Bar scene: Costa Rica

Where the bars make tourists feel like locals


Special to The Miami Herald

Happy, clean and tropical, Costa Rica has almost too much to love about visiting. The bars are no exception. On the west coast, the drinking options will satiate any style of imbiber. Kick back to some reggae or pop the cork on a fine bottle of bubbly and enjoy an equally indulgent view — the bars here will make a local out of you, even if only in spirit.

•  The La Vista Tower at The Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort

An eco-friendly approach to life is a point of pride in Costa Rica. Even the giant resorts are involved. The Los Suenos Marriott has planted specific trees to encourage nesting by the endangered Red macaw. The 1,100-acre rainforest setting has an 18-hole, Ted Robinson-designed golf course and a spa utilizing local-ingredient treatments.

If you can’t stay there, you can still enjoy dazzling views by reserving the La Vista Tower for drinks. The actual La Vista restaurant is in the lower portion of the hotel, but for the Tower experience, you climb a few flights of stairs to a private room. Simply adored with warm tile work and an open balcony, the view is incredible. You can take in the entirety of the largest pool in all of Central America, decorated with waterfall features, incredible landscaping and the natural beauty of the dark sand beach and ocean beyond.

The La Vista Tower offers a special food menu, but you can also visit solely for drinking purposes. Bring up to six of your friends at sunset and enjoy a couple of libations, provided you agree to meet a minimum of $50.

DRINK: A bottle worthy of the view. Cuvee Dom Perignon champagne $385

NOTE: Call Joaquin Gazquez or Karen Hernandez to reserve the La Vista Tower. They need 24-hour notice.

DETAILS: Puntarenas, Costa Rica; 011-506-2630-9000

•  The Green Room Café

Located about 10 minutes by taxi down the road from the Los Suenos Marriott, the tiny town of Jaco has been absorbed by surf culture, thanks to the great breaks nearby. The streets are lined with shops hocking the usual, from Roxy swimsuits to cheap flip flops and mass-produced trinkets. Admittedly, charm might be on its way out in Jaco. Yet there remain a few shining, independent places to experience local life.

The best of these is Green Room Café. A large open patio leads past latticework walls into a sizeable open-air room with a ceiling decorated with colorful, draped sheets. A small stage is sunken into one wall, where the bands play music that makes sense (Read: reggae, dub-step, acoustic rock). It’s a mix of locals and tourists, some with dogs on leashes, others clutching cold bottles of the local beer, Imperial.

STOP IN: For Brunch Sunday or beers any night. You can find out what’s happening on the Facebook page here:

DETAILS: 011-506-2643-4425; in front of the Ice office, in the old Rioasis building, downtown Jaco, Costa Rica.

Read more Latin American & Caribbean Travel stories from the Miami Herald

Some of the best food in Puerto Rico can be bought from roadside vendors like this one selling pinchos (grilled meat kabobs) and empanadillas (fried meat turnovers) beneath a Flamboyan tree.

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A detail of the carving on one of the ancient temples at Palenque.


    At last, a soaring look at Palenque’s Mayan ruins

    From seat 7A, I look down to see miles of dense rain forest blanketing the ground below me. I’m 10,000 feet above the Mexican state of Chiapas, coming in for a landing at Palenque, where an ancient Mesoamerican city flourished for five centuries, until its Mayan inhabitants mysteriously abandoned it, leaving their temples, homes and palaces to be reclaimed by the encroaching forest, not to be rediscovered for nearly 900 years.

Miami Herald

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