Costa Rica’s secret Papagayo Peninsula (and a golf buggy ride by moonlight)

In ADVENTURE, CENTRAL AMERICA by Janice and George11 Comments

papagayo peninsula

We’re on Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula, tootling around in our golf buggy by the light of a full moon. We have a date with some mango margaritas at the Dive Bar by the marina.

Our two-person buggy putters along slowly on the wide, brick-paved road. But we’re not worried. Few cars drive around the hilly, tree-covered Papagayo Peninsula.

Only two hotels on Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula

There are 15 miles of coastline, with more than 31 pristine beaches on both sides of the Papagayo Peninsula catching the salty breeze. But this exclusive, guarded community is still a bit of a Costa Rica secret.

So far, just two hotels – the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo and Hyatt’s Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort – have been built here, along with a handful of condo and villa properties. Much of the Papagayo Peninsula is undeveloped, and by law, 70% will remain untouched as a protected sanctuary.

papagayo peninsula

The Papagayo Peninsula is largely untouched by development – this is one of the views on our morning walks

There’s little chance our buggy will hold anyone up on the road!

Scenic beauty of the Papagayo Peninsula

As we meander along – our buggy gamely puffing its way up and down hills – we’re struck once again by the wild and natural beauty of the Papagayo Peninsula.

First take: from the covered deck of our vacation condo (really a one-level villa that happens to be attached to other villas, with another row of villas on top), the blue of the ocean yawns beyond an expanse of green.

papagayo peninsula - papagayo luxury villas

This is the view from the swimming pool beside our luxury condo (really a huge one-level villa) – photo Papagayo Luxury

No other signs of man’s footprint blot the view – except for a hint of a well-tended golfcourse below and, way in the distance, the marina’s sailboats. (This is the marina we’re puttering to this evening – Bari, our vacation home’s expat concierge, said earlier that with a full charge, our buggy should get us there and back. We’re crossing fingers!)

And then on our early morning walks – before the fierce sun has sucked the last traces of cool air from the land – we’re greeted by troupes of agile Capuchin monkeys navigating the trees beside the road.

One morning, we veer off from our “normal” route to the Four Seasons and walk along a coastal trail connecting two windswept beaches instead.

papagayo peninsula - coastal walk

Our coastal walk between two beaches… Not another soul did we meet!

papagayo peninsula

You don’t have to walk far before a beautiful beach comes into view

We meet not another person.

The utter peace and quiet – being surrounded only by nature – is salve for souls normally bruised by the daily onslaught of Twitter and technology.

Prieta Beach, where we hang out at the private beach club during the day, is another surprise.

Volcanic grey sand, soft as powder between the toes. Warm ocean water and a gentle sloping beach. The occasional white-nosed coati (like a raccoon with a long white nose) checking in to say “hello.” And hardly any people!

papagayo peninsula - prieta beach

On our walks along Prieta Beach, ours are often the only footprints

How many beaches are there in the world where you can read or snooze on a thickly cushioned teak lounger, under the shade of leafy trees, with just the sound of lapping waves soothing the ears (no disruptive “cool” pool music) – but with discreet drink and food service at your fingertips, yet few other people to spoil the “get away from it all” feel?

So nice! Trees on the beach provide lots of natural shade – photo Papagayo Luxury

papagayo peninsula - prieta beach club

The private Prieta Beach Club has two pools as well as a shady lounge area on the beach – photo Papagayo Luxury

papagayo peninsula - prieta beach club

We loved our days chilling out at the Prieta Beach Club…

papagayo peninsula - prieta beach

Can there be a more perfect beach? photo Papagayo Luxury

If we’d seen this beach when we wrote about the 10 prettiest beaches in the world, Prieta Beach would definitely have vaulted onto our list.

So, do we make it to the Dive Bar?

