Sometimes life lands you in magical places, and you just have to take a moment to be thankful.
This is the state of mind we have been living in during our time in Matapalo.
The paragraph in our guide book on Matapalo is just that, a paragraph. A small excerpt describing a remote village, with few amenities, good surf, and a gigantic beach.
We were intrigued, and although it was challenging, I managed to track down a place to stay, El Coquito. The website didn’t really work, but after a couple of emails back, and forth, we had secured a place to stay. Our expectations were low, but we figured it would be an adventure.
As the days leading up to Matapalo neared, we began wondering what we had got ourselves into. Although Matapalo is located only 32km from Quepos, many cab drivers had no idea where it was. We eventually managed to track down a driver, and with the help of our map, and guidebook were on our way.
El coquito’s little restaurant
Our ride was an adventure, with the driver stopping to ask directions whenever he saw someone. Eventually, we pulled into a dirt road, and saw a small grocery store, and a sign for El Coquito. We had arrived. I think the driver was just as relived as we were.
We headed up to the small outdoor restaurant where we were greeted by Enrique, and Mariella, likely two of the most amazing people we have met on this trip. Enrique is from Matapalo, but, after spending time in California, speaks perfect English. Although he worked primarily for a bank here in Costa Rica, he developed a passion for cooking while living in the states.
A view from the beach
Now retired, he helps run El Coquito, and puts his love of cooking to good use. This would certainly work out in our benefit. Especially when Enrique informed us that the owner had called him earlier that day to tell him to provide us with free breakfast every morning. Bonus!
We were checked into our room which had a double bed, single bed, and a set of bunk beds. We had the pick of the litter for pillows and blankets, and even played a round of “the floor is
lava.” Although there are several cabinas, on the property, we soon realized that we were the only guests.
We dropped our stuff, and decided to check out the beach. The first thing we were struck by was our proximity to the beach, it was literally our front yard. Shaun could lay in bed, look out the window, and check the surf. The second thing we noticed was the size. The beach was HUGE. Playa Matapalo spans 12km, and is virtually empty. We arrived on a Sunday, and there were a few locals camping on the beach, but after that we barely saw
The beach is our front yard!
anyone. 12km worth of beach to ourselves, sure, why not?!
I spent my morning running on the beach, while Shaun surfed. Then we would reconvene in the restaurant where Enrique would make us an amazing breakfast. The rest of our day would be spent going for long beach walks, and lounging in the sun on the beach or by the pool. By the end of our stay, we were so relaxed, and wished we could stay forever.
I find it surreal that I’m actually writing this post in this photo
Shaun, and I talked alot about whether we were even going to write this post. Playa Matapalo is an untouched gem nestled between the touristy cities of Quespos, and Dominical. That level of seclusion is part of what makes it so magical.
The decision to write about it ultimately stems from our wish to bring business to El Coquito.
Enrique and Mariella put their heart, and soul into this place. Enrique’s passion for the food he cooks is contagious. He says his goal is to make people happy through his food, and with the amazing food that he cooks, it is impossible not to end each meal with a huge smile. Although Mariella spoke no English, she was always smiling, and teaching us new words in Spanish.
Sunset on the beautiful beach of Playa Matapalo
They provided us with so many little touches that made our stay so special. One day, I asked if they ever drink the coconut water from the trees lining the property, and from then on, I had a pipa every morning with breakfast. Every night they would give us a router to bring back to our room so we could get good WiFi reception. On the final evening they had several people coming to eat at the restaurant, but spent the time to make sure we were served first, and that we could sit at our favourite table.
Shaun’s typical morning
Matapalo is not for everyone. There is nothing within walking distance, aside from a small grocery store. But, If you are looking to get off the beaten path, have great surf all to yourself, and get away from the tourist scene, then I would highly suggest El Coquito. If you are lucky, Enrique will make you tuna for dinner, and rice pudding for dessert. If that is the case though, you may never leave.
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