Amazing aerial view of Hotel Cristal Ballena
Amazing aerial view of Hotel Cristal Ballena

A few weeks ago, Hotel Cristal Ballena was kind enough to let me rest my tired frog feet at their luxurious resort. I was blown away by everything this 4-star paradise has to offer! Situated in the South Pacific of Costa Rica, Cristal Ballena lies only 30 minutes from Palmar Sur Airport for travel convenience, and within hopping distance from Ballena Marine National Park.

The Hotel and Restaurant

The hotel is nestled on a 30-acre hillside between the mountains and the ocean, with a garden and more green space than you'll know what to do with. It is where the rainforest meets the sea, and due to its altitude, Cristal Ballena boasts sweeping views of the ocean.

"Pura Vida" pool bar and restaurant cooks up delicious Tico meals all day long. In the morning, kick things off with the buffet breakfast that has "Gallo Pinto" which is Costa Rica's most typical dish based on rice and beans, or treat your body to fresh fruits, homemade bread, cereals and more. When the sun is highest in the sky, you and the family or friends can hang out in the pool as the hotel staff brings you your lunch. Sandwiches, salads and smoothies offered here are all divine. Salon "Cristal" the air-conditioned restaurant area, leaves visitors spellbound with its international dinner dishes. Take the edge off things with cocktails that pair perfectly with intoxicating vistas along the outdoor balconies.

Javi the Frog at Cristal Ballena Hotel
Javi the Frog at Cristal Ballena Hotel

Accommodations

With 16 junior suites, two masters, a family suite and two adventure lodges, Hotel Cristal Ballena is sure to fit everyone's needs. Each suite has its own private balcony and stunning ocean views. Each offers air conditioning, as well as ceiling fans, WiFi, a coffee maker and bathrooms with a hairdryer - what more could you ask for?

The adventure lodges exude a charming atmosphere, tucked in the colorful gardens. The private terrace, satellite TV and WiFi are all included.

Ballena Marine National Park

A stone's throw away from the hotel, Ballena Marine National Park packs 270 acres of land and more than 13,000 acres of ocean. It is one of the newest parks in Costa Rica and boasts the largest coral reef on the Pacific side of Central America. Boat tours are especially popular for whale-watching from December through April. At the northern tip of the national park, the small town of Uvita is home to crystal clear waters and perfect shorelines for horseback riding. Spice things up with a snorkeling tour to spot parrot fish, pacific dog snapper, turtles, manta rays and starfish.

Activities

For the adventure-seeker or the royal relaxer, Cristal Ballena has everything! You can rev your engine on an ATV ride, discover tropical fish while scuba diving, take the reins on the horseback tour across the pristine beach or go whale-watching on the Pacific.

If you're here in September, I recommend you celebrate the Annual Whale and Dolphin Festival! On the boat tour you'll be able to get up close and personal with some of nature's biggest mammals: humpback whales. The fifth annual festival made such big waves that even President Laura Chinchilla has made an appearance. Each year the festival lasts for two weeks and follows the whales as they migrate away from warmer tropical waters. There are public and private tours that range anywhere from $20 to $85. You'll be sure to see your fair share of dolphins splashing away, but watching the humpbacks breach the whitecaps is truly a sight to behold.

It is a Costa Rican vacation you don't want to miss! Have you ever made it to the Whale and Dolphin Festival? What did you think?

View of main building from pool at Cristal Ballena Hotel
View of main building from pool at Cristal Ballena Hotel

Cristal Ballena main bedroom
Cristal Ballena main bedroom