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Trip Report Trip Report

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I am finally getting to my computer to report on our fantastic time (our first time) to Costa Rica! Thank you all for you your wonderful advice. The trip was absolutely amazing! I will break the trip into categories for ease of reporting. I must say...we did travel this past mid March and the weather in Arenal was quite rainy. We did not expect all the rain. Was not able to use the pool at our hotel. Our activites were not affected but we were surprised as we thought this was dry season! We were not able to get a full view of the volcano but the views were still beautiful!

Hotels:
Lost Iguana in Arenal region:
Aboslutely loved this hotel. The rooms are spacious. The view is breathtaking. The hotel truly gives you the feel of being in the jungle. The hotel is located right next to the Hanging Bridges. We did walk from the hotel but not recommended. We are very active but the walk to the hanging bridges is a 15 minute walk all up hill. The breakfast was included in our room rate. We loved loved the breakfast. The omelets are made to order and the banana bread is to die for! The food at the Blue Hibiscus restaurant was very good. We ate there one night and asked the bar tender for his recommendations. I had a chicken dish that was excellent.I will say we had one issue while staying at this resort... we paid cash for our dinner but it was still charged to our room. Upon check out the charge appeared on our bill and we had to strongly suggest that we were not going to pay twice for the meal. We must have given the waiter our room number and then paid cash. We did not keep a receipt (our mistake) as we did not sign for anything. I would recommend you keep all your receipts whether you pay cash or charge to your room. This issue was resolved but did leave us a bit disturbed. This resort is a bit out of the way and so if you want to go to dinner in town and you do not have a rental car..it is recommended you avoid the high taxi fees ($30 one way) by catching the hotel transportation that travels at certain times to drop off employees..we also encountered extra fees when booking excursions as our hotel was considered "out of the way" and so we paid an extra $20 one way (not per person) to total cost of excursions. We did see a Toucan at the hotel while eating breakfast and heard some howling monkeys. Beautiful grounds!!

Hotel Capiton Suizo, Tamarindo (Guancaste region)
Awesome!! That is it in the nutshell. Great spot on a quieter part of the beach. Food is excellent. Staff amazing. Breakfast meidocre. Same thing everyday...the beach is beautiful. We loved this place. We spent 6 nights here and did not want to leave! We had a rental car but walked to townat night for dinner along the beach and felt completely safe. Friday night is the beach barbeque which is grilled steak, fish, pork and chicken with entertainment. The rooms are spaciious. We had a basic room on the first floor with air conditioning. We tried to book a bungalow( sold out) after reading all the recommendations but we were completely saftisfied with the room we had and never wanted to move. We had two massages on two separate days which were reasonably priced...couple's massage for 60 minutes for $100. Free (safe) parking on site. Beachfront hotel with nice sized pool. Howling monkeys every day. Iguanas walking around the poolside. Lovelyl property!!

Restaurants:

Arenal Region:
Blue Hibiscus Restaurant at the Lost Iguana was very good. We ate at the Eco Termales Hot Springs for dinner on a second night and had a great meal with cocktails ($5 for fresh squeezed margaritas)!! Best margarita in CR!!

Tamarindo Region:
We at some great area restaurants: La Pachanga (ate here twice b/c it was amazing), The Langosta Beach Club, the Dragon Fly Bar and Grill, Nogui's restaurant on the beach for fish sandwiches, Hotel Capitan Suizo (ate here twice as well since amazing. We drove to Hotel Las Tortugas Playa Grande for lunch (they had an amazing fresh salad with grilled fish) overlooking the beautiful beach. We drove to Playa Conchal and for lunch ate cerviche with the locals (awesome!!).

Activities:
Hanging Bridges: we walked here from our hotel (Lost Iguana). We saw no wildlife. It was absolutely beautiful but we should have gotten a guide (as recommended).

White Water Rafting: Awesome!We did the class II/III Rio Balsa rapidd. We booked through Desafio and they were amazing. Took care of everything. Our guide, Jose, was so much fun. He made the day that much better. The rapids were challenging but we felt completely safe. We saw a slough and some monkeys along the smoother parts of the river. The river is aboslutely beautiful.

Hot Springs Resort: We arranged to have Dessafio drop us off at the hotsprings after a day of white water rafting. It was a great way to end an active day. We went to Eco Termales Hotsprings. What a great experience. We spent 3 hours here enjoying every minute of it. The dinner was included and scrumptious.

Zip Lining: The Skytram and Skytrek tour was our last adventure before leaving the Arenal Region. This was breathtaking and well worth the trip! One of my most memorable experiences in CR. I highly recommend this tour and I am afraid of heights. Our tour guides were excellent and I felt completely safe while going 50 mph in the air!! Truly exhilarating!!!

Surf Lessons: We took private surf lessons in Tamarindo. It was fantastic. We paid $30 pp for a 2 1/2 hour lesson incl surf boards. Walter Marchini was his name and he was very professional and highly recommended. He gave us lessons in front of our hotel (less busy area of beach) and made sure all four of us got up on our boards!! HIs contact information is waltermarchini@hotmail.com....he was so good that we passed his name on to others at our hotel who were interested in surf lessons.


Transportation:

We mixed it up a bit as I was a little worried about driving from the volcano to the beach with the reviews of road conditions but after visiting CR I would rent a car for the entire trip.

Transports:
From SJO to the Arenal region: we used Carlos Bogarin..destinos.encantados@gmail.com...he was awesome. He picked us up on time at the airport and drove the 3 1/2 hours to our resort. Very honest, sweet man. I highly recommend him. He recommended a great lunch spot along the way and so we had a traditional CR meal before arriving at our hotel.

From Arenal to Tamarindo...we booked with Leo at Leonardo Rodriguez Arce at leratravelcr@yahoo.com ..he booked our excursion at Skytram/skytrek and had his driver take us there (waiting 2 1/2 hours while we ziplined) before driving us to Tamarindo. He was awesome as well. I would highly recommend him as well. His driver, Ausberto, was super dependable and honest.

Rental Car: We had a rental car delivered to us at our hotel at Hotel Capitan Suizo. We booked through Solid Rental and was completely satisfied. We took advice from other fodorites and booked our car prior to ariving. We communicated with the manager at Solid and was completely 100% satisfied! The manager's name is Luis Diego Vindas Aguilar at dvindas @solidcarrental.com. We paid exactly what was written in the contract. We told Luis that we had CDW coverage through our CC and so this was not included in our price. There was absolutely no haggling and no nightmare stories as I had read about. We knew what insurance was expected and so there were no surprises. There was $950 hold on our cc while renting the vehicle which was completely disclosed to us prior to our rental date. Highly recommend Solid rental car!

We absolutely love Costa Rica! We feel so blessed to have had the chance to visit such an exquisite place! I hope my post will help someone else plan a great trip! Pura Vida!!!

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