In my mind, there’s nothing better than watching a sunset in a beautiful location, drink in hand. Fortunately, in my new home of Costa Rica, there’s plenty of opportunity to do just that.
There’s 780 miles of Pacific coast–prime sunset-watching territory, as well as several spots inland that give you a great view. Really you can’t go wrong with sunset from anywhere. But there are some locations that are particularly good. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop by at least once on your trip. And remember, because Costa Rica is so close to the equator, sunset comes early, around 5.30 p.m.
Hotel La Mariposa, Manuel Antonio, Central Pacific Coast
Manuel Antonio is the area just outside Costa Rica’s most popular national park of the same name. There is a road from the port town of Quepos to the park entrance, strung with hotels, resorts, restaurants, and homes on either side.
The mountains meet the sea here, so many residences and hotels are perched on hillsides, surrounded by jungle. La Mariposa Hotel is one of these. Your view of the sun as it sets next to a rocky, tree-covered point is unobstructed. No need to be a guest to enjoy sunset here. Just buy a drink at the pool bar. If you’re feeling daring, take a dip in the infinity pool.
El Pescador, Tamarindo, Northern Pacific Coast
At the far southern end of Tamarindo’s strip of beachfront bars and restaurants is El Pescador. This open-air seafood restaurant has most of its tables sitting under the trees strung with Christmas lights, as well as benches that allow you to kick off your shoes and put your feet in the sand.
Due to its location away from the hub-bub in the center of town, you watch the sunset with no crowds blocking your view, just a few locals sitting on overturned fishing boats and surfers catching one last wave of the day. And when the darkness falls, don’t head home. Live music is next on the bill.
Hacienda Baru, Dominical, Southern Pacific Coast
Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast is a relatively undeveloped and sparsely populated area. No big resorts. No high-rise hotels. It’s one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet; it’s rainforests full of a variety of wildlife, from toucans to howler monkeys to three-toed sloths.
My favorite place to stay in this area is Hacienda Baru, a rustic eco-lodge set in a coastal rainforest with it’s own stretch of beach – three miles in total. A short hike through the jungle gets you to the palm tree-lined beachfront. It’s deserted, with the wild Pacific waves crashing to shore. In other areas, watching the sunset is a communal experience but here it’s just you and your party.
Arenal Observatory Lodge, Arenal, Northern Highlands
You’re several hours from the beach at this former Smithsonian research center just a couple miles from the Arenal volcano. But that doesn’t mean you can’t watch the sun set over the water here. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is also near the eastern shore of Lake Arenal. And at dusk, the view of the sun setting over the pristine lake is to die for. It’s one of the only places in Arenal you can get this view.
It’s not easy to get to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, it’s a 20-minute drive off the main road along a bumpy dirt road. If you’re not staying the night be sure to arrive in the mid-afternoon so you can enjoy the on-site nature trails before heading to the restaurants back deck to enjoy sunset.
By Jason Holland, International Living