ABOUT HERRADURA

 

Playa Herradura Area

Until the mid-1990s, Playa Herradura was a rural, palm-sheltered beach of grayish-black sand that was popular mainly with campers and local fishers. In the late 1990s, however, Herradura was thrown into the spotlight when it was used as the stage for the movie 1492. Rapid development ensued, resulting in the construction of one of the most high-profile marinas in the country, the Los Sueños marina.

While parts of the beach today look like one giant gravel pit, Playa Herradura represents one possible future for the central Pacific coast. Sprawling complexes of condos and high-rise apartments are slowly encircling the bay and snaking up the mountainside, while the marina boasts rows of luxury yachts and sport-fishing vessels. Although opinionated detractors of Playa Herradura are quick to lob insults, there are some truly world-class hotels on the beach and high up in the surrounding mountains that are worth seeking out.

Sleeping & Eating

You have to pay to play in Playa Herradura, so consider moving further down the coast to Jacó if you’re not prepared to bunk down in the top-end price bracket.

Hotel Villa Caletas

Although the views of the Pacific are amazing, what makes this bluff-top hotel truly unique is its fusion of architectural styles, incorporating elements as varied as tropical Victorian, Hellenistic and French colonial. The ultra exclusive accommodations are located on the tiny headland of Punta Leona, perched high on a dramatic hillside at the end of a serpentine driveway.

Each room is arranged amid the tropical foliage of the terraced property, affording a singular sense of privacy and isolation. The interiors of the rooms are tastefully decorated with art and antiques, with windows looking onto spectacular views. There is also a French-influenced restaurant, several semiprivate infinity pools, and a private 1km trail leading down the hillside to the beach.

Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort

With golf course behind and marina in front, this sprawling 200 room resort at Playa Herradura embodies the upscale comfort envisioned for the development, all wrapped up in a hacienda-style aesthetic. Interconnected pools meander through the landscaped property, while luxurious rooms include such comforts as hair dryers, iPod docks, and windows that actually open to catch the ocean breezes.

Zephyr Palace

On the same property as the elegant Villa Caletas, its over-the-top sibling takes the decadence to another level of luxury. At this veritable marble palace, seven individually decorated theme rooms that wouldn’t look out of place in Las Vegas evoke the splendor of ancient Rome, pharaonic Egypt and the Orient.

Jimmy T’s Provisions

For gourmets looking to self-cater in style, Jimmy T’s is a dream come true. His small store on the docks of the Los Sueños marina might cater mostly to the yachting set, but it’s stacked floor to ceiling with organic, imported and rare-in-Costa-Rica delicacies. Italian cheeses, grass-fed meat, Asian foods – it’s a delight for travelers who love to cook.

 

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