We looked at several resorts in the Drake Bay area on Lonley Planet, trip advisor, among others, and sent inquiries to a few hotels/resorts in Drake Bay. We decided on Jinentes based on its price, reputation and its willingness to host our ten month old toddler. All in all, we were very happy with our five night stay at the resort. Great staff, and very accomodating with our ten month toddler, who actually gained weight during the week stay.
Arriving in to Drake Bay airport (direct flight on SANSA from San Jose) we were met by a 4x4 sent by the inn. The ride took about 25 minutes or so on a dirt road (about 2.5km/1.5miles from airfield to Jinetes); the last quarter mile was a walk on the beach.
Jinetes is the first resort on the trail leading out of Drake Bay. The beach in front is clean, but is silty from the river drainage in to the bay. You can't really snorkel off the beach beacause of the silt (no reef either); the water is very calm, however, and suitable for wading small kids. There is another beach about a 20 minute hike away along the rain forest trail that is more suitable for spending the day - you will also see other properties along this trail (which continues along the coast, and is a very interesting trek in itself).
Our room faced the ocean, and was great value for money. The room had one double bed in it, but the staff moved in a single bed for our daughter (without us asking) the second day. The room has a shower/toilet, ceiling/floor fan, and desk/night stand. The temperature fell somewhat at night and the fans were sufficient for us to get to bed (I am very, very sensitive to hot weather). Nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable.
The rate includes three meals a day. Breakfast had fresh fruits, toast, eggs, meat, juice and coffee. They also bring hot coffee and muffins out to your rooom balcony early in the morning - great service. Lunch and dinner meals included fresh baked bread, a soup/salad choice, main course and desert (fruit, ice cream, or cake).
Think wholesome meals appropriate for the occassion - not a Le Circue menu, but tasty - we did think, however, that the red snapper was a bit too common menu item). Full bar, with great mango slush my daughter loved. Lunch can also be packed if you are going on a tour for the day. Meals were comparable to what we ate on higher priced African safari.
The main activity is the nature hike to Corcovado Park - we did it the third day when the ocean was calm enough to take us out on the 45 minute boat ride. We landed at the first ranger station (you can also go to the second station, which takes 1.5 hours, but apparently offers more animals) at about 8:30AM, and hiked the rain forest for about two hours. Our guide pointed out animals, plants and gave tid bits about the fauna and flora. An interesting walk, for half a day. The walk is not strenuous at all; just make sure you bring binoculars and waterproof gear for your cameras.
We also tried the Canopy tour (my wife stayed behind with our daughter), which involves zipping through the rain forest dangling from a steel cable. Very interesting to see the wild life from tree top level - I only wished that the guides did more guiding than zipping through trees (which is buckets of fun, but a little more info on the trees, or may be even how the tour got started would have made the event better).
Finally, we took our daughter on the boat for a trip to a remote beach (about 20 minute away) where we were the only tourists. The beach was fantastic - clear water (especially compared to the silty waters in Drake bay), and my daughter had a great time in the river next to the beach. Our guide prepared our picknic lunch, and we spent the rest of the time relaxing on the tourist free beach.
Note: Brian (the owner), had a child size PFD (life jacket) for our toddler, which was great help and made my wife feel better about taking a ride in a 20ft skiff.
A dissapointment. I did three dives in Cano Island (which in itself is a terrific destination with archeological sites; I would have done that trip with my wife and kid if we had another day to spend). The vis was between 15ft-50ft, easy dives in 40-70ft waters, some areas had moderate current.
Note: I would highly recommend spending a day on Cano Island - would have loved to explore that small island - which looks more "south pacific - treasure island type" than the islands of Micronesia/Polynesia.
The underwater life looks very Carribean (think Bimini type) - if you are expecting Bali/Maldives/Tioman or any other South Pacific/Indian Ocean type reef, you will be dissapointed as the reef is a patchy at best and the biodiversity is just not comparable to the aforementioned reefs. We did see five to seven sharks on the first dive, along with a few rays, but nothing much past that. The vis is apparently an issue in most of Costa Rica, so is not unique to Drake. There may be other sites that I did not visit.
Travelling with a baby
We were rejected from several properties in Drake that did not feel comfortable taking a ten month old toddler. We have to stress that although the inn is not "childproof" by any means (nor is that ever advertised/mentioned in their literature), the staff made it very easy for us.
The usual precautions at home was sufficient for us (our Manhattan apartment is no where close to "child proof" either). We brought diapers, wipes, formula and baby food with us. Most, if not all of the food offered was suitable for our daughter to nibble on (fresh bread, bananas, cooked meats). In fact, she became very fond of the mango puree/crushed ice drink that Oscar (the bar manager) makes. There is also bottled water to mix formula with at the resort.
We were very happy with our stay in Jinetes - we can only positive things about Brian and his staff. While we think that some of the activities might be improved, it was a very smooth and fun trip for both us and our daughter. I do think that the place is best suited for children 9-18 (as they can fully take advantage of the activities), but Jinetes was great for a family with a toddler as well.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Come see Costa Rica as you always imagined; wild, beautiful and unexplored. Be one of the lucky few to scuba dive in the pelagic rich waters of Cano Island or explore one of the last remaining virgin lowland tropical rainforests of Corcovado National Park. Splendidly isolated in the tiny community of Drake Bay, Costa Rica, Jinetes De Osa Hotel is a friendly beachside retreat one hours boat ride down the jungle lined banks of the Sierpe River. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Jinetes De Osa
- Jinetes De Osa Drake Bay