Wow. Just wow... Where to begin... Okay so this was our second time coming to the Osa Peninsula so we knew what to expect (crazy dirt roads --rent that 4WD, dense jungle, amazing Flora and fauna, beautiful black sand beaches). However, this time was different, this time was a bit more special, because we were bringing our four tween and teenage sons with us. This was our first international family vacation and we couldn't have picked a better spot than Justin's Scarlet House.
Overall the trip took us an entire day, from the flights to a drive that took about eight hours from San Jose to Justin's house. And it was Worth. Every. Single. Second!! We would do that trip 10 times over if we had to.
We arrived at Scarlet House a bit later than we had intended. We made a few stops to eat and get groceries, but I was in contact with Justin the whole time and he let the Caretaker, Gary, know when we would be arriving.
We got we got to the Scarlett house at about 9 p.m. and we were greeted by Gary. Gary helped us get situated in our new "home for the next few days". It was already late so we didn't get to really talk to him much. He showed us around the house and was very welcoming.
It was already very dark out when we arrived and we couldn't really see much of the surrounding grounds. However, the house itself was absolutely immaculate. There were so many little touches that were really thoughtful such as the fresh coconuts sitting in the fridge waiting for us to drink them, the shampoos and body washes in the showers, the bamboo rayon sheets that felt like silk, the fans in every room, the bottles of water that were left in the fridge for us, the list goes on...
The beds were super comfortable, and the bathrooms.. oh my, they were heavenly!! Rainfall showerheads in each bathroom along with lit scented candles made each bathroom feel like a spa... None of us could wait to take a hot shower after that 24hr trip we'd just taken and getting an opportunity to do so in our mini spas made it all the better! Each bathroom was equipped with fluffy towels, washcloths, shampoo, body wash, and even some feminine products just in case!
The kitchen was also very well equipped. We had everything we needed to cook all of our meals. Pots, pans, a Costa Rican coffee maker, cups, wine glasses, mugs, utensils, a full sized refrigerator, and gas stove... You name it, they had it. It really was an absolute pleasure cooking in that kitchen. The island provided enough space for meal prep as well as a space for all of us to sit and eat. I loved being able to cook my food and do the dishes as I looked out the window watching the hummingbirds, parakeets, and monkeys make their daily passes in the backyard throughout the day.
While we were there, a lovely woman with a kind spirit, Marbela, came to clean up the house. She was a pleasure! I happened be home when she came as I was a bit under the weather (As an aside-- this house has a spectacular medicine cabinet right outside the door!! I made myself many teas with the treasures in Justin's yard that cleared me right up, but I digress...), and she washed the sheets and cleaned up the bathrooms and kitchen, as well as the common areas for us. I had no idea she would be doing this during our stay and it was very welcome. I did my best to keep the home clean, but with 4 nature loving children who take after their father, there was always something to be done and having Marbela come really eased that load for us!!
Now, on to our stay... Let me just say this... Gary was an integral part of our vacation. He was absolutely wonderful in every single way. We all loved him. The first morning after arriving we had a small issue with one of the toilets so I sent him a msg on WhatsApp and 5 minutes later he was at the house... 2 minutes after that the issue was resolved! As a matter of fact, any time we needed anything, he was ready, willing, and able to help.
I should also mention the fact that Justin did a wonderful job of keeping in touch with me as well! Even though Justin wasn't there he was in contact with Gary to make sure all was going well. He would also reach out to me throughout our stay to make sure we had everything we needed. He even reached out to me when he heard I wasn't feeling well to make sure that I was okay!
With repect to the excursions-- As Gary is also a tour guide, we thought it would be great to do all of our tours with him. When Gary came over the first morning we set our schedule for all of the different activities we would be doing throughout the week. Gary gave us ample information and helped us make sure we were prepared for all of the tours. We went horseback riding, took a tour of Corcovado, kayaking on the lagoon at sunset, gold panning, hiked through the primary forest, and we went on a night hike. All of the tours were AMAZING!!!
Gary was full of information and he was happy to tell us about all the animals that we encountered. He made sure he answered all of the kids questions, and boy were there many! He would even stop on the way to some of our tours to show us different animals he came across as we were en route. He spotted so many animals from afar that we were all really impressed. About 8 out of 10 times I couldn't see the animals unless I looked through his scope so how he was able to see them is beyond me! Just a testament to his ability as a guide! He's great!!! Gary even took us to a community soccer game where the kids and my husband got to play with the locals at the field by the school.
