Costa Rica Vacation 2023

Costa Rica is well covered on this website, and for good reason – I spent time living there on two different occasions. Once, as an exchange student in the year 2000, and then again a few years later as business required me to go back and forth from Miami up until 2011.  I estimate I’ve been to the country over 200 times, and in that process I’ve seen the country evolve and become a serious destination for tourists of all shapes and sizes!

This trip was done in August 2023, as Michelle and I have our sights set on getting married in Costa Rica.  (We were engaged during our June trip to Grand Cayman.)

My son came with us and was able to enjoy being an adult in Costa Rica for this first time, and he took FULL advantage of that and loved the trip.  Here’s what we did during our 5+ day, action-packed trip.

Playa Conchal

We stayed at the W Costa Rica as it was on our list of wedding venues in Costa Rica to check out.  We rented an AIRBNB in Reserva Conchal last year and had drinks at the W on several occasions and enjoyed the vibe.  Read my W Conchal review for a full report on the hotel and all it has to offer.

W Costa Rica

After a couple days of investigating the property as a wedding venue and enjoying the pools, beach, and landscape that only Playa Conchal can provide, we took our rental car across the country to another place we know quite well – the Arenal Volcano area in La Fortuna, Costa rica.

We did a quick 20 minute drive to Playa Tamarindo, one of the most bustling beach towns in Costa Rica, and had lunch and showed my son around.  It’s always nice to see how much it’s developed since I first stepped foot on that beach in the year 2000!

Arenal Volcano Stay

Once again, we stayed at The Springs Resort and Spa.  This was my third trip there and my son’s and Michelle’s second each.  Can you see a pattern here?  We all love the property and all it has to offer.  In fact, it’s high on our list for wedding venues.

the springs

We took our time driving from the beach all the way back through Liberia, and eventually to the La Fortuna area to stay at the Springs.  Having done this trip before, we know a few of the good stops to eat and drink so we hit up some old haunts and even found some new ones.

For my money, the breakfast at the German Bakery in Nuevo Arenal, just less than an hour from the Springs, is second to none.  Mostly because there isn’t a lot of competition, but even if there were, my German heritage would pull me in anyway!

german bakery nuevo arnenal
You can’t miss the German Bakery in Nuevo Arenal

In fact, one of the most unique breakfast menu’s you’ll ever see belongs to this place.  Have a look below and you’ll immediately know which one I’m referring to!

german bakery menu
Bavaria Special for the win!

After a quick breakfast where the gracious hosts were more than happy to provide us coffee for our continued journey, we were back on the road and headed to our destination.

Our stay at The Springs spanned two nights and three days, and it did not disappoint.  Hey, there’s a reason I’ve been three times in a pandemic shortened five year span!

After some relaxation, tubing down a river, and a lot of new friends made, we packed up after our three days and headed through Bagaces to meet up with some old friends.  Having stayed in Bagaces as an exchange student, I know the town well and have many friends there.  We had a very enjoyable time eating local cuisine and seeing old friends like it was yesterday.

From there, we had one final night but hadn’t booked a hotel yet.  Having a desire to stay near the Liberia airport, we choose the beach of Playa Panama, as it’s one I hadn’t gotten to know very well yet.  Playa Panama is a rather sleepy town located on a bay that has views of the Four Seasons in the distance in the Peninsula of Papagayo.

Quick Visit to Playa Panama

playa panama sunset

Overall this was a nice surprise.  The property is really undersold on, check out that link to see what it looks like, and then look at my photos below.  It’s a rather well kept secret in the Marriott Autograph collection in my opinion.

el mangroove pool
The pool at El Mangroove
El Mangroove
main entrance to el mangroove

Read my full El Mangroove Marriott review.

On our way out of town, we took some time to see the Marina at Papagayo which is located near the Four Seasons Hotel.  The hotel is five stars all around, but was closed for renovations during our visit so we didn’t get to stop by.

We also toured around and made stops at Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and even Ocotal.

And that wraps up yet another epic trip! 

We turned in our rental car at Enterprise and took the shuttle to the Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia where we paid way too much for beers and food before boarding our flight back to Miami.  Overall, another successful trip in the books!

Stay tuned as we will come back and announce our wedding venue of choice, whether it was here in Costa Rica, or somewhere else!

And as always, feel free to ask us questions in the comments section or by reaching out to us personally.  We set up this website to share our travel tips with the world and help everyone live like a local.

5/5 - (9 votes)


Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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