Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Juan Ruiz
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Costa Rica is a country in Central America known for its coffee, outdoor adventures, world-class surfing, and laid-back lifestyle. It’s an increasingly popular destination for Americans looking to expatriate from the U.S. or buy a vacation home. There are also plenty of accommodation options.
From 5-star hotels, campsites, and homestays to hostels, there’s something for every travel style in Costa Rica. In this guide, you’ll learn about the best all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica, including which ones you can book on points.
An all-inclusive resort is a resort that includes most or all of your food and drinks in the price of your room. Some resorts do not include top-shelf liquor or have specialty restaurant or menu items that require an additional fee. But for the most part, you can rest assured that there will not be a bill at the end of your stay — you pay for it all upfront.
There are 3 standard types of all-inclusive resorts to choose from: adults-only, couples-only, and then everyone else. Families and groups that include children under 18 years old will fall into the latter category that is often simply referred to as family-friendly.
At all-inclusive resorts that cater to families, you can expect kid-friendly activities such as a shallow pool, pool toys, a kids’ club, and even a water park or waterslides. On the other end of the spectrum, adults-only and couples-only resorts might feature activities such as tequila tastings, pool parties, and more upscale dining options.
In addition to food and drink being included in the cost of your room, all-inclusive resorts also tend to offer more activities that you can do on-property. Usually, water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking, and land sports such as tennis are included. Non-inclusive activities almost always include the spa and golf.
The only downside to an all-inclusive stay might be the dining options. All-inclusive resorts are known to be rather disappointing when it comes to food, either due to lack of quality or to lack of options.
The best part of Costa Rica to stay in largely depends on your preferences of activity and atmosphere.
Along the Papagayo Peninsula and Guanacaste Coast along the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find luxurious beach accommodations. Tamarindo and Manuel Antonio are beach destinations along the Pacific coast as well, but with a more laid-back vibe and fewer amenities but just as much sunshine. Meanwhile, for those hoping to spend time in the country’s rainforest or be near Arenal Volcano, you’ll want to stay inland around Monteverde and Lake Arenal.
Alternatively, you could elect to stay in the capital city of San José. The energy of San José is not for the faint at heart. Downtown is bustling and there’s always something to do. It’s a great starting point before heading out to one of the more touristy and less populated parts of the country.
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is less traveled by tourists, but travelers can still find plenty to do, despite the lack of accommodation variety. Limon is also a popular cruise stop and home to a large part of the Afro-Costa Rican population. True nature enthusiasts will love the national parks, hidden beaches, and mountains in the area.
Costa Ricans particularly enjoy the Caribbean coast as well because there are much fewer tourists and it is generally less expensive for budget-conscious travelers. And although there are accommodation options on that side of the country, none of them are all-inclusive.
There are 4 international airports in Costa Rica, but the 2 that you’ll likely fly into are San José International Airport (SJO) in San José and Liberia International Airport (LIR) on the Pacific side of the country. All major U.S. airlines fly to Costa Rica, including Southwest Airlines.
Visitors to Costa Rica can rent a car and drive themselves around, hire a driver, or take the public bus. Considering that Uber is only available in major cities like San José and Liberia, we wouldn’t recommend being dependent on the rideshare app to get you around. The bus system from San José is reliable and might be your preferred mode of transportation, especially if you are going somewhere where you will not need a car. You can also have transportation arranged by your hotel from the airport.
For those hoping to explore the country on their own, renting a car is a good idea, though keep in mind that Costa Rica has a lot of windy roads. Albeit beautiful, certain drives aren’t for the faint of heart. There’s a lot to see all over the country, so plan wisely.
Costa Rica has 2 main seasons and they are the opposite of the seasons in the U.S.
The dry season, or their summer, is from January through April, while the rainy season, their winter, is from May through December. You can expect some amount of humidity all year round.
During the dry season in Costa Rica, you can expect high temperatures and hardly any chance of rain. This is the time of year best suited for water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and especially surfing — a sport that people travel to Costa Rica for from around the world.
Hot Tip: The Pacific Coast sees much less extreme weather than the Caribbean side of the country where it can rain all year despite the high temperatures.
Exploring the rain forest or visiting La Fortuna hot springs in central Costa Rica is the perfect activity during the rainy season from May through December. Winter is also a great time to spot wildlife, of which Costa Rica has over half a million species.
Andaz is an exclusive luxury lifestyle brand from World of Hyatt. The portfolio consists of just 16 hotels around the world and aims to bring the culture and setting of the location into the design of each hotel. Guests are meant to fully experience where they are.
At the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, guests will have no shortage of things to do and beautiful decor to admire. With floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, the resort calls nature in at every turn. There are just 131 rooms and 21 suites on the property, and they all face Culebra Bay and feature stunning views of the surrounding tropical landscape.
