“A relaxed little Pacific paradise, with simple rooms, tents and bungalows, accessible only by beach”
Try a yoga class or massage, take a trip to nearby Cabo Blanco or Curú nature reserves, or just sprawl out on the beach and wait for happy hour. This is a fun place to come to hang out for a few days. The restaurant serves good healthy snacks and meals, and friendly staff can arrange trips to nearby activities. There’s plenty of wildlife in Ylang Ylang’s own reserve: you’ll hear howler monkeys from bed. Nearby Playa Grande is a fabulous long beach with excellent surf.
- The stunning location is right on the beach
- It's good value considering breakfast and dinner are included, especially for families
- The restaurant and bar serve Costa Rican-inspired meals and cheap cocktails
- The staff are very friendly
- There's plenty to entertain you if the beach gets dull: a lovely pool, yoga classes, massages in the spa and surfing lessons - or you could explore lively bohemian Montezuma, 15 minutes' walk away
- The rainforest reserves of Curú and Cabo Blanco are within reach
- This isn't necessarily the place for a quiet retreat - you might find large groups and people who’ve come to enjoy some beach nightlife, though it's possible to do your own thing
- The Land Rover shuttle service along the beach from Montezuma might take a while to collect arriving guests
- As with all natural resorts, you're likely to find wildlife in unexpected places
- Don’t expect an exclusive designer place. Rooms are basic, but beautifully situated
- Service is pretty relaxed. Adjust your pace accordingly
- It's invariably booked up over Christmas - try these places instead
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Beach Resort
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
There are 7 individual dome-shaped Bungalows, reached along a pretty path through vegetation. They were designed by the owners with wooden doors, triangular windows and handpainted interiors of palm trees on yellow rag-rolled walls. Each one is either on the beach or facing the jungle, and all are close to the pool with their own little balcony with a lounger - ideal for enjoying your perfect view of the ocean or forest.
Coco Joe’s is a deluxe split-level bungalow with 2 bedrooms. It only has an outdoor shower, but is more private and ideal for honeymooners or a family (if the children share the queensize bed).
The 3 split-level Family Beach Suites are in a separate building at the end of the path leading to the domes. Each has twin queensize beds downstairs and a loft with kingsize bed and balcony upstairs. Perfect for families.
In the same building, are more compact Standard Beach Rooms, each with 2 queensize beds and their own outdoor sitting space. There are hammocks on the beach for guests in these rooms to enjoy.
All rooms and bungalows have an overhead fan and useful spotlights either side of the bed for reading, plus the Bungalows, Coco Joe's and the Standard Beach rooms all have air conditioning. Family Beach Suites have a fridge and basic cutlery and crockery in case you want a picnic, along with a little sink. Mosquito nets are provided for the 'green' season (May to September), though they’re mostly for decoration as there are far fewer bugs here than in the central Pacific.
If you want to get very close to nature, the smart Tent Cabins each have a little balcony with chairs facing a pretty area of lawn planted with palms - a great space for children to play in - and you can catch a glimpse of the sea through the trees. They’re tall enough to stand up in and stand atop wooden slats; the windows are mosquito screened to keep bugs away.
- Cots Available
- Internet access
- Safe box
The food at Ylang Ylang is imaginatively prepared to make the most of the local fish and tropical fruits, with diverse international influences, and will appeal to all palates - and those with a sense of adventure. My Mahi Mahi stuffed with white wine and mussel sauce was delicious, as was the grilled chicken Thai Teriyaki-style. There’s also barbecued jumbo shrimp kebab, some creative sushi combinations and several vegetarian options.
Breakfast starts with fresh fruit and juice, and then you choose from a list of cooked options, with some delicious pancakes or eggs with Gallo Pinto (the ubiquitous rice and beans) on offer. The rates include breakfast and dinner, and there’s a long happy hour from 3-6pm, tempting guests to stay on the premises rather than make the 15-minute trek along the beach to Montezuma.
Ylang Ylang’s restaurant is a pleasant place to hang out, a vaguely Mayan-style building, open to the waves, with a wide terrace area, all prettily lit at night for a romantic atmosphere. The views are tremendous and the feel is distinctly of a tropical island, with carved stone pillars, exotic animals carved into the stone bar, and warm sea breezes wafting through. Note that non-residents often pop in for happy hour, so you might want to wait a while if you fancy a quiet dinner.
