Should I have travelers insurance?
Yes, for sure. While Costa Rica is a very modern country and travel to us and around the country is easy…things happen. Every once in a while the airport gets shut down due to weather, or volcanic ash etc. While it is rare, and cleared up quickly..again..things happen. It is ALWAYS better to be covered whether that be for accommodation fees (like ours) or cancelled flights, lost luggage or an accident that requires medical attention (we have EXCELLENT hospitals and doctors here) and all of that can be covered quite easily with a very affordable vacation travel insurance policy.
About the Retreat:
How many guests do you host?
We host just one couple, or single, at any time.
We found from our own travels to plenty of exotic locations, that we always wanted the least impact from the other guests. We preferred the quietest room with the most privacy, and even then it was still difficult to avoid the impact that guests may have on each other. For this reason we chose to build our retreat for just one party.
How large is the Guest Villa?
Our Guest Villa measures 140 square meters (or just over 1500 square feet)
Our villa has a large living room with dining table for two, a bedroom with antique king sized bed from India, a kitchenette with mini fridge, coffee maker, blender and microwave, bathroom, and a wonderful “rain shower room” which steps out on to the pool.
Does the Villa have a pool?
Yes, the Villa has its own swimming pool with a cushioned “Bali Bed” suspended over one end. Both the bedroom and rain shower room open directly on to the pool.
Is the pool area clothing optional?
Because you will be the only guests it is your choice, so yes, the area is clothing optional, as is any area of the Guest Villa. You will enjoy complete privacy as no one will ever enter your area unannounced.
Is this the same as a “vacation rental”?
No, it is not. With a vacation rental your are left, for the most part, to fend for yourselves. When you are staying in our Villa you are taken care of at the same level as any upscale hotel or bed and breakfast. We provide daily breakfast, daily cleaning, local airport transportation (Quepos Airport) and all day concierge services to help to enjoy our local area and all of it’s activities. As well we are available 24 hours a day if the need arises.
What is the view like from the villa?
Our villa has wonderful views right into the rainforest from every room.
You can view the wildlife from your bed, shower, or living room and we often have monkeys or toucans hanging out in the trees right above the pool!
Do animals get into the Villa?
Occasionally a hummingbird will fly in if you leave the sliding screens open. We designed the Villa to be open air, to let the jungle breezes that come up from the ocean to flow through. The villa has sliding glass doors and screens throughout, and anything you want to keep out will do so.
Is the Villa air conditioned?
Yes, we do offer the option of fully air-conditioning the Villa. Most of our guests however have a great experience allowing the jungle breeze to keep them comfortable and experience the amazing rainforest sounds. Along with many ceiling fans the nights are very comfortable.
Do you have hot water?
Yes, and plenty of it. We use a solar hot water heating system which keeps the water hot day and night. For those cloudy days, we also utilize back up electricity so that you are never without hot water.
Do you run on Solar Power?
Yes! And we are very proud of that. We have what we feel is the perfect set up. We produce about 75% of our power using solar panels , as well we are tied into the county’s electric grid system. At times we are feeding the grid using the sun, and other times we are using the grid. Either way, we always have plenty of power.
Is there WiFi and T.V.?
We do supply WiFi as well as a desk top Macintosh Computer (iMac).
We have a flat screen t.v. in the bedroom which is hooked up to Apple T.V., which supplies both Hulu Plus, and Netflix. We do not have cable television, but if it is important, there are web sites which allow you to watch the major American networks live for free.
When are your check in and check out times?
Officially our check in time is 3:00 p.m. and our Check out is 11:00 am.
However, if we do not have other guests coming or going the same day as you, then we are very happy to extend those times to you at no charge. It is best to check to see ahead of time. We are happy to hold your bags for you when needed as well.
Do you allow outside guests?
No, we are sorry, but we do hold a strict “no outside guests” policy, unless we speak ahead of time and are able to accept the request.
Is the retreat “Pet Friendly” ?