There are 4 pools and 3 beaches surrounding the property. Designed for families and couples alike, there is a shallow-entry pool for the younger swimmers and an adults-only pool with a more relaxed atmosphere. There are 4 restaurants, the most interesting of which is Ostra Restaurant, a raw bar and seafood grill.
The resort offers complimentary use of kayaks, paddleboards, electric bikes, and more. There’s also a spa specializing in indigenous traditions, a kids’ club for kids ages 4 to 12, and excursions for teens.
Even though this resort is not an all-inclusive property in the traditional sense, guests can add a meal plan that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and alcoholic drinks at the pools, beaches, and 4 on-site restaurants.
The Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo is a Category 6 World of Hyatt hotel with redemption rates starting at 21,000 World of Hyatt points per night in off-peak season for a standard room.
Dreams Resorts are part of the AMR Resorts Collection acquired by World of Hyatt in 2021. Other hotel brands in its portfolio include Secrets Resorts, Breathless Resorts, and Zoetry Resorts. Dreams Resorts can be found throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. As a member of World of Hyatt, Dreams Las Mareas is available to redeem for World of Hyatt points.
Dreams Las Mareas is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort located a little over an hour and a half away from Liberia International Airport (LIR) in El Jobo in Guanacaste. The resort features spacious rooms with beautiful views of the surrounding beach and mountains. This resort does a great job accommodating families with amenities including a kids’ club for kids ages 3 to 17 and child care services for younger kids or when parents want more freedom.
At the resort’s signature Spa by Pevonia, guests can indulge in couples massages, body wraps, facials, and other services. There are 8 restaurants to choose from on the property specializing in Japanese, Italian, and seafood along with a buffet and café.
Dreams Las Mareas is a Category C World of Hyatt all-inclusive resort with redemptions for off-peak rates starting at 21,000 World of Hyatt points per night for a standard room.
La Paloma Lodge is a luxury lodge located in Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Drake Bay is known to be one of the more hair-raising destinations in the country to get to. Thank goodness, round-trip land and boat transfers from the Drake Bay (DRK) airstrip are included in the all-inclusive rate. There are several nonstop flights per day from SJO to DRK, and the flight is less than an hour long.
The lodge’s location offers unmatched serenity for anyone looking to experience Costa Rica in the most authentic way. The lodge has become a pillar in the community when it comes to conservation and sustainability. It demonstrates sustainability through its use of recyclable glass bottles for drinks in an effort to eliminate single-use plastics, its work toward reforestation in the area, its support of the turtle conservation project, and more.
There are 7 bungalows and 4 rooms to choose from spanning 14 acres at La Paloma Lodge. The lodge caters to nature enthusiasts, couples, and families alike and encourages guests to disconnect during their stay. Wi-Fi is only available in the dining room and guests are warned that it can be spotty due to the remoteness of the lodge. Activities in this part of Costa Rica include Corcovado National Park, Caño Island Biological Reserve, and night hikes in Drake Bay.
There are 3 reservation seasons at La Paloma Lodge: Green Season, Holiday Season, and High Season. This year, the lodge is closed from September 15 to October 30. Rates include all meals and accommodations, a full-day guided tour of both Corcovado and Caño Island, in addition to round-trip transfers. Children 12 and under are 30% off when sharing a room with 2 adults.
Located on the Osa Peninsula, Lapa Rios Lodge is a 1,000-acre rainforest reserve that boasts that it protects the last remaining tropical lowland rainforest in Central America. Guests can arrive by private transfer arranged by the lodge from either Puerto Jimenez airstrip (PJM) or SJO, or they can drive themselves. The flight from SJO to PJM is about 50 minutes and the drive from the airstrip is another 45 minutes. The drive from SJO to the lodge is about 7 hours.
Opened in 1993, the lodge is comprised of just 17 bungalows. It provides the opportunity for guests to participate in interpretive hikes, bird-watching walks, and sustainability tours during their stay. The lodge is also uniquely positioned where the rainforest meets the ocean, allowing visitors access to otherwise secluded beaches. Guests can expect 3 à la carte, multi-course meals per day, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages included in the rate served at Brisa Azul Restaurant and Bar.
Hot Tip: When booking a room at Lapa Rios Lodge, you’ll want to choose the Lapa Rios Full Experience package. This package includes round-trip transfer from Puerto Jimenez airport, meals, snacks, and drinks. It also includes on-site activities led by in-house nature specialists like a wild waterfall hike and starfish walk. Sustainability tours include the Plant-a-Tree tour and Twigs, Pigs, and Garbage Sustainability Tour.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Playa Flamingo is an oceanfront resort located in Guanacaste along the Pacific coast of the country. The easiest way to get here is to fly directly to LIR in Liberia and either rent a car or arrange for transportation through the resort.
