Arriving into Liberia Airport we were so excited to begin our adventures throughout Costa Rica at El Mangroove. Our first task was to pick our method of transportation to the hotel. We ended up opting for a taxi since El Mangroove is only 15 minutes from Liberia Airport. El Mangroove does have a shuttle from the airport to the hotel for a $60 fee. Since it was a short ride, we decided to test our luck with a taxi!
When you walk outside there are plenty of options for taxis and the bargaining begins! We were able to talk a taxi down from $55 to $35 and were on our way. Being that we arrived at the end of April, the rainy season was just around the corner and everything on the way to El Mangroove was dry and ready for rain. As a contrast, pulling into El Mangroove truly provided us with the bold and vibrant colors we were anxious to see in Costa Rica!
The beautiful lush forest setting at El Mangroove was rich with large Guanacaste trees, tons of greenery and an outdoor reception desk that put you in that Costa Rican frame of mind. We were greeted with cold towels and a fresh juice drink that was super refreshing. Upon approaching the reception desk there is a long outdoor walkway to the left that opens up and reveals a magnificent view of the pool and a beautiful backdrop of Panama Beach.
Once checked in, we were greeted by the bell hop, Carlos, who showed us to our room. Carlos was truly a shining star as we came to find out throughout our stay. Carlos offered us a tour of the grounds, explaining the amenities and suggesting excursions which were very helpful and informative. After directing us to our room, he came inside and reviewed all of the details of the room which was awesome!
Upon entering our room, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that each room has an indoor-outdoor living area. The outdoor area has a comfy couch as well as a bright welcoming hammock by the window to enjoy the views. The window is not actually a window at all, but a screen that allowed us to sit in the warm Costa Rican air and listen to the sounds of wildlife. The indoor and outdoor sections are separated by a sliding glass door with air conditioning in the sleeping area. The sleeping area is spacious for having been divided, and beautifully decorated. Overall we found that the room was a great blend of Costa Rican vibe and comfort.
On our tour of the grounds, we learned of a kids' club called “Guppies." Guppies is one reason we would consider El Mangroove extremely family friendly! This kids club allows the adults to go enjoy various excursions and activities or just relax by the pool while the kids have fun together. Along with Guppies, El Mangroove offers a separate gym facility, spa & wellness center. Hammocks hang throughout the property and help to create a laid-back setting. A cute boutique gift shop called GYVE really helps to complete the unique feel of the El Mangroove experience.
There are two restaurant options at El Mangroove. Both options are outdoor dining and centered around the pool which offers refreshing afternoon views and a beautiful evening ambiance. Though similar in setting, the two restaurants offer different dining experiences. Matiss Restaurant, which is closest to the ocean, has a Palapa roof and is set in the sand which makes for a fun and relaxed vibe. Matiss is open during lunch and part of the evening for dinner. The other dining option is Makoko. Makoko sits above the pool and looks out over the property providing a more formal setting, which is perfect for dinner and wine for two. Makoko also has a great indoor area surrounded by glass so as not to disturb the view. This area can be used for events or private parties if desired.
We arrived a little late in the afternoon on our first day and decided to have a relaxed dinner at Matiss. The menu had a good variety of local flavors as well conventional plates for those less adventurous. As we sat with our “Bazooka Guacamole” (fresh Pistachio and Goat Cheese Guacamole) we were overtaken by perhaps the most stunning sunset we had ever seen.
The entire skyline across the giant cove was painted with shades and pink and orange like a watercolor painting. We sipped our Spicy margaritas until the sun vanished behind the water. Hanging lights overhead and throughout the property illuminated to light the night as we contently finished our drinks.
We decided to start our first morning off right at El Mangroove and make use of the gym! It had a few top of the line cardio machines with personal viewing screens and aux plug-ins. The machines and facility was kept very clean and orderly. There was also a good variety of weights and dumbbells as well as a large resistance based working out machine. The gym faced the open wildlife and used ceiling to floor windows to display the beauty of the morning. Large lizards could be seen roaming the grass and trees as we built up a sweat. After our workout we found a cold fruit infused water station and a refrigerator full of ice cold gym towels to cool us down...very refreshing.
