Frequently Asked Questions

  1. When is the best time to visit?

  2. How close am I to a beach?

  3. Is the ocean safe for swimming?

  4. Where can we eat?

  5. What should we bring?

  6. What shouldn't we bring?

  7. Should I bring my cell phone?

  8. Are there ATM's in the area?

  9. Can we get a massage during our stay?

  10. What about maid service during our stay?

  11. In which time zone is Costa Rica located?

  12. Why choose Shelter From The Storm?

  13. How does the reservation process work?

  14. Is Costa Rica a safe destination?

  15. What about theft?

  16. Are bugs a problem?

  17. What about snakes?

  18. If I arrive late or need to fly out early do you recommend anything near the airport?

When is the best time to visit?

Anytime! The guide books describe the general weather patterns on the Ballena Coast as consisting of a "dry" season (Dec. - Apr.) and a "wet" one (May. - Nov.), with shoulders of mixed weather. What might not be explained is that in our area, "wet" usually means rain in the late afternoon and nighttime, with the daytime being warm and sunny. The benefit of the "wet" season over the "dry" is the profusion of waterfalls, the extra-lushness of the abundant flora and a sense of having the country to yourself. The "dry" season, on the other hand, brings incredible sunsets, starry skies and an increased ability to travel to some of the more remote areas. Our part of the country is green year-round and does not have the dust and dryness found in the area of Guanacaste during the dry season. Of our guests that have visited in both the dry and wet seasons, they tell us they prefer the wet. We agree. It's even more beautiful and the rain isn't a spoiler if it rains at all.

How close am I to a beach?

Some people do walk to the rocky beach below Shelter from the Storm, but it is easier by car to get to the numerous beaches north and south of us within 4-20 minutes that allow for a wide range of beach-related activities. Ask for our "Beach" page to be e-mailed to you.

Is the ocean safe for swimming?

With such an abundance of beaches in the area, there is something for everyone, including excellent swimming beaches suitable for younger children. The beach at Marino Ballena National Park (just south of us by 5 miles) is the best place to swim for all age groups and offers a beautiful location with the "Whale's Tail" sand spit that can be walked on during low tide. It also has restrooms and showers. On the other hand, the beach at Dominical, well-known for surfing, can have rip tides and swimmers are cautioned about this by signs and the lifeguard. Always use caution when exploring new waters and never swim alone.

Where can we eat?

Dominical, Uvita, and Ojochal (what we call the Ballena Coast) offer a variety of restaurants ranging from family fun sodas (a soda is a small Costa Rican place to eat with as few as 2 tables) to restaurants with excellent international cuisine. There are more restaurants opening every week. There is vegetarian, Italian, Thai, Tex-Mex, Seafood, European, World Cuisine, hamburgers, sandwiches, a real French baker who makes wonderful bread upon order for pick up, and many other options. Ask to have our restaurant list e-mailed to you. Or, if you prefer, you can fix a home-cooked meal in your very own kitchen or have a caterer come to your villa to prepare a meal for you.

What should we bring?

Binoculars, camera, flashlight, any batteries needed, sunscreen, special vitamins and/or prescription medications, special snacks, etc. All of these items are more expensive in Costa Rica. Most things are available at the grocery stores in the area, but if there is something special you can't live without, bring it. Do pack lightly as you don't need much in the way of clothes in Dominical/Uvita area. Casual is the key word. There is a washer and dryer on the property for your use. Shorts, t-shirts, swimsuit, one or two pairs of long pants, (for hiking or horseback riding and to wear in San Jose) sandals, flip flops, closed-toed shoes, a casual summer dress or skirt. Beach attire is the dress code for this area, but not acceptable in San Jose. The dress code in San Jose is more fashionable and professional. It is also cooler at night in San Jose (and in some areas of the mountains), so you might want to bring a light jacket or sweater. But, most importantly, don't forget to bring your sense of adventure!

What shouldn't we bring?

We supply all linens, including bath and beach towels, drinking water, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, salt and pepper, sugar, bath and hand soap, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, and hair dryers. You do not need to bring adapters for your electrical appliances if you are coming from the US as Costa Rica uses US standard 110V and standard US style plugs.

Should I bring my cell phone?

