Barcelo Playa Langosta
This glorious arc of Pacific beach has attracted surfers since the 60s, and when you see the ocean from this vantage point, you'll understand why. Getting in touch with nature here isn't a challenge: without any more effort than a stroll along the beach or even across the grounds to the hotel pool, you can see howler monkeys, iguanas, raccoons, butterflies, hummingbirds, and parrots. A wild nightlife is another thing, though—travelers in search of a lively scene should take the $5 cab ride to the nightspots of Tamarindo.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.