Hotel Punta Islita, Autograph Collection
What We Love
- Choose between the small crescent-shaped beach below the hotel, the swim-up bar in the main pool or the adults-only infinity pool
- The hotel contributes much of its earnings directly to the local community
- READ MORE: Find your perfect Costa Rica vacation
What To Know
- Staff can arrange transfers from the airport in Liberia (from $160 each way) or San Jose ($250 each way)
- Tropical wet season runs from May to November; expect daily showers but the landscape is incredibly lush
- Secluded location but borders a small village
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
Since it opened as one of Costa Rica’s first eco-resorts in 1994, the Punta Islita has been a leader in Central America’s sustainability revolution. After a complete remodeling in 2008, the property — which consists of suites, bungalows and villas spread across 80 hillside acres — remains true to its environmentalist core but now offers most of the amenities that modern travelers expect.
Bed & Bath
Deluxe Rooms are a spacious 412 square feet, done up with tile floors, blonde-wood furnishings and white linens, but Suites are worth the splurge for separate seating areas, handcrafted canopy beds, plus outdoor whirlpools positioned on the private decks overlooking the Pacific Ocean. All rooms have sparkling marble bathrooms, TVs, ceiling fans and colorful local artwork.
Beneath a fifty-foot thatched palm ceiling, the poolside 1492 Restaurant serves a daily breakfast of tropical fruit salads, eggs and strong Costa Rican coffee, while lunch and dinner menus are rightly dominated by fresh seafood dishes, including a must-try ceviche and octopus carpaccio. Down on the dark sand beach, the Borrancho Beach Club is an indoor/outdoor dining room for light bites between surfing lessons, dips in the pool or lounging beneath the towering palm trees. Punta Islita’s modest Casa Spa offers nature-inspired treatments, often founded on the wellness beliefs of the local Chorotega culture. The Miracle Mud and Chorotega Arts massages are especially relaxing.
In the Area
Not surprisingly, the area is a hub for lots of adventurous activities, including surfing, hiking, kayaking, sea turtle spotting, horseback riding and ziplining, but set aside some time to visit the on-site Open-Air Contemporary Art Museum, which displays the work (murals, sculpture, paintings) of local artists. Take in the local flora and fauna as you journey down the Ora River on a kayak tour (May–December), and Punta Islita can arrange visits to the nearby Camaronal Wildlife Refuge, the center of Costa Rica’s sea turtle conservation movement. From May through November, four of the world’s seven sea turtle species come here to nest: the Olive Ridley, the Atlantic leatherback, the hawksbill and the black sea turtle.
How to Get There
Resort is beautiful, as is our villa... BUT, We have been played with maintenance issues. No keys for safes in the rooms; requested but never provided. Lights in the master bedroom that would not turn off, bulbs had to be unscrewed to achieve darkness. Malfunctioning AC in master bedroom; maintenance out two separate evenings until late; never functioned adequately. Flood in one bedroom, filling room with 1/4” of water and soaking all luggage, clothing in luggage. Visible bug larvae in the frames artwork in the master bathroom. Door to one bedroom could not be locked. Refrigerator leaked constantly leaving puddle across kitchen floor. AND no power our last day- so no AC, no fan, no electricity, no water.
I stayed here when this resort was privately owned and it was spectacular. Service was fabulous and you really felt taken care of. Now it's part of the Marriott, Autograph Collection, chain of hotels. The service is just no longer the same and as personalized. We were rudely greeted at the front desk until the clerk recognized that my girlfriend spoke Spanish, and then everything changed in her demeanor. The rooms are exactly as they used to be some 10 years ago, and it's time for an upgrade. OK, but not for the current prices being charged.
We stayed for 5 nights in a Junior Suite with a spectacular view off of the lovely deck with hammock & jacuzzi! We loved having the Marriott service and amenities in an off-the-beaten-path, non-high-rise location. Our room was private, and with the unique set-up of the resort, it felt like it was the only one on the property! Staff at all levels were warm, helpful, outgoing and took pride in their service. We enjoyed the delightful breakfast each morning, but other meals were less impressive. Had two great dinners off-site at Kimbute and Don Ramiro. Especially enjoyed the food, atmosphere and interactions with Miguel at Don Ramiro (go there!). Took advantage of several of the on-site activities - loved the monkey hike, dusk hike and ziplining in particular. Also had delightful couples massage at the spa. We spent a relaxing afternoon in a beach cabana which was a nice way to end our stay before getting on the road to Monteverde & La Fortuna... thanks to the amazing staff for making our first stop in Costa Rica so enjoyable!