Yes, indeed!

papagayo peninsula - marina

We make it to the marina and Dive Bar before the light fades – and in time for happy hour cocktails

papagayo peninsula - dive bar cocktails

Go to the Dive Bar at happy hour (before 6:00 pm) for half-priced mango margaritas

We tried “patacones” (warm fried plantains) for the first time – delicious with salsa, beans and guacamole!

Guided by the moon’s bright rays (and flashlights we shine in the hopes of spotting occasional wildlife, like small local deer), our buggy lives up to its promise – and, with an overnight charge, lives to see another day ferrying us around this Papagayo paradise…

Where exactly is the Papagayo Peninsula?

See Costa Rica’s northwest Pacific coast? The Papagayo Peninsula is located in the dry and sunny Guanacaste province.

The international Liberia airport is about a 40-minute drive away (there are direct flights from the U.S. and Canada).

Where to stay on the Papagayo Peninsula

 Luxury condo or villa

  • Don’t get us wrong – we’re Four Seasons fans who’ve been happily pampered at Four Seasons resorts from Bali to Bora Bora. But for less than the price of a one-bedroom suite at Papagayo’s Four Seasons, you can enjoy a spacious, art-filled, 3-bed/3-bath luxury condo villa from Papagayo Luxury Villas (like we enjoyed).
  • Jane Moore, president of Papagayo Luxury Villas, has several villas in her portfolio you can choose from; some are 7,000- to 10,000 sq. ft. celeb-worthy mansions, with private swimming pools. (And, yes, celebrities have stayed here, but Jane isn’t spilling the beans on who.)
  • Papagayo Luxury Villas is a member of Ultra Villas (a collection of luxurious villas around the world).
papagayo peninsula - papagayo luxury villas

Don’t you love the Bali bed in the living room of our art-filled condo? photo Papagayo Luxury

papagayo peninsula - papagayo luxury villas

The master bedroom in our 3-bed/3-bath, luxury vacation condo

Private beach club

  • Guests of Papagayo Luxury Villas have free access to the private 38,000 sq. ft., west-facing Prieta Beach Club (which sits on a virtually private beach).
  • Find sand icky? The Prieta Beach Club has not one, but two, outdoor pools you can lounge by instead (one is a long lap pool).

Love Pinterest?

Then pin this pic!

papagayo peninsula

Thanks go to Papagayo Luxury Villas for hosting us as media guests in this lovely part of Costa Rica! We always retain the right to write what we want, however (if we see any warts, we let you know).

Janice and George Signature


  1. It looks like the perfect destination to set up vacation together with your family, looking forward to visiting this place someday. Thanks.

  2. Papagayo Luxury Villas look heavenly beautiful. Since I’ve never been in Costa Rica I should probably start by going to the Papagayo Peninsula first. I would love to relax on those white beaches with a mango Margarita…. dreaming, dreaming…

    1. Author

      The Papagayo Peninsula is definitely at the top luxury end of the scale in Costa Rica. You can’t go wrong here! But Costa Rica is so diverse in scenery and activities, you’d probably want to also stay inland (like we did), maybe the Arenal Volcano area for hotsprings and rainforest or the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

    1. Author

      Papagayo Luxury Villas are a great find! One of the large villas with private swimming pool (one even has two pools!) would be perfect for a multi-generational family holiday. Of course, you’d ask for a private chef for at least a couple of nights too :-).

    1. Author

      The golf buggy was the best! You actually don’t need a car to stay on the Papagayo Peninsula – and can get around everywhere by golf buggy, which your villa will probably rent to you (or it might come with the villa rental, depending…). And for tours, many tour companies will pick you up. The only thing is that if you’re staying for a week or so and wanted to do some exploring (there are some cute beach towns about an hour’s drive away), you might want to rent a vehicle :-).

  3. You sure found the perfect mix of natural beauty and luxury on the Papagayo Peninsula! That buggy ride sounded perfect right before Valentine’s Day. How romantic!

Have a comment? We'd love to hear from you...