In keeping with Costa Rica’s nationwide push for green/eco-tourism, Finca Rosa is a wholly sustainable venue. Also offered are an informative tour of the coffee plantation and a hands-on cooking and culture workshop with the inn’s world-famous chef, Rodrigo Nunez, who later delighted us with nuevo Latino cuisine that was prepared entirely off-menu and only after getting to know us tableside. But truly, the best of our trip was still to come.
IF YOU GO »
Hotel Grano de Oro
VIP Costa Travel
El Silencio Lodge & Spa
The Springs Resort & Spa
Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo
Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn
Punto de Vista
Manuel Antonio Surf School
Manuel Antonio Park
Safari Mangrove Tours
After making the four-hour drive to the easygoing beach town of Manuel Antonio, a popular spot for American tourists and expats, we arrived at Punto de Vista, where we enjoyed the hospitality of Los Angeles architect David Konwiser, who has spent the last five years designing and building this sumptuous, nautically inspired villa. A 10-bedroom, 12-bathroom, six-story affair, Punto de Vista is an awe-inspiring piece of design work. Each room is loosely themed and exquisitely rendered, with virtually every square foot offering unbelievable vistas of the ocean and more than an acre of rain forest. Konwiser’s venue is new to the public, and his service — much of it personally rendered, assisted by a genuinely affable butler named Raul — is impeccable. That evening, he and Raul prepared a delicious dinner for us on the open-air top deck of the villa. “You’re the only guests tonight,” Konwiser said, “so we’re going to give you the Elvis Presley treatment.”
That night, as we lay down to sleep, a knuckle-whitening thunderstorm was made all the more spectacular by the fact that three of our room’s walls were glass. Indeed, rarely will you witness a more powerful display of wet weather in all its forms than in Costa Rica; the sky perennially crackles with lightning.
The town of Manuel Antonio is a treasure trove of modestly priced delights, beautiful scenery and the utter personification of pura vida (the Costa Rican catchphrase means “pure life” or “good life”). While enjoying the sights in town one afternoon, we were asked what we loved most about Costa Rica thus far. Our answer was simple: the good spirits of the Costa Rican people. Certainly, the country depends financially upon its hospitality and good nature, but there is a genuineness to the compassion of its population.
Since we were in a beach town, we decided to enjoy a surf lesson at Manuel Antonio Surf School. My wife has hung a little ten in her life and took to the waves like a pro. I, however, spent the majority of the three hours hanging on for dear life, in quiet, impotent consultation with the tide. What I lack in natural talent, I make up for with a willing spirit. It is my good fortune that my wife loves me unconditionally; it could never be for my prowess on the Pacific.
The rest of our afternoon was spent in the gorgeous Manuel Antonio State Park, where we were able to spot three of the country’s four native species of monkeys, the green basilisk “Jesus Christ” lizard (so named for its ability to run across water), iguanas, sloths and all manner of native wildlife in their natural habitat. We also partook in a Safari Mangrove ATV tour of the rain forest — a three-hour ride through jaw-dropping scenery, culminating with a relaxing swim among waterfalls.
That evening, on the top deck of Punto de Vista, the good people of Tropical Occasions fanned the flames of romance by helping me and my wife honor and renew our wedding vows. Those words — “I do,” “I will” and “I promise” — they’re big words, but they’re the right ones. The service was brief, eloquent and deeply moving — the fourth opportunity I’ve had to marry my wife. I’d like to do it again and again. Perhaps she’ll have me.
TODD AARON JENSEN is an award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles. His first book, On Gratitude, was published in September. For more information, please visit www.thegratitudelist.org.