Villa Buena Onda

near Playa del Coco, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica Book from US$352

Reviewed by Shelley Seale
A secluded retreat hidden in tropical forest above Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, with stunning ocean views and 7 spacious suites
Privacy, relaxation and romance are the main attractions at the aptly named Villa Buena Onda (‘good vibes’ in English). Formerly a private mansion, this stylish hideaway has a perfect location atop a hill in a residential area that's home to a smattering of condos, with breath-taking panoramas of the Papagayo Gulf below. It’s the ideal distance from the hub of Playa del Coco - near enough to walk (20 minutes) to the bars and beach, yet far enough away to feel peaceful and secluded.

The 7 suites overlook the saltwater infinity pool and gardens overflowing with colourful bougainvillea, while the surrounding jungle is filled with lush foliage, howler monkeys and an array of exotic birds. The friendly English-speaking staff are on hand to arrange numerous local activities, including white-water rafting, sunset cruises and zip-lining, but with all-inclusive meals and plenty of on-site amenities, you may not want to venture far. Spend your days sipping cocktails at the swim-up bar, practising your downward dog on the yoga deck, indulging in a bamboo massage in the privacy of your room, or simply kicking back in a hammock as butterflies flit around the trees. Good vibes indeed.

Highs

  • A chilled-out location near some of Costa Rica's most beautiful beaches (there’s a free shuttle to whisk you there and back) and only 25 minutes from Liberia airport
  • The privacy of a luxury villa, with the facilities and highly trained staff of a hotel
  • Large suites decorated with Costa Rican art and photography, all with rainfall showers and balconies or patios. Many have ocean views, too
  • Free culinary taster sessions - where else can you learn to roll your own tortillas, mere steps from your room?
  • The 2-tiered infinity pool, with its postcard-perfect vistas and carefully regulated natural filtration system, is an unbeatable relaxation spot

Lows

  • No children under 16 - this is a peaceful, grown-up place
  • The steep, unmarked dirt road leading to the hotel can be difficult to navigate, and it's hard to find if you're self-driving
  • The location might mean you feel isolated after a few days, so take advantage of the shuttle service and tours to mix up your stay
  • Some food during our visit was a bit hit and miss, although breakfast was incredible and the desserts outstanding
  • There's a strict payment and cancellation policy

Best time to go

Guanacaste’s hot, dry climate makes it a popular destination for travellers looking to escape the European and North American winter. November to April is the best time to visit weather-wise, but also the most expensive. May marks the start of the ‘green’ (rainy) season, but it’s much cheaper and showers tend to be short, with plenty of sunshine in between. For bird-watching and particularly lush forests come in September and October, at the tail end of the green season.

Our top tips

Make use of Villa Buena Onda’s brilliant concierge service. The staff can arrange trips throughout the region, as well as sport-fishing, river safaris, surf lessons, volcanic expeditions and much, much more.

Great for...

Beach
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • All meals included
  • Over 16s only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Yoga deck
  • Volleyball net
Room: Master Suite

Rooms

Rooms and suites are divided between the hotel's ground- and first floor.

Downstairs, the Garden Room is the cheapest option. It has 2 queensize beds (ideal for friends travelling together), with white-washed walls, cream Roman blinds and a private patio overlooking the garden. The décor, as in all the rooms, combines understated elegance and modern flair, with rugs, throws and abstract original artwork adding punches of colour (green in this case). The 2 Pool View Suites also have patio areas (here with hammocks), as well as sliding doors which open directly onto the pool terrace - perfect for those who don’t want the hassle of stairs, though not as private as other rooms. Both are decorated in soothing shades of grey and taupe with aqua accents, and one has disabled access.

For the best views we recommend staying upstairs in one of the Ocean View Suites, which look out over the trees to the coast. Luxurious kingsize beds are the focal point to a backdrop of cream and taupe with hints of aquamarine; framed photography of the local area adds a nice touch. Glass doors let in plenty of natural light (blackout curtains are provided for sleeping) and lead to large private balconies with tables and chairs. The pot plants dotted around make them lovely spaces for sundowners.

