After our wonderful time at the Gipsy Beach Bungalows we transitioned to a more upscale place with less charm but more comfort: Cocotino’s Sekotong. It is a resort, of course, and has more people than we had been used to while staying in AirBnBs beforehand, especially when we essentially had our own private beach.
Despite that, it had some nice amenities: a wide white-sandy beach that went on for quite some time, relatively comfortable beds (more comfortable than at the Bungalows), air conditioning, better showers, two pools, a spa, and lots of food right at the restaurant on site. We had a brief snag in one room wherein many ants were found in the covers of our bed so they moved us to a different location that was better suited to our relaxation.
The food was quite tasty and they even had an “afternoon tea” with selections of snacks, teas, and some cold drinks. I had a really nice time reading on the beach and going for a dip in the water as well as their pool. They have an on-site tour operator to bring people to the local volcano for hikes, snorkeling and SCUBA diving, boat tours, and more. We didn’t really partake as we just wanted to relax and eat some nice food, drink some good wine, and read books.
With one exception: we wanted to take advantage of their spa. They offered some pretty good deals for massages and other spa services so we took advantage at first by simply getting a very comfortable massage. It was probably the most comfortable I had had thus far on the trip (even from Samabe a few weeks prior). You could easily do a couples massage in the room featured below or they also had an intimate outdoor ocean-view area (I didn’t get pictures because I didn’t go over there).
The place was really quite something. Very different from what we had experienced in the bungalows but also a nice experience. The only snag for us was that the night after our massage I got severely sick. I had stomach pain, chills, and a fever. My wife insisted (rightly so) that I visit a local clinic (one hour away) so we did, and after some IV fluids and debates, we decided to leave for Singapore that day. We cut out trip short at Cocotino’s and made for the Lombok airport!
One of the reasons we chose Costa Rica as a warm vacation spot this year was that my fiancée’s aunt and uncle have a small house in the mountains where we could stay. Since money is a major influence on anything we decided to stay there (and they had space for us) for the week. Their house was a bit north of a town called Dominical on the southern Pacific coast which we learned quickly was not the biggest in terms of traditional Western amenities.
One of the other things I missed in researching requirements for this trip (aside from reading rental agreement conditions) was the fact that most people rent 4 wheel drive vehicles in this region because the “roads” are not asphalt all the time and often have steep grades to them. Because we were staying in an isolated house in the mountains, this was even more so. As you can see from the photo below, the house is in the middle of a forest/jungle and the road going by is quite steep and rocky.
Luckily for us our small Nissan Versa was capable of making the climbs and dips while driving between 20-40 kph for the 40 minutes required to get from “town” to the house. Since it was so out of the way we made sure to only do this once per day to reduce wasted time and unnecessary damage to the car. By the end of the week, the car was fine (we were a bit rattled) and we did not lose any money from our deposit (despite the car being caked in dust).
Probably the main excitement of being in this region of Costa Rica is the lack of people around to bother you on your journey. Even while eating dinner or sitting on the beach in Dominical, there are few people around to bother you or make you feel overwhelmed. The “busy” beach probably had 40 people within earshot of you at all times. The other beaches we went to had even fewer.
A sand bar between two beaches at Playa Ballena. Every day at high tide it gets covered and becomes not passable.
An unmarked beach south of Dominical. There were never more than 10 people that we could see and the beach went on for miles.
While it was sometimes annoying because we could not just slip our of the house for dinner without thinking of the 40 minutes journey, it was also liberating not to have to think about all the things we could do because there were fewer options. We cooked and ate dinner outdoors; explored the jungle on small hikes (a beautiful waterfall was a 10 minute walk from the house); and we relaxed and read books for hours. It was a great experience to be so isolated!