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
- 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
My wife and I have been going to Costa Rica for 20 yrs and this is absolutely our favorite hotel. It is on a gorgeous piece of property with nature all around. There is a macaw rescue project very near-by and we saw twice as many mccaws in 3 days than in the last 20 yrs., you see them flying you see them sitting in trees 3 feet above your head, it is extraordinary. Included with the stay is 4 free activities a day such as horse back riding, nature walks, cooking class etc. The road in is a little bumpy but that is Costa Rica if you want a great road find a place on the New Jersey Turnpike. The views of the bay are simply spectacular, stay in a king, ocean view with plunge pool if you can it is worth the extra. The hotel is a bit out of the way and unless you have a car there is not that much around the hotel. They could kill you on food pricing but don't my wife and I were able to eat a terrific dinner with a glass of wine each for about $60 US. THEY DO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU..
Costa Ricans are a very friendly people but the employees at this hotel are genuinely the friendliest most well meaning people of any hotel I have ever stayed. The manager of the hotel has done a terrific job in hiring and training. It is unfair becasue all of the people we had interaction with were excellent but there are two I'd like to mention. The first is named Marvin.. If you have a problem see Marvin.. He must work 18 hrs a day and will do anything in his power to make sure you have a great experience he goes above and beyond. The next is Yarling at the front desk. She is wonderful and will also do anything to help. I hope the managers appreciate these two.
I've stayed at a lot of hotels, a lot of nice places, and especially at a lot of marriotts. This one may very well take the cake as the nicest marriott I've been to (though the JW in venice was also very nice) and one of the nicest hotels I've been to period. The location is simply stunning - built on a hill on the edge of the forest overlooking its own bay, it's magical. The beach isn't your stereotypical white sand beach but it has its own wild beauty and it's quiet, no development on the coast. Finally, the staff is what makes this place truly amazing. Every staff member we interacted made the place more like home than a hotel. They knew our names, asked how we're doing every day, and just generally cared that we were having a nice time.
Arrival/Departure: We drove from/to Liberia airport, about 2.5 hours. The drive was fine, but I don't know if I would drive again as we didn't really use the car.
Check-in: Upon arrival, the front gate notified the front desk so Marvin was waiting for us when we got to the top of the hill. He had cold towels, what a delight after ~10 hours of travel! Fresh cold drinks while he walked us through the property and our stay details, he then brought us to our room and later brought our luggage down for us.
Room: I'm a Platinum Premier Elite. I reserved a deluxe room with partial ocean view, and we were upgraded to a junior suite, with a fantastic ocean view. We also had our own hot tub. Other rooms had a small plunge pool. Our room was very nice, big bathroom, king bed, standard amenities, hammock and a nice deck with the hot tub. One note - our room shared a wall with another. While I initially thought the wall was quite thick, it's just that no one was in the other room at first. When someone did occupy that room, you could hear them very clearly. Didn't really bother us as they weren't loud early or late, but you could hear the people.
Property: this is one of the few places where the pictures don't do reality justice. The pool at the main property is just amazing. There's a nice path/steps down to the beach resort which is also very nice. Be prepared for a hot walk between the beach and hotel, but it was actually pretty nice, a little exercise each way. If you're not up for walking, they have shuttles.
Food: Free breakfast for platinum, which is nice. Simple fare, omelettes, buffet. The food was an area that could be improved - it's good but also fairly expensive, ~$35-$40 for the dinner specials which were typically buffets. If you eat a lot, that's good value. If not, it's a lot. They do have a la carte, only had that once though, more reasonably priced, ~$20 for mains.
Drinks: Delicious and original cocktails, actually pretty reasonably priced but the maybe on the "weaker" side. You can always ask for a double. We quite enjoyed Loco Coco inside Coconuts!
Spa: They have daily spa specials. The spa is really nice, big room with windows looking into the jungle. Not cheap, but I very much enjoyed my massage and mini-facial.
Activities: They had many included and extra cost activities. These were actually really nice. A great way to meet other guests, learn more about the area, and do some fun things. The zip lines are a lot of fun!
Staff: I could write a thousand words on the staff. Everyone made us feel warmly welcomed at all times and genuinely cared how our stay was going. I've stayed at luxury resorts before and the staff is very well trained but could be a little impersonal. The kindness and sincerity of all the staff, their enthusiasm in our desire to practice spanish, everything, just super. Marvin, Alex, Margarite, Kervin, Briner, Jairo, and more - we talked about how much we enjoyed everyone our whole flight back.
Pura Vida! Two thumbs up, now we just need to figure out when to return!
Spent 3 amazing nights at Punta Islita. My words may not do it justice; you will need to experience it for yourself.
A little background about the resort, the resort is a combo of hotel rooms and private residences. The 2-3-bedroom villas and houses are individually owned. The hotel manages the booking, daily services and general maintenance. Whereas, replacement of furniture, appliances and upgrades are solely at the discretion of the owners.
Upon arriving at the resort, we were greeted with ice cold wash cloths, very refreshing after our 4-hour drive from Arenal. Marvin checked us in, helped us book the included activities and got us settled in. 4 of us stayed in a 2-bedroom villa, we ended up staying in Flor Blanca, our first room Ceiba had issues with the A/C, as we were told the owner has yet to upgrade the A/C. Hence the need to change rooms. We were very happy with Flor Blanca, new a/c and both bedrooms had ceiling fans. Bedrooms are on either end of the unit with a main room in the center. Room had 3 full baths, full kitchen, safe and private yard with pool and view of the Pacific. The owner had a journal on the coffee table written by past guest going back years, the best reads were the letters from the children.
