Monday, August 27, 2012

A Few Getaway Days to Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Dinner at JW Marriott Costa Rica

The first night was magical. Sitting under the lights with tiki torches burning with the deep aqua blue sky fading into the night. The flight to Costa Rica was long and then it was a 45 minute shuttle to the JW Marriott from Liberia airport.

After a splash of cold water, a quick makeup retouch, and an outfit change we were ready for dinner. Everyone was in a good mood and dressed in vacation gear - Maxi dresses, Tommy Bahamas shirts and shorts.

Under the lights in Costa Rica

JW Marriott Costa Rica poolside pina coladas
Pina Coladas by the Infinity Pool

Costa Rica are about the excursions and baking in the sun by the infinity pool. I signed up for the Canopy Tour which includes zip lining and rafting. We also signed up to go horseback riding where we took the horses up the hill to the local Water Tower and back down by the beach.

We shuttled into the closest and tourist town: Tamarindo. The town is filled with young men and women on 'surfcations.' The few blocks of Tamarindo includes a Casino, clothing and jewelry shops, over-priced souvenirs, and restaurants.

Unfortunately, we took the concierge's advice and dined at El Coconut. As we approached the restaurant which was outfitted in Las Vegas style decor and had no locals dining I had a feeling it wasn't going to be a good experience. The seafood was overcooked and tough, our dining companion's shrimp was so overcooked the texture were like rubber bouncing balls which we couldn't even chew. Our lobster dishes were also overcooked, dry, and mealy. The seafood did not taste fresh and it is sacrilege to cook seafood this way. The prices were so ridiculously expensive, it cost even more than dining at a Michelin star restaurant in San Francisco. If the seafood was fresh and tasty then the price is justified but I would not recommend anyone to dine here.

Horrible dinner at El Coconut

We wanted to purchase Britt products such as coffee and chocolate to give as souvenirs to our friends. Instead of shopping at Tamarindo's souvenir shops, we took a short 3 min shuttle ride to the local Supermarket to stock up. We bought the coffee for a few bucks cheaper and also purchased Lizano's sauce and Cuban Cigars. Lizano sauce is a great discovery for me. It complements fantastically with black beans and rice and sunnyside eggs.

On our last day, we visited Tamarindo again to sit by the beach and admire all the handsome surfers. For lunch we dined at Nibbana, a restaurant where the tables are right on the beach. The prices were reasonable, although not a place for locals but much more in line with under $20/person. The food was surprising good.

Nibbana -Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Nibbana in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

The best meal was back at the JW Marriott Resort. Our colleagues went Sport Fishing at the crack of dawn and caught a healthy batch of Mahi Mahi. The resort's restaurant grilled the fish and accompanied the meal with black beans and rice and steamed vegetables. And of course, plenty of Lizano sauce for dinner. The meal was simple, fresh, and tasty; especially since it was caught by our colleagues. The night ended with a big bucket of Imperial beer by the pool.

Mahi mahi from sport fishing in the day - Costa Rica

When we first arrived, our local host told us that one US dollar can buy them a plate of black beans and rice AND a beer. So it puts the cost of living and work wages in perspective for Costa Ricans. Obviously, Costa Rica's national dish are black beans and rice. Our local host said it is served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Sandy said...

Too bad about the El Coconut meal, that is a first rate tragedy when fresh fish is overcooked... But what a wonderful spot, and I love that the restaurant prepared the fish that your colleagues caught, that is super awesome!

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