Over the course of just a couple of days, after spending so much time with Gary we adopted him into the family. Gary became the 7th seat at our table. He was just such a joy to be around. His laugh is infectious and his smile is very warm and kind. Gary has a good soul and we were so happy to get to spend the time that we did with him. He was super with the boys, many afternoons they would be playing volleyball in front of the house together as the sun set and night settled in. In the evenings he and my husband would sit on the steps outside talking about fishing and the beauty of the Osa. All the while we would be laughing and making jokes, he really made the Scarlet house feel like home. On our last night there we all went to the beach where the kids surfed with Gary. Afterwards we had a bonfire and makeshift s'mores on chocolate chip cookies and oreos! It was a beautiful last night in the Osa and we were glad to get to spend it with Gary.
We were fortunate enough to have 8 WONDERFUL days with Gary in this amazing place and when the time came to leave we were all very sad to have to do so. Also, we didn't get to meet Justin and his wife. It would have been a pleasure to do so, but we know this would not be our last time visiting and perhaps the next time will offer us that opportunity.
It's now two days later and the kids are still talking about Gary and the Osa. My husband and I are already trying to figure out when we can go back!!
Long story short, if you're looking for MAGNIFICENT vacation Book. This. House and do all of your tours with Gary. I promise, you will make memories here to last a lifetime!
The Scarlet House with all of its amenities and support from Justin and Gary was really world-class. We were in contact with Justin along our trip from San Jose, which was delayed due to a cancelled flight. We felt safe having folks making sure we were ok.
We loaded up with food at the great grocery store in Port Jeminez for our long stay. This is one thing we can't emphasize more. Make sure you get enough food and drinks for your stay because you don't want to have to drive out just because you get hungry. But in case you do run low on food there are the local resorts that are happy to serve meals and let you use their pools.
Gary is such an amazing person it's difficult to know where to start about his contribution to our trip. He is the most gracious, generous and caring person we met on our trip. He is a passionate naturalist from Carate who enjoys explaining the jungle and it's intricate workings that it's like living out a national geographic show. Gary enhanced the trip to such a large degree we want to go back to this house again.
The jungle around the house is as alive as you can get anywhere. There is no glass in the windows. They are all screened meaning you literally feel as if you are living with the jungle creatures, but there is a good separation so you can sleep safely.
Overall we don't have anything poor to say about our experience at the Scarlet House. Thank you Justin and Gary!
Justin and Gary are two one of a kind super hosts! If you want to stay in a self contained home rather than a lodge, please do not look any further - you won't find anything better. Both are super responsive, helpful and warm hearted. We would recommend anyone to stay with them. Also if you are looking for tours or advice there is no need to even leave the house. Gary is the best guide in town and awesome with kids. We wish them all the best for their future plans!
I've stayed in Carate before but this was the first time I stayed at a house rather than a hotel/lodge and I'm so glad I did. The property is beautiful and the house was amazing. The pictures don't do it justice. Justin and Evee responded quickly to any questions I had and the house had everything we could need.
Gary was so helpful and was the best guide. He took us to the national park right down the road and he enhanced every aspect of the experience.
My partner and I rented Scarlet House for 4 days in Feb 2020 and wished we had booked to have it for longer.
I found the property on Tripadvisor and within a couple of hours of sending an inquiry to the owner Justin – he replied back with answers to all my questions. He also provided a list of must do activities whilst in the Corcovado area and hooked us up with an incredible guide Gary.
Upon arrival to Scarlet House we were greeted by Justin & Gary and given fresh coconut water (straight from the coconut) to drink whilst they walked us around the grounds and went through all of the house’s amenities.
The house is beautifully furnished and comes fully equipped with everything. The kitchen especially has everything you need. The beds are very comfortable and the shower in the en-suite is to die for (it’s like standing in the rain). It had a good wi-fi connection and even had an Alexa!! All your home comforts.
There are hammocks scattered all over the property for when you might want to escape the midday heat and has a surf & boogie board you can take to the beach.
Prior to our arrival we had already booked excursions with Gary who is an absolute asset to Scarlet House. If it wasn’t for Gary – we wouldn’t have enjoyed our stay as much as we did. He has lived in the Carate region all his life and is an extremely knowledge guide, so please make sure you use him. We became good friends with Gary during our stay and had him over for a couple of evenings in too.
Things you must do whilst staying at Scarlet House:
Visiting Tortuga de Osa
Sunset every night on Carate beach
At the property itself you’ll see plenty of wildlife including coati’s, monkeys, birds and lizards – everything you came to Costa Rica to see.
Carate beach - You pretty much have the entire thing to yourself (no exaggeration). It has warm water and great waves to play in.
We had our own car for our trip and it really did come in handy! It meant we were able to do a lot more during our visit. We visited some places that were off the beaten track so it’s best if you have a 4x4 (especially if you’ve never driven on non-paved roads before). The drive from Puerto Jiminez to Scarlet House is so simple - It’s one road!
In a nutshell we had a truly memorable time whilst in Corcovado and it really was because of Scarlet House. We would have no hesitation in returning and we really miss the feeling of seclusion (very different to London UK).