Watching Baby Turtles Hatch and Other Natural Attractions Along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
Staying at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo feels like staying at a cocktail lounge. (Courtesy: Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica)
By Sara Stewart
Meandering down the white-sand beach, I spot what looks like a crab scrambling toward the water’s edge. As I draw nearer, I see it’s actually a baby sea turtle.
No, wait…make that 12 baby sea turtles. The tiny creatures, newly hatched, are all around me, making their inaugural pilgrimage to the sea.
And I’m the only one around to witness it.
I stay until I see they’re all safely in, keeping a wary eye out for birds of prey or coatis (raccoon relatives).
I bid the young swimmers good luck and continue my stroll.
Such is the remote enchantment of a visit to Costa Rica’s Peninsula Papagayo, where my boyfriend and I discovered that communing with nature and sleeping in extraordinary comfort are not incompatible.
The Central American country, long known as a scrappy paradise for surf bums and yoga campers, has opened up in recent years to a boom of higher-end properties, particularly in Guanacaste, a tropical dry-forest region on the country’s western Pacific side.
Related: Eat Like a Local in Costa Rica
Eco-friendly resorts are popping up here like artisanal cheesemongers in Brooklyn, alongside early stalwarts like the Four Seasons, which staked its claim on the peninsula 10 years ago.
Hotel Punta Islita offers horseback-riding treks on the beach. (Photo: Autograph Collection Hotels)
Our first and most far-flung destination was the old-school Hotel Punta Islita (from $253).
This 130-guest beach resort, nestled in the nearby, hilly Nicoya Peninsula, has been in business for two decades, but last year joined Marriott’s boutique Autograph collection, renovating rooms and fortifying the Wi-Fi (though, entranced by sun and sea and romance, we did contemplate lobbing our iPhones directly off the nearest cliff).
Architecture and landscape are intricately connected at the resort — palm-fronded guest rooms and villas are scattered throughout its 80 acres, while a winding staircase leads down to the beach club.
In short order, we were immersed in the main infinity pool beneath an enormous thatched palapa, drinking guaro sours (the local cocktail of choice) and gazing out at the Pacific horizon.