More about Moana Lodge
When planning my trip to Mal Pais, I chose Moana because of all of the great reviews it got on trip advisor and I am very glad that I did. Moana Lodge is a beautiful hotel with immaculate grounds, comfortable and very clean rooms, and an amazing staff. Vicky and Aidan (the owners) are great hosts who share their knowledge of the area and really make your trip special. I was really impressed by the book that comes with every room that provided maps and information about all of the restaurants in the area, as well as activites that are available. This book was very helpful when planning where to go and what to do, but Aidan and Vicky are even more so! We had a wonderful trip thanks to Vicky, Aidan, and the wonderful staff at Moana and I would recoomend this hotel to anyone and I look forward to returning again!
p.s. They are not in Lonely Planet or Frommer's guide book yet, so if you stayed with them I hope that you email those books to request a review so that more people can find out about this great place!
One less room because I'm moving in!
How do you say - "oh-my-God-I'm-never-going-home-again" in Spanish? "Moana Lodge." OK - not really. And the name "Mal Pais" is kind of like the Iceland/Greenland naming convention. There is nothing bad about this country!
We started our Costa Rica trip expecting to rough it, but accidentally ended up with a fancy, cushy vacation! We took a group of 7 to Moana Lodge in the beginning of July and spent four nights in absolute luxury. I couldn't believe how amazing this place was! The grounds are beautifully landscaped and all of the rooms were very, very well appointed. And the jacuzzi is a great place to watch a pacific sunset and drink some Pilsen.
Vicky and Aidan were very helpful and welcoming. A friend had a birthday and Vicky helped us arrange a wonderful dinner and a poolside massage for a birthday gift. (Incidentally, it was so good he could barely move to make it to dinner!) They hooked us up with great tours and restaurants and even invited us to crash their dinner party. Their staff was incredible - the grounds were clean and well kept and the rooms were impeccable.
The daily breakfast was always different, which we liked, highlights included the starfruit juice, smoothies and the rice & beans! Wait - pancakes were good too! One of the best meals we had was at a soda right across the street on the beach.
If you aren't a couple, I'd recommend going with a standard room. The premium room was fabulous, but the shower isn't closed off from the living space. It wasn't really a big deal, but we're nudists. Just kidding. But if you want hermetically sealed privacy, go with the standard room. My husband and I actually liked the 2nd floor standard room the most.
I wish we would have had more time there to take advantage of all they had to offer. Especially the ATV tour - do it! Just keep in mind, four days isn't even nearly enough time here if you want to surf AND see the country. Stay for a week..... and take me with you.
Best part of our honeymoon!
Do yourself a favor and stay at Moana Lodge. We stayed here for part of our honeymoon and had an amazing time. We planned on only staying 2 nights, but had to extend our stay because we were having so much fun.
After the first night it felt more like we were staying with friends than at a hotel. This place is a true gem on the Nicoya Peninsula in Mal Pais. Reasonably priced. Super cool African decor. Very clean. Absolutely relaxing pool area. Run by a fabulous couple - Aiden is Irish and Vicky is Costa Rican. Wonderful hosts who really know the area. Plus they're both really funny. Hopefully you'll get to hear some of Aiden's crazy stories. We even had a group happy hour where everyone made a round of their specialty drink. Aiden's lemon daiquiris were delicious.....though my Gin and Tonics weren't bad either ; ) Aiden also made us some authentic Irish tea- a nice treat for non-coffee drinkers who had been dying for a good cup of tea in Costa Rica.
Aiden and Vicky work really hard to make sure their guests have a great time. They make excellent activity and restaurant recommendations and really spend time getting to know their guests. Their staff is wonderful and the plantain empanadas are unbelievable. We plan to go back and bring all of our friends.
xoxo Brian and Erin
Not my cup of Costa Rican coffee!
