There are many masseuses that set up along the beach road in Playa Flamingo, but to be truly pampered and relaxed on your vacation, it’s easy to schedule massages at Casa Las Brisas or over at the Casita.
We have used Orfa Massage for over a decade; she and her staff are outstanding. They bring everything and set up wherever you prefer, but the upper terrace or along the promenade is ideal; private and shaded, and you hear the waves crashing on the beach below.
They are all licensed, professional massage therapists. They can schedule up to three guests per hour. You choose the level of pressure and it will be one of the best, most relaxing massages you’ve ever had. We provide spa robes for your use during your stay. Her contact info is found in our Resource Book at the house.
There are numerous gorgeous waterfalls with guided tours in the area around Liberia and Rincon de la Vieja: about 90 minutes from Casa Las Brisas in Playa Flamingo. Some are relatively easy to access and others are more challenging and would take up most of your day.
*The Llanos de Cortez Waterfall, pictured above, is located near the town of Bagaces, just a half hour south of Liberia and its international airport (LIR). It’s a short drive off the Pan American Highway (Route 1) and less than a two-hour trip from Playa Flamingo and other beach towns in Guanacaste. These majestic falls are also a convenient stop for those traveling from Arenal or Monteverde to those beautiful beaches of Guanacaste’s Gold Coast.
Another draw of the Llanos de Cortez is that it is relatively easy to access. The parking area, which is just an open lot, gets you very close to the waterfall. From there, it is a short 5 minute hike down.
Once you reach the bottom of the trail, you’ll see why Llanos de Cortez is considered to be one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfalls. The falls are wide and wispy, with thin streams of water tumbling along the mossy rocks. Rocky cliffs are visible through the transparent cascade. To add to the grandeur, thick forest surrounds the falls with many birds and sometimes even monkeys bellowing from the trees.
At the base of the falls is a nice pool that is good for swimming or wading, and there is a sandy area to just hang out and relax.
*Near Rincon de la Vieja, four waterfalls flow, and all of them have pools where you can swim. Getting to the waterfalls is an adventure on its own – either by hiking or horseback riding. The Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Center organizes waterfall tours. Below are two waterfall tours depending on your time and level of adventure.
The 115-foot (35-meter) Victoria Waterfall on the Rio Negro (Black River) is where the river tubing trips start their adventure downriver. The surrounding canyon has unique vegetation and topography, and you can swim in the pool at the waterfall’s base.
How to get there: A 45-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and a short, steep descent to the waterfall; or a one hour each-way scenic hike on the same trail.
Located near the Las Pailas entrance to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, the Oropéndola Waterfall plunges an impressive 82 feet (25 meters) in a beautiful canyon of the Rio Blanco (White River). The sparkling turquoise pool below makes for a refreshing swim.
How to get there: A 45-minute each-way horseback ride on a scenic trail, and short walk to the waterfall; or a 1.5 hour each-way scenic hike; or a 15-minute drive and short walk.
*If you’re looking for a unique, challenging and adventurous waterfall hike in Costa Rica, then you have to visit Catarata La Leona. La Leona waterfall is a small blue waterfall hidden deep in the canyons and caves of a gorgeous blue river. It requires hiking through a series of canyons and crossing rivers numerous times.
Catarata La Leona is not big but being hidden inside a cave made it all more special, especially considering we had to swim, climb and trek through the forest and rivers to get there! The Catarata La Leona hike takes around 3 hours total.
Best Time to Go
Peak dry season (January through April). The paths are dry, there isn’t any mud and no real strong river current. If you go during rainy season, you have to be more prepared for mud and a stronger current. Friends went end of January 2021 and the water level never went over their heads and the current wasn’t strong.
One of our friends went beginning of December, right at the end of the rainy season and she said the road was in awful conditions and the current was incredibly strong. They had to wear lifejackets.
Who Can Do The Catarata La Leona Hike?
As you can tell, this hike is not for the faint of heart which means you can’t be claustrophobic or acrophobic, you need to know how to swim and you need to be in decent shape. The actual distance is not long but it isn’t on a straight forward well maintained path. No ankle or knee problems, you must be able to walk on natural paths.
Luckily, there are several trails the guide can take you. There is the straightforward path that still requires the river crossing a couple times but does not take you through the caves or canyons. We saw a couple groups on this trail, mainly those with kids and older guests. Families can definitely do this tour. They will also give lifejackets to anyone who wants one and to kids and when the current is stronger.
Progress continues on the Flamingo Marina. It’s really taking shape and getting closer to opening in January 2022; located in the sheltered inlet of Potrero Bay leading into Flamingo. Casa las Brisas is located just up the hill on the prestigious North Ridge peninsula overlooking beautiful Playa Flamingo. A sport fishing paradise🐬
Evening falls and the horizon becomes dotted with round figures drawing closer to the coast with help from the motion of the waves. In a matter of minutes, greenish flippers and shells appear, slowly touching the wet sand and starting to dig deep holes with their rear flippers. One after another, Olive Ridley turtles come home and that’s how the “arribada” (Spanish for arrival), or “flota” (fleet), of turtles in Playa Ostional begins.
