Costa Rica Villas – Booking the Perfect Place

costa rica villa
about us

Hi! We’re Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and now live in sunny Costa Rica.

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Sometimes renting a villa in Costa Rica can be the absolute best accommodation option for your vacation. Costa Rica is home to tons of stunning villas at a variety of rental price points located in all areas of the country. 

With this guide, you will discover some of the best villas, learn what to look out for when booking, find house options located in resorts, and more!

Why Book a Villa?

costa rica villa

We suggest renting a Costa Rica villa for a few different situations:

– If you are traveling with a family and want privacy. It is so nice to have your own private pool, kitchen, and living space.

– If you are traveling with a group of friends and would like to have a fun space to do whatever you want. I’m not saying go crazy and trash the place, but drinking your own pina Coladas in your private pool is always enjoyable.

– For a destination wedding. We rented a villa for our wedding and it worked out so well. Plus, it was actually a lot more affordable than getting married at a resort and gave us much more flexibility.

– For a romantic getaway. It is always possible to find smaller luxury homes to enjoy as a couple.

Keep in mind that villas are usually pricey, but they can be more cost-effective than staying at a resort. 

Best Villa Booking Sites

villa costa rica

Booking.com

We are big fans of Booking.com because they almost always have the very best rates on the internet. We use Booking.com for almost all of our hotel bookings, but lately they have a lot of home rentals as well.

You won’t find as many luxury villas on Booking, but if you are looking for something not as fancy, this is a good place to start looking.

If you use Booking.com there are a few things to keep in mind:

– Pay attention to the taxes and fees. I absolutely hate that Booking allows this, but sometimes you will find an affordable listing and the person who created the listing adds taxes and fees that are almost the cost of the house. They put in things like “cleaning fees” etc. Which, of course there is going to be a cleaning fee, but when it is hidden until the end it makes me automatically not trust them.

– Make sure to include the exact number of guests when you book. The price may fluctuate depending on the number.

– Look for places with good cancellation policies. One thing I love about Booking (and why I mostly only book on their website) is because of the usually good cancellation policies.

VRBO

We have recently been mentally breaking up with Airbnb and are now booking much more with VRBO. The reason for this is the much better customer service at VRBO. 

If you have an issue with a place you stay which isn’t resolved by the host, Airbnb is not the best about resolving these problems. In our experience, VRBO is a much better company to deal with as far as customer loyalty and assistance.

That being said, there are tons of amazing villas on VRBO. A few things to look out for are:

– Use the filter tool and you can easily adjust your price range, cancellation policy etc.

– I find the map feature in VRBO to be super helpful in narrowing down a place to stay within a certain radius.

– In each listing you can see exactly how many bedrooms and how many beds are in each room. This is super helpful in gauging if a house will actually work for you.

– VRBO is nice because there are tons of reviews and I feel that people are fairly honest about their opinions. 

Homes and Villas by Marriott

Typically I wouldn’t use the Marriott website to book a villa, but if you are a Marriott Bonvoy member this a good way to get tons of points on your account. They also have some villas which aren’t listed on Booking or VRBO. 

The one thing I do not like is that they do not have reviews from previous customers. 

Things to Look at Before Booking

villa view

Amenities

Some of the amenities that a lot of vacation rentals in Costa Rica have are; a pool, hot tub, grill, fitness center, security, access to community amenities, etc.

House Staff

Some villa listings have a daily cleaning person, concierge, groundskeeper, and even a chef that will cook all of your meals included in the price. These personal services are definitely things to look out for because they can make a huge difference in your stay. 

I have noticed that some listings are not the best about specifying what type of house staff is included. You can always send the host a message before booking if you are unsure.

House Layout

Sometimes you will find a house that says it sleeps 15 people, but upon further inspection there might be a strange layout. 

For example, the villa we rented for our wedding had one bedroom that was off of another bedroom. 

So, you had to walk through one room to get to another room with three beds. This worked out OK for us, but this wasn’t exactly specified on first glance at the listing. 

We have also seen a lot of listings that state the house sleeps a certain number of people but this is including a pull out couch in the living room or something. 

If you can not gauge the layout from the photos in the listing, just contact the host to ask.

