More about Costa Azul Adventure Resort
This is truly a hidden paradise. We visited this quaint little hotel in September and had the best time as a family. With all of the great adventure activities for the kids to the phenomenal pool w/swim up bar (Norma is saving my seat for my next trip in March) you cannot ask for a better experience or value south of the border. The food is wonderful with a good variety (even for picky little ones) and the rooms were clean and comfy. This is a very personal place and you will know all the staff by name within 48 hours of arriving and of course they will know yours. Thanks Costa Azul for the great time and I recommend this to everyone looking for a little or a lot of fun off the beaten path. Muchas Gracias!
An okay place but we won't go again
We went as a couple to Costa Azul in December 2005. It was a very beautiful place and we had fun but it's not the "adventure" resort it claims to be. The excursions are fun but they only offer them in the mornings, so by lunch time your activities are over. Our so called "Jungle Hike" lasted 1 hour and we were back by 9AM, not exactly an adventure filled day. The rest of the day there is not a lot to do unless you have access to a taxi and can travel to another town, San Pancho is very small and doesn't have much in it. We were fairly bored most of the afternoons, we had been expecting to have access to the kayaks, snorkling gear, etc...any time we wanted, not just during trips. So, although we wanted to kayak or snorkel in the afternoons, they did not allow us to just take them out by ourselves. We were able to take out some bikes but since you can't really ride them on the highway, we couldn't go much beyond town on them. The food was all right but you do get bored with it after a few days so go out places whenever you can. I think this place was more targeted at the weekend warrior type than the fitness/adventure type. The other guests we encountered spent the afternoons drinking or reading, which isn't my idea of an adventurous vacation. I'd say don't waste your money if you are looking for an exciting time but if you want a lazy vacation with a couple of little trips then this is your place.
Don't confuse with the Four Seasons
We stayed here last week and it was all it said it would be. It's a small Mexican resort in a small town, but it's not the Four Seasons. You need to be comfortable with "small and semi-rustic." It is a great value. It's not Club Med, so you can't use the equipment any time you want (except the bikes like the last reviewer said). The "adventures" are organized trips like surfing lessons, boat trips, snorkeling, jungle hikes, etc.). Our seven year old did most of them so they are easy. This isn't for work outs, just for something to do. The beach is OK to walk on and for wading but not to swim (large waves). The pool is not heated, so be warned (they need a hot tub). Most rooms are remodeled but some aren't, so ask. The food is good and the restaurant is accomodating. No one got sick and we ate the salad and the fish (even my daughter). The staff is great!!!! They have mini-entertainment at night for the adults. The town is a throw back to old Mexico and it's fun to walk in a bit. Just have your expectations in check and you will be OK. We would go again.
Great time, but it depends on you
I spent a lot of time researching for this Hotel. I was looking for something that was not a huge monstrosity where you have to run down in the early morning to "reserve" a beach chair (really, is that absurd or what?), and where you are cheek by jowl with hundreds of other tourists. I was looking for something quiet, that had a kids club to occupy my 5 year old, and that also had some type of recreation for the rest of the grown-ups. The drive from Puerto Vallarta isn't bad but unless you have a complete van of people (6) at $60 each way you might consider renting a car at $20/day.
On the positive side, the staff at Costa Azul were great, and you get to know them on a first name basis (Edith, Norma, Gris, Irene etc). The site is beautiful, and with only 25 rooms or so, not crowded. We went a week before Christmas and it was pretty empty. The recreation is as long or short as you want: the kayaking was only an hour or so, the surf lessons (held at Sayulita) all morning, the trip to San Blas swamp was all day, the trip to Yelapa all morning, and the surfers we met there would be gone all day. The staff are casual, but at the same time make you feel very welcome and try to accomodate. The beach was usually empty, and yes the waves too rough and undertow too great for swimming, especially with a small kid. I love body surfing, but didn't chance it in those waves. On the other hand, the horseback riding at sunset was wonderful. I usually like the water in the pool to be cool, but this one was too cold for me (but it didn't stop the kids in the baby pool!) On the other hand, there were only a handful at the pool at any given moment.
The rooms were big, but so-so in appointments. A lightbulb was out above our bed and while I asked for it to be changed, I remembered a previous reviewer indicated how frustrated he got trying to get a bulb changed so I gave up. No big deal, we weren't in the room much any way. Each room faces the beach and has a small balcony, and the ones below have a little veranda.
Go with the full package. The tipping is a bit weird since you have to get your waiters to present you a bill so you can add the tip. Many times the bill never appeared, and we would just leave, probably leaving some hard feelings. Make sure you ask for the bill and then add the tip accordingly. They deserve it.
The food was decent and nobody got sick despite eating stuff with vegetables and fruit in it. Like any place with a set menu, you'll get bored with it after a few days, so go into town to Ola Rica or one of the others to break the monotony.
