This place is the sort of tropical retreat many travelers dream about finding. Set in a lush patch of forest just steps away from the sand, the hotel offers rooms that are about a 15-minute walk northeast of town along the beach. There is currently no road to the resort, but one may be in the works. Still, for the foreseeable future, arrival and check-in will continue to be at the downtown namesake Sano Banano Village Café. Rooms and cabins come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Coco Joe’s Rancho is the largest cabin and features a luscious wraparound balcony and a small sleeping loft. But I also like the smaller cabins, which are yellow ferroconcrete geodesic domes that look like igloos. Some of the showers are outdoor garden affairs, which match the surroundings perfectly. There are also three spacious suites with private balconies and sleeping lofts in a separate building, with three standard rooms on the ground floor below them. Many guests opt for extended stays. There’s a beautiful little swimming pool with a sculpted waterfall, and the whole operation is set amid lush gardens planted with lots of banana, heliconia, and elephant-ear plants.
These folks also run an in-town B&B, located just off their popular restaurant . The rooms here feature air-conditioning and satellite televisions; because of the design, you are basically forced to use the air-conditioning. By the time you read this, they may start branding the beach hotel as the Ylang-Ylang Beach Resort to distinguish the two.
This colony of eight tropical cabins is a fantasy island, huddled in the woods north of town close to the beach. Each geodesic-dome bungalow is a luxurious, cozy cave for two, perfect for honeymooners. A two-story building has three comfortable suites, with kitchenettes above, and three double rooms below. They’re decorated with original watercolors of local birds. Adding to the romance is a garden-fringed pool with a waterfall.
It takes a certain confidence to put up a hotel in a spot that requires a 15-minute hike on the beach to find, but Ylang-Ylang pulls it off. (You can arrange a lift for you or your bags from sister property El Sano Banano, located in town.)
Shielded from the ocean by palm trees, the resort is set in a jungle clearing, and borders a wildlife reserve on one side. Ylang-Ylang’s main, two-story building has six rooms, each with pale yellow walls and brightly striped blankets. The eight bungalows are more private; all but one have ocean views from their patios. Stone walkways connect the buildings and are lined with flowering plants and trees, including the fragrant ylang-ylang (naturally).
The restaurant’s menu was created by a French chef—he trained the kitchen staff and returns periodically to add new dishes such as grilled sea bass in a sauce of tomatoes, mushrooms, and white wine. Montezuma is the most compact and walkable of the southern Nicoya towns. During the day, street vendors sell jewelry and beaded caps from folding tables; at night, surfers and tourists barhop along the main drag. Includes breakfast and a candlelit dinner.