- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Playa Flamingo, immediately south of Potrero and facing it from the west side of the bay, is named for the two-kilometer-wide scimitar of white sand—one of the most magnificent beaches in Costa Rica—that lines the north end of Bahía Flamingo (there are no flamingos).
The area is favored by wealthy Ticos and gringos (North Americans now own most of the land hereabouts), and expensive villas sit atop the headlands north and south of the beach, many with their own little coves as private as one’s innermost thoughts.
Entertainment and Events
The Monkey Bar (tel. 506/2654-4141) at the Flamingo Marina Resort has a happy hour daily (5–7 P.M.), live music on Friday, barbecue on Saturday, ESPN with pizza on Sunday, and Monday-night football (in season). The always-lively bar at the Mariner Inn (tel. 506/2654-4081, 6 A.M.–10 P.M. daily) features cable TV and has live music at times.
Disco Amberes (tel. 506/2654-4011, http://amberescostarica.com, 6 P.M.–2 A.M. Thurs.–Sat.), on the hill, has a spacious lounge bar, a lively disco, and a small casino. Live bands occasionally play. Video slots and card tables are also offered at Flamingo Bay Resort (tel. 506/2654-4444, 7 P.M.–3 A.M. daily).
Costa Rica Diving (tel./fax 506/2654-4148, www.costarica-diving.com) offers diving to Islas Murciélagos, as does Grupo Brindisi (100 m east of the marina, tel. 506/2654-4946, www.brindisicr.com), which also has kayak-snorkeling trips, ATV tours, and diving.
Gold Coast Charters (tel. 506/8935-7600, www.sailhibiscus.com) offers trips aboard a 40-foot catamaran, and Lazy Lizard (tel. 506/2654-5900) also offers catamaran and snorkeling trips.
EcoTrans (tel. 506/2654-5151, www.ecotranscostarica.com), in Flamingo Marina Resort, offers tours to Palo Verde National Park, Guaitíl, and other destinations. Flamingo Equestrian Center (tel. 506/8846-7878, www.equestriancostarica.com) offers horse-riding instruction.
Hotels and Resorts
There are no budget properties. The least expensive option is the Mariner Inn (tel. 506/2654-4081, fax 506/2654-4024, marinerinn [at] racsa [dot] co [dot] cr, $35 s/d standard, $48 with a/c and fridge, $70 suite year-round), a 12-room Spanish colonial–style hotel down by the marina. Dark hardwoods fill the air-conditioned rooms that feature color TVs, blue-and-white tile work, and terra-cotta tile floors. A suite has a minibar and kitchenette. There’s a pool, and the bar gets lively.
The three-story haphazardly arranged Flamingo Marina Resort (tel. 506/2654-4141, U.S. tel. 800/276-7501, www.flamingomarina.com, from $85 s/d low season, from $109 s/d high season), on the hill overlooking the marina, has grand views toward Playa Potrero. It offers three types of accommodations in 123 spacious air-conditioned rooms with lively contempo decor. Suites have king-size beds, plus whirlpools on private terraces, and there are larger beachfront one- to three-bedroom apartments. The pleasant terrace restaurant opens onto a circular swimming pool with the thatched swim-up Monkey Bar. Tennis, a gift shop, tour office, and full-service dive shop are also offered. Rates include breakfast and tax.
Down by the beach, and a better bargain, is the Flamingo Beach Resort (tel. 506/2654-4444, www.resortflamingobeach.com, $118–131 s/d low season, $132–149 s/d high season), a large-scale complex centered on a voluminous pool with a swim-up bar. After years in the doldrums, this beachfront property now boasts chic contemporary styling. The 120 spacious air-conditioned rooms and suites in five types have fans and flat-screen TVs, free Internet, minibars, and coffeemakers. Suites have kitchenettes and whirlpool tubs. It’s chock-full of amenities, including three bars, two restaurants, tennis, gym, Turkish bath, game room, beauty salon, dive shop, and casino.
For unpretentious dining I like the thatched, breeze-swept Soda Restaurante Pleamar (tel. 506/2654-4521, 7 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon., 7 A.M.–9 P.M. Tues.–Sun., $5–15), with a splendid beachfront site 400 meters east of the Flamingo marina. It serves ceviche, burgers, lobster, and garlic fish, all for less than $10.
Almost a Costa Rican institution, Marie’s Restaurant (tel. 506/2654-4136, www.mariesrestaurantincostarica.com, 6:30 A.M.–9:30 P.M. daily) is under a huge palenque in Centro Comercial La Plaza, 50 meters west of the marina. Aged terra-cotta floor tiles add to the welcoming ambience. It offers great breakfasts like granola and omelettes. Lunch and dinner brings fish-and-chips, chicken from the wood oven, rib-eye steak ($14), barbecue pork ribs ($12), and a large selection of sandwiches, plus ice cream sundaes, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, and espressos.
For chic 21st-century styling and fancy fusion fare, opt for Angelina’s (tel. 506/2654-4839, no set hours), upstairs in Centro Comercial La Plaza. Its menu features yellowfin tuna poke starter ($7), and oven-roasted chicken topped with orange espresso glaze ($12). I love the decor: cowhide ceiling lamps, a bar made of a sliced tree trunk, leather sofas, and a slick lounge bar.
The Flamingo Beach Resort’s open-air beachfront Arenas Restaurant has walk-in service for nonguests. Supermercado Flamingo is located at Plaza Que Pasa.
Getting to Playa Flamingo
Tralapa buses (tel. 506/2221-7202) depart San José for Playa Portrero via Brasilito and Flamingo from Calles 20, Avenidas 1/3, daily at 8 A.M., 10:30 A.M., and 3 P.M. ($6, six hours), returning at 2:45 A.M., 9 A.M., and 2 P.M. Transportes La Pampa (tel. 506/2665-7530) buses depart Liberia for Brasilito, Flamingo, and Potrero eight times daily; and Empresa El Folclórico buses (tel. 506/2680-3161) buses depart Santa Cruz 13 times daily.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition