You’ve probably wondered about exploring a new travel destination, perhaps thought about the possibilities of a senior vacation to Costa Rica. You might have thought that Costa Rica was a place where only young people went for eco tourism, nature hikes and swinging through the jungle, better known as “zip lining.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are, after all, more active than our parents were, with more disposable income to spend on vacations and traveling. I recently made a trip down to Costa Rica and spent time at an all inclusive resort just outside of Liberia on Playa Panama beach.
The resort we stayed at is called Sol Papagayo Resort. It was perfect if you are looking for a quiet week to relax in the sun on a senior vacation. Here, you can enjoy the sun, walk along the beach, take any number of trips, many of which are perfect for us seniors. Just enough adventure and relaxation and none of that “boom-boom-boom, come to my room” atmosphere that is so common at many of these Caribbean resorts these days.
The Sol Papagoya Resort package was purchased from the Sunwing company in Canada. Actually it’s a 2.5 star all inclusive resort, but don’t let that rating fool you or worry you. The Sol Papagoya Resort consists of large bungalows on the property with two restaurants and a reception area. The 2.5 star rating probably comes from the fact that here’s a lack of evening entertainment, no beauty spa and no nightclub. The hotel is clean, the staff are friendly and professional and, as I said, it’s a perfect place to relax without the boom boom boom. The hotel closes down about 10:00 – ish and you can actually get a good night’s rest and not be woken up by partiers or children. We spent part of our evenings sitting around the pool after dinner, having a drink and talking to other like-minded folk. The only thing that might wake you up in the morning are the sound of the howler monkeys that live in the mango trees around the resort. But then, this is Costa Rica and there’s lots of nature and wildlife around to be fascinated with.
Meals were good and consisted of a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and during the day you could order snacks. You could order ahead, a la carte and dine in their restaurant. Drinks were included in the package and you could drink wine at meal times.
There’s a nice swimming pool to cool off in, read the paper, a book and sip a pina colada or what have you.
We met other seniors like us around the resort who quite enjoyed their senior vacation to Costa Rica and their stay at this all inclusive resort. For the first part of the week, there were only about 15 of us around, and about three people were young, looking bored and not having a good time because I’m sure they’d booked at the wrong resort.
Now if you do get bored of walks on the black volcanic sand beach, sitting around the pool with your beer or pina colada and talking to people, there are lots of trips from the resort that seniors can take. These trips are organized by CAT Tour Operators in Central America. Your hotel representative will give you a print out and presentation of the trips on the first day of your senior vacation. We went on a couple of the day tours while staying at this Costa Rican resort.
We went on a shopping trip to the town of Liberia, the town which is only 25 minutes by bus away from the resort. It was an interesting visit and we got to see what this central American town looks like. There were lots of banks, common fast food joints such as McDonalds and lots of shops.
We also managed to book a cruise on the river boat – a jungle safari type cruise where we could take some photos of the wide variety of wildlife – birds of many varieties, white faced monkeys and crocodiles. The monkeys actually came on the boat while we fed them bits of bananas. Cute little things those were! We found a crocodile that our tour guide fed raw chicken to. Nasty creatures – I would not like to meet one of them face to face! Took some good photos. Other creatures we saw on the river Safari cruise included some bats but not like the ones we see in North America.
The other senior tours we found very suitable was the one day tour to Nicaragua where we were taken to a few towns in Nicaragua on an air conditioned bus. These towns included a beautiful souvenir market at Masaya, the Masaya Volcano National Park, where we drove up to the very edge of the volcano . This volcano is active and sulfur vapors rise out of it, so you can’t stand around for long if you’ve got lung problems, but it was extremely interesting anyway. We drove through a little town called Catarina where where we had a superb view of the Apoyo Lagoon, a volcanic lake. We had a stop in the Colonial city of Granada which was very charming with a town square, we a horse carriage ride through the city and a meal at a lovely small hotel called the Casa San Francisco. We picked up some pottery souvenirs, some Nicaraguan coffee, some t-shirts and some Nicaraguan cigars for the boys back home. This senior tour to Nicaragua cost $175 per person and was really worth it price-wise. We had the air conditioned coach, a knowledgeable tour guide, breakfast at a nice hotel, lunch at another nice hotel and saw lots of Nicaragua.
My only complaint about the tour was that it was too ambitious for one day, a day which started at 5:45 a.m., and arriving back rather late at night – about 9:30 p.m. Nevertheless, it was very enjoyable and absolutely worth the cost of the tour.
We spent another day with three other seniors like ourselves and rented a taxi for $20 which took us into the town of Playa Coco (Coco Beach), a rather pleasant little beach town to visit. We ate lunch at a local fish restaurant, walked around and bought some souvenirs.
Other tours you can try, if you have the energy, are zip-lining, hiking, horseback riding up to the Arenal volcano and some fishing tours available if that interests you. All this was too much energy required when we specifically wanted just sun and relaxation and to meet some seniors like ourselves. We really lucked out on this vacation.
We spent the next day doing not too much, relaxation around the pool was the height of our ambitions. We met some wonderful other people on this senior vacation. One guy and his wife had been coming down to the Papagayo resort for almost 20 years and had shipped his car down here. For other seniors like us, it was their first vacation to Costa Rica and the resort really pleased all of us for its peaceful solitude, good food and friendly staff. This is the perfect kind of vacation for seniors if you just want to relax and rest and meet a few other people like yourself on your retirement travel opportunities.
As with any of these senior vacations, I purchased some senior travel health insurance for the trip from Blue Cross. Don’t forget yours on your senior vacation in Costa Rica or anywhere else for that matter. You can buy your travel insurance online at their website. If you are curious about taking your next senior vacation to this resort, check out the Sunwing website at www.sunwing.ca.