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Our Volcanic Accommodations in Costa Rica (#3)

Where we stayed in Costa Rica and what the area was like

By Richard SoullierePublished 4 months ago 6 min read
A photo I took of us on a short walk down the road from where we stayed.

When scouring the Internet for a great place to stay, we knew it had to be inland surrounded by nature as well as within suitable driving distance (under 90 minutes) from a slew of enjoyable activities. We found it at Paraiso Volcano Lodge (paraiso translates to paradise) at the border of the Guanacaste and Alajuela provinces on route 164.

What's there?

This place has several lodges, each named after a local bird, with a generous bedroom and spacious bathroom, so spacious I would argue they had wheelchairs in mind! (Although gravel paths and a lack of wall handle bars preclude that.) Each lodge has a cooling unit, but we didn't need to use it since we were out and about all day and the temperature cooled right down in the evening so the ceiling fan was the most we needed. Sweaters are so *not* required, but you won't sweat while you sleep and you don't need to concern yourself with bug spray either. Each lodge has an exterior porch light and has tall, surrounding hedges for privacy.

A picture I took of the front half of the lodge we stayed in. This half encompasses the sleeping area. The en suite bathroom is in the next two meters of the lodge that you cannot see in this photo.

Each morning, I would dawn my shorts and t-shirt and walk ten steps to the covered outdoor dining area to greet Jorge (hor-hay) and his wife. It is they who prepare a local breakfast for you every morning. To drink, they offer mountain coffee (with milks and sweeteners including stevia), tea, fresh tamarind juice, and fresh orange juice. The meal is comprised of fried plantains, cooked beans and rice, eggs however you like them, some fried string beans and carrots, a piece of cheese, toast with tamarind jam or butter, and a bowl of freshly cut in-season tropical fruit. It sounds like a lot, it doesn't look like a lot, but it will last you 'til lunch and is very tasty.

I should also add that the tap water was perfectly ok to drink and brush your teeth with. My sensitive tummy knows, but I had no issues drinking it the entire trip!

Of particular delight is the show they arrange over breakfast. All the tables are aligned so that you can see a very large tree about three meters away from the dining area. Every morning, they put a plate of cut fruit on one of the lower branches. This attracts squirrels and about ten different types of beautiful song birds - and Jorge knows every one of them. Very colourful and very much a delight to watch as you (slowly) eat breakfast.

A photo I took of our breakfast table and the "breakfast tree".

A photo my wife took of the "breakfast tree" with a gorgeous blue bird about to snag some fruit.

Walking around the property, you can see a pond, a creek, a variety of trees, coffee trees, huge flowering plants (including some that only grow in small pots in Canada), and neighbouring fields. The Miravelles volcano is visible the closer you get to the property entrance and is worth a pause every time before you hop on route 164 to drive to wherever. At night, you will see more stars than you can in any North American city, that's for sure!! (You may need bug spray if you intend to stargaze for any significant amount of time.)

As of the date this article was published, you can find more details about Paraiso Volcano Lodge on hotel reservation websites.

What's nearby?

First up, we didn't turn on the TV even once during our entire stay. I mean, with what I am about to tell you, why would you?

Paraiso Volcano Lodge is designed in a way so you can recharge very comfortably and then go enjoy Costa Rica for the rest of the day and evening. On our first morning, I mentioned I cannot do dairy cheese and he asked about goat cheese, which I love. Well, a two-minute drive or twenty-minute walk further down route 164 is Finca Isabella. Jorge placed a call (advance reservation required) and we were there after breakfast for a tour.

A photo I took of Finca Isabella. The driveway is on the right (hidden by the greenery).

As of the date this article was published, Finca Isabella could only be found on maps and short private tours arranged through those who know of it. Finca translates to a small agricultural farm (usually less than 5 acres) sometimes with a house on it and only some have small farm animals. Well, the couple and their ten-year-old son were all smiles to greet us. They showed us various trees, what they attract, and what they are good for; various wildlife they get on their property; all the things they grow; and their friendly goats.