No and yes. We are not able to invite you to bring your own, but we do have two very friendly dogs who are at your disposal if you need to get your fix! ( for those non-dog lovers, they are happy to leave you in peace as well)
How far are you from the National Park?
We happen to be extremely fortunate in that we are one of the very few properties in our area that borders directly on Manuel Antonio National Park. The land portion of the park measures just about 1700 acres, and so we have a very large back yard! We chose this locations for many reasons, the two most obvious being the incredible wild life opportunities and the great feeling if privacy.
Is the waterfall on the retreat private?
Yes! You get your own waterfall which is right next to your “Spa Pavilion”.
Here you can lay about I the two hammocks, or practice yoga or have a couples massage right next to our natural waterfall. It is about twelve feet high, and depending on the rains, or how dry it is, can run from anywhere from a slow trickle to a raging torrent. This is one of the reasons we LOVE green season here.
What types of wildlife do you see at the retreat?
Lots! Take a look on the website at the page which shows many of the animal sightings that we have had. ( http://www.pranarainforestretreat.com/prana-retreat-animals/ )
How far is the retreat from the beach?
As the toucan flies we are very close. When the waves are big we can hear the sound of the surf crashing. By car the beach is an easy 5-10 minutes. The walk is more of a hike, and we do it all of the time for exercise. The walk to the beach takes about 40 minutes.
The vast majority of accommodations, restaurants and shops sit up on the hills of Manuel Antonio, as are we. That being said, even though Manuel Antonio is beach town, the majority of accommodations are set above, and not directly on, the beach.
What are the local beaches like?
We have a variety of beaches in our area.
The main beach varies from small to medium to large waves, with two sections having larger waves which are very popular for surfing. We also have a couple of beaches with much calmer surf with almost no waves at all.
The sand is clean and warm, and all of our beaches are lined with coconut palms and allemendo trees which often host troupes of monkeys, flocks of parrots and slow moving sloths. Our main beach, about 2 miles long, has a commercial end with restaurants, souvenir shops and beach chair services and the other end is the more natural end with a great surf beach where you can drive your ATV vehicle right onto the sand.
Should I have a car?
Almost all of our guests, and for that matter all visitors to Manuel Antonio, prefer to have their own vehicle. This will give you much more access to our area.
There are several places, hidden gems really, that we can direct you to, but without your own vehicle they are not really possible.
There is one section of the main beach where we love to drive right on to the sand and set up our hammocks and chairs, so it’s nice to be able to have a car that can handle that.
Must you have your own transportation? No, there are plenty of taxis and buses in our area, but those who have visited with and without a vehicle almost always prefer to have a car the next time. Car rentals are very reasonable here, and the driving is easy. (see more about car rentals later in this section)
The food at the retreat, what is it like?
We serve a daily full breakfast to all of our guests. Additional meals can also be arranged.
As your hosts, we both have professional cooking backgrounds. We strive to serve fresh, tasty, decadent and healthy meals. Does it have to be healthy? No. You can have what ever you want. But, we do find that using fresh, clean local ingredients really lends to the retreat experience.
We grow some of the foods we use, including our own fresh, organic free range chicken eggs, as well as organic seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs. (please take a look at our “ From our Garden to your Plate” page on the web site http://www.pranarainforestretreat.com/plants/ ). We also source our local weekly farmers market to bring in amazing fresh produce, dairy and seafood.
Our dinner offerings can take many forms, and we rely heavily on a background of cooking Thai, Indian, Mediterranean and Latin cuisines.
We do ask to have at least a day’s notice for any additional meals. More is better, as we sometimes need to put the word out for specific ingredients that we would want to be the very freshest, such as a particular type of fish, or even duck eggs when we they are available.
What types of restaurants are close by?
We have a huge array of restaurants very close by. The closest ones are a three minutes drive away. Close by are restaurants that serve local cuisine, which is your typical rice and beans, protein and salad, as well as international fare from falafel stands, wood fired pizza, take away Vietnamese/Chinese, Mexican, all the way up to five star resort restaurants serving great food and wines with live music. We have our favorites, and can steer you to what ever you like, as well as get you the best table on those busy New Years celebrations.