Regarding children: how many sandcastles can they build. Irene was the kids club, and luckily there was another kid there other than our own there. As far as I could tell, no planned activities. If you were laying around the pool, inevitably the kids would want to (re)join you, so you need to explain to Irene that the kids club is 9 to 3 at least. She was wonderful with the kids. One of the girls had her birthday while she was there and her dad was able to arrange a pinata and party, and that tells you something about the willingness of staff to take care of you.
Bravo to the van driver Manuel, for being a great guide on the way to the San Blas swamps. To sum up; it depends on what you are looking for. If you want the big hotels, crowded beaches and night life, this place might not be for you. It may be a little rough around the edges, but I thought it was great, and am still thinking about it, which is a sign of a good vacation. Given the fact that a lot of the property in the area has been purchased by norteamericanos, and that development is moving northwards, you might consider seeing it before it is gone.
erika is beautiful.
i just arrived home from costa azul and am already searching for tickets to return. costa azul will provide you with the experience of a lifetime.... but what made it most fun for me was the outstanding staff who works there.
freddy is a young guy whos always looking for a fun time. he took us bike riding into town, kayak surfing at the beach out front, to a bar up the street for mojitos, and even helped us make a bon fire on the beach. alonso is the surf tour guide. he is so funny and fun to hang out with... not to mention an amazing surfer (he is #11 in all of mexico!). gau is so knowledgable and this is the reason he guides most of the tours. he can tell you a fact about anything you ask him. ariel is the cowboy who takes you on all the horseback tours. intimidating at first but he turns out to be a very nice guy. those are just a few of the guys you will meet.
but lets talk about the girls.... WOW! we'll start with sarah. sarah is a shy girl but so nice when she gets to talking. she remembered me from two years ago down to where i sat and what i wore! edith is so fun to talk to because she will listen to everything you say and talk for as long as you want. norma is a little, wild, very sexy girl who loves to dance. every time i sat down she would give me an ear massage and she kissed me on the neck twice and even asked me to kiss her a few times. talk about good service!
now lets talk about erika. she is so beautiful. i absolutely fell in love with her when i got there and hoped she would be my waitress every time. she is even less talkative than sarah but when she opens up, she is such a great person. shes so funny and nice. she asked me if i wanted to salsa dance and i passed up the opportunity! biggest mistake of my life. i miss all of them so much so i'll definitely be back there soon to visit :)
We had planned to stay three nights, but headed to Nuevo Vallarta after two. The scenery, viewed from afar, is beautiful. However, after you get past the awe of the ocean, you can see that the resort is not well maintained. The construction of all of the facilities is shoddy and run-down. As stated in many reviews the staff was friendly. My biggest complaint was the presence of cats throughout the dining areas. I am very allergic to cats and it really bothered me. When I called the American customer service number, they were very understanding and did not charge me for the last night. We came mostly to hang out and relax, so I cannot judge the resort fairly. All of the people who were out doing activities were having a great time. It is a very, very casual place. The most fun we had was going into town and mixing with the locals. There are some excellent restuarants. Overall, I wouldn't go back, but I can see that it would be a great place for more active vacationers. The place has great potential if they would put some effort into upkeep.
worth every penny
me and my girlfriend went to costa azul for the fist time this past week april 2thru 8 2006 and had a blast. i had been waiting to go for three years and was thoroughly satisfied. the hotel was terrrific on the beach wheere the crashing surf put me to sleep every night by 1030 so tired from surfing and other activites. the horseback rding on the beach was beautiful horses docile and trained well. the staff was so nice beautiful waitresses and so friendly the food great and the people we met from other families we made long term friends. now to the surf the heart of the trip chacala is a dream of a left point and i got the waves of my life with only seeing 2 other non costa azul people the 2 days i was there and burros was crowded but good but the gold goes to chacala and alonso our guide who put us n the best waves every day and is a great guy.. i will be back soon as they si dios gusta if god likes it to be, i hope he does oh and go fishing trust me the trigger and red snapper will bite and it was way worth the extra cost
I traveled to Costa Azul with my girlfriend and another couple May 20-27. The weather was unreal, sunny hot and not a drop of rain. The resort waswell maintained, the rooms closer to the ocean seemed to have been renovated recently. I stayed in a Suite overlooking the resort, pool and ocean. The room was clean, but not in the best of condition a few cracked tiles and some stained grout, etc. I really wasn't bothered by it, especially considering we only slept there. My friends stayed in a Villa, which was similar in condition to my suite, but much larger.
The food was really good. You could order from a menu, and eat as much as you want. We ate there everyday for a week and never tired of the menu. The atmosphere of the restaurant was pretty neat, all outside overlooking the ocean. Pretty awesome at sunset. The swim-up bar was great for lunch and afternoon drinks.
