“An informal resort hotel, stunningly situated amid tropical gardens high above a long secluded beach on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast”
Swing in your hammock and listen to the surf, and take a quick dip in the infinity pool before breakfast. Or immerse yourself in the natural sensuous pleasures of the spa and its blissful treatments. Sip mojitos and watch the sun set over the sea below. Dine by candlelight as warm breezes waft over you, or have a romantic dinner at the water’s edge. Everything at Punta Islita is designed for your comfort and to calm body and soul. The staff are as attentive as New York waiters, but with genuine Costa Rican friendliness. This is one of the country’s most exclusive resorts, but it’s entirely inclusive of the local Costa Rican community, who look after guests with tireless enthusiasm and considerable pride.
- Unsurpassable setting, on a hilltop above a private beach, amidst perfectly manicured gardens
- A full range of activities and cultural experiences included: zip-line through the forest canopy is particularly recommended
- Superb amenities include a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, 2 swimming pools and an exercise room
- Luxurious accommodation: have ocean views and terraces with hammocks where you can relax in privacy
- More than 3% of Punta Islita's annual gross profit goes toward community-improvement projects
- It’s quite expensive and you might find meal prices are higher than in the rest of Costa Rica, but a huge range of activities are included
- In peak season Punta Islita fills up with young North American couples, who don’t always make the quietest of guests
- The beach is a 10-minute walk down from the restaurant and the rooms - and it's a long walk back up afterwards if you’re tired
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Beach Resort
- 2 restaurants + bar
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Tennis Court
- Golf course
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 Junior 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 Junior 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.
- Air conditioning
- CD player
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Full kitchen
- Internet access
- Plunge pool
- Safe box
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.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Full kitchen
- Organic produce
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
All Punta Islita activities are included in the rates unless otherwise stated.
- Take the free guided 'Destination Tour' around the local community to see prettily painted houses, the church (built by Punta Islita’s owners) and the local school and shop, as well as an impressive arts centre
- Paddle river kayaks through pristine tropical jungle down the gentle Ora river, as your guide points out exotic plant and animal species (extra charge). You’ll pass mangroves and spot pygmy kingfishers, flycatchers and green parrots in the trees (May-December)
- Canter through the rugged Islita horse-riding trails over exciting terrain, into thick tropical dry forest and along black volcanic-sand beaches
- Book a treatment in the excellent spa as soon as you arrive (extra charge) - it's one of the best in Costa Rica. A fountain gurgles on its shaded terrace, light dances on twin Jacuzzis, and there are beautiful thatched japalas with private outdoor showers and mosaic baths
- Book a surf lesson - it's the ideal place to learn, and you can also hire boogie boards (extra charge)
- There are tennis courts and you can borrow rackets and balls (use incurs an extra charge after dusk)
- Golf on the hotel’s 9-hole par 3 course; equipment can be hired
- Watch sea turtles at the nearby Camaronal reserve (June to November). It’s an amazing sight - sometimes up to 200 turtles can be seen
- Watch the raucous howler monkeys playing in the trees. Among the largest monkey species in the Americas, their whooping growls can be heard for considerable distances
- Zip-line through the forest canopy and criss-cross a deep canyon - a real adrenaline rush
- Take a guided sunrise walk to enjoy the tropical dry forest's peaceful beauty and discover interesting facts about this delicate and threatened ecosystem
- The 2-hour bird-watching hike gives a unique opportunity to observe and photograph up to 35 native species in their natural habitat
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Horse riding
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
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)
Family friendly accommodation:
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.
- 8 cots
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.
Kids Activities on site:
- Heated swimming pool with shallow end
- Children's DVDs
Kids Activities nearby:
- Horse riding
- Canopy tours
- Surf lessons
- Fun on the beach
Families Should Know:
Watch out for the steps and pool; the beach isn't great for swimmers thanks to a nasty rip tide.
- Airport: 2.5 hours
- Hospital: 2 hours
- Doctor: 40 minutes
Hotel Punta Islita is found in rural Guanacaste on the Nicoya Peninsula, surrounded by tiny villages and towns. It's on the west coast of Costa Rica, a 5-hour drive or a 40-minute internal flight from San José.
Punta Islita has an airstrip (15km away) which is served by some domestic airlines. If you're coming from abroad you'll probably fly into Liberia (145km away) or San José Juan Santamaria International (214km away) and will need to take a connecting internal flight. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport:
If you're not taking an internal flight from San José or Liberia we recommend booking a transfer with the resort - you’ll be met by a friendly driver who knows the area and will take you along the best routes. Staff can also arrange a transfer from the local airstrip - see Rates.
If you want to drive bear in mind that some of the roads are rough and can be very irksome, particularly in the 'green' season. Always ring ahead for directions - you'll have to cross several bridges with variable water levels, and staff can advise which of the various routes are safest. We'd always recommend choosing a 4-wheel drive when hiring a car - see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com
More on getting to Costa Rica and getting around
- Punta Islita 15.0 km PBP
- Liberia 145.0 km LIR
- Beach 0.2 km
- Shops 1.0 km
- Restaurant 0.8 km