What I Packed for Costa Rica

My Post

  • This is the best sunscreen ever because it stays on even in the water, it isn’t super greasy, and it smells amazing (does not make you smell like you are covered in sunscreen).
  • I loved having my big floppy hat with me to wear on the beach and by the pool. Packing hack – fill it with swimsuits, socks, and underwear and put it on the bottom of the suitcase, and pack things tightly around it to keep it from getting crushed.
  • These are my favorite beach flip flops. I have multiple pairs.
  • I searched everywhere for the perfect cutoff shorts. These are them. Costa Rica was very casual so these were perfect for almost everywhere we went.
  • I packed this backpack because it zips into a small pouch (takes up no room in your suitcase), and then you have an extra bag for adventures that require multiple changes of clothes (like our Buena Vista tour).
  • These may always be my favorite pair of sunglasses.
  • I packed an extra bag to have by the pool. It came in handy to carry stuff out to the beach, or back and forth from our room.
  • Again with the sunscreen. EVERY. SINGLE. SUNSCREEN. breaks my face out, except this. Trust me, I’ve tried a lot of them.

To see more about our trip to Costa Rica click here or here.

Things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica


What to do in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and Guanacaste Province

llanos de cortes waterfall

Chase Waterfalls

We scheduled a day trip through Guanacaste Traveler. We can’t say enough nice things about our driver Jhonny and he really made our trip, but we did not have an English speaking guide as promised. We drove close to two hours to the area near Arenal Volcano, stopping at Llanos de Cortes waterfall to check out the view. If this had been our only stop we probably would have gone in swimming, but thinking of being soaking wet in the car for the next hour or more did not seem fun so we opted for just taking a few pictures. After checking out the waterfall Jhonny was nice enough to stop and buy us fresh coconuts from a roadside stand. It was my first time trying fresh coconut water and it was so good! There are many other beautiful waterfalls in the Guanacaste Province worth visiting as well.

Buena vista tour guanacaste

Buena vista tour hanging bridges

Buena vista tour hanging bridges

looking down at the ground from the Buena vista hanging bridges

Buena vista toru volcanic springs

horseback riding on the Buena vista tour

Buena Vista Tour

This is an all in one tour where you have the option to check out quite a few adventures and it included a local lunch. When we arrived for the Buena Vista tour a guide led us down 15 hanging bridges. We opted for the bridges over ziplining because we chickened out, but I think the bridges may have been just as scary if not more. We were high in the trees and the bridges shook and jumped with every move. We did see some monkeys and other animals so that was really neat. With the tour we also had a horseback ride, a water slide through the forest, and swimming in a volcanic spring. I loved the water slide it was about 500 meters downhill and really sent you flying! It was a busy and full day, but we loved having the chance to experience so many things in one place. That being said we were really close to the Arenal Volcano and I would love to explore the area here more if we are lucky enough to go back.

lunch at panga's beach club tamarindo

lunch at panga's beach club tamarindo

lunch at panga's beach club tamarindo

watching the sunset from matapalo tamarindo beach

tamarindo beach sunset

tamarindo beach costa rica sunset

Explore Tamarindo

We ventured into Tamarindo twice during our stay and we really enjoyed exploring the town. We ate a few really great restaurants in town. I still dream of the meal that we had at Panga’s Beach Club. The food, the view, the monkeys in the trees above. This meal was just so great! We loved the meal that we had at Patagonia Argentinian Grill. We didn’t have reservations, but were able to snag a couple great seats at the bar. One evening we watched the sunset and had cocktails and appetizers from Matapalo. We saw what was maybe the most beautiful sunset of the trip from this restaurant. Seriously the sunsets in CR were unreal, watching the sun drop right into the Pacific without a cloud in sight was so amazing. And the shrimp and mango ceviche we ordered was some of the best I have ever eaten. There is great surfing in Tamarindo as well. We also found quite a few boutiques that we enjoyed shopping at. We explored the town both during the day and in the evening. While the sunset here was AMAZING we liked the town a little better during the day simply because of the number of people approaching us trying to sell us things we didn’t want as the day went on.

Costa Rica you sure were beautiful! The Pura Vida way of life is beyond amazing! We can’t wait to return! Any tips or suggestions for a return trip? Leave them in the comments. If you missed the first part of our trip, find it here.

