10-Day Itinerary

Jan 5th, 2005, 06:19 AM
  #1  
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10-Day Itinerary

I'm traveling to Costa Rica with my wife and two teenage children this spring. I know I can't do it all but I'd like a combination of adventure and relaxation while on vacation. I have 3 questions I'd love to have answered:
1) Is the proposed itinerary reasonable or will we spend too much time driving (we're renting an SUV)?
2) What are the must-do tours or adventures in each area?
3) What specific changes would you recommend?
Here is my plan:
Day 1 and 2: Peace Lodge
Day 3 and 4: Tabacon Hot Springs Resort - Arenal
Day 5 and 6: Villa Celetas near Jaco
Day 7, 8, 9: Hotel Si Como No - Manuel Antonio
I don't think there's time for Monteverde. I'm concerned about the drive from Tabacon to Jaco. Does anyone know how long that will take? By the way, I purchased the Berndston map as recommended in one thread and it looks like it will be very helpful.
Thanks in advance to all who post responses here!
Bill_in_DC is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 09:12 AM
  #2  
 
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Looks like a very workable and not too rushed itin. Count on that drive taking you about 4 hours, a little longer depending on stops. Be sure to stop at the Rio Tarcoles to look at the crocs--watch your car while there.
shillmac is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 09:40 AM
  #3  
 
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Thanks to all the good suggestions I found in these messages, we're going to be taking virtually that same drive (Arenal to Playa Herradura/Jaco) next week. What route are you planning to take?
"Percy" (who, along with "shillmac" and several others, has been super helpful!)suggested going around the lake and through Tilleran, then to the highway, but bypassing Puntarenas (the exact route suggestion is in another thread). Will this route take about 4 hours (allowing for a stop for the crocs!)? We'd also like to stop for lunch if anyone knows of anything good.
We're trying to avoid driving in the dark as much as possible!
tina_p is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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I am going to add my two cents. Personally if I were taking your trip and wanted a combo of adventure and relaxation, I would skip the Jaco section of your trip and add one more night to Arenal and one more to Manuel Antonio. There is so much more to do in those areas than in Jaco. I am sure you are choosing to stay there so the kids can mingle on the beach. plenty of mingling can be done at the hot springs and on the beach in MA.

I honestly think you would be short changing yourselves and missing a lot of really wonderful things. Not to mention the fact that you would be doing more packing and unpacking with another stop. The amount of driving you would be doing would be about the same. Leave Arenal early and have lunch on the beach in Jaco if you really want to see it.

Instead of really feeling like you have seen a place and can move on should you decide to go to CR again you will feel like you need to go back to the places you have been and see what you missed the first time. 1 1/2 days in Arenal isn't enough time unless you want to just run through some of the things there and just not get to see and do others. Not what I would call a relaxing vacation. IMO Jaco just doesn't offer enough to warrant much time if you really want to get to know CR.
Jessie_ is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 05:21 PM
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Whether you drive to Jaco or to Manuel Antonio from Arenal (a 6 hour drive, more or less), the lake road will take a bit longer because it is slow going and one of the poorer roads in the country. However, the views offered by traveling that way are nice--including the lake itself.

Percy gives great advice, though, and knows the country well. I tend to favor the quicker road from Arenal down to San Ramon, turning back toward the east on the Interamerican, taking the Atenas exit, then driving to Manuel Antonio through Atenas and Orotina--this is a knock out vista highway!

You can also come through San Ramon, turn west on the Interamerican, and go through Puntarenas. The difference is negligible.

Agree Jaco would be a good place for lunch. There are actually several places along the road south of Puntarenas. You could even stop for lunch in Atenas or Orotina should you choose that route.

I understand Villas Caletas are quite nice and assume that is your reason for the itinerary you have proposed? It is certainly do-able, but it is true that a 9 day itinerary is better suited to 3 locations, not 4.
shillmac is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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I have not stayed at Villa Caletas but have enjoyed their beautiful and origional sunset view. I have also visited some sights in the area like Carara. Still think you should go on to MA.