From the gym, we moved poolside and sat for breakfast at Makoko. There is nothing better after a morning workout than a stunning breakfast spread! Breakfast at El Mangroove is complimentary and they don’t hold back so neither should you! There is a large variety of breakfast foods (and the options go on and on), all of which is highlighted by a full omelet bar with a chef waiting to create your custom omelet. A variety of fresh veggies, meats and cheeses are at your disposal. If you decide you are looking for more, a breakfast menu is also offered with fresh organic smoothies, benedicts, blueberry waffles and “White Trash Hash” if you’re in the mood. My favorite was the detox ginger and pineapple smoothie! YUM!
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were excited to head out and explore a local beach and shopping. There are two popular beaches that are nearby, Coco Beach and Hermosa Beach. Coco Beach is known to be a little livelier and was the one we opted to visit. It has shops up and down the main road and plenty of bars and restaurants where you can stop and wet your beak. The main road ends and it opens up to Coco beach. A boardwalk runs along the outskirts of the sand which allows you to take a stroll to other restaurants and views.
There are street vendors throughout the area and the beach is riddled with people encapsulating the local lifestyle, which is exactly what we were looking for. Coco Beach is a 20-minute drive from the hotel but our shuttle was equipped with sodas and beers! Be advised, the hotel shuttle does charge a $60 fee per couple for the round trip, regardless of how many occupy the vehicle. For those interested in Hermosa Beach, we did not visit, but were told it was a beautiful beach but did not have the flair of Coco Beach.
We headed back to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with our feet in the pool at El Mangroove. Their beautiful pool is equipped with cabanas and comfy lounge chairs and is situated in the middle of the outdoor area with fantastic views of the calm ocean water. The large cove keeps the water steady which makes for a very kid and family friendly beach day. The extremely warm ocean water and gorgeous sunsets also allow for long beautiful walks on the beach and night swimming, if you’re up for it.
While relaxing by the pool, we met another amazing staff member, Ronnie. Ronnie was very attentive and informative, he filled us in on all that surrounding areas and took great care of us. Ronnie had a genuine warmth that made us feel at home in his Country. He loves Costa Rica and was happy to answer our questions and show us the best El Mangroove had to offer!
Our second evening was the perfect night to enjoy Makoko! The restaurant is dimly lit and provides a very romantic ambiance. Live acoustic music was playing and only added to the already beautiful night. The menu was as you would expect in such a restaurant, but again, with a little Costa Rican inspiration. Makoko was a little more pricey than Matiss, but it was nice to have the option of dressing up a little and making it a special evening with the one you love. The private dining room at Makoko was being enjoyed by a private party and although we could see the fun they were having, the restaurant never lost its romantic feel.
We ordered a house favorite, the Worchester glazed short rib, which was ahh-mazing and the beef filet which came out a little too rare. The staff and chef were very accommodating and were insistent we give them another chance to impress us. Once prepared to our liking, the Filet was magnificent and we were very pleased with the remainder of the meal. Dinner ended but we weren’t done, we walked along the pool to the Matiss bar for a couple of their famous “Chili water” cocktails (a local favorite). We enjoyed the rest of the evening relaxing to the live music and soaking in the warm night.
On our final day at El Mangroove, we knew we wanted to take advantage of the amazing beach and water activities! They have some great excursions for all levels of water enthusiasts! You can snorkel, paddle board and kayak to name a few. El Mangroove also offers a unique beach hopping boat tour that shows guests around the local coves and beaches. Our early morning kayak adventure in the cove allowed us to explore the different areas of the coastline and get an up close view of an anchored ship. Afterward, we decided to catch some rays back on shore. While on shore we saw the guest returning from that morning's fishing excursion and overheard that the fish caught on that trip could be taken up to the hotel and the incredible chefs at El Mangroove would prepare those same fish to your liking for dinner!
For our last evening at El Mangroove, we chose to relax in the room and put that hammock to use. We opted for the room service, specifically the El Mangroove Club Sandwich that Carlos had recommended. It did not disappoint! The sandwich included grilled plantains which added a unique Costa Rican twist to a fairly common sandwich. Plantains, as we found, are a big part of the Costa Rican cuisine. To end each night on a sweet note, El Mangroove left delightful treats with the day's turn down service. Usually, this consisted of chocolate covered fresh fruit or delicious chocolate pieces, which seemed to be made in-house. It was a nice way to be welcomed back to your room.
Overall, we truly had an enjoyable experience at El Mangroove. Their relaxed environment, coupled with 5-star service and amenities, made for a great stay. El Mangroove checked all the boxes for a variety of getaways for all types of travelers.