Is massage and yoga included with our package?
That depends on your package.
We have two packages, and one, our “Spa Bed and Breakfast” package includes a full one hour massage for two, every day.
With either package, you can add in sessions or make sessions longer.
Yoga classes can also be set up, as well as additional spa treatments.
Where do we have our massages or spa treatments?
One of the most important things that we designed was the placement of the “Spa Pavilion”. This area is part of your Guest Villa, and is for your private use whenever you like.
Most importantly it is right next to our seasonal waterfall. This waterfall can run pretty strong in rainy season, and go down to more of a trickle in our driest parts of the year.
Either way, it is a magnificent spot to be. Right in the middle of the rainforest, literally steps from the border of the National Park, our Spa Pavilion is the perfect place to have a massage or spa treatment. This is also where we offer our yoga. It is located down a set of stairs leading from the pool deck, and directly below your Villa. When not in use, we offer you a set of hammocks and an antique wooden bench from Java to relax with and let nature happen all around you. It is always there for you to hang out with a morning cup of coffee, a book or a bottle of wine.
When do we have our massages or spa treatments?
We will schedule your massages around your schedule of activities.
If you plan to spend the day at the beach, then we will most likely suggest that you have a late afternoon massage. If you plan to spend the whole day here with us, then it is completely up to you. Some have even scheduled a morning and afternoon session.
We do however plan to finish up our massage appointments by 5:00 pm.
Are there walking trails on the property?
Yes, we have a trail system on the property, and it begins at the Spa Pavilion. The trails can take you to the other side of our waterfall, where there is a sitting bench, or the trails can take you down stream to the larger stream that leads into the National Park. There are no official park trails on our end of the Park, but we have some secret ways to show you some seldom visited places. The trail system is great for night walks for those interested in being right in the jungle at night. ( see “ what to bring” for suggestions on what to wear for jungle hikes)
Our Area ( location and activities)
Where exactly are you located?
We are located in the town of Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
Our closest “commercial” town is the port town of Quepos, 8 minutes away by car.
There is a main commercial road that links the port town of Quepos and the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
This main road, or Manuel Antonio Road, is about 8 kilometers ( about 4 miles long)
Our road, Villa Lirio Road, comes off of the main road at the mid point.
The retreat is located on Colina Monito road, and is about a three minute drive from the main road.
We are located at the very end of this road which puts us directly on the border of the National Park.
How far is the property from the beach?
5-10 minutes (see earlier description)
How far are restaurants and nightlife?
3 minutes or more (see earlier description)
What activities are in the area?
There are many.
Our area is famous for its amazing adventure travel excursions, beaches, hikes, inshore and off shore big game fishing (we’re happy to cook your catch)
Among the many organized day trip activities are:
White water rafting, waterfall repelling, zip lining, canyoning, whale and dolphin watching, horseback riding, suspended canopy bridge hikes, nature hikes, bird watching, National Park tours, surfing, parasailing, vanilla farm tour and more.
We work with the best guides in the area and can arrange for them to pick you up at the retreat.
What is the difference between the rainy season and dry season ?
Costa Rica has two seasons, green, or rainy season and summer, or dry season.
Green season can begin sometime in April and can last through November.
In turn, our “summer season” usually occurs between December and March.
Green season has many parts to it: The rainy part and the other part.
The rainy part usually occurs in the months of September and October. We are talking weather here, so nothing is written in stone.
The “other part”, April through August and November can usually be described in two ways:
The first possibility; there is no rain at all.
Another way it can go often goes like this; we begin the early morning with a mist left over from the previous night’s rain, the mists clears around 8:00 am into a glorious sunny day, around 4:00 p.m. the clouds roll and we get a refreshing shower, clears agin for the evening and then later on, around 8:00 pm we might get showers that last the night….or not.
September and October are the months that we can sometimes get rains that last all day, and sometimes all week.
