Our trip was from February 1 to February 17, 2008. We stayed at (and wrote reviews for) the following hotels (if you are interested in the others):
Hotel Vista Caribe, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Doubletree Cariari by Hilton, San Jose, Costa Rica
Cabinas Espadilla, Manuel Anotonio, Costa Rica
Garden Court Hotel, San Jose, Costa Rica
Days Hotel - Greenspoint, Houston, TX, USA
My husband and I stayed at the Espadilla from February 9 to February 15, 2008. This was our first trip to Costa Rica and we LOVED it. Forget Mexico, this is where we’ll be exploring the next few years!
We rented a car in San Jose (from Dollar although I think we might try Thrifty next time, just because of their proximity to the airport) along with a GPS and drove to Manuel Antonio. The roads were not near as bad as we expected, although we’d agree with not driving at night or in a rainstorm (in the mountains). The traffic in San Jose is terrible, but you are on the edge so don’t have much to deal with. The road to Quepos is actually pretty well marked if you pay attention, however the GPS gave us an extra measure of comfort. The initial drive is very narrow and windy and there are single lane bridges and construction delays, but it’s all paved. When we headed south the roads got wider and except for one stretch were well paved. The bad stretch was paved, but patched everywhere so a little rough.
The Cabinas and the associated Hotel are down a side road which we missed the first time, but found second time by and within 5 minute walk to the beach and about 10 minutes to the park. The whole area is hotels, but it was very quiet. We were in Cabina 15 which contained two double beds, wardrobe, fridge and bathroom. It was quite small, but just fine for a couple. Might be a little crowded for two singles and no privacy if you’ve got kids – unless it’s a baby/toddler. There are bigger rooms though and the Hotel Espadilla across the road appeared to have fairly standard, two bed hotel rooms. It was extremely clean, well sealed and the A/C and fridge worked perfectly. We had hot water in the shower and you can brush your teeth with the tap water. Being our first trip, I was concerned about bugs, but it wasn’t a problem at all. I would advise against leaving any open food in the room though as the one night that I spilled some cough syrup, I did find about a dozen of these tiny little ant things eating the sugar on the outside of the bottle the next morning, but besides that – nothing. The Cabinas have a small, clean pool, but guests also have access to the restaurant, pool, bar and tennis courts of the sister Hotel across the road.
We chose the location to be close to the beach which we prefer to hanging by the pool, so this was perfect for us. We saw squirrel monkey’s daily, had a sloth come through the grounds and saw multitudes of iguanas, chameleons and other lizard like critters. There was a deer that wandered through a couple days, we could hear the howler monkeys and we saw a couple other creatures we’re not sure what they were.
We loved the beach. Having just come from Playa del Carmen, we were amazed at how much warmer the water was and at the tide activity. During the day the beach was quite big, but it would get quite small at night. The waves were big enough at times to surf on, but not as regularly rough as we’ve seen in Cancun and would come and go with the tides. All beaches are public (no hotels right on the beach) but there were entrepreneurs to rent you lounge chairs and an umbrella for the day ($10 US/day for the two of us). There were street/beach vendors but they weren’t in your face like in Mexico. They’d just go down the beach, calling their wares which mostly included fruits, food and drink, so were an asset to have around rather than being a hassle.
We ate at several different places including at the Hotel Espadilla where the food was really good. The buffet breakfast offered variety and if you’re a light eater, they cut down the cost. The backpacker’s place, Casa Linda across the street also offered breakfast until 10:30 at a good price. We had dinner at the seafood restaurant at Si Como No (great), snacks at Gato Negro (great), dinner at Agua Azul (great), dinner at El Avion (very good and what a sunset!), plus drinks at a number of locations, all of which were tasty and reasonable. We didn’t eat at either of the restaurant/bars right next to the beach, but the Blue Marlin seemed pretty busy every night when we went down for a drink after dinner.
We only did two activities as we were mostly there to relax and enjoy the sun. We did the Canopy Tours zip lines for $65 US/each and had a great time. They are extremely safe and I’d recommend them to anyone. We had hoped to see some new wildlife on that tour, but given that there are people zipping through the forest and making lots of noise, I can see why the wildlife stays away. We also hiked through Manuel Antonio Park one day which was very pretty. Take lots and lots of water! I had a cold, so we chose not to hire a guide as I wasn’t sure how long I’d last, but I would consider a guide another time as they seemed to provide lots of information and seem to be able to spot creatures most of us missed. They carry telescopes so you can get a good look. I’d definitely recommend taking binoculars with you to Costa Rica!
The only challenge some might find with the area is how spread out it is. The section near the beach shuts down by 10:30, even on the weekends. We understood that there were clubs and bars that stay open later on the hill, but walking down the narrow, unlit jungle road after dark was an adventure (not always lots of room to jump off the road when a car comes along). We walked the 1.5 km from our hotel up to the Gato Negro (where we were to meet friends for dinner) and were dripping sweat by the time we walked through the door (lovely!). There are plenty of taxis, but I think you’d want to be out of the lower beach area by 9:00 as the taxis don’t hang around down there and the hotel lobbies close around 10:00 or 10:30 as well and there are no phones in the rooms. The backpackers place across the street was open the latest until 11:00 but there’s not much ambiance in the place. If you are looking to party, I’d stay closer to Quepos. If you’re OK turning it down by 10:30 and then maybe enjoying a quiet beer or two from your own fridge, this is the place!
The service everywhere was great but we were extremely impressed with our hosts at Espadilla. The lobby staff in the Cabinas, both morning and afternoon were extremely helpful and very kind. There was discrete security on the grounds at night and after forgetting my purse on the bench outside our cabina late the first night, it was returned to the lobby and I retrieved it the next morning with all the cash, ID and cards in place!! (Thanks guys, I’m still embarrassed about that one!!) Yafet was very helpful with tours and showing us our room and the amenities. When the sloth went through the grounds, we were sitting outside and a staff member called us over and told us about them. The restaurant staff was friendly and the service was great. Keep in mind you may have to ask for another drink and the bill as they aren’t constantly there asking if you want something else – just a different atmosphere which we found everywhere in Costa Rica. We were very impressed with everyone’s English and although we attempted some Spanish (some language differences to Mexico here as well), they were quick to switch to English when we couldn’t follow…and helpful in speaking slowly in Spanish when we made our attempts in their language.
We loved Espadilla, thought it was good value at $90/night and would definitely go back. In the same area, we thought Hotel Villa Bosque and the Manuel Antonio Hotel also looked like they were well cared for. La Posada consistently gets good reviews here, and we walked by, but there is little to see from the road, so I can’t compare. We spoke to some people who said the Casitas Eclipse up on the hill was nice and we thought Si Como No was very pretty (although I’d guess pricey). We had friends at Costa Verde and they said they got bugs in their ground floor room at night, although the other couple didn’t have problems on the third floor. There are tons of places to stay around here so I couldn’t possibly remember them all, but hopefully that helps if you’re looking in the area. Happy to answer questions.
Thanks Espadilla….see you next year!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Espadilla Cabins is a beautiful little beach hotel located just one minute from the beach in Manuel Antonio. It has 16 units surrounded by beautiful gardens, a swimming pool and parking. ... more less
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- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com so you can book your Cabinas Espadilla reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Cabinas Espadilla Hotel Manuel Antonio National Park
- Cabinas Espadilla Costa Rica/Manuel Antonio