Cancellation Policy

Especially with the current state of the world, it is good to know about cancellation policies. If you are renting a villa for several thousands of dollars you likely want to be able to get your money back if plans change somewhat at the last minute.

With VRBO you can set a filter so you see places that can be canceled for free up to 15 days before your stay.

With Booking.com you will need to look at the policy of each listing individually.

On the Marriott Homes & Villas site the cancellation policy is listed at the end of each listing. 

Reviews

Personally, I read all the reviews I can before selecting a place to stay. These can be so helpful in learning how easy it is to communicate with the host, how difficult it is to get to the villa, if the place actually looks like the pictures or is more run down, etc.

Location

By location I don’t just mean which town the place is located in. I mean, more specifically where in the town the villa is situated. 

Some towns in Costa Rica have most of the houses in the hills above the town. This is great for sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, but sometimes these are on hilly dirt roads. 

You will need to decide how important it is to have good access to restaurants, grocery stores, activities, the beach etc.

Deposit

Most villa stays will require some type of deposit. This covers things such as damages during your stay. Pay attention to what the deposit amount is and what you need to do in order to get your full deposit back. 

Popular Villa Destinations

mal pais villa

As I mentioned earlier in this post, it is possible to find Costa Rica villa rentals located throughout the country, but some destinations definitely have more luxury vacation rentals than others. 

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio is home to the most popular national park in the country. A lot of the villas in Manuel Antonio are located in the hills with sweeping Pacific coast views. This is a great place to stay if you want a somewhat easy drive from the San Jose International Airport with plenty of things to do nearby.

Just be warned that in this area it is not unusual to be woken up early every morning by howler monkeys hooting in the nearby trees. They are just trying to give you the most authentic Costa Rica experience. 😉

A few of our favorite villas in this area are:

Casa Fantastico – This was actually one of our top villa choices for our wedding. Ultimately we decided we wanted a place directly on the beach so we didn’t rent this place. But, it is such an amazing home. This place sleeps 12 guests and comes with a private chef that cooks two meals per day. It has a gym, large outdoor pool, movie room, game room, six bedrooms, and 12,000 square feet of living space. 

Casa las Brisas – We love this spot because the house and property have so much character. This house sleeps 12 quests, has three pools, has a game room, and comes with daily cleaning and personal chef.

Villa Pelicano – This home is not as modern as some of the others in Manuel Antonio, but we like it because its one of the few places with a large property (5 acres). It would be the perfect place for hosting an event. The home sleeps 22 guests, has a pool, and comes with a chef and house keeper.

Villa Preciosa – This place is nice for a large group that wants an all inclusive option. This house sleeps up to 24 guests, comes with a chef, housekeeper, and bartender. Yes, you read that right. You get your own personal bartender here. There is an all inclusive meal plan option so your group can fully enjoy all the food and drinks you would like. 

Uvita / Ojochal

If you are looking for a peaceful experience with beautiful views and excellent restaurants, this area is a good option for you. We like the Uvita and Ojochal areas for their raw beauty.

A few of our favorite villas in this area are:

La Libelula – A place that just feels like home. It is pure comfortable luxury. This house sleeps ten people in four bedrooms. There is a pool on the property, cleaning every two days, and a chef can be hired for a very reasonable additional cost.

Aracari Villa – If you are looking for a more modern residence, this is a great option. The home sleeps eight guests in four bedrooms.

Lattice House – This home sleeps ten guests in four bedrooms. The views here are insanely beautiful. There is a concierge and on site chef that will take really good care of you. 

Santa Teresa/ Mal Pais

mal pais villa

A good place to stay for world class surfing and fishing. Personally, we love this area! Check out our guide to Santa Teresa and our guide to Mal Pais for more info.

Keep in mind that the roads here are not paved and many of the villas are located on steep side streets in the hills. 

Here it is difficult to find the level of luxury you might find in Manuel Antonio with a private chef and other amenities included. However, there is no shortage of really nice homes to rent out.

A few of our favorite villas in this area are:

Villa Akoya – This villa is on the smaller side (it sleeps eight guests in three bedrooms). Despite that, we love it because it is a very nice home with a pool and is located directly on the beach. If you are coming to Santa Teresa for some daily surfing, this is a good option for you.

