Playa Grande, Costa Rica, Restaurant and General Review

Posted in Panama City, Panama

Since my last post, I have spent a week in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, celebrating my birthday with old friends.  I really did not do much in the way of photography.   Following that, I was in Bocas del Torres, Panama, for the end of Carnaval plus a few more days of miscellaneous beachcombing.  In Bocas internet was either nonexistent or too slow to upload anything, hence the hiatus.

Costa Rica  is an exquisitely beautiful country; although, other than the white sand beaches of Playa Grande I did not see much.  This was my third time there in several years.  It was also my briefest stay.  I knew from experience that it would be more expensive than I was used to on this trip; however, I still had some sticker shock.  The downturn has affected tourism yet tourist prices seem to be at an all time high!  For example, my per day expenses were roughly 4-5 times more than in Guatemala and a bit more than double what I am currently paying in Panama.  Nonetheless, I had a great time splurging.

Two of my friends now have very happy babies and it was great to meet them.  Carli still does phenomenal  massage work.  I had an incredible birthday dinner at Hotel Cantarana with Frank and Marina.  Yes, this is the same place we almost bought a few years ago (  It never sold, but Reinhard has installed a new chef and he is great.  Had some fabulous duck and company.

Bula Bula is now open on Monday nights with a Mexican buffet.  Wally’s pulled pork carnitas was tender, delicious and very hot.  It made a nice accent to the other milder dishes.  All in all, a tasty and bountiful selection.  On another night, they had fresh grouper on the menu…yum.  Kudos to Todd and Wally for their consistency of product and service.  Todd, thanks for taking me to the gym the next morning, I needed that!

Of course no trip to Playa Grande is complete without a visit to the La Marejada and Mar Bar.  ( Margarita turned out a yummy linguine with an Alfredo sauce, little pieces of bacon and a few prawns.  Gail, Carli and Lindsay are the proprieters.  Even with two owners being new moms, these girls rock!  And of course there was the old standard Friday night BBQ at Los Malinches and some midafternoon ceviche there as well.

Now in the interest of fairness, I am friends with all these people, but I was not paid to plug them, nor did I receive free food.  These reviews are my true opinions.

I stayed at Frank and Marina’s rental guest house complete with kitchen, swimming pool outside my door and a two minute walk to the beach.

The main downside of being in Playa Grande is it’s relative isolation and Costa Rica’s general lack of good public transpiration.  I would not recommend staying here for more than a few days without a rental car as it would be difficult to visit other parts of the country.  Private shuttles tend to be quite expensive as well.

So I had a great time, but was ready for Panama.  I took the short boat ride across the estuary to Tamarindo and caught a Nature Air DeHaviland (the workhorse of Alaska) to Bocas del Torro with an overnight stop in San Jose.



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