When I flew into Costa Rica I could practically hear the Jurassic Park theme song playing in my head, which makes perfect sense considering the movie was filmed here. ,I looked out the airplane window, curious about who and what inhabited this vibrant place. Costa Rica is known for its dense jungle, pristine beaches, diverse wildlife and friendly people.
In Costa Rica, pura vida isn’t just a popular slogan, it’s a way of life. It’s written on walls, shirts, signs; the locals say it as a greeting. To them, pura vida can mean “hello”, “goodbye”, or even “live well” or “relax”. Pura Vida is a lifestyle. It’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Tulemar Resort Bungalows sleep up to four guests.
From the moment we arrived at Tulemar, we learned the true meaning of pura vida: enjoying life and appreciating each moment as stress melted away. Tulemar’s 33 acre residential resort is located in the heart of Manuel Antonio town, surrounded by diverse animal life on the planet.
Imagine waking up in the morning to the sounds of toucans, and lulled to sleep at night by a chorus of crickets. Or sinking into in our private Jacuzzi, overlooking the lush green jungle alongside the turquoise ocean, or quietly watching white-faced monkeys run along our balcony,. This was superlative “tico-time”.
The popular private Jacuzzi in each Bungalow.
Since we arrived early at Tulemar, our room was not quite ready. Alex, our personal concierge, brought us straight to the main pool for a welcome drink overlooking the jungle. Within minutes several adorable little monkeys decided to join us, making moves to steal the pineapple from our drinks. Alex told us they were squirrel monkeys, one of four kinds found in Costa Rica. The staff politely shooed the monkeys away the clever little guys who had an affinity for alcohol.
Seconds later, the Tulemar staff pointed out a sloth hanging a few feet above us in a tree. That upside down lazy ball of fur clearly had the hang of the pura vida lifestyle (pun intended). Not even five minutes into our vacation we had seen several monkeys, a sloth, an iguana, and a pair of macaws!
Catch the breezes on the patio deck.
Many people go to Manuel Antonio National park, to seek out the wildlife that Costa Rica is so famous for. Staying at Tulemar, we quickly discovered that we could appreciate all of the wildlife diversity that Manuel Antonio has to offer with NONE of the crowds. It was like living in our own private Jungle Book exhibit at Disneyland.
Not only did Tulemar have all the wildlife we were looking for, but it practically came with our own tour guides. We were amazed at just how excited and happy the staff was to share their knowledge of the land and all of the creatures around us. They were proud to share their country’s history and heritage; staff member took the time to point out cleverly hidden animals.
In addition to the wildlife, one of the main draws of Costa Rica are the beaches. Because they are so popular, many of the better-known beaches can get super crowded, especially during the busy season.
Kayak from Tulemar Resort’s private beach.
At Tulemar, the crowds are never a problem because they have their own exclusive beach. Before we even checked in to our room, Alex took us by shuttle to Tulemar’s beach. For the record, Tulemar guests have the option to call the private shuttles to escort you to the beach, to any of the four pools, to reception, or even to Victoria’s restaurant, adjacent to the property. After a quick five minute drive from the main lobby, we were beachcombing.
While Lounging in the comfy chairs on the beach, listening to the ocean waves and sipping a freshly made piña colada; we’ve found a resort we would love to return before even leaving! The strange and indescribable howl of the howler monkeys in the nearby trees agreed with me. These little guys are so cute, except when they open up a screech; they are are the second loudest animals on the planet, after whales.
Modern comforts in a Villa bedroom.
After baking in the sun and floating in the ocean, we’d ask one of the attentive employees to call a shuttle and within 15 minutes we’d hop in the air-conditioned van and make our way back to our two-bedroom private villa, with a private Jacuzzi on the balcony. Tough life, huh? Our white-faced monkey friends clearly didn’t respect our “do not disturb” signs as they ran along the balcony rail.