Our family stayed here for 4 nights following a stay in Arenal. We enjoyed the room, as there was room for the four of us to spread out and relax after a long trip from Arenal. The private pool was also very fun. It was so hot that we used the pool many times per day. The beach was also lovely. We loved the buffet breakfast which had both typical costa Rican and more western choices. Service was very good. The gym was actually decent for a hotel. The local town had a fantastic restaurant (Don Ramiro) which we visited once and wish we had visited more.
Downsides included the incredible heat which made it difficult to enjoy activities. We also found the activities to be less valuable than the ones we had experienced in the Arenal area. It felt like the activities were there to justify the very high price of accommodations and meals. The meals and drinks were very expensive and only medium quality. For example, a salad at lunch cost $15 USD not including tax and service charges, despite being small and containing little lettuce.
The hotel is very isolated which makes it quiet but also allows them to charge exorbitant prices for everything. It also doesn't feel typically Costa Rican in many ways, which was disappointing.
In hindsight, I would have stayed a couple of nights to refresh and rest, then moved on to a less expensive and more authentic accommodation.
I agree with an earlier poster, who said that this resort is a fantastic value for Bonvoy points. My husband is platinum and I am gold and we reserved 2 rooms for 7 nights on points. We were not upgraded because it was spring break and thus one their busiest times of the year, but we had 2 well located rooms with amazing views. It's important to note that this is NOT a beachfront resort. You are situated high on a hill with astounding views of the cove below and the surrounding hillsides. It's a long walk down and back up, or the hotel will drive you down. We had a rental car so drove down each day. It is not a lush jungle as one might expect. This area is very dry but it has its own beauty. Breakfast was included and it was a very nice spread each day with enough variety for everyone. Rooms are not fancy and in fact are a bit dated and small, but each has a private patio with hammock and this more than makes up for what rooms lack. Also, the A/C works really well, which was important for those 90 degree days. The dining area is open air and very charming, and we spent several evenings as a family playing games in the "lounge" area adjacent to the dining room. More on this later. I cannot believe anyone has ever written anything negative about the beach. The beach is a very isolated public beach (all beaches in CR are public), but since the area is so isolated, it's mostly hotel guests hanging out at the beach club and a few very friendly locals. The beach itself is gorgeous. It is a more primitive and wild looking beach than some may be expecting but absolutely gorgeous. We were recently in Hawaii and I'd take this beach over Maui's beaches, hands down. The surf was perfect, calm enough at low tide to play in, but enough waves at high tide to surf and boogie board. The beach itself is lined with trees and so it was possible to be completely shaded while enjoying the beach. The beach club has a pool with swim up bar and a restaurant (Los Cocos) serving food and drinks throughout the day. We never had a hard time getting chairs--the resort just doesn't ever feel crowded, mostly because it is a small and intimate resort. We found all the staff that we encountered to be very friendly and helpful, with special shout outs to Randy, Kervin, and Felipe, who stood out to us, but really, everyone was very friendly. The only con I should mention is the food. It's been said before and it's true..the food is very average. Breakfast was, by far, the tastiest meal of the day. It's a shame because better food would make this place as close to perfect as it's possible to be. While it's not exorbitantly expensive, it was expensive enough, and we had a pretty large bill at the end of the week for food/drink for a family of 5. I will say that kids' drinks in particular, were reasonable at about $5 each--my kids must have had a dozen virgin Pina coladas each over the course of the week! Because the neighboring village is so tiny, you really have no choice but to eat at the restaurant (we did try one of the local restaurants, Kimbute, but found it to be very similar to the hotel in terms of food choices and price) and it's quite pricey for what it is. Towards the end of the week, we started eating dinner before 6 so that we could take advantage of the "snacks" menu by the upper pool (we hung out in the "lounge area") and found the quesadillas and other similar items to be tastier and a better value than the regular dinner menu. We also did a couple of the specialty nights-one at the golf course and the other a BBQ at the beach. The one at the golf course featured "tapas" plates, which were delicious but the carnitas was $12 for one street size taco, which is silly-we all love carnitas and didn't realize it was only one taco because of the price. It was a bummer to spend $60 on 5 small tacos. It was a fun night though, because some local children came and performed traditional dance for us, and that was adorable & very memorable. We also went to the BBQ night at the beach club one night, with tenderloin that was sliced and then grilled, served with a chimichurri sauce. Later that night, I woke up sick, but no one else in my family did, so I don't know that it was anything I ate.
In summary, If you are into white sand beaches lined with big hotels, this may not be the place for you, but if you are interesting in experiencing some of the famous Tico hospitality, off the beaten path, and enjoying a beautiful beach, check this place out! We hope to return some day.