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If one phrase describes Arenas del Mar it’s ‘sustainable luxury’. Costa Rica already has a fine reputation for this sort of thing, but Arenas walks the 5* walk with admirably carbon neutral footprints.
There are 38 rooms in total, including two suites, set in 11 acres of pristine rainforest on a hillside with direct access to two lovely beaches. To give you a sense of proximity, Manuel Antonio National Park begins at the end of the longer beach but the local wildlife is no respecter of boundaries, so guests will sometimes see sloths in the restaurant and monkeys monkeying around (as is their wont) in the trees outside the rooms.
The rooms themselves are on the minimalist side but comfortable and with large terraces that are mostly overlooking the ocean. Top tip - we will request (although no guarantees) rooms in buildings six and seven, which have the best position within easy reach of the main areas and Espadilla Beach.
While there is a restaurant serving light lunches on Playitas (small beach), where you eat with the sand between your toes, the main El Mirador restaurant is by the reception and the hotel pool and overlooks Espadilla Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park at the far end. This is the spot for excellent a la carte breakfasts with fresh fruit and delicious coffee. Come evening, enjoy a cocktail (the Tico Sours, made with guara cacique, a local sugarcane, are delicious) at the neighbouring bar before a very good dinner of fresh seafood and other local specialities.
The rates at the hotel include two specific activities, namely a tour of the sustainable tourism initiatives (from solar power to biodiversity conservation) at the hotel, and a tortilla cooking lessons, but the lovely staff can also arrange tours into the National Park, canopy tours, waterfall treks, kayaking and surfing lessons. Slightly less energetic guests can enjoy a massage in treatment rooms by the pool or down by the beach.
Why we love it
For more experienced surfers the hotel has boards to borrow down at beautiful Espadilla Beach which has a great beach break. Alternatively, for beginners, surf lessons are available.