Along our Costa Rica drive from the Guanacaste beaches of the northwest to the southernmost Osa Peninsula, we were advised to break our journey into two parts by staying overnight in the Puntarenas region, the halfway mark on the Pacific coast.
We were pointed towards Manuel Antonio and the sustainably-run Si Como No…which proved to be a partially good idea.
When I was booking our stay at an eco-lodge on the Osa Peninsula, the co-owner suggested we stay near Manuel Antonio National Park to break up our drive down Costa Rica’s west coast. Though she offered a non-committal-yet-positive endorsement of Si Como No (“It is very nice”), as soon as I saw the resort’s site, I fell in love with the idea of a night amongst jungle palms and a morning wandering through their adjacent wildlife park.
First, though, we had to get there. Off the coastal Highway 34, the road to Si Como No climbs steeply upwards about 3 miles/5 km between the town of Quepos and the national park; along the way it’s jammed with unique resorts, restaurants…and traffic. Already arriving later than expected (our projected 4 ½-hour journey from Playa Pan de Azucár was, with a couple of stops, more like 7), we were bummed to spend the last 20 minutes of our journey stuck behind a public bus on this impassable road.
The good news: Once you get to Si Como No, the resort is absolutely gorgeous. We were wowed all the way from the lobby’s greenhouse vibe to the silvery ocean view from our Superior Room. As soon as you step in from the parking lot, you’re surrounded by a property carved out of a lush, green cliff that faces a stunning vista of the Pacific.
We’d manage to enjoy a lot of the resort during our 17-hour visit: hanging out at the adults’-only pool bar at sunset; using the lobby’s free wi-fi; star-gazing from our deck while listening to the whirring of jungle insects; enjoying a leisurely breakfast on a glass-topped patio; and, having decided not to brave the parking crush outside the national park, lingering in Si Como No’s butterfly enclosure. (We’d have caught a movie in the resort’s small on-site theater, but we’d already seen Trading Places about four times.) We even managed to visit the spa and have dinner at the resort’s finest restaurant.
While Adam enjoyed an hour’s massage at the resort’s Serenity Spa, I sniffed the (dee-lightful) travel-sized bath products and sussed out the scene. The spa has no sauna or whirlpool, but does offer a small, semi-private waiting area with a couple of lounges; peach-toned satin linens; a large couples’ treatment room; and ceilings painted like summer skies. Adam would later give his rub-down a smile and a thumbs up.
Our twilight dinner at Claro Que Si was both romantic and delicious, a creative spin on Caribbean flavors (e.g., red snapper ceviche with chopped chilies, red pepper and fresh, local fruit). Our waiter was warm and attentive and we never felt hurried or hungry. Tiny geckos scrambled up the wall beside our table and for the first time that day, a soft breeze cooled us from the ocean far below.
So…what’s the “or no” part, you ask?
1) Throughout our brief stay, six different staff members said to us: “You’re only staying here one night? Why bother?” By the third quizzical look, we were starting to feel like we’d either made a mistake…or were a bit less than welcome.
2) It was a fair hike to our lovely, neo-Hobbit guestroom (read: lots of hand-hewn wood and a little whimsical stained glass), so we appreciated a porter’s help getting our suitcases down the steep path. However, I also would have appreciated instructions for how to get in to the room. Later, while alone, I tried and failed to do so with my key and had to hoof it back up to the lobby; not thrilled after a long, hot day in the car. The porter kindly accompanied me back, and I was surprised to see that it took two turns and a counter-turn to navigate the doorknob. It’s unlikely that I’d have figured this out on my own.
3) Shortly after midnight, the fairly loud, hard-working, split-mounted air conditioner above our bed began to leak, with fat droplets of water landing first on Adam and then on me. Because of the late hour, we simply scooched together between the drippage, then alerted the apologetic front desk the next morning. We have a similar unit at home and it tends to drip, also; however, it’s not above our bed.
4) As far as we could tell on our self-guided visit, the resort’s wildlife refuge, Fincas Naturales, is more of a short walk through a scruffy little tangle of jungle to a sweet butterfly exhibit full of colorful Lepidopterae. If you’re a resort guest, a daytime visit here requires only a small piece of paper from the front desk and a run across the busy road, but I sense we’d have seen far more if we’d paid for a guided night tour.
5) In light of our tight driving schedule (and decision to not explore Manuel Antonio’s crowded park), it would have been more convenient to stay down in Quepos or in nearby, beach-side Dominical. In both places, there are small haciendas, cabinas and nearby eateries closer to Highway 34.
For travelers with less of a time crunch, Si Como No is more yes than no. A few glitches aside, it’s an ideal stay if you have time to spend at least a couple of days in the area exploring the national park, taking an adventure tour or two, soaking up the artsy/wacky local nightlife, or just relaxing at the resort.
Rooms include a full buffet breakfast and entrance to the butterfly park, and range from $185 to $340.
For our stay at this resort, we were given a room upgrade and received discounts off all amenities.