After leaving the water, the female crawls through the sand to choose a place to dig a hole and deposit; it must be a place with no vegetation and distance from the coast to protect the eggs from the high tide. The turtles dig a hole the size of their body; then, with their hind flippers, take the sand to make a deep hole and elongated shape where they drop their eggs.
After about 60 days of incubation, little turtles move from the sand to the top of the nest with their flippers. They come to the surface when the temperature has dropped, usually at night, as a way to evade predators and the hot sun. The baby turtles wait for the rest to join the group to go out to sea.
Why would a small village tucked away in Guanacaste, Costa Rica receive that visit? It’s difficult for science to explain it. What we do know is that Playa Ostional is one of the last hopes for protecting the Olive Ridley turtle, one of the most endangered species in the world. According to managing biologist for the Ostional Development Association (ADIO), the town is working to avoid their extinction, which would be tragic. Because the beach is not part of a National Park, but a Wildlife Refuge, the community itself prepares the beach to make it a safe place where the turtles can arrive. They have an agreement with the Ministry of Environment to manage the turtle habitat and the legal sale of 1% of the eggs they produce. It is also a huge tourist attraction which provides income for the community as well.
More turtles visit Ostional every year. However, factors beyond the community’s control, such as ocean temperatures and coastal drought, can affect the turtles continuing to come to the community. Climate temperature directly affects these species. The sand needs to be a certain temperature for an equal number of male and female turtles to hatch. If it exceeds 30° C (86° F), only females might hatch or the egg might not hatch altogether. When no males are born, the species population begins to decline due to lack of mating.
The community is confident that their conservation and education efforts will be successful so that these sea turtles will continue to return to the beach where they were hatched, year after year. If you are interested in witnessing this natural phenomenon, Ostional is located about an hour’s drive south of our beach house in Playa Flamingo. They nest throughout the year, but on the Pacific coast it is concentrated from July to November.
Needless to say, the last few months have been a huge struggle for everyone around the world. Quarantine at home all alone or with extended family each pose challenges that we have never had to deal with in the past. We have all missed many activities we used to take for granted, and will be ready to embrace again once it is safe to do so. Travel is at the top of the list!
Renowned international media such as Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveler, Matador Network, Canadian Traveler, Profession Voyages, Forbes, El Mundo de España, among others, have highlighted Costa Rica as a destination to consider once the crisis passes. Even Good Morning America highlighted the story of a British family who recreated the Costa Rican rain forest at home after canceling their trip to our country.
Costa Rica is the best country for travelers looking for great experiences. “We are the world leader in nature tourism and the second in adventure tourism, according to the World Economic Forum. The tourist who visits us has a variety of options to do throughout the country. Activities such as canopy zip lining, white water rafting, hiking, surfing and scuba diving are just a few, which are also combined with cultural elements and authentic unique experiences,” said Shirley Calvo, executive director of the National Tourism Chamber (Canatur). This was also reflected in a TripAdvisor ranking in which “Worldwide, Costa Rica proved to be the favorite destination for travel, ranking first in the list of countries”. – CostaRicaNews.com
When You are Ready to Travel, Casa Las Brisas is Ready for You! Renting a private villa with stunning ocean views is the ideal spot for a family vacation. Having privacy and far less contact with other travelers and staff is a tremendous plus. Balance crowded hotel lobbies, elevators, hotel restaurants and community pool versus having your own spacious vacation home with a huge kitchen, private pool and little to no interaction with others required. Casa Las Brisas is the perfect beach house for your family vacation!
Without a doubt, Costa Rica is a small country that offers big experiences to all. Although we do not know when the social confinement will end, we can assure you that once this period passes, this beautiful country will welcome you with open arms and the warmth and kindness of it’s people.
On our very first visit to Costa Rica, way back in 2003, we hired a private guide who took us up to Rincon de la Vieja to the Borinquen Mountain Resort & Spa . It’s located in the mountain range just north of the Liberia airport about an hour drive from our beachfront vacation home, Casa Las Brisas. Since there are so many activities to choose from at the resort, it’s best to make a day of it.
We began with the Canopy Tour zipline which is a series of ziplines starting high above the jungle canopy, zigzagging over gorges and waterfalls before ending at the bottom. The guides are very experienced and reassuring. It’s an exhilarating experience that is a great family adventure suitable for older children and grandparents alike.
Once our feet were back on solid ground we rode on horseback up through the forest to a hidden waterfall. We then took a sauna in a hut perched over bubbling water heated by the volcano, then slathered ourselves with grey volcanic mud and ended up in warm mineral baths. This was all followed by a delicious lunch in their open air restaurant. What a day! My only regret was not having enough time to schedule a spa treatment, but that can be for another time.
For a cool YouTube video about the Borinquen Resort, click the link below.