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Dec: 1 week cruise, 1 week solo-decisions!

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We are taking a cruise in Costa Rica this December for one week, going to Curu Reserve (1/2 day); Tortuga Island; Bahia Drake/Corcovada (1 day); Manual Antonio (1/2 day); Playas del Coco (1 day); 1 day in Nicaragua.

We will get off the boat on the central Pacific coast. Then, we have a week on our own to see CR. At the end of the trip, we fly out of San Jose. We are 2 people, over 65 yrs, and pretty active. We will be taking buses to get around. We like nature, hiking, kayaking, beaches, both solitude and activity. We don't like/want casinos, crowds, parties and drinking. We also don't want to travel to someplace new every day. I figure maybe 2 or at the most 3 places to be at.

So far, I am thinking we will spend a few days in Arenal and a few days in Manual Antonio. Maybe 1 day in Monteverde.

HOWEVER- 1) all the posts in the forum say MA doesn't need more than a day or 2 , and Arenal is a better choice.

2) Looked up a lot of the hotels recommended in these two areas, and they are mostly out of our price range. We would like to keep the hotel costs about $100 a night or less. We don't want to be in the chain hotels. We would like to be somewhere beautiful, clean and rustic (but kept up.)

3) It looks like the week we will be there is the busiest time of the year. Maybe we should consider areas less crowded. I've looked into a few but am torn because we do want to see what are the most beautiful/interesting/natural spots.

4) I would love to go to the Osa Peninsula- but the transportation to get there seems very difficult and we can't really afford to fly.

And I am getting nervous because we need to finalize our plans and make hotel reservations.

Suggestions, recommendations, thoughts? (I've been using tripadvisor.com to research hotels.)

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