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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 11, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 29
Surf's down

Two youngsters play in the surf of what is a very secluded, pristine Pacific beach in the northwestern corner of the Nicoya Peninsula.


A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin

 
One resort has secluded Sugar Beach all to itself
By Patricia Martin
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Call it Sugar Beach or Playa Pan de Azúcar, this idyllic stretch of palest sand and gentle surf on the northwest Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste harbors a single resort, Hotel Sugar Beach. Comprised of lovely bungalows and beach-houses tucked among the trees at water’s edge, the facility beckons to vacationers who long for seclusion and quietude in a mesmerizing nature setting. 

This is where you drift into dreamland at night to the lapping of waves, and arise to a thrilling commotion of bird chatter. Just as often, the abrasive cries of howler monkeys traversing the treetops will be your wake-up call. Either way, you´ll want to be up early for breakfast in the ocean-view restaurant, planning another carefree day. Twenty-four acres of hotel property provide opportunities to spot monkeys, colorful birds, huge iguanas and myriad butterflies. 

TO DO OR NOT TO DO

Enjoyment for some may be splitting time between the beach and the swimming pool that overlooks the Pacific, with major bouts of lazing about, reading and sipping. Ah, but for the restless, there´s always hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling or excursions to attractions of the Nicoya Peninsula and the rest of Guanacaste Province. But wait — this just in, as they say on the newscasts — something new has come to Hotel Sugar Beach. Starting mid-February, the hotel will be launching its guests into long, Hawaiian-style canoes or "outriggers" for trips to the many offshore islands.
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
The contoured 'Horizon' swimming pool overlooks the beach but has a privacy screen of vegetation.
 
 
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
An ocean-front view and soft breezes add to the attraction of the restaurant and bar.
 
 

 

A.M. Costa Rica photos/Patricia Martin
In front of the beach house a carpet of grass spreads to the sand.

These vessels, with stabilizing floats to keep them upright on the ocean, are operated by Costa Rica Outriggers. The company has been in the paddling business for decades and also provides sea kayaks for solo adventurers. The 40-foot outrigger canoe, which takes eight rowing passengers plus the guide, promises to be a major attraction in the northern beach area. Three-hour trips on the Pacific include island stop-overs for snorkeling and picnics.

A COSMETIC MAKE-OVER

Hotel Sugar Beach has changed hands since I last stayed there, but the new owner, Dan Pfeiffer of Grand Rapids, Mich., is leaving its operation in the capable hands of Klaus Thomsen, who has been the general manager for many years. 

In September, 2001, a beautifying program began, introducing new furnishings, tiles, carvings, artifacts, and, above all, bright tropical colors for the walls and fabrics. The effect is pleasing to the eye and uplifting for the spirits. Telephones, TVs and mini-bars have been added to many of the units, which feature air conditioning and fans. Accommodations range from roomy bungalows with huge patios to two-story apartments and beach houses, all with views of the sparkling Pacific. High season (double) rates are $110 to $190 for rooms and suites, $195 for the equipped apartment, and $2,000 to $2,700 per week for the beach house. 

WHENEVER YOU´RE HUNGRY

One thing that hasn´t changed is the round restaurant with open sides to the sea vista. You set your own schedule for the meals, wear whatever clothing you wish, and the bar is at your disposal anytime within reason. The menu offers international fare, from fresh fish to steak and poultry. The nice thing about any resort in Nicoya is that it´s only a short drive to the next beach community for a change of venue. People staying at other resorts often visit Sugar Beach for a meal, a drink at the bar, and perhaps a swim in the calm waves. You´re bound to meet a lot of new faces every day. 

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

The hotel arranges whatever itinerary you wish, be it horseback riding, mountain biking, golfing, sea excursions, or a boat trip along the Tempisque River for some splendid wildlife sighting. Also popular are visits to the active volcano, Rincón de la Vieja, and to the town of Guaitil where the famous Chorotega pottery is made and sold. To find out the exact date for the launching of the outrigger canoes, contact Hotel Sugar Beach. The numbers are: tel. 654-4242, fax 654-4239, e-mail sugarb@racsa.co.cr. 

HOW TO GET THERE

You can take the Inter-American Highway, then the Tempisque Ferry that brings you to Nicoya, or else fly to Liberia on Sansa or Travel Air. Another option is the flight from San José to Tamarindo, where a shuttle runs to Flamingo Beach.  From there, taxis proceed to Sugar Beach, about 20 minutes away. The drive from San José is a long one - five to six hours - but the scenery makes it worthwhile.


 
Photo courtesy of Costa Rica Outriggers
A new addition to adventure activities is an outing in a sea-going outrigger
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