The resort features amenities such as a spa, outdoor pool, children’s pool and playground, use of kayaks and paddleboards, and a tour concierge. There is also a photography studio where you can commemorate your Costa Rican vacation with photos to take home. Guests can rent beach umbrellas, snorkels, boogie boards, and other water activity equipment from the Water Sports Center every day.
There are 3 restaurants and 2 bars including a swim-up bar and the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, a staple of Margaritaville Resorts that offers a full menu at its rooftop dining venue. The Banana Wild Cage is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while Capriccio’s Pizza Bistro and Cafe is open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.
The all-inclusive package is optional and covers 3 meals and snacks per day, unlimited house-brand beverages, all gratuities for restaurants and bars, and more.
Occidental Papagayo is an adults-only all-inclusive resort ideal for couples. This resort is part of the Barceló Group of hotels, which has locations worldwide, including 4 resorts in Costa Rica. The resort features 4 restaurants and 4 bars, including a buffet, and eateries serving Italian and Asian cuisines.
The 2 swimming pools offer 1 for relaxing and another for those looking for more energy in the form of dance classes and volleyball. The resort also offers guests the use of kayaks, board games, and tennis to fill their days. In the evenings, there’s a nightclub that is open from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The on-property spa offers massages, a sauna, and even a Turkish bath. Additional amenities that incur an additional fee at Occidental Papagayo include the spa, car rental, tours to Palo Verde and other national parks, and laundry service.
Tamarindo is known as a great place to surf and is also near the nesting site for leatherback turtles at Playa Grande Beach. Occidental Tamarindo is not a full all-inclusive resort but claims to be the only all-inclusive in the area. There are 3 restaurants and various bars throughout the resort, including a buffet, an Italian restaurant, and Kyoto Japanese restaurant, though only the buffet is included in the all-inclusive rate. The other restaurants incur an additional fee.
Other amenities that are included in the all-inclusive program at Occidental Tamarindo include snack bars, a children’s park, evening entertainment, and various outdoor activities. Some services that are not included in the all-inclusive program but are worth pointing out if you’re considering a stay here are the á la carte restaurants, Wi-Fi, and room service.
The resort hasn’t forgotten about the youngest travelers. There is a children’s section in the main pool, outdoor activities for children every day between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and children’s shows every evening.
Planet Hollywood Costa Rica, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort from Marriott Bonvoy, is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort with a lot to do. The large-scale resort has almost 300 suites, a spa, a Splash Kids Zone, 7 restaurants, and 5 bars. Cuisines include burgers, Southern California fare, and a teppanyaki bar.
In addition to the splash zone for its youngest guests, Planet Hollywood Costa Rica also has a kids’ club available for kids from 4 to 12 years old. There are also drama classes where kids can get acting and performing tips, take singer/songwriter classes, and access a wardrobe room.
Adults and older kids will enjoy the resort’s selection of water sports, including hydrobikes and Hobie cats. In addition to the fitness center, guests can spend time at the PH Spa and Beauty Bar where they can partake in hydrotherapy treatments, massages, holistic treatments such as quartz sand beds, and more.
Transportation and tours around the area such as sunset catamaran tours or a visit to Rincon de la Vieja National Park can be booked directly through the resort.
Rooms at this Marriott Bonvoy property can be booked with Marriott Bonvoy points starting at 50,000 points per night.
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica is another AMR Resorts property that is now under the World of Hyatt umbrella. However, unlike Dreams Las Mareas listed above, this resort is adults-only.
Located on Arenilla Beach on the Papagayo Gulf, the resort offers all-inclusive dining, drinks, and room service. The resort also has what it calls Endless Entertainment in the form of daytime and nightly entertainment, including rum tastings and theme nights. Alternatively, you could book excursions through the hotel’s concierge that would allow you to explore the surrounding area outside of the hotel.
There are a dozen restaurants and bars to choose from including healthy-style restaurant Aqua, swim-up bar Barracuda, and Himitsu, where guests can indulge in á la carte Pan Asian cuisine.
In addition to standard rooms and suites, guests can elect to stay at Club Level rooms for extra amenities. Those staying in Club Level rooms can spend time in the Preferred Club where they can get daily continental breakfast, afternoon appetizers, premium liquors, and more. Club Level guests also receive special concierge service and in-room amenities, including upgraded minibar and bath amenities.