The villa was not like a standard hotel room; Alex had given us a tour of the living room, kitchen, and balcony. It was huge! To our surprise, he said, “Now I’ll show you downstairs.” Downstairs? Seriously? This wasn’t a room, this was a palace. It was like we had our own luxury house in the jungle!
Catch a rain shower in the rain forest.
Downstairs were two massive bedrooms, each with two queen beds and private balconies. There was a washer/dryer. I especially loved the massive bathrooms with walk-in showers that were probably the same size as our entire apartment in San Francisco. With so much space and privacy, these villas make for the perfect honeymoon celebration.
Tulemar is designed with romance and privacy in mind. Near our private Jacuzzi we found shades that we could lower to block out the villa next door. Candles and seashells were placed by the Jacuzzi, creating a romantic scene. At night romantic lighting was provided by a dimmer switch so we could enjoy the Jacuzzi and still appreciate the starlight.
Tulemar is a natural choice for a gorgeous, romantic, beachfront wedding. setting. complete with exclusive beach and spectacular pinks and oranges of the sun setting across the sweeping ocean. For a wedding, honeymoon, or anniversary, contact the dedicated events staff at Tulemar.
The expansive Villa living room with a sea view.
Alex made us romantic reservations at Victoria’s, Tulemar’s upscale Italian restaurant. Per Alex’s suggestion, we went to Buena Vista, Tulemar’s sister hotel, to enjoy the sunset at their Tiki bar before dinner. Buena Vista is a newly opened property.
With only eight rooms, Buena Vista is the perfect place to stay with a group of friends or family. Because it’s so affordable, rent out the entire place and have it all to yourselves, as do many wedding parties. Buena Vista is, literally on the beach, with a friendly and accomodating,vibe, just like Tulemar, but with a slightly more casual feel. There’s a tiki bar outside, playing fun music. The bartenders greeted us with a pura vida!and insisted we try their specialty drink, called Jumanji which was delicious and refreshing, somewhat like a Mai Tai but better; this drink was so tasty I knew it could be dangerous. They also garnished the drink with a cherry and a fresh sprig of mint. One of the “beach boys” let us know that they are happy to set up a bonfire for guests.
Victoria’s for dinner; a beautiful, classy restaurant in the jungle! Lined with soft lights, the ambiance was romantic and cheerful, without pretentiousness I felt perfectly comfortable in my flip-flops, but still had the feeling that we were out for fancy date night. Our waiter recommended the Mahi Mahi special and the garlic prawns. We couldn’t say no to fresh and local seafood, so we took his suggestions and ordered a bottle of Chilean wine to go along with it. The wine list at Victoria’s was extensive! Coming from California, I can be a bit of a wine snob. I found myself pleasantly surprised by all of the amazing options on their wine list: wines from Chile, Argentina, and Italy were highlights.
Each Villa kitchen is fully equipment for group dining.
We were impressed by the food presentation paired with Chilean win, while listening to the background hum of the crickets and call of the creatures in the jungle. The Mahi Mahi was cooked to a perfect flaking, morsels were revealed with the slightest touch of my fork. The prawns were huge, and also cooked to perfection. Our only regret was that we were so full from dinner we didn’t have room for dessert. Even though we passed on the sweets, our waiter brought us each a small panna cotta with a fruit compote on top. This was the perfect end to a romantic and delicious meal.
Even though we felt like we were tucked far away in the jungle, we were only a two minute walk back to our villa and back in the hot tub, watching the scene of the jungle at night in Costa Rica in our candle-lit Jacuzzi. Once we were revitalized, we checked our calendars for a return visit to Tulemar ;s Jurassic paradise.
Cool off at the main pool.
US Toll Free: 1-800-518-0831
Costa Rica: 011-506-2777-9121 (Available 7 days a week)
Office Hours: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm CST Monday-Friday
Emails sent on Saturday & Sunday will be answered
by Monday morning, weekend hours are limited.
Escape to your private jungle.
Read more of Josh Edelson’s adventures in Jetsetters Magazine Photos courtesy Tulemar Resort.