- Children's meals
- Vegetarian menu
- Tortuga island is a popular day trip. You'll leave Montezuma at 10am for a gorgeous 45-minute boat ride alongside dolphins and turtles to this pretty island, where there's wonderful snorkelling. Each tour group (and there will be several) has a barbecue lunch. In season you can also spot orcas and humpback and pilot whales out at sea
- Surf boards and boogie boards can be hired. Nearby Playa Grande is a great place to learn to surf. The instructor comes in the morning or afternoon, depending on the tide, for a 3-hour lesson
- The canopy tour of 1.5-2 hours takes you to 3 platforms on 9 zip lines and then on to the Montezuma waterfalls, 20 minutes' walk from the town. Kids can do this too
- Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, the first reserve founded in Costa Rica, is nearby. There’s a lovely hike down to a great beach, which takes 2 hours. The reserve is 30 minutes' drive from Montezuma; transport can be arranged
- Curu Wildlife Refuge (45 minutes’ drive away) has even more animals and you can visit it with Ylang Ylang’s own guide, Eduardo, who speaks English, Spanish and German
- Hike directly from the beach up beside a waterfall, or take the horse riding tour, ideal for novices, to deserted beaches and rainforests
- Go deep sea fishing for tuna. Any fish you bring back can be cooked up by the kitchen staff
- There’s a lovely Hatha yoga space where gentle classes are held every morning from 9.30-11am, with views straight out to the ocean. All levels are catered for
- Enjoy a massage in the small tented spa, or try Pranasage - a combination of yoga and massage
- Swim in the pool or by the beach, though watch out at high tide for submerged rocks. You can also make the 25-minute walk to Playa Grande: a gorgeous long beach with a wild feel. Ask in reception for tide times, as the path can get cut off at very high tides
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Scuba diving
- Well being
- Whale watching
Children will love the fact that you have to arrive here by taxi boat, even before they discover the pool, beach and roaming animals.
All ages are welcome; we think it's best for older children and teenagers. You need to keep a close eye on your children because of the setting, sea and roaming wildlife.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
We'd recommend booking a Family Beach Suite, which sleeps 6, and has a fridge and basic cutlery and crockery in case you want a picnic, along with a little sink. Alternatively book 2 Bungalows or turf your teen out to sleep in a Tent Cabin and sleep where you want. If you've got a small family (2 adults, 1-2 younger children), you could book Coco Joe's Bungalow.
- Baby cots
- High chair
- Night light
- Bottle warming
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Food is available all day; there's a kids menu in the restaurant plus half portions of adult mains for them, and a high/early tea. You can also walk along the beach to other child-friendly restaurants.
Kids Activities on site:
- Swimming pool
- Plenty of room to run around and play
- The beach
Kids Activities nearby:
- Boogie boarding and surf lessons
- Waterfall hikes
- Boat trips
- Canopy tour with zip wires
- Cabo Blanco nature reserve
Families Should Know:
There's a mobile phone signal everywhere in the property. The nearest shop for nappies, toys, food etc is a 10 minute walk away.
- Airport: 30 minutes
- Medical clinic: 15 minutes
- Hospital: 25 minutes by air
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort is on the Nicoya Peninsula on the west coast of Costa Rica, a 25-minute flight from the capital city San José.
Tambor (24km) is your closest airport, served by domestic flights from the capital city San José. If you're coming from abroad, you'll fly into San José Juan Santamaria International (140km) or Liberia (190km); click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport:
The hotel can collect you from either airport. A transfer from San José - see Rates - will take 5-6 hours. Eduardo will pick you up at the airport or another hotel.
By Boat from Jacó:
One quick way of getting here is to take the taxi boat from Montezuma to Jacó - it takes an hour and costs US$35-40pp. There is also a private water taxi/speed boat from Manuel Antonio to and from Montezuma.
You don’t really need a car once you’re in Ylang Ylang, as you’re more likely to walk to beaches, or organise trips into nature reserves with local guides. If you do want to drive check out our car rental recommendations, but think twice before doing the drive from San José: it takes 6 hours, via the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera, and the last stretch is pretty rough. The ferry can’t be booked so you'll need to arrive an hour before it departs to buy a ticket and get in line. If you do drive yourself make sure you rent a 4-wheel drive.
From Montezuma, everyone has to take the hotel’s own shuttle service, which operates, in theory, on demand. In practice you may have to wait an hour to be driven along the beach. When you check out of the hotel, the shuttle runs at either 7.30am or 11am, to coordinate with the ferry from Paquera. Luggage can be stored at Sano Banano until you feel like walking over to collect it.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Costa Rica and getting around
- Tambor 24.0 km TMU
- San José Juan Santamaria International 140.0 km SJO
- Beach 0.1 km
- Shops 0.7 km
- Restaurant 0.7 km