Although we enjoyed our first visit to Costa Rica this was my least favorite hotel. First of all, what's with the African theme? It's Costa Rica, not Africa. I found the cheap decor a bit hokie. They even have a cow hide painted with Zebra stripes. The A/C was really not good. It was very hot. I understand it was a hot time of year, but I found it difficult to get comfortable. I also did not find the rooms private at all. The owner was also fond of mentioning how bad the hotel was when he acquired it and how hard he worked to get it into shape. I felt this was simply a cover for it's shortcomings. As a guest, I don't really care to hear excuses. I just
want to enjoy my vacation and be comfortable. It was also very difficult to find food. They do no have a restaurant and searching for some where to eat lunch and dinner was trying at best. The closest restaurants were awful. Verde, a vegeterian restaurant nearby was absolutely horrible. The pool was nice and necessary to cool off! There was nothing special about the location either. It is not on the beach and does not have ocean view. There may be
a tiny sliver of ocean view from some of the rooms, but not mine, and from no where else I could see. Simply put, I wasn't a fan of this hotel and really have a hard time believing anyone would actually rave about it based on my experience.
My Favorite Hotel in Costa Rica
This place is great. I've made three trips to Costa Rica and stayed in several hotels there. Moana is my favorite. The grounds are beautiful, the rooms very comfortable, the staff and owners are exceptionally friendly and helpful. There is so much to do in the area: surfing, fishing, hiking, ziplining, yoga, or just relaxing on one of the many beaches. If we (me and my girlfriend) wanted to set something up, all we had to do was ask someone at the desk and they took care of if for us right then and there. Everyday we came to them with questions about things to do and places to go and they always had answers and were always happy to help. You can tell they really want you to have a good time.
There are a ton of options for dining, with prices ranging from expensive American style fine dining to $3 casados. There are several pizza places, typical Costa Rican restaurants, Thai, sushi, seafood, Argentinian, Israeli, French, Italian, a burger place, and a few fine dining set ups, so take your pick. I feel like in our 8 days there we just scratched the surface. Each room has a book describing various restaurants in the area. We found the recommendations to be right on. Our favorite place was Brisa del Mar in Santa Teresa down the road a ways from the hotel . . . amazing seafood . . . we had appetizers, cocktails, 2 entrees, dessert and coffee all for $35 . Also check out Buenos Aires up on the hill for the best view in Santa Teresa. Breakfast is included in the price of the room . . . it varies from day to day, from omelletes to pancakes to fruit smoothies and gallo pinto.
Our room was made spotless each day while we were out, and the person who cleaned the room went above and beyond normal housekeeping . . . she would neatly organize our toilletries, and some days she would leave flowers in the room. My girlfriend really liked these extra touches.
Definitely worth it to have some kind of vehicle (car, ATV, or a bike) to check out all the area's attractions.
There's a rocky beach across the road from the hotel and endless sandy beaches in Santa Teresa a short drive up the road. The owners will tell you all about the best ones to go to.
I love Moana Lodge and I'll definitely be back.
Our BEST experience in Costa Rica!!!!!!
Moana Lodge was a major highlight on our trip to Mal Pais & THE BEST hotel we stayed at in Costa Rica. (Better even than Pura Vida or Ylang Ylang) The rooms are so much more fabulous in person than in the pics. They are sweet, charming, stylish, clean and super welcoming. The grounds are pure delight and the pool area really couldn't get any better. We spent about 7 days at Moana and frankly I didn't want to go anyplace else the entire remainder of the trip. Vicki and Aiden are fantastic hosts. Helpful, welcoming and generous. (The other folks on staff I wanted to bring home with me too) Vicki and Sonjya showed me how to make plantain empanadas one day together in the common kitchen as well as were to go dancing and Aiden helped us to always spot the howler monkeys and other life. I felt very at home here and settled even during the rainiest part of the year. If you want to feel taken care of and relaxed in this region do yourself a favor and go to Moana! Thank you so much Aiden and Vicky you showed me a different side of Costa Rica.
Stay at Moana Lodge!
