When it comes to all-inclusive offers, Costa Rica stands out from other areas.
Some all-inclusive resorts have one big attraction: you don’t have to worry about food and drinks. However, sometimes the areas around the hotel are not that appealing, and you expect to get all your fun only within the property.
Not in Costa Rica.
On this episode, Adam talks to local travel experts Kathleen Hall and Rebecca Males about All-Inclusive options in Costa Rica. We explain what this means for your vacation. We discuss everything you need to know about the best options and which—if any—might be best for you!
Who doesn’t love a good all-inclusive? The ease of not carrying a wallet, the convenience of not having to think about how much the tab will be, and the stress-free avoidance of wondering when/where meals will be available to your always hungry teenagers and kids.
These are all very valid reasons for opting for all-inclusive during your vacation, but maybe it’s not exactly your style. So let’s figure that out!
Costa Rica is a very different destination from your typical all-inclusive hot spots like Mexico, The Bahamas, or anywhere else in the Caribbean.
While it can be a great relaxing place to just come and enjoy a wonderful resort in order to slow down for a bit and not go anywhere, it is also an amazing place to explore! So much of what makes Costa Rica unique and thrilling is outside of the resort property.
Most travelers spend their days out and about doing activities and therefore aren’t at the resort much to enjoy the real benefits of an all-inclusive.
Some travelers really like to walk through town and try the little “mom and pop” local restaurants (that are great here!). Others aren’t really that big of eaters or that big of drinkers to make the cost of an all-inclusive the smarter router.
The vast majority of the time, your vacation will be a split plan where you spend some time in the rainforest and then some time at the beach.
Split plans give you the option of doing the first part of your trip as an “a la carte” experience with busy days of adventures and exploring before then slowing down to just enjoy a great resort on the beach at the end of your trip.
Or you can keep the adventures and exploring going and opt for another “a la carte” portion at the beach as well if you want to maximize your time in our amazing country–or if food and booze aren’t the top priority for you.
There are a few things to consider when deciding on your vacation style, so make sure you consider everything and keep an open mind!
Different from countries like Mexico or Jamaica that are covered with all-inclusive resorts, there are actually only a handful of real all-inclusive resorts located in Costa Rica. They are all tucked up in the Guanacaste region of the country as well, so they are pretty specific.
Of the handful of options, there are three costa rica all inclusive family resorts that stand out as my personal favorites. And like the rest of Costa Rica, there is a style to match every traveler. Which style is right for you?
This is by far one of the most popular resorts in Costa Rica and for good reason. It is located on the beautiful Conchal Beach and it has one of the largest pools in the country, as well as an exclusive adults-only portion of the property that makes it perfect for families and couples. There are several restaurants on-site that are included that offer a wide range of food, so you won’t tire of the same dishes during your stay. Not to mention, they also have a kids’ club for those families with younger travelers.
This resort actually offers all-inclusive or just breakfast included. I like this option though, because it is a more “authentic” and secluded resort. The beach that it is located on is not as populated as Conchal Beach (where the Westin is), so you feel a little more like a local. The design of the property is subtle and the beach is a beautiful dark sand beach from the volcanic sand. It tends to have a more “couple-y” vibe, but is still a good option for families and it is located very close to the Liberia Airport, which cuts down on drive time during your trip.
Yes, the name sounds a bit cheesy but this hotel is a great value option! Again, this hotel offers all-inclusive or breakfast only. Flamingo Beach is another beautiful beach like Conchal and the hotel is quite small so you won’t be overwhelmed by the large resort feel that The Westin can have. It does have fewer options for dining included in the all-inclusive but to keep your budget low while still having all of the benefits of all-inclusive, it is a win-win!
Most people know the standard breakfast included hotel option or the all-inclusive hotel option, but there is a third option here in Costa Rica! It is the “meal-inclusive” option.
These are the big three in Costa Rica and let’s see what the differences are and which might be right for you.
The good, old standard breakfast included is what most people think of when they think of a hotel.
Your accommodations offer you a buffet breakfast or continental breakfast to start your day off and then you head out for your day and whatever it may bring.
When people say all-inclusive, they think of all food and beverages, including alcohol, being included in the price for no additional charge once you check in until you check out. Free range on food and booze essentially.
This is a standard for some larger resorts in Costa Rica and great for travelers that like to have some cocktails, wine or beer, and not worry about the extra tab they are running up.
The third option is what we call “meal inclusive”, which means that breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included in your stay. This does not mean that alcohol is included.
Lodges and hotels alike have to bring in all the food via boat or raft, so while you are staying there they provide all your meals and this is included in the booking price.
Now the question is: do you prefer to spend your day out and about exploring and eat meals in town or while on your excursions? Or do you prefer to lounge by the pool and have meals and drinks at your leisure all day?
Or the third option, do you like to visit remote lodges that are secluded and have a rich atmosphere that you don’t leave and feel like you are “at home” for a few days?
All three are available here in Costa Rica! Which will you opt for?
“This is definitely a FIVE STAR company. We split our trip in halves, we not only wanted to see the sloths, the rainforest, the volcanoes and hot springs but we also wanted to see the monkeys, the beach and to be pampered... The service, the pools, the beach, the pampering it was all worth it to relax from the excursions and the action of the rainforest... We will return and would recommend this destination to anyone!!”
I moved to Costa Rica with my family four years ago without visiting the country beforehand. It’s been a wild adventure of exploring, discovering, and adapting to a totally different lifestyle. Costa Rica has given me freedom with its ‘Pura Vida’ motto, and that is part of what I love sharing with my clients the most—the slower pace of Costa Rica that lets you really see and enjoy life!
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