Costa Rica : St. Vincent vs Tambor Beach
When we traveled to Costa Rica recently we spent the last 3 days of our trip at an all inclusive resort. We had been on the road for 21 days and roughing it and found the resort at the last minute online. It was a good way to wrap up our trip and it gave us the opportunity to get exposed to some things we hadn't experienced in Costa Rica yet. Although the resort met most of our expectations, we were glad we didn't spend our entire vacation at a resort.
We went to St Vincent, Costa Rica to wrap up our trip recently; we heard the sunsets were fantastic and the beaches spectacular. Now if we were young and hipper than we are and didn't have a child traveling with us it would or could have been a blast, but the truth is we're in our 50's, been there done that and didn't realize that St Vincent was the surfing capital of the world; or it sure seemed like it to us ...
It was at longggg bus ride to get there; bumpy and snaky to boot, not like any other bus ride here so far, but we were at the end of our trip and we were tired. We arrived in a small town that looked like it could have been Whistler Village, only30 years ago.
ATV's and motorcycles were the main mode of transportation and the dust was everywhere - it was the dry season, the very dry season. Our hotel, the Hotel Raratonga in St Vincent was nice; small cabins that were duplexes, all with paths leading to them from the main driveway. They were clean, had kitchens and comfy beds. There were notices posted about water shortages, asking for conservation. Easy for us to comply it's how we use water at home.
ATV's and Dust
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Learn to Surf in St. Vincent
That night however, as we waited for everyone to quieten down, they never did. All night long they were partying, having fun, being loud, on vacation. I totally understood, but was not prepared to stay, especially in the morning when the world started getting up at 4:30am to catch the surf.
So I went on the internet in the middle of the night, there was wireless, and I started looking for another hotel close enough for us to travel to without losing another day. When we had first put the trip together I had in the back of my mind that it would be good to end at an all inclusive for a few reasons: We were traveling with our child and going to 3rd world countries. I wanted to her to first appreciate what we have at home compared to others. I also wanted her to understand the overwhelming amounts of unneeded stuff there is where we live. I wanted her to walk away with an awareness that things don't make people happy.
Ending the trip at the all inclusive where everything could be had for the asking was showing her the extreme difference in the way the people were living inside and outside the walls of the resort - and she recognized that while we were there. It turned out to be a great opportunity for her to learn some real life lessons, and she did.
the Hotel on Tambor Beach
Thanks to expedia.ca
Back to my hotel search ... it so happened that expedia had an extremely good deal on an all inclusive resort about a 30 min car ride away from St. Vincent. The hotel or resort was the Barcelo Tambor Beach. After 21 days of roughing it, it looked perfect and the price was unbeatable; it included everything and it was a fraction of the regular cost because we were looking for immediate occupancy. So we changed our path in the morning and off we went.
a Family Resort
The resort for us was great. It was clean, safe for kids, the rooms were nice, there was food available anytime; and it was fine for buffet style service, there was something for everyone. They had boogie boards and kayaks, a mini golf course and horseback riding; which I loved. The riding was free for a half hour ride but I went out for a 2 hour ride for $10 an hour. We rode through the valley up into the mountains, down through orchards and galloped along the beach. For me it was the best ride of my life.
Our daughter had lots to do and made a friend the 2nd day there. The pool was huge, warm, easily accessible and we spent most of our time floating around in it. The pool also had a swim up bar, serving both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, which was decadent and fun.
the Hotel website
an all inclusive, we got an outstanding last minute deal through expedia.ca
Lots to do
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Things to Do
The wildlife there kept us intrigued to say the least. The iguanas were the first surprise we encountered. They were simply everywhere and they were BIG! As we waited for our room we went out to the pool area and were stunned to see iguanas under people's chairs - and people were sitting in those chairs! They were everywhere on the property; we called them garbage collectors; they waited for dropped food and they'd have a picnic. It was an amazing learning experience to watch them so closely, walking around freely.
The 3 parrots that traveled around the property showed up daily to woo the crowd and give photo ops too. And lastly there were the monkeys who hung around in the trees: not bothering to come down, but swinging happily amongst their families.
While swimming in the pool about 24 hours after we got there my daughter said to me "mommy this place is fun but I'm glad we didn't spend the whole vacation here". We had so many crazy adventures and saw so many different things in the last 3 weeks, that I guess she could see the difference between really traveling and being somewhere, having a controlled experience in a confined place where everything is handed to you.
I was proud of her. It was a good way for us to wind down from our adventure and to be able to talk and laugh about the month's travels, but I agreed with her. After 3 days we had done it all, were bored with the resort and were ready for reality again.
Downside of Tambor: we traveled around to places off the beaten path and even the all inclusive we stayed in was so far away from the airport we paid a cab driver $200US to take us there when it was time to leave; that was because we had gotten to the resort by unconventional means in the first place and they couldn't get us out for less ...
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