Check with your local provider to be sure and to inquire about the cost. Cell phones can be rented in Costa Rica with your rental car. There is a phone in your villa which can be used for free calls within Costa Rica. You can also purchase an international phone card for calls outside of Costa Rica.

Are there ATM's in the area?

ATM's are plentiful, however service charges can be a bit high. You may want to consider bringing cash and changing money at a local bank. Airport exchange rates are usually LESS favorable than those in banks. There are 4 banks in the Dominical/Uvita area.

Can we get a massage during our stay?

We know a licensed massage therapist who will come to your villa for a very reasonable price.

What about maid service during our stay?

Your Villa will be beautiful and spotless upon your arrival. We have a housekeeper who is available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday if you would like some "straightening up" in your villa. We do try to have her change your sheets and towels every 3 days depending upon the length of your stay. We are trying to conserve natural resources here at Shelter from the Storm, but we also want you to be happy and can get fresh towels at any time and fresh sheets on any of the days that Blanca works.

In which time zone is Costa Rica located?

Costa Rica is in the Central Time Zone, but DOES NOT observe daylight savings time. Based on the location of Costa Rica, there is little variance throughout the year in the number of daylight hours. Sunrise and sunset are fairly consistent, staying at around 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. respectively.

Why choose Shelter From The Storm?

When staying at Shelter From the Storm, you will enjoy the benefit of our presence; unobtrusive but available. If there is something that you find that you need we are there to provide it. If there is something that doesn't work just right, we are there to make it right. If you would like to know where to eat, what tours to take (and which ones NOT to take) where to get groceries, medicines, dental care or have your rental car towed out of a mud bog, we are there. We are housekeeping, concierge, maintenance, room service and tour guide. We have combined the privacy and luxury of private residences with the services of the finest hotels in the world. Like "W" Hotels, we have adopted the motto, "Whatever you want; whenever you want it."

How does the reservation process work?

It's very simple. You tell us your dates and some other pieces of information and we email you a rental agreement. You then fill out the rental agreement and e-mail it back to us. From the date of the agreement, you have 8 days to make the deposit (50%) by check to our address in the United States. You are now reserved for those dates. The balance is to be paid upon arrival. This is all spelled out on the agreement. At this time, we also send along the driving instructions, check-in details and other very useful bits of information for your trip.

Is Costa Rica a safe destination?

YES. Costa Rica has a long tradition of democracy and respect for individual rights. "Ticos," as locals are called, have been peaceably electing their governments for over 175 years. You need only take the normal precautions to protect your personal belongings, as you would in any country. Violent crime is rare. We have lived here for 10 years and feel safe everywhere we go except for some parts of the capital, San Jose, at night.

What about theft?

Just use common sense and don't leave valuable items in your car during your travels, especially at the beach where it may be hard to watch your car or unattended belongings. Our guests have never had any problems at Shelter from the Storm.

Are bugs a problem?

We waited 5 years before we designed and built our rentals. We would spend oodles of time day and night, at all seasons of the year, to make sure we knew what we could expect as our house has no screens. Having been satisfied that bugs were not a major problem we had the confidence to build open-air designs. We are delighted with the result and our guests have always commented on how few insects they've noticed. Inevitably there may be some bugs due to the proximity to the rainforest. You may see some (non-biting) ants searching for a crumb and moths that are attracted to lights at night.

What about snakes?

Costa Rica is known to have a number of both venomous and non-venomous snakes, but you will most likely never see one. We have a reptile book at the rancho so you can educate yourself on the different types of snakes found in Costa Rica or you can take a trip to the local live snake exhibit to see them in person. Having lived in Costa Rica full-time for almost 10 years, we have yet to see a dangerous snake and neither have our guests.

If I arrive late or need to fly out early do you recommend anything near the airport?

There are over a hundred not so interesting places to stay near the SJO International airport but only one we ever stay at - The Pura Vida Hotel. #1 on TripAdvisor since TripAdvisor began.  They are the most knowledgeable Innkeepers to get you started in the country and have great food and like us are running "a place that they would like to stay at".  They also stay on the Ballena Coast when they take a break.  If you have an interest in other interesting places to stay click through to their recommended list of lovely and interesting places here in locations throughout the country..