We had a great stay at Moana Lodge! The property is beautifully landscaped and each room enjoys a great deal of privacy. There's a nice pool for cooling off and relaxing. The hosts, Aidan and Vicki, were great - extremely helpful and welcoming. They'll take care of all your arrangements (surf lessons, ATV rentals, massages, even hotel recommendations & reservations in other Costa Rican spots). They're also great for advice about where to go, where to eat, etc. Sandra, the hotel dog, is the BEST dog EVER. The included breakfasts were tasty. There's a nice, secluded beach within walking distances or it's a quick trip to Santa Teresa or Montezuma (and a fun ATV ride). Overall, it was a wonderful stay owed mostly to the beautiful property and amazing hosts.
Loved loved loved the Moana Lodge
We stayed in Moana Lodge for 4 nights during a three week stay in Costa Rica.
It was without a doubt the best hotel we stayed in throughout our entire trip in Costa Rica. The atmosphere was incredibily relaxed, the rooms beautiful, the owners utterly charming, we couldn't have asked for more.
Whilst we stayed there, the owners threw a small party for the guests. It was a really great night. The atmosphere was super friendly yet very chilled at the same time.
Another thing i loved about the hotel were the breakfasts. Every morning the guests have breakfast together in the most gorgeous surroundings, and have a chance to chat to each other and find out ideas etc about what to do for the day. The food was pretty good too!!
I really can't reccomend this hotel enough. If any of my friends are travelling to Costa Rica in the future i will insist that they stay here!
What to expect
I booked Moana partially because of the descriptions of the amenities and pictures on their website and partially because of the excellent reviews it has received on Trip Advisor.
I wanted to add my review to the mix to help travelers get a better idea of what to expect by adding some balance to what I see as inflated ratings on this site. Overall, I was a bit disappointed by my experience here - for more, read on.
The good -
Staff is attentive at Moana, a couple of problems that probably occur fairly often in such a remote location (a rupture of a water pipe that caused an immediate discruption in the water) were fixed immediately.
Breakfast is nice and served in a patio surrounded by the jungle.
The grounds are nice - a rich jungle with lots of plants.
The disappointing -
- The beach and ocean view - Moana is across the street from a path that leads to the beach but the beach here is rocky and the waves are rough and not conducive to swimming, much of the surrounding beach is not accessible via the road as private residences have gated access/dogs.
There are no ocean views from the lodge or the grounds, the sliver that is shown on the website in my experience was not really a view at all
- The jacuzzi is not heated, it wasn't warm enough to enjoy in the evening when jacuzzis are enjoyed most
- The lodge has an extensive list of rules that we were asked to observe and initial upon checking in. No glasses (which we interpreted as no drinks!) by the pool, no outside alcohol in common spaces, were among the rules. We felt very restricted by these rules as we were looking to relax in a nice setting, our balcony was nice but not exactly private, we shared with the adjoining room.
-No food options nearby, food options nearby are too limited, the only real option for good food was about 1.5 mile walk down the road.
We stayed 2 nights at Moana Lodge and found it totally average. Our room (standard, but nothing else was available) was simply furnished, decorated with few african artifacts and clean, but it didn't impress us as anything but an above average motel room. The hotel grounds were nicely landscaped and the pool area was very comfortable and cool- much above the rest of the property. The hotel is not on the beach- but walking distance to a rather rocky promotory, not the ideal location in Malpais. Based on the reviews we were expecting much more, the place was void of any authentic Costa Rican feel, i guess it's OK if you want to stay on budget, but don't expect paradise for the money.
We were also dissapointed with Malpais/St Teresa area as a whole: does anybody speak Spanish there? The entire area is taken over by hippie anglo-saxons, the developments in the villages are ugly, the restaurants look like shacks, everything is cheap and dirty, St Teresa resembles a favela in Brazil. The only two decent places are Flor Blanca and Milarepa, both sit on the beach (probably the best stretch along the coast line), but they are both so americanized that you fell you could be anywhere in the world- but in costa rica; the only 2 decent restaurants are attached to these hotels as well, but we much preferred Milarepa - far superior quality and value.
overall, we didn't find anything authentic in Malpais or Moana lodge. Montezuma was really another shanty town, the bay at Tambor is beautiful, but why would anybody go there? There is absolutely nothing to do and there are better beaches along the coast .The Cabo Blanco reserve was OK, but also didn't impress. Costa Rica has far better places- it was hard for us to see what are the people raving about.