Casana – This would be a nice place to stay with a group of other couples. The house has five bedrooms, each with its own en-suite bathroom. The home is modern and well maintained. However, the real draw is the huge deck area with pool, rancho, and Pacific Coast views.

Villa Bonita – This villa sleeps nine guests in four bedrooms. It is located directly on the beach and has a private pool. I like this place for the style of the home and the proximity to the beach. The staff here are amazing and will go above and beyond to help you with whatever you need.

Tamarindo/ Flamingo

A great area to stay if you are flying in and out of the Liberia International Airport. Tamarindo is filled with tons of great restaurants and shops. It is also a perfect place for surfers. 

Flamingo has more large condo style hotels, but is very walkable. The beach is considered one of the best in Costa Rica. 

A few of our favorite villas in this area are:

Casa Xanadu – Stunning home with an infinity pool that has views of the Pacific ocean. There are four bedrooms and this house can sleep up to ten people. 

Modern Home Downtown – This nice house sleeps nine people and has a private pool. From here you can easily walk to the Tamarindo Beach or to nearby restaurants. 

Balinese-Inspired Vacation Villa – a stunning villa with pool that sleeps 14 guests. This place is modern and just all around cool. 

Beachfront Home – A super nice four bedroom vacation rental located right on the beach.

Casa Joya del Mar – This is actually the villa we rented for our wedding. We loved it and are sure you will as well! 

Papagayo Peninsula

This is the area with the most resorts in the country. Everything on the Papagayo Peninsula oozes luxury here. It is a good option because it is a short drive from the Liberia International Airport and has some of the nicest beaches in the country. 

Just keep in mind that villas here tend to be at least double the price of other areas in the country.

A few of our favorite villas in this area are:

IMPECCABLE PAPAGAYO HOUSE – This home sleeps 14 guests in 8 bedrooms. It has two pools and includes access to the private beach club facilities. These facilities have access to the Arnold Palmer Golf course, tennis courts, dining, and fitness center.

Papagayo Mansion – This modern home has incredible views and access to the same private beach club facilities as the listing above. The home sleeps 12 guests in 7 bedrooms. It has its own fitness room, infinity pool, and media room.

Villas at Resorts

rancho pacifico
Rancho Pacifico in Uvita

Another common practice in Costa Rica is to have villas that can be rented within the grounds of a resort. This is a great option if you want a private place for your family or group with the amenities of a resort (on site restaurant, activities, concierge, spa etc.) built in.

Here are a few popular places that offer this:

Rancho Pacifico in Uvita

rancho pacifico

Rancho Pacifico is our top choice for a luxury resort in Uvita. Their property is stunning with sweeping views of the Uvita coast, their staff goes above and beyond to make everything perfect, and it is just all-around a place with great vibes.

They have one, two, and three-bedroom villas available. Each villa has a small kitchen and a private pool or hot tub. You can also enjoy all the amenities of the resort including a la carte breakfast, on-site restaurant, fitness center, infinity pool, and all the assistance you could need from their amazing staff.

Use our code at checkout: VIBES10 for a 10% discount on your villa at Rancho Pacifico.

Los Suenos in Herradura

herradura

Los Suenos is a large resort property with marina and golf course run by Marriott in Herradura (the small area next to Jaco). There is a huge variety of villas at all price points here. For a ton of options, check out VRBO.

If you would prefer to book directly from Marriott, you can check out these two villas:

Villa La Perla – Four bedroom, five bathroom, sleeps eight. There is a private pool, grill, and hot tub on the private property with access to resort amenities. 

Harmon Estate  – Six bedroom, eight bathrooms, sleeps twelve guests. There is a private pool, pool table, and access to resort amenities.

Tulemar in Manuel Antonio

Tulemar Resort has several villas available that sleep up to ten guests. Guests at these villas can enjoy all the resort amenities including a private beach area, restaurant, and more.

El Silencio in Bajos del Toro

El Silencio is a cloud forest resort that is perfect for cozying up to a fire, bird watching, relaxing at the spa, exploring the 500 acre property, and soaking in your own private hot tub. 

They have multiple villa options on the property which can sleep up to six guests.

Destination Wedding at a Villa

tamarindo villa

If you are planning your wedding in Costa Rica, renting a villa is a good option. This will give you more flexibility of organizing things rather than staying at a resort with built-in wedding packages.

