“An informal resort hotel, stunningly situated amid tropical gardens high above a long secluded beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast”
All the accommodation at Punta Islita is very comfortable and the beds are superb: firm, with fantastic mattress softeners, top-quality Egyptian cotton linens, light duvets and good feather pillows.
The light-filled Deluxe Rooms have uplifting white walls and wide picture windows overlooking the gulf below. They aren't massively spacious, but there are big beds (1 king or 2 queens), a good shower in a spacious bathroom, and a separate sink area by the ample wardrobe. The design is simple and modern with delicate Costa Rican touches: mosaic tile details around the shower area, and pretty pictures made from shells by the local community on the walls. Sewing kits come in cute hand-sewn pouches. Although the beds are vaguely Flintstone-esque in their rustic style, the whole place is impeccably maintained and exudes a warm welcome. Your terrace has 2 comfortable chairs for enjoying an evening drink, with a candle for atmosphere and a hammock for a lazy siesta.
All the bathrooms have waffle bathrobes, a hairdryer, an iron and ironing board and L’Occitane toiletries. There's also an extremely well-stocked minibar (but strangely no gin or tonic), air-conditioning, and a tea and coffee maker (the minibar has fresh milk). There’s WiFi in some rooms and all have a plasma TV with Sky and a DVD player.
Larger rooms are decorated to the same high standard, with some additions: the 8 Suites have a sitting area and an outdoor Jacuzzi (unheated, but this doesn’t matter as the average temperature is 32C), as well as a tub in the bathrooms. The Casitas are more Costa Rican in style, with even more space than the Suites, and these have a private unheated plunge pool outside.
The villas are ideal for families, with 2 or 3 bedrooms, an equal number of bathrooms, a full kitchen and lounge, a w/c and an outdoor swimming pool. The villas are more modern in style - reminiscent of a North American condo - with basic cooking facilities.
Punta Islita has 2 restaurants. The 1492 Restaurant stretches from the poolside into a high-ceilinged palenque - traditionally styled and open-sided, with views of the ocean. Then, down by the beach, there’s a more informal restaurant, the Borrancho, set alongside the other swimming pool.
Breakfast is served in the 1492 Restaurant from 7-10.30am. Included in your tariff is an extensive feast: tea/coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, a basket of bread and toast and a plate full of tropical fruit. Then choose from hot dishes, either American style (eggs, hash browns, bacon and ham) or Costa Rican style (eggs, rice, fried beans, a fresh corn tortilla, fried sweet plantain and locally made cheese). Also on offer (at extra cost) are pancakes, smoked salmon scrambled eggs, huevos rancheros (fried eggs with tomato and chillies), brioches, French toast, yoghurt and granola. It’s a shame there are no teapots for a good pot of tea, but attentive staff will bring regular fill-ups.
Lunch is served from 12.30-3pm in either restaurant. Kids will like the pizzas on offer at Borrancho, while more sophisticated palates will be delighted with grilled lobster or deep-fried snapper with plantain. There's more choice at 1492 Restaurant, with lots of fish and a good selection of Mexican dishes, as well as Costa Rican staples. We particularly enjoyed the sea bass ceviche and seared fish tacos.
Dinner is served from 7-9.30pm. The food is very good and beautifully presented; a pity the lighting isn’t better to see it by. We started with octopus carpaccio and tuna sashimi, before moving on to a superb bamboo-steamed mahi mahi and jumbo shrimp in curry sauce. The atmosphere is relaxing, with tinkling Richard Clayderman piano music mingling with the sound of the ocean, and each table has plenty of space around it for privacy. If you're feeling particularly romantic, you can dine on a table set under trees near the beach, with your own personal waiter and views of the surf.
For drinks and snacks there's the golf club snack bar, La Hoya en 1 (open 10am-5pm), and the swim-up pool bar, Harry’s Bar (open 7-9.30pm). There are also a couple of local eateries should you want variety; reception can advise. Guests staying in the villas can also make use of the fully equipped kitchens.
All Punta Islita activities are included in the rates unless otherwise stated.
Children are welcome here - they can paddle in the ocean (swimming isn't recommended because of the strong rip tides), splash around in the pool by the beach (the infinity pool is for adults only), and try horse-riding and kayaking. They don't have much in the way of baby/toddler gear and it's better for children 6+, although all ages are welcome.
Note that it's a fairly remote option at 2.5 hours from the airport.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
The 2- and 3-bedroom Villas are best for families. Excluding the Deluxe Rooms, all rooms can accommodate at least 1 child.
English-speaking babysitting available. See rates.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The Borrancho restaurant serves kid-friendly options like pizza, and there's also a child-friendly restaurant within walking distance.
Watch out for the steps and pool; the beach isn't great for swimmers thanks to a nasty rip tide.