Another week, another beach – life is hard here in Costa Rica!
We just spent a few days in Puntarenas which is about 2 hours drive from Heredia and our house and is really the closest beach to San Jose. It was an easy drive despite being near the horrific road works we were trapped in for 5.5 hours on the way to Monteverde. Thankfully that bridge seems fully repaired.
Puntarenas actually is not renowned for its beaches but is more of an overnight stop when you catch the ferries to Guanacaste (we are doing that in about 2 weeks). We drove into the main town and were not overly impressed. It is a long, thin town with beach to one side and inlet/mangrove swamps to the other. Sadly, very impoverished looking and not at all as well kept or cared for as most of the other towns we have seen here. The long beach road had park-type areas along the beach and small hotels/restaurants on the other and was described in a travel book as looking like a 1950s town in Florida. Being beach lovers we parked and jumped out to run on the near-deserted beach. Hmm. The sand was quite dark and dirty looking and the whole beach was full of debris – some natural and some not. But more unpleasant was the vast amount of broken glass from beer bottles over the walkways and dune areas. We opted not to stay on that part of the beach.
There was a long pier for the cruise ships (none of which were around when we were there) and a handful of small beachside restaurants complete with plastic covers and chairs and the ubiquitous old video games and toddler rides. I remember Italy from years ago having almost the exact same little restaurants but in my memory the food was better. We managed juices and cheese sandwiches – an interesting white cheese that is fried and then slabs of mayonnaise placed on the bread. We have discovered this is the sandwich you get if you order queso blanco. If you order queso amarillo (yellow) you get unheated squares of yellow cheese and mayonnaise. It’s fairly limited fair for vegetarians!
Anyway we had a relaxing lunch and then drove a few blocks down to the excitement for the afternoon; the aquarium. The Parque Marino del Pacifico is apparently the only aquarium in Costa Rica. It has 28 tanks and on quite a large area across from the ocean. We seemed to be the only visitors but it was cheap at $12.00 for the family. While not exactly riveting and thrilling it was sweet and OK entertainment for 30 minutes or so – not worth a drive to but if you are in the area a good stop. They did have this amazing mosaic wall.
So then it was on to our hotel. Here’s the confession time. I had seen a big ad for the Hilton Doubletree Resort which is all inclusive with food and drink plus four big pools and kid’s club etc. I checked out the price and it was the same darn amount to stay there (with food and drinks included) as it is to stay in locally owned hotels here (no food included). So we decided to fund Paris’s next wild parties by adding our dollars to that fortune. Not the most locally minded but for the same price we got HOT water, no ants or wild bugs, soft downy pillows and duvets, and more.