Imagine 1,400 acres of private land with ultra-luxury beach resorts and villas sprinkled throughout a dry tropical forest. It isn’t annoyingly crowded. The temperate climate makes visiting a great experience year-round. And there’s zip lining, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, and nearly every other outdoor activity you could think of.
Sounds too good to be true? No, because what sounds like a dream is actually a reality, and it exists in Costa Rica.
Extending from the northwest corner of the Guanacaste Province sits the private Peninsula Papagayo. The area, in the midst of a $100-million renovation and redevelopment, is just over 30 minutes from Liberia International Airport, which opened in 2012. And it should be number one on your must-visit list.
How to Experience the Peninsula and Beyond
Because of Costa Rica’s tropical climate — there’s a wet and dry season each year on the Pacific Ocean side and occasional rain year round on the Caribbean side — the opportunities for outdoor activities are endless.
The peninsula offers 11 miles of coastline, eight miles of bluffs, and 13 miles of trails, so whatever type of exploration or adventure is desired, there’s a place to do it. The Gulf of Papagayo is a great place for beginner surfers to a catch an easy wave, avoiding more experienced surfers who venture elsewhere around Costa Rica for a greater challenge. To explore the water without a surfboard, explore the calm waters of Culebra Bay via boat, canoe, SUP (stand-up paddleboard) or kayak.
Modern-day zip lining started in Costa Rica in the 1970s as biologists sought an easy way to study and survey the land without disrupting the environment. Ziplining continues to be a popular activity in the country. If the abundant airport ads weren’t evidence enough, Diamante Eco Adventure Park, located about 30 miles from the peninsula, is the most popular zip line tour in the area, offering the country’s longest oceanfront zip line as well as a “Superman” zip line where riders lay on their stomachs as they soar high above the treetops.
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world due to the plethora of wildlife and flora that call the Latin American nation home, so anything from white-faced monkeys to toucans can be seen and heard throughout Peninsula Papagayo. The Peninsula is also working with country government agencies to open a macaw sanctuary.
Visitors can also get their sport on at an 18-hole eco-golf course that works its way through forests, beaches, and seacliffs, or book a private tennis lesson on one of Costa Rica’s only Bermuda grass courts. And if if the point of the trip is to avoid physical activity, checking into one of the three state-of-the art spas might just be the perfect way to unwind.
What to Eat Around Papagayo
With the peninsula comprised of luxury resorts and villas, there is no shortage of mouth-watering, jaw-dropping food and drink options from all around the globe.
Enjoy a live ceviche station at Ostra (Andaz Costa Rica Resort), grass-fed local steaks at Nemare (Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica) or hand-rolled sushi at East Sushi & Teppanyaki Bar (Planet Hollywood Beach Resort). These resorts offer 24-7 room service if late-night pizza or chicken fingers are desired. Because it’s surrounded by water, you know the seafood will always be fresh throughout Peninsula Papagayo. Cocktails are brightly colored, cold, and the perfect way to cool down while lounging poolside or digging your toes in the sand on the beach.
Where to Rest Your Head
Because it is a private peninsula, cheap places to stay aren’t readily available, even through Airbnb, unless you consider a $1,500/night condo cheap.
The best places to stay if you don’t want to splurge on a villa or condo are the resorts: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, Andaz Costa Rica Resort, and Planet Hollywood Beach Resort. The Four Seasons and Andaz are part of the peninsula’s refurbishment plan, while Planet Hollywood opened its doors in October 2018.
Seated atop a plateau on the tip of Peninsula Papagayo, the Four Seasons offers 181 rooms, four tennis courts, a spa, an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, and three pools. Situated comfortably in Culebra Bay, Andaz has 153 rooms, a brand-new beach house, spa, and four pools. Planet Hollywood, the newest of the resorts, has 294 suites, a spa, two pools, and a children’s splash zone.
Needless to say, it might cost a little extra to turn this dream into a reality, but once you’re on Peninsula Papagayo, it’s worth every penny.