Then again I am sitting here writing this on October 20th, and there is not a cloud in the sky, so again, you never know.
A quote from Mark Twain says: “Many people complain about the whether, but no one does anything about it”
The important thing is that our green season is just that, green, and not rainy all of the time.
The rivers are great for rafting and the waterfall are dramatic and full. For most of us who live here, green season is the best time of year.
Our summer, December through the end of March is relatively free of rain. It is warmer and dryer, but there is always an ocean, river or swimming pool very close by.
Do I have to know how to speak Spanish?
If you do, that is great, but it is not at all necessary.
If you speak English, then you will get along just fine in the area. Many locals, known as Ticos, know some English and almost all of the staff in restaurants and on the adventure tours are fluent in English.
We also have some guides who speak a few other languages as well.
Can you drink the water and eat fruits and vegetables?
Yes and yes.
The tap water here is as clean as the U.S. and Europe. Just like anywhere, many prefer to drink bottled water, but you can also safely drink right from the tap. We do include a large chilled bottled water dispenser in your villa. The same goes for vegetables and fruits. You can eat anything here and not worry about getting sick from it. Costa Rica does not allow for the same “fertilization” methods that you might find in places like Mexico where you need to be very strict about what you consume there.
How does the money work? Do I have to use the local currency? Where do I change my money?
The local currency is called the “Colone”.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted here, but you will get your change in Colones.
The airport in San Jose has plenty of money changing counters, but, they usually give the very worst exchange rate for some reason.
In turn, it is very difficult to get your money changed at a bank if you do not have an account with them.
Our best advice is to plan on using an ATM card.
You can take out either Colones or U.S. Dollars.
Just make sure to let your bank know that you will be using the card in Costa Rica.
Travel: To Costa Rica and to Manuel Antonio/Quepos.
What airport in Costa Rica to I fly into from my country?
There are two international airports in Costa Rica, but one is much closer to us.
The two are: San Jose (SJO) which is named Juan Santamaria International Airport
The other is named: Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport also known as “Liberia International Airport”
San Jose airport is the best one to use to get to us.
Liberia airport serves the Guanacaste, or Northwest, area of Costa Rica.
How do I get to the retreat from the international airport in San Jose?
There are two ways, by air or by land.
By air: There are two domestic airlines.
The two are: Sansa Air and Nature Air.
Sansa Air ( www.flysansa) is located very close to the international airport.
You will be looking to schedule your flights to our local airport which is named “Quepos”, which also the name of our small port town.
The flights take about 20 minutes, the planes are small ( 12-20 passengers) and very safe. The ride is beautiful, and the cost hovers around $75.00 per person depending on the time of year. The schedules varies greatly between green season and dry season so be sure to pay attention to that on the web site.
Both airlines require that you check in at their counter a minimum of 45 minutes before departure
We offer transportation to and from the Quepos airport with any stay of three nights or longer.
By land: There are options here as well.
You can rent a vehicle, hire a car and driver, take an airport shuttle van or get over to the bus station in downtown San Jose and take one of the modern buses, sorry no chickens anymore, these are pretty nice buses.
We can help you out with any of these methods, but here is some information specific to renting a vehicle:
Driving in Costa Rica is very easy. We have a well paved highway system, and most of the secondary roads are in good shape, and a few are not.
Do I need a GPS
There are few to no marked streets outside of san Jose.
That being said it is a huge advantage to have a GPS with your car.
They rent them along with the car with updated Costa Rica maps for around $5.00 per day. Get one, or bring one, but you will be very glad to have it.
Can I ask for an automatic transmission?
Most cars here are manual transmission, meaning a stick shift.
If you prefer an automatic, be sure to arrange that ahead of time, and then double check when picking up your car.
Do I need to have a four wheel drive vehicle?
No, you do not need to have one, but it is nice to have.