Since our visit, a second-floor Master Suite has also been added.

Bathrooms in all suites are chic and modern, with plenty of space, large rainfall showers (no tubs), top-notch products from Raw Botanicals, and double sinks on granite countertops. Colourful mosaic splashbacks add a bit of warmth and whimsy, and most of the bathrooms also have incredible ocean views.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

All meals are included, served in the dining room or on the terrace. The food is a mixture of Costa Rican delicacies and international staples, using fresh, local ingredients; menus change weekly and there are always several options for each course (including vegetarian dishes). The chef may also be able to make dishes to order with advance notice.

Breakfast is served between 6.30 and 10.30am (and can be taken in your suite on request), with a choice of hot and cold options. A typical selection might include Costa Rican flambé pancakes with maple syrup, a tropical fruit salad, omelettes, or a traditional 'Tico' breakfast of gallo pinto, sweet fried plantains and fresh tortillas.

Lunch, from 11.30am to 3pm, offers a selection of appetisers and main courses - perhaps ceviche, fresh soups, fish tacos, mango and coriander salad, and roasted vegetables or tenderloin beef on ciabatta bread. Dinner is served from 6-8.30pm and has a wider variety of dishes to tempt you. Choose from options such as Caribbean-style seafood soup, a mixed green salad with roasted beetroot and red peppers, seared tuna or fish of the day, pork ribs, grilled chicken breast, and stuffed Portobello mushrooms with mozzarella. Follow this with one of the chef’s delectable dessert offerings, which were a highlight of our meals - creations might include a chocolate brownie with passion fruit sauce, a tropical fruit crumble with vanilla ice cream, or the traditional Costa Rican 'Tres Leches' cake.

Soft drinks with meals are included in the rates, and there’s a list of wines and cocktails for an additional charge. Complimentary afternoon tea and coffee is also served, along with a selection of home-baked goods (the chocolate chip cookies are great to return to after a day's excursion), so there's plenty of opportunity to indulge yourselves.

If you fancy a change, the restaurants of Playa del Coco are just a short taxi ride (or a longer walk) away. Recommended are Las Olax, Café de Playa and Tiki Coco, all right on the beach. A bit further away in Playa Hermosa (about 20 minutes' drive) is the lovely Roberto’s at La Gaviota Tropical, which does a mix of seafood, meat dishes, sandwiches, salads and local Tico favourites in a great oceanside setting.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Playa Hermosa

Activities

  • Laze in a hammock or a poolside chaise with a book, alternating with cooling dips, Mai Tais at the swim-up bar and, if you're feeling energetic, games of volleyball on the hotel's court
  • Take a private yoga class on the upstairs deck (the hotel can book a local teacher); downward-facing dog is so much easier with such amazing views
  • Book a relaxing treatment in your room or on the deck overlooking the ocean. Choose from a soothing massage, reflexology, a pedicure or a manicure
  • Grab your towel and sunscreen and take the free shuttle to one of 3 beautiful beaches nearby - Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa and Ocotal. Or book a tour of some of the area’s hidden beaches, accessible only by boat, and picnic on the sand
  • Learn the art of Costa Rican food with a free culinary class, or give tortilla-making or coffee-tasting a try
  • Head out on a forest canopy tour and zip-line through the trees
  • Soak in the thermal waters and steam baths of a nearby natural spa, located at the foot of the Rincón de la Vieja volcano
  • Head off on a sunset cruise around the Papagayo Gulf
  • Experience the diverse ecosystem of the El Viejo wetlands with a culture and nature tour, traversing the Tempisque river by boat and touring an old sugar-cane mill. End with an authentic lunch at a sabanero (local cowboy) house
  • Take on the rapids with a white-water rafting trip through the Colorado river canyon

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga
  • Zip-lining

Kids

The hotel is aimed at adults, but children 16 and over are welcome and will enjoy local activities such as zip-lining, rafting and riding. Extra beds can be added to most suites, and the Garden Room can connect with a Pool View Suite (via a separate external door) on request.

Children under 16 are only accepted when the whole hotel is booked for exclusive use.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
7/
Value
9/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Villa Buena Onda