As a World of Hyatt Category D resort, room rates start at 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa is located in Guanacaste, just under an hour’s drive from LIR airport. This family-friendly resort features a shallow family pool, water toys for its youngest guests, and spacious rooms for the whole family. The Westin Family Kids Club is available to children starting at 4 years old and there’s beach access directly from the resort.
There is also a lagoon-style resort pool, daily activities calendar, tennis, and a golf course. At Heavenly Spa by Westin, guests can look forward to coffee wraps, after-sun treatments, massages, and more either in the comfort of their own room or at the spa.
There are 10 restaurants and bars to choose from including an international buffet with a menu that changes daily, Asian fusion restaurant Bamboo, La Sabana Steak House, and tapas bar and bistro Cauri.
Redemptions at The Westin Reserva Conchal start at 70,000 Bonvoy points per night in the rainy season.
Some of the resorts on this list are part of large loyalty programs such as Marriott Bonvoy or World of Hyatt, and as such are available to book with reward points. But others don’t have a loyalty program, or at least not one that you probably have enough points in to take advantage of.
In this case, you can still make the most of paying cash for your all-inclusive resort vacation by using the right credit card.
Consider the following options.
Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!
As a frequent traveler with excellent credit, you’re always on the lookout for a credit card that comes with all the bells and whistles. And the easier it is to understand, the better!
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the most popular rewards cards on the market. It’s perfect for anyone in search of a great sign-up bonus, high rewards rates, and flexible redemption options.
The Capital One Venture card is great when you can’t use airline miles or hotel points to cover the cost of a vacation. That’s because you’ll earn 2x miles per $1 spent on every purchase, but you can also redeem any miles you’ve earned to pay yourself back for travel expenses from the previous 90 days.
When you use your miles toward your travel expenses, you’re redeeming your rewards at a rate of 1 cent per point. For example, a $200 hotel night would require 20,000 miles to redeem against the purchase.
You can use as few or as many miles as you want on any travel expense, so you could redeem miles for all or part of your entire all-inclusive resort stay when you book with the Capital One Venture card.
The Capital One Venture X card is an excellent option for travelers looking for an all-in-one premium credit card.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the premium Capital One travel rewards card on the block.
Points and miles fans will be surprised to see that the Capital One Venture X card packs quite the punch when it comes to bookings made through Capital One, all while offering the lowest annual fee among premium credit cards.
Depending on your travel goals and preferences, the Capital One Venture X card could very well end up being your go-to card in your wallet.
The premium version of the Capital One Venture card, the Capital One Venture X card comes with a 2x miles per $1 earning rate and the ability to redeem miles against travel purchases from the previous 90 days, as well as other valuable perks that can help with the overall cost of a vacation.
The Capital One Venture X card comes with an annual travel credit of $300 for bookings made through Capital One Travel. Additionally, if you were to book your all-inclusive vacation through Capital One Travel, you would earn 10x miles per $1 spent on your accommodations. That could be a significant amount of miles that you could then use to redeem against part of your purchase when your statement comes.
While no longer open to new applicants, one of the most popular perks of the Citi Prestige card is its fourth-night free benefit when you book 4 consecutive nights. To redeem this benefit, you have to book an eligible hotel either through thankyou.com or by calling 1-800-THANKYOU.
The value of the fourth night is the average of all 4 nights, so it doesn’t matter what the price is for the fourth night. You’ll receive a credit for that night, thereby reducing the total cost of your accommodations.
Points earned in either program can be transferred to dozens of transfer partners such as British Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy, and so many more to redeem for flights and hotel stays. Or you can elect to book directly through their respective travel portals to earn more points or redeem points you already have to save money.
An all-inclusive vacation is a great option for those who prefer to have everything they need in one location. All-inclusive vacationers can also rest well knowing that the majority of their vacation is paid for when they arrive, unless they elect to spend time at the spa or reserve excursions and tours off-property.
In Costa Rica, there are a lot of great options for all-inclusive resorts to choose from. From family-friendly to adults-only resorts, luxury to more moderate, and even those that you can redeem with hotel loyalty points, it’s a great place to vacation.
The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
The best time to visit largely depends on what activities you would like to do. Outdoor and water activities such as surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are great activities from January through April.
Papagayo and Guanacaste on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast are the most popular destinations to visit in Costa Rica, along with the capital city San José. For a more remote destination, check out Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.
Guanacaste and the Papagayo Peninsula are great locations for a first-time visit to Costa Rica. You can take part in activities like surfing, kayaking, ATVing, and more.
January through April is the best time to visit Costa Rica because it’s the dry season. May through December is the rainy season when it rains most days and remains humid.
All of the major U.S. airlines, including Southwest, fly to Costa Rica several times a week. Nonstop service can be found from Houston’s George Bush International Airport (IAH), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Miami International Airport (MIA), and more.
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