Here are some of the things you can do and Places to Eat that are near Casa Cielos Azules.
Within 400 yards of the house are an estuary, a confluence of three small rivers and a large mangrove area. This is an ideal spot for kayaking and canoeing. The best time of day for this is when the sun is coming up. Kayaks can be rented from Hotel Iguanazul and my trusty Grumman canoe is available at the house.
Deep Sea Fishing
There is a charter, deep sea, fishing readily available in Tamarindo. This is on sport fishermen and is pretty expensive ($1000+ a day). For a local and much better experience try Ovedio who runs the local fishing fleet and takes people out fishing from the beach at Calle Jones. It is a small fishing village just north of the Iguanazul. To the uneducated Ovidio’s operation may seem a little basic, but he is the best and very reasonable. He works hard and does well–in my experience much better than his high class competition in Tamarindo.
Excellent Scuba diving is only a few kilometers north. There are reasonably priced dive boats to take you into the Pacific. Snorkeling is great off the rocks at Junquillal. Lobsters abound and are easily taken.
The surf at Playa Junquillal is outstanding. Just north of Bernardo’s is a spot the locals call El Rancho. There are breaks both right and left off an offshore rock. It equals other local spots without crowds even on holidays. Other great surf is only a few kilometers to the north or south. Playa Avellanes is a popular surfing beach with both left and right breaks. For the more venturesome, Playa Negra is only six kilometers north. A major portion of “Endless Summer 2” was filmed at Playa Negra. The movie perfectly portrayed the beauty of Playa Negra. Marbella is just to the south and the secret spot, favorite of the locals will be disclosed on request. Bogie Boards and body surfing are great at all spots, but the secluded surf at Junquillal equals them all .
Erika runs Paradise Riding in Junquillal. She will provide a half day guided tour and beach ride for very reasonable prices. Tell her I sent you. Galloping in the beach or riding through the countryside is a great experience. www.paradiseriding.com
Canopy Tours/Four Wheeling/etc.
Canopy Tours (Zip Lining) and four wheeling is available close by at Pura Aventura. It is on the road from Paraiso to Santa Cruz, near Rio Seco. Its new and owned by some folks from Florida. They do a really good job. The zip lines are very good and the people there to help you are fun. They have four wheeling and horse back riding as well. You can do one or all. They also have this crazy thing where you get inside a big plastic ball and roll down the side of the mountain..to each his own. The also sell Costa Rican coffee. I like this place alot.
http://www.canopypuraaventura.com/. Please tell the Burt Wiand from Casa Cielos Azules sent you.
During the last week of December, there is a big Fiesta in Paraiso with horse exhibitions, bullfights, dancing and lots of parties. During the second week of January the big Fiesta moves to Santa Cruz where the excitement never stops. Guanacaste Day provides another fun carnival in Santa Cruz at the end of July. Other small towns have fiestas at various times throughout the year. Check around—one can usually be found.
Leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles make their way on to Playa Junquillal and Playa Venado, when the moon and tide are right, from the Fall through the Spring to lay their eggs. Playa Grande to the north and Playa Ostional to the south are their main nesting sites but it is very common to see turtle on the beach at Junquillal. A local group of young men patrol the beach daily to collect eggs and take them to the local sanctuary for hatching.(Baula Boys)
Volcanos and Mountain Excursions
Within an hour and a half drive one can find exciting volcano and rainforest experience. Rincon de la Vieja . Horseback rides through the rain forest to mountainside waterfalls. Thermal Springs, Mud baths, thermal sauna, canopy tour all at a magnificent mountain site. If you go to Hacienda Guachelipin at Rincon, and adventure day includes all the above, plus rock climbing and tubing on a white water river. Its about $80 per day with lucch. Its a great day. Make reservations .2256 8195. The Buena Vista Lodge also has great activities and a much better thermal spring experience. 2665-6314
Guatil Traditional Costa Rican Pottery
Guatil, a center for Costrican Artisans who make traditional Costa Rican pottery, is but a short drive away. Families who have created pottery from art pieces to dinner ware make a wide variety of treasures in this village that is a center for this trade. Not only are beautiful pieces available for purchase direct from the craftsmen, but you can watch them work and fire their artwork in earthen kilns in their back yards. A great adventure.
Less that two hours easy drive is the Barra Honda National Park where there is a Tropical Dry Forrest and Limestone Caves. Unlike the volcanic stone found throughout northern Costa Rica, the Barra Honda area of the Tempisque Basin where the Nicoya Peninsula joins the mainland has a foundation of limestone. Water has cut extensive caves through the small mountains of the park, and this is its best known feature. However, the park also has well maintained hiking trails. The protected tropical dry forest (though mostly secondary) within its borders is some of the last in the world, and very different from the rain and cloud forests that attract many ecological tourists to Costa Rica. Tico guides available–a truly unique adventure.
