Shady trees make the best beach umbrellas. Nestled among trees and lush vegetation on the secluded Santa Teresa Beach on the western coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, we found ourselves at Latitude 10. Sustainability is just given equal weight here as comfort and relaxation. We drove from the Arenal Area, through the long thin town of Puntarenas. A lazy ride on the ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya, and finally an adventurously bumpy road towards Montezuma and past Mal Pais got us here to Santa Teresa Beach. The total length of the trip was around 6 and a half hours (we didn’t time our arrival at the ferry just right, being in no hurry, and we stopped and ate at a favorite restaurant at Hotel Tambor Tropical in Tambor).
It was dark by the time we got to the road that runs up the coast through the little surf towns here. Surfers returning from their wavy day gave us a tropical welcome as we were looking for a sign for our hotel… Guess what? Latitude 10 is a Costa Rica beach hotel, very much a boutique property, striving to be as sustainable as possible. Low-key hominess in a beach-luxury atmosphere is also a goal. So there are no signs at all along the road. It’s a move that warms our hearts, as the overabundance of signs in some areas of Costa Rica and other tourism destinations detracts markedly from the experience. It did take us a little longer to get here, since basically the only way to find the hotel with the naked eye at night is to know where it is. Or get here during the day so you can see the small sign in the entrance. Our solution for arriving at night – stop at a friendly looking clapboard house and ask the locals how to get there. Two minutes later and we were here.
The beach right in front of the hotel has a soft strip of sand and then is rocky as you move out toward the ocean, creating some inviting pools with all kinds of marine life. An ideal beach scenario for the young kids with us. Just two hundred yards down the beach is the wide expanse of sand known as Mal Pais, with a sprinkling of surfers and surf wannabe’s. Or just as inviting for those of us who love to run on the beach. Low tide lets you run for miles.
The area gets a little more crowded when Costa Rica surfing really kicks in after the middle of November. But on a glorious August day, there was just the ride balance of sun, surf, scenery and local beach scene flavor. After working up a lather running in the sun, there was an interesting surprise in the open-air shower of our huge bathroom.
Latitude 10 has done a wonderful job designing gigantic bathrooms for each of the detached units here. Instead of looking up at a white ceiling while showering, you look up at the canopy of the tropical forest. This does, however, create some unexpected housekeeping challenges. My post-run shower had to wait a few minutes while the attentive staff got the astonishingly large amount of Howler monkey scat cleaned out of the shower floor. Pretty sure it was the large male leader of the troupe, and as he swung by he decided to leave us that little gift to remind us that we’re in his domain.
Back inside our suite sitting on our private balcony facing the ocean, just a few yards from the beach, the friendly lizards, iguanas and some other rainforest insects stared at us curiously. With the high tide’s waves crashing on the rocky beach outside, feeling very much a part of the surrounding environment, I picked up the little hotel manual (printed on recycled paper).
Is Latitude 10 for you!? Read the four following hotel highlights below and decide for yourselves.
– Latitude 10 casitas are tucked amongst the native vegetation, the wooden structures have shades but no windows.
-There are no locks on the doors
– There’s no a/c
– The bathrooms are completely open-air with large hot water showers and gardens (and regular wildlife visits)
Overall my take is that it has an upscale feeling, but is not overdone.