We made a good impression on them since my wife is big on plant life, arranging our own crops via multiple raised garden beds, and I have a green thumb. So afterwards we were invited on their veranda to sip on tamarind juice and try a slice of goat cheese. We were lucky enough they were willing to part with one of their homemade blocks of goat cheese that we added to our daily breakfast, finishing it by the end of our honeymoon. We paid them (based on what I calculated to be standard fare for a tour for two with light refreshments in Costa Rica), which they were happy with in spite of their humility. I will let them tell you their wonderful story as I highly recommend you take the opportunity to visit them.

I picture I took of the goat cheese we bough (I had eaten some by then) at our breakfast table.

While the Miravelles volcano was right there, we took a pass since it involves a six-hour round-trip hike and we were only just getting warmed up, but I will talk about the volcano trails in my next article. Also nearby the lodge are a few hot springs (we were in volcano country after all). Some are heated pools, one is a natural hot spring, and others are in-between. We went to one in-between, Colinas (which also has a restaurant), and enjoyed the unobstructed view of the Miravelles volcano for a few hours.

A photo I took of the view of Miravelles volcano at the entrance to Paraiso Volcano Lodge. (The clouds are not volcanic.)

Honestly, I consider hot springs to be the Costa Rican equivalent of a Canadian cinema. You are relaxed, you can munch on snacks (bought or brought), you enjoy what you can see, and forget time. It also costs about the same (about 5,000 colones per person). We went there after a few hours of hiking and our legs thanked us. However you can, do not pass up on hot springs in the area!!

A photo we took of us relaxing in a hot spring with another volcano in the background. (The clouds are not volcanic.)

If you thought that was a delight, I must be clear that I was disappointed at the sheer price of chocolate. The price of super-decadent chocolate in Canada is cheaper than regular chocolate you will find in many tourist places. Jorge knows better! Taking a chocolate tour at Rio Negro near Aguas Claras (driving on the good part of route 164) is the place to go. Family-run, they will show you all six types of cacao they grow, let you taste the cacao fruit, show you all the steps to prepare the beans (which takes over a month), and all in either English or Spanish.

The chocolate they sell comes in a variety of flavours, contains zero sugar (they use honey), and are made with the cacao they grow. For 5 USD per bar. This full Costa Rican chocolate experience offered by this family-run plantation is the cacao experience you want. Rio Negro is chocolate heaven, although you (or Jorge) will need to call in advance.

A combination of two photos I took, half with the contact info and the other half is the building you will see from the road so you know where to turn.

The first town immediately south of Paraiso Volcano Lodge is, according to maps, Bogote de Bagaces (AKA Guayabo). There you will find a gas station, grocery store, and several good restaurants (for any meal). Do visit the grocery store as it is only as scary as your own local grocery store back home. Bring colones (local currency) and you will save a lot of money on typical things including sauces you can bring back home, drinks for your cooler as you drive, and other supplies you might need.

In terms of restaurants, a few stand out. The top two, Volcano and El Borrego Negro, are in a league of their own and are almost twice the cost of others. I would recommend eating there at least once for some exquisite dining. In the "regular tier", the only one we tried was Restaurante Sotavento. Bilingual menu, parking, very clean, nice atmosphere, and a delightful owner who won't let a stray animal enter. I highly recommend them. The other one I would recommend but didn't have enough time to try was Soda La Palma (or just La Palma). I will also add two things about all of these restaurants. One, they offer very good USD exchange rates to pay for your meal if you don't have colones, so don't sweat that. Two, none of them are dingy in the least, so ladies, it's perfectly fine.

A picture my wife took of me and some fruity drinks we ordered in the back terrace of the Volcano restaurant.

In short, Jorge will hook you up and even provide you a map (not to scale) in English with great places to visit in that part of Costa Rica, although you can supplement it with your own. If there is something you can't get at the lodge, the town of Guayabo (Mogote de Bagaces) is a convenient short hop away.

In my next article, I will describe some nature-based activities to do and to avoid. Continue the journey by clicking here.

To check out articles I have written on Vocal Media on this and other topics, click here.

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About the Creator

Richard Soulliere

Bursting with ideas, honing them to peek your interest.

Enjoyes blending non-fiction into whatever I am writing.

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