The tours were excellent. We would wake every morning at 6 am and go on the various tours offered. We surfed alot, and found the guides to be helpful. They put us into good waves every day, and we surfed alone the whole time. Some of the places were accessible only by boat. Snorkeling trip to Marietas was also really cool. They showed us alot of things that most tourists would have missed. We also did the horseback riding. As someone said before, the horses were a bit feisty and would gallop even if you pulled back. Fine for me, scary for others.
The people working at/for the resort were so accomodating. I couldnt imagine anyone having any problem with the service. They constantly asked if there was anything we needed/wanted and made sure everyone had a good time. Granted, some things were a bit slow, but you are on vacation so relax!
This place is perfect as long as you are not expecting a Ritz Carlton. You are in the middle of nowhere at the edge of a jungle in Mexico. As long as you keep that in mind, you will enjoy yourself immensely. I would recommend this place highly.
We loved Costa Azul
It was some time in coming, but we finally made it to Costa Azul after re-booking our trip on three separate occasions - and it was definitely worth the wait!
One of the reviewers said that Costa Azul was "not a place for people who like to sit still", and to a certain point, we would agree. However, the schedule works out perfectly for those who like to get up and go relatively early in the morning (8 or 9AM, in most cases), return mid-to-late afternoon, and *then* sit around the pool bar, mingling with other patrons, making friends and enjoying the very good company of Edith the barkeep, one of our favorite Costa Azul hosts.
Though we initially booked our trip in January (high season), we ended up going in August - not quite the hottest month (we were told May and June were the hottest, tends to cool off toward the end of the summer due to the rains), but definitely a season that we were glad the units had A/C. Word to the wise - if you are sensitive to strong smells, ask the housekeeper to skip the Pine-sol when mopping the floors - makes all the difference. We also bought two pounds of fresh roasted coffee beans from Penita de Occidente Cafe on the way back from the jungle hike, and these added a wonderful aroma when you first entered our unit. You may get the impression the rooms are less than stellar, but that's not the case - another reviewer wrote "it's not the Four Season" and they're right - but the rooms are clean and fairly well maintained. If you stay in the main building, ask for a unit on the 2nd or 3rd floor - the first floor units are a little steamier in the summer, and you may get a few nocturnal visitors, mostly little land crabs and geckos.
All in all, the food was really quite good - full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and convenient hours - hot breakfast between 8 and 11:30, lunch until 4:30 or so - we never went hungry. Go for the seafood if you can - the chicken dishes are OK, but the carne asade was like warm beef jerky. Bottled water is available throughout the property.
We booked the adventure package, which is billed as an American Plan - all meals and adventure activities are included in the package price - only mixed drinks, coffee (! - when served at the table) and tips were extra. They'll ask you to open a tab when you first arrive, but we found the best accounting was kept when you pay cash for drinks and tips. If you like beer and margaritas, you're in good hands - if you like wine, bring your own, or drink many of the former before you ask for the latter
The staff couldn't be any more accommodating - they really took the time to get to know us on a first name basis, and really made the trip. There are a number of activities you can participate in - sea kayaking, jungle hikes, surfing and surfing lessons, snorkeling and more. If you're training for a big event, you can get by with ocean swims and beach runs - but if you want more, find a resort with better biking options and running paths.
One of the high points was going to Sayulita ("little waves") - this is a much nicer swimming and surfing beach than the one in front of Costa Azul - while the hotel's beach is swimmable, it's not for kids, body surfing or anyone who is less than comfortable with shorebreak and an undertow. Sayulita is a wonderful surfing town with a good beach, a few good galleries and the nicest restaurant we visited, Don Pedros.
By comparison, we were *not* impressed with Puerto Vallarta proper - I'm sure we missed the most charming parts of the town, but it's noisy, crowded a lot like Fisherman's Wharf, if you spend time walking along the boardwalk. If you want to experience a slice of "real" Mexico, book a week in Costa Azul and spend time exploring San Francisco, Sayulita and other points north of the hotel. While our review is biased by the fact that in low season the hotel was far from full occupancy, we give Costa Azul a rating of 4 Margaritas (out of 5).
Costa Azul is a mixed bag
COSTA AZUL is a beautiful hotel but it is not well run and basic services are often not provided.
Three of the days we was there we were without electricity in our room and were provided with no other light source while they tried to fix the problem. When they finally fixed the electricity , the hot water went out and stayed out until we left.
THE food and service was spotty the two banquets I attended--one a wedding--they ran out of main courses before everyone was served. In general, the kitchen seemed disorganized and understaffed. The food was o.k. but nothing special.
THE BEST thing about COSTA AZUL is its idyllic setting and the staff which are very nice but powerless, or so it seemed, to remedy any of the problems.