriott Vacation Club Los Sueños offers one and two-bedroom ocean-view villas inspired by the natural elements surrounding the resort. It was quite a convenience to be able to have breakfast overlooking the tropical grounds or the option for meals prepared “at home” in our villa kitchen. An impressive grocery store is located just minutes from the resort, as were market stands for purchasing fresh local fruit and vegetables.
Our two-bedroom, two-bath villa was equipped with a fully-stocked kitchen, washer/dryer, large flat-screen TV and separate dining and living room. The master bedroom sports a king-sized bed, while the second bedroom contains two queens.
Views from our private balconies were almost indescribable. We not only faced the vacation club pool and Herradura Beach, but had a meandering stream and waterfall adjacent to our villa.
One of the highlights of our stay were daily visits by a pair of toucans who seemed right at home on our balcony. We called them our “official welcoming party” and it was as if they instinctively understood we saw ourselves as guests in their home environment.
We couldn’t get over the attention to detail and thoughtful décor honoring Costa Rica’s impressive natural surroundings. Tables and bedroom headboards were hand-carved. All other furnishings and appointments were classy yet understated, as if to not be in competition with Mother Nature’s finest gifts.
As noted earlier, our focus of this trip was to explore Costa Rica’s national parks and natural treasures. And that’s exactly what we did.
Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park
Our first visit was to Manuel Antonio National Park. Encompassing three long strands of magnificent white sandy Pacific Ocean beaches, and miles of lush jungle and forest, this stunning preserve is home to a vast diversity of plants and wildlife.
The Park hosts four monkey species – the white-faced capuchin, howler, squirrel, and spider monkey. We saw plenty of colorful lizards and iguanas, sloths, toucans, and so much more. It was an experience we’ll never forget.
But do go with a professional guide. We worked with Daniel Bolaños from Tucanes Tours. This eagle-eyed specialist equipped with cameras and scopes enabled us to experience everything this impressively stunning park Costa Rican Park has to offer.
Exploring Carara National Park
Carara National Park is another must-do. It’s located in one of the country’s richest reserves and the one with the most wildlife including numerous bird species. Because Carara lies in a transitional zone between the humid and dry forest, it sustains a wide variety of botanicals and wildlife from many varied terrains from the marshlands to the mountains.
One of the most exciting moments of the visit was seeing numerous Costa Rican Poisonous Dart Frogs (I’ve always had a fascination). Huge centipedes, rare indigenous plants, and of course…the birds were plentiful as well. The colorful scarlet macaws and multi-hued toucans were brilliant park ambassadors.
Oh, Those Magnificent Waterfalls
No visit to Costa Rica is complete without seeing its awe-inspiring waterfalls. And there are thousands located all throughout the country.
At 600-feet, the towering Bijagual Waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s tallest. Located near Jaco on the Central Pacific Coast in Bijagual’ s mountainous terrain, the waterfall is accessible partly by horseback descending through a lush verdant forest. Riders then hike a relatively short distance to the base of this roaring falls. Here, three natural pools about six feet deep make for a relaxing swim to cool off after the adventuresome hike down.
Another spectacular day of adventure was spent with Mango’s Adventures hiking through the jungle to seven secret waterfalls, each one more spectacular than the previous. We crossed fast-moving streams, rugged cliffs, climbed rock walls from one waterfall to the next. We literally crawled beneath watery plumes, rappelled to higher falls, and enjoyed refreshing cooldowns in pristine natural pools. It was an unforgettable day spent in an exotic paradise.
No, we didn’t even get close to doing all we wanted to see and do on this trip. But that’s ok. Costa Rica will forever be a siren call to us. And we know the perfect place to stay to set the stage for another ideal Costa Rican experience! This is Pura Vida, the pure life, plain and simple. We’ll be back again.
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