Editors note: This was co-authored by our amazing wanderwomxn co-conspirator, Raychelle Heath. She is a brilliant writer, meditation guide and travel inspiration as she’s lived outside of the United States since 2007. We learned this the hard way but at least we were together!
Imagine being invited on a luxury yacht trip with your girls. Now imagine finding out that the yacht is leaving from a dock connected to a luxury hotel. This was the set-up that led us to Puerto Azul resort. The plan was to arrive mid-afternoon, enjoy a day at the beach, jump on some happy hour drinks, have a delicious dinner, and get a good night’s sleep before our 8am call at the dock to be baddies on a yacht. We had new bathing suits, a bottle of tequila, and were hype for our bougie fun-in-the sun time.
That said, any seasoned traveler will tell you that the universe always lets you know when you shouldn’t do something. The problem is, we don’t always listen. Our first red flag was that the yacht trip had been rescheduled a few times for a variety of reasons. Also we made the mistake of booking our rental car for the wrong airport and when we tried to reschedule for the right location there were no cars available. This led us to book with a less preferred company that had available cars but ended up being much more expensive. Though we had reserved a car for 3 days for roughly $40, we were required to buy insurance which cost roughly an additional $150 dollars for even basic coverage. They also required a $3000 hold which almost caused us to pass out right there at the rental place. Instead of letting good common sense lead us to put the kibosh on this trip, we forged ahead like proper wanderwomxn.
The Downward Spiral
When we arrived, Puerto Azul was not quite the vision that was sold online. Instead of being greeted by a beautiful resort, we were met with more of a roadside hotel. The receptionist couldn’t even be bothered to tell us our room number when we checked in. After asking for that information and how to get there, we parked the car and got ready to make the most of it. The room was nothing to brag about and was made even less appealing by the fact that the balcony overlooked the parking lot. There was also a mysterious opaque white stain splashed across the window that added to the underwhelming and unclean ambiance. To make matters worse there were only enough towels for one person (even though we booked a double room for two) and there was hair in one of the beds. The room was simply terrible, so we decided to make the most of it by trying to go to the beach.
According to the map, all we had to do was cross to the other side of the road and we would be greeted by the ocean. What we weren’t expecting was for the beach to be in such a sorry state. Even though there were lovingly made signs that told the passerby to “Keep Our Beaches Clean”, the beaches were covered in garbage, piles and piles of it. And there wasn’t much beach to actually speak of, mostly just angry waves breaking against the trash riddled shore. Frankly, it was not the type of beach two women travelers were trying to hang out on.
We headed back to the hotel to see if the bar could offer us any good times, only to find out that the happy hour signs were actually a lie. We ordered drinks anyway, though I honestly can’t tell you what we had because they were not memorable and it is unclear if there was actually alcohol in them.
The Final Blow
Puerto Azul left a great deal to be desired, but we were willing to endure a night of its lackluster surroundings because it was the jumping off spot for our yacht trip. We could literally see the dock from the bar where we sipped on our watered down drinks. We were still hype to meet up with our friends the next day and stunt with real drinks in our hands. However, we were starting to get a bit worried that we still hadn’t been sent the specific dock number for our yacht. Then the final blow was dealt — we were at the wrong dock. At the last minute, our yacht was set to leave from a different dock that was over an hour drive from where we were staying. It turns out we had one more reason not to have booked a stay at Puerto Azul. To say we were not happy is a generous understatement.
The Silver Lining
There wasn’t much to be pleased about, but we were able to find a few bright spots. For example, the restaurant staff was absolutely lovely and attentive and the ceviche was tasty and plentiful. There was also substantial parking, hot water in the shower, and the wifi was strong. This was truly a blessing because it allowed us to listen to YouTube meditation videos and keep it zen while trying to forget about the hair in the bed that was not ours. (GROSS!)
The biggest silver lining, though, was reclaiming our time. We left a day early, slept in our own beds that night (no strange hairs included) and the next day took advantage of using our rental car to explore a beach that was not also a dump.
We spent the day at Playa Conchal, a beach that came highly recommended by local friends. It did not disappoint. With white sand and blue water, it was a sight to behold after what we had been through. The beach was populated with mostly local families that were all social distancing in their own little groups. There were also plenty of vendors selling beautiful drinks in pineapples and local foods and snacks. We found a shady spot for our beach set up and began the healing process. Later we had an amazing dinner at an Asian fusion spot in Tamarindo with a surprisingly bangin’ pecan pie. Needless to say, time was reclaimed and we learned a valuable lesson about listening to our traveler’s intuition and reading the fine print before booking our next trip.