The Guacamaya has a nice court that is for rent, rackets are available. Call Alice or Bernie and make a reservation. If you can play early–its a great place for breakfast. Be careful in challenging Alice or Bernie. They are very athletic and competitive.
Go see Marvel next to Pablo Picaso’s in Playa Negra–she makes Bikinis, rash guards, skirts, dresses right in her little shop for very reasonable prices. Her stuff is great. Visit her one day–she takes your measurements–return the next–its all done and you have your treasure..
PLACES TO EAT!!!!
3 kms from Paraiso on the road towards Santa Cruz—great Tico fare— make sure to try the Pescado Entero and the Cerdo Ahumado—both are great—and the prices are really good also.
On the far side of Playa Negra—Jota—the owner and chef sells the very good seafood—inexpensive and not to be missed. The fish is served with garlic mashed potatos and salad. This is a very mecruial resturant–it opens, moves, disappears and reappears. I think it is now open under another name–regardless the resturant just past Playa Negra on the left side of the road is a good place to eat.
Excellent happy hour and a good selection tico and american food— best view around. Recently they put in place a plan where by guests at the hotel get meals as a complete package. It seems confusing if you want to stop for a beer. The manager says that its available but the waiters and bar tenders may deny this. As to what is going on there I am not quite sure. At any rate, it is more difficult (and expensive) to enjoy the sunset.. However it still has an astounding view.
Bar y Resturante Junquillal
(Bernardo’s) (Adriana’s) the community beach bar—good food and beautiful sunsets right on the beach. It is the local hangout. It is not much of a structure but it is right on the beach and Adriana is a great hostess. Sunset always brings a crowd. Fish tacos are excellent and the Sopa de Mariscos is also very good. One could spend a vacation in this bar/resturant. Have just learned that the government closed this beloved place. I would guess it will reopen, but on Costa Rica time. I don’t know how this happened but whoever is responsible should get a good kick in the butt. It is a most idealic shack right on the beach…
Swiss owned and run—a beautiful hotel with a good resturant and bar— Alice and Bernie—brother and sister serve great food. Gabriel, the matre d’ and the owners are very accomodating. Its a great place. If you are not staying at Casa Cielos Azule you should consider Guacamaya. www.guacamayalodge.com
A beautiful small hotel. Another gem in Junquillal. It has a fairly sophisticated menu–a bit pricier than others—but always a good choice. Run by the Murphy’s who also run the Land Ho!! In Orleans, Mass. If it is open you should stop in. Another great option for a stay if Cielos Azules is unavailable.
In Junquillal. It is a nice small hotel and its resturant styles itself as a pizzeria. The pizza is good.
This little hotel in Junquillal (maybe 5 rooms) is quite nice. It used to be run by a wonderful gentlemen name Reiner who unfortunately passed away in 2010. He used to serve individually prepared meals by reservation and I haven’t been back since he died. I really enjoyed the place. Hope it still has the ambiance that Reiner created.
Pizzeria Buena Vida
In the heart of Playa Negra—used to be a surfer pizzeria, but new owners have really upped the antie—some of the best food in the area—and very reasonably priced for the quality. My favorite is the Pescado en Casado.
Mary’s (Iguana Sports Bar)
Replaced the Oaisis. It is a cross between a french resturant and a sports bar. The resturant is excellent. Mary and her husband are delightful hosts. Its a very pleasant place.
Also in Playa Negra is another new addition that is totally the top. It provides cuisine that is a true delight and suprise for this area. Haute Cuisine in Playa Negra–suprising but true. This is the best resturant in Costa Rica-it is reasonably priced and has a good choice of wines. The Villa Deevena also has some charming accomodations. www.villadeevena.com
Its just before you get to Playa Negra on the road from Paraiso. Its at the turn of the short cut to Junquillal. This resturant is a traditional Costa Rican resturant, but the quality is the best of its kind, and it is very reasonable. There is an appetizer called Patacones–they are really good.
Café Playa Negra
Peruvian food–surf style. Its a good resturant and generally has surf videos playing with good music.
This beach side resturant in Avellanas is a local clasic. Lola was a large pig that lived on the beach and the resturant used to be a small shack. Lola died of skin cancer and the resturant has been fancied up–and made more expensive, but that’s not bad. The food is good and the surf is great at the beach. My friend Javier is a waiter there and you should ask for him and tip large. He is a great young man. There is now a new pig so all is right with the world. This is a delightful place to spend the day.
Hotel Playa Negra
This resturant/hotel is right on the beach in Playa Negra. It has a very large Tiki bar and is also a nice place to spend a day. As mentioned Playa Negra, like Avellanas are renowned surfing beaches.