Plus, we noticed when planning our own wedding that a lot of resorts require a certain number of the wedding guests to be staying at the resort. We knew that this just wouldn’t be affordable or desired for a lot of our guests.

If you are planning your destination wedding in Costa Rica, check out our destination wedding planning guide to walk you through the whole planning process. 

Transportation

For getting to your villa you will first need to determine the best airport to fly in to. If you are staying in the Guanacaste Province (Tamarindo, Flamingo, Papagayo areas) you should fly in to Liberia International Airport.

For villas in Herradura, Manuel Antonio, Uvita, Ojochal, or any Caribbean destinations; you should fly in to the San Jose International Airport.

The best transportation to your villa really depends on what you plan to do once there.

If you are staying at a villa in a resort you most likely won’t need or want a rental car. For this, we suggest taking a private shuttle to the resort.

If you plan on taking a lot of day trips or need to get to the grocery store often, your best option is to either take a private shuttle to your villa and then rent a car or rent a van as your rental car.

We work with Adobe (a local car company that we think super highly of) and they have a passenger van that comfortably fits nine people plus luggage. This is probably your best option if you have a decent size group and will need to get around.

You can book your car through us here and get a 10% discount plus tons of other great perks.

BOOK YOUR COSTA RICA RENTAL CAR AND SAVE 10%

The Adobe Rent-A-Car discount includes…..

– A 10% DISCOUNT  

– FREE SECOND DRIVER 

– FREE ROOF RACKS TO USE 

– 0% DEDUCTIBLE ON LIABILITY PROTECTION

– DISCOUNTED SMARTPHONE USAGE WITH UNLIMITED DATA

Another (faster) option is to take a domestic flight to your destination.

Eating

As I mentioned above, some villas come with a private chef. If that is the case, before your stay your host will ask about your meal preferences, allergies, special meals etc. The chef will prepare all meals and you will be charged for the purchased food.

If you have a personal chef we highly suggest having them cook at least one traditional Costa Rican meal for your group. It’s the perfect way to really embrace the culture.

If your villa does not come with a private chef you can always hire one. Your host can help you organize that.

If you prefer to prepare your own meals that is always a possibility as well. There are large grocery stores located in all big towns. In smaller towns you may only find small grocery stores, but they carry all the basic food items. You can find out more with our guide to grocery stores.

There are also excellent restaurants throughout the country. Check out our destination guide for the town you are visiting for our top restaurant choices at all price points.

Activities

surfing

Your host will be able to organize all activities for you. However, usually, you will be able to book activities on your own at a more affordable rate.

I suggest checking out our destination guide for the area you are visiting for some great ideas for activities. 

Additionally, we have recently been booking a lot of activities using Viator. We like Viator because most activities have really great cancellation policies.

Saving Money

montezuma house

If you would love to stay in a villa during your stay in Costa Rica, but it is a bit out of your price range there are a few options.

– Consider traveling during the low season. Most places are listed at their highest price between Christmas and Easter. This is the high season in the country. After that, prices typically go down.

– Stay out of the popular areas. It is nice to stay in a more popular beach town for more activity and food options. However, you might also find a villa at a lower price in a more remote location. 

– Opt for a less fancy house instead. VRBO and Booking.com are filled with house options throughout the country. It is still possible to have an amazing experience without the luxury of a villa. 

Some of the unique places we have stayed in Costa Rica include; a remote permaculture farm with a disc golf course, a treehouse, houses directly on the beach, and an open-air home.

Our Experiences Renting Villas in Costa Rica

tamarindo us

We have always had a good experience renting villas in Costa Rica. However, I will say that it has always taken a lot of work on the part of the organizer (aka usually me). 

If you are traveling with a group it can become a part-time job to decide on a place to reserve, book the place, communicate with the host, make sure everyone is flying in around the same time, organize transportation, figure out who stays in which room, organize payment from everyone, plan out meals, and give people activity options, etc. 

A lot of places do offer some type of concierge service which is super helpful for organizing a lot of these things. But, there will still be some organization required on your part as well.

If you have any questions about planning your trip to Costa Rica don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. We are always happy to help you out!

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