A four wheel drive will give you more access to more places should you want to get off of the beaten trail. As mentioned before, we like to drive onto the beach sometimes and a four wheel drive is helpful. You rental agency will frown on plans to go onto the beach, so you may not want to mention it to them.
Also, you may not ever need to engage the all wheel drive, but these vehicles generally have much higher clearance and this is very important when driving on roads with potholes and stones.
We see plenty of tourists and locals driving low riding smaller cars and they do fine, but having a larger vehicle will take a lot of your worries away when out on your adventures.
Should I take out the extra insurance policy?
Great question, and here is where you can save some serious money.
The agencies here will make you take out a very inclusive policy, meaning it’s expensive.
Our best advice is to do this:
First check with your credit card company about their car rental coverage policy.
Be very specific about that you will be in Costa Rica.
Some credit cards are great, many are not, so ask.
Our own credit card, for example, will cover all insurance costs for rental cars when renting a car in Costa Rica as long as we hold the damage deposit with the credit card. That’s it. It’s a great credit card.
So if you have one of these, look into using it.
Second, you have to, HAVE TO, check with the car rental agency if they will let you do this. Some will, some won’t, but try to get it in writing.
We’ve had friends who did not do this, and their great rental rate actually doubled when the insurance got added on.
So, do your homework, and you can save a lot of money.
Do I need an International drivers license ?
No you do not, just a valid one from your own country.
Do you have recommended car rental agencies?
Yes, we have two that have worked out well for many of our guests, but of course there are several more if you look on line. Here are our two favorites because they have offices in both San Jose and Quepos / Manuel Antonio, and both will allow you to use your own credit card’s supplemental insurance if your card offers offers it.
Adobe Rental Cars: http://www.adobecar.com/offices.html?tracking=10115
Adobe: you can either pick up at their office in Quepos, or they will meet you at the Quepos airport, or they will drop the car off for you here at the Prana Rainforest Retreat. You can also pick up at the San Jose airport after taking a shuttle to their office.
Economy Rental Car: https://www.economyrentacar.com
Another good one with great service. Pick up here in Manuel Antonio close to the retreat.
Do I need to carry my passport with me all day?
No you do not.
First, you must have a passport to enter Costa Rica.
Your passport not have an expiration date of not less than 90 days or there is a good chance you will be denied entry
Once you are here and you have passed through customs, they will have stamped your passport.
After that time you are only required to carry a photocopy of your passport.
You must copy both your picture page as well as the page with the stamp that they put there upon entry.
After that is better to just leave your passport in your safe in the villa.
What to bring?
We’ll just cover the basics, and please ask about anything else.
I tell people to pack light. We’re in the tropics, and even our finest restaurants offer a casual elegance, so no need to dress up.
The most important thing may be what footwear to bring.
I always suggest bringing at least three items:
A flip flop for the beach, a sports sandal that can get wet, and a closed shoe that is light weight, either a sneaker or light hiking shoe.
These three will get you almost anywhere and through almost any activity here.
The lighter, stronger and more water resistant the better.
Light clothes, and light rain gear for green season.
All of the obvious stuff like sun block and bug spray is here, but if you can bring it, it may be cheaper at home.
Of course bring any needed medications, but we do also have good medical care here if you need it.
A small flashlight can be helpful, and we’ve had some guests arrive with compact headlamps which they enjoyed using on our trails at night.
These days we don’t see nearly as many real books being used, and there are very few book stores left. Electronic readers are great to have, and with our Wifi you can download more while you’re here.
Should I bring Booze?
If you’d like to, then yes, you should consider picking some up before arriving
Alcohol is more expensive here, so we suggest stopping in at the duty free shop if you would like to have some in your villa. In San Jose airport, you can pick it up after you get off of the plane which is pretty convenient.
After you go through passport control and just before baggage claim there is a good duty free store.
The local fire water is named “Guaro”, it is made in Costa Rica and it is inexpensive, but you might not be so happy about it the next day!
The best wines to look for will be from Chili and Argentina.
If you forget, or choose not to pick some up ahead of time, then there are plenty of local shops close by.