A Review of the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica

Our Stay at the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa Costa Rica

view of the pool deck at JW Marriott Guanacaste

relaxing in the hammock in the lobby of JW Marriott Guanacaste

hanging out by the pool at JW Marriott Guanacaste

beach sunset at the JW Marriott Guanacaste

pool at jw marriott guanacaste

poolside at the jw Marriott Guanacaste watching the sunset

My boyfriend and I just returned from an amazing trip to Costa Rica! It was both of our first time to visit the country and we could not have loved it more. We are already dreaming of our next trip back.

We stayed at the JW Marriott Guanacaste. We loved this resort. The rooms were very nice and also spacious. We had a great balcony with a view of the resort and the ocean. All of the staff was very attentive. Overall we can’t say enough good things about the resort. It is the perfect place to go for a relaxing getaway.

The JW Marriott Guanacaste was about an hour drive from the Liberia airport. I had booked a driver through Guanacaste Traveler after finding out about them on Instagram. Our driver’s name was Jhonny and we thought he was GREAT, even if not at all what was promised. When I booked with them we were guaranteed an English speaking guide, and Jhonny spoke only a few words in English. He brought his daughter along to practice her English when he picked us up. I speak some Spanish so it was a good chance for me to practice my skills. We arrived late at night, and were so thankful we had a local pick us up. The roads are mostly unmarked, and the road into the hotel was a bit dodgy in the dark. If I’m being honest we hadn’t really gotten to know Jhonny yet are weren’t sure if the turn off for the hotel was the part where he kidnapped us or not.

It is about 6 miles down a mostly dirt road from the main road. There are some beautiful homes in this area, but you are most likely going to see cows in the road and think you made a wrong turn. Many of the reviews I read before we left were from people complaining about how far the resort was from other things. It’s true that you aren’t super close to much, but we LOVED this. We also found that it was much easier to leave the resort than many of the reviews we read had led us to believe. With an onsite Avis car rental, a daily shuttle to town, and local tour guides offering drivers for relatively inexpensive we left the property and explored quite a bit.

The pool at the JW Marriott Guanacaste is amazing. It is very large and was never crowded despite us being there during spring break. There were also plenty of chairs to go around, no need to wake up early and reserve a spot. We spent a lot of time just relaxing and drinking umbrella drinks. We had food brought to us poolside a couple times as well which was very good! The beach was very rocky in front of the hotel, so not much swimming was going on in the ocean.
We rented a car from the onsite Avis car rental, and took the agents advice and rented a GPS as well. The roads were not in the best shape, and the streets are not marked so I’m glad we took his advice. We rented the car on the first day of the trip so we could get out and explore Tamarindo, but also so we could find a grocery store. Like any large resort the prices for waters and other necessities can be expensive, so being able to buy our own at the store in town saved us a lot. There was also a small refrigerator in our room that we stored a few snacks in as well.

Because the resort is somewhat off the beaten path we did find that we ate a lot of meals at the onsite restaurants. Usually I am not a huge fan of hotel restaurants, but overall we were please with everything we ate on the property. We had dinner at the Sabanero Steakhouse twice, mostly because we thought it was that good. We loved the Pargo (grouper carpaccio), we also loved it so much we ordered it twice. The local Costa Rican beef was also amazing. We had room service a few times and everything we ordered was good. And as I mentioned we had lunch served by the pool several times.
lunch at lola's on the beach
pura vida and smoothies lunch at lola's
lunch at lola's playa avellanas
Lola's Restaurant Playa Avellanas Costa Rica
One of our favorite things that we did was walk up the beach from the resort to Lola’s. It was about a 40 minute walk with lots of surfers to watch along the way. (If you’re facing the ocean turn left and keep walking down the beach until you get there & watch out for the timing of high tide.) When we got there we rented some chairs and decided to spend most of the day there. The food at Lola’s was really good and I loved the scene there. The tables were so neat, and it was just a cool vibe.
Watching the sunsets from the beach in front of the resort was just perfect. And at night because you are quite literally in the middle of nowhere you can see SO MANY stars. Overall, we loved staying at the JW Marriott Guanacaste.

stargazing at jw marriott guanacaste

sunset on the beach