The majority of the activities are included in your stay, prior to our arrival, the hotel sent me the schedule of activities, so that we could preplan. We opted for the bird watching, zip lining, horseback riding, monkey hike and tortilla making. Each activity was just as described, we did have a professional photographer snapping away on the horseback riding and zip lining tours. We enjoyed the activities in the morning and lounged at the adults only infinity pool in the afternoon. There is a pool on the beach, but the adult pool was more convenient. Both pools had ample space for lounging around. Especially since it was the end of the rainy season and the hotel was fairly empty. While it was the rainy season, everyday was sunny and beautiful.
Our room included breakfast which included anything on the menu, from Traditional Costa Rican to typical American breakfast. If not included in your room rate, prices were very reasonable, dishes ran around $10 a plate. We ate all of our meals on site, there are two restaurants and room service. The main restaurant is just off the lobby with the other one on the beach. We ate at both as they have different menus. Quality of the food was amazing, we did not have one bad meal. Lunches ran about $50 for 4 and dinners $100 for 4, including tip.
Opted for hot stone massage, prices were comparable to US spas. The spa is very serene and quiet. I was very pleased and relaxed with the massage. Booked ahead and was given a 30% discount.
As a MR Platinum member, we were given a commentary dessert plate one evening and use of a cabana on the beach for one day.
Marvin and his team were amazing. We had multiple interactions with the staff throughout our stay, all interactions were pleasant, personable and friendly, by the end of the trip we were all on first name basis. Service was impeccable. We arrived as strangers and left as friends. We had an incredible and rememberable experience. Looking forward to a return visit.
Note: We used Waze for our GPS needs, double check your routes. We came in from Arenal and we drove an hour on curvy gravel roads. On our departure to SJO, we drove only a few miles on unpaved roads. I think Waze was set on shortest route, which was not the best route. The roads on our departure were perfect.
We visited the hotel today to check out whether we want to stay in one of their villas on our 5th. Costa Rica vacation. Lovely setting but not a warm welcome from the staff. I was interested on information about their classes. Disappointing where with a little effort from the staff we might have considered this hotel.
My husband and I have been traveling to Costa Rica for over 15 years in search of the perfect tranquil spot. Pura Vida! We have found it at last!
We were picked up at the Liberia Airport and transferred to the resort via a 4x4. I prepared my husband for 2.5 hour long journey and told him most of it was via an unpaved road, which I had read on the reviews here. Well.. that's incorrect, it's only 12 minutes on a dirt road. We arrived at 11:30pm and were taken directly to our suite. After traveling all day it was so nice to not have to wait in line and check in, nice touch!
As Marriott Platinum Elite members we were upgraded to a Jr. suite with an ocean view. The room was spacious, clean and had lots of Costa Rican elements, which is much nicer than the standard Marriott décor you get for business travel. A wall of rock was in the large bathroom and several repurposed wood pieces were used for towel racks, shower handle rails, furniture, decor and shelving, beautiful! The bed was super comfy, which is always our main concern when traveling. There was a kitchen area with a coffee maker, frig and some dishes. We had a nice spa on our spacious veranda with 2 lounge chairs. Our room was perfect! We even had a coatimundi (Pezote) on our veranda the first morning we woke up, I love coatis and accused my husband of ordering that up!
The next morning we were greeted by Marvin when we entered the main area - restaurant. He was very welcoming and continued to be throughout our visit, even chatted with us while we waited for our car, after we checked out. The service we had during our entire stay truly rates at the top of our list and we travel a lot! I wish I would've written down the names of all the wonderful staff we met, just know they were all A+, from the housekeeping, each bartender to the waitstaff. Such happy people Costa Ricans are!
This trip was to relax after a crazy year of unexpected sadness and triumphs. Punta Islita was the perfect choice for this! We ventured down to the beach, a pretty walk down through the property. No it's not the white silk sand beach you find in other spots of Costa Rica but hey it wasn't littered in vacationers either. The ocean view from the sand was breathtakingly beautiful as any though!
It happened to be my birthday so on my big day we left the resort at 9 pm and went in search of sea turtles nesting. This WAS a bucket list item for me and once again they did not disappoint! I didn't expect to see any but within 10 minutes we watched one coming out of the ocean and search for the perfect spot. She didn't find one and returned to the ocean. At this point I was happy, I'd seen a sea turtle in the wild. BUT over the next hour we saw 3 more sea turtles. We watched as 2 came from the ocean, dug their nest, laid their eggs, buried them, did the turtle dance, camouflaged the nest and then return to the ocean. What an amazing experience to watch life begin.. on my birthday!
We also went to the Ara Project to learn about their wonderful work re-populating CR with the Scarlet and Green Macaws. It was informative, however, I was expecting to see a little more of the facility. All in all though it was definitely worth our time and enlightening. Note: If mosquitos bother you, definitely wear long pants and/or lots of spray!
The rest of our time was spent eating and lounging around the fabulous infinity pool with a view everyone must see! Since this is considered the rainy season we only shared the pool with a total of 5 people over the course of our stay. I must also add we only had rain one night, the weather was perfect the rest of our stay. We have never had bad weather when traveling at the end of the rainy season.
Now the food... it was wonderful! I'm not sure why people have reviewed that it was expensive because it was actually pretty inexpensive. We live in San Diego, CA though so we're used to ridiculously expensive everything. $8 for a full breakfast including a plate of fruit, your meal, a mixed bread basket, juice and/or coffee, wonderful service and a view seems pretty reasonable to us. Keep in mind their cost to get the food to the remote location too. At the bar we order apple martinis, the bartender apologized that he had to make them with real crushed apples. We had to laugh, omg they were the best apple martinis ever!
So if you're wanting the vacation with live entertainment (of the human kind) shopping and bar hopping, this is not the place. If you're wanting an off the grid, entertainment via animals, nature walks and hikes, ziplining, kayaking and gorgeous tranquility you must experience this secluded gem!