I definitely second (or third) the San Ramon direction to head south to the coast. If you have the time and want a bit of adventure you could go through Tilaran just for the heck of it. You wouldn't loose too much time and it would give you a different view of CR. Might loose a few teeth from the jaring but it would be for a good cause. Think of the interesting trip report LOL. I have been saying for years that there should be some badge of courage awarded for driving some of those roads.

No matter what you choose, you will have a wonderful adventure. Costa Rica is like no other place. Pura Vida is a state of mind that you will know you have when you get it. Happy travels.
Jessie_ is offline  
Jan 5th, 2005, 11:14 PM
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Bill, my kids (son and dtr-in-law in mid-20s) said YOUR teen kids will love Si Como No.
Also, they recommend horseback tour at Finca Valmy Ranch for all of you. Email /contact www.valmytours.com, and they'll give helpful details, answer questions, and make tentative reservation when/if you are ready, for a wonderful, unforgettable day.
CaliNurse is offline  
Jan 6th, 2005, 08:25 AM
  #8  
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I haven't plotted our route yet but I do apprciate the advice.
Indeed, I'm planning to stop at Villa Celetas not to see Jaco but to relax for a day at a wonderful resort. I know it's a tradeoff so I'll give it some more thought. However, the resort looks spectacular and I thought it would be a good stopping point as we make our way down to MA.
Glad to hear good things about Si Como No.
No one has commented yet on visiting Monteverde. We could spend a few days there instead of MA and perhaps save quite a bit of drving but my impression is that MA is a must-see.
Thanks everyone!
Bill_in_DC is offline  
Jan 6th, 2005, 03:59 PM
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Also a thumbs up on Si Como No. I read a review of the Rico Tico restaurant recently that said "overpriced" and not so great. We've always thought the food there was outstanding and within reason.
shillmac is offline  
Jan 6th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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I'd skip Monteverde on this trip. It really wouldn't save you much driving time, given the road condition. I also recommend the route through San Ramon and Atenas to get down to Jaco. I haven't stayed at Villas Caletas yet, but it does look fabulous. You'll love Peace Lodge. That place is like another world!
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 01:20 AM
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Re: Rico Tico Grill at Si Como No, my young-adult kids agree with Shillmac--the food was delicous and resasonably priced. They had so much fun at that hotel! They didn't care for the other restaurant there--Claro Que Si i think it's called--as much. Said it was overpriced and not as good food.
CaliNurse is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 05:32 AM
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Ok. The consensus so far is to skip Monteverde and go to Manuel Antonio as planned. Jessie, I appreciate what you wrote and I suspect you are right in that I will want to return to several of these spots. Of all the places on our itinerary, I think Arenal will indeed be too short. So I'd like to pose yet another question: What are the 2 or 3 things (besides the hot springs) we must do while in Arenal? I can do a canopy tour in other locations. What about hanging bridges, waterfalls in La Fortuna, horseback ride, Sky Trek, hike at Arenal? Any other ideas? Thanks again everyone! Bill
Bill_in_DC is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 12:26 PM
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Bill, as said above (this is coming from my curently computer-less son who was just there) if you go horseback riding in only one place during your trip, do it with the Finca Valmy folks while you stay in Manuel Antonio area.
If you do a search on this site, some others have said the horseback riding in another area--perhaps it was Arenal??--was on narrower paths and less comfortable. Search under "Finca Valmy"--i think that's where they compared it.
CaliNurse is offline  
Jan 7th, 2005, 12:34 PM
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Couldn't find the posts about the narrow riding paths and where they were, so don't know if it was Arenal or some other place. There are posts that describe the zip lining /horseback tour at Arenal and love it!
If you search under "Arenal" you'll find loads of info. I'm jealous!!!!
CaliNurse is offline  
Jan 8th, 2005, 06:01 AM
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Arenal.net has a list of some of the things to do in and from the Arenal area.

I really like Cano Negro. The Rio Sarapiqui is also a good place to go for either rafting or slow wildlife viewing. You could also get into some real rainforest there. Poison Arrow frogs and other neat rainforest critters. Had my firest peccary gnashing its teeth at me there. The Hanging Bridges have some beautiful views. Of course there are things to do on the Lake such as windsurf, fish. The new Sky Trek zip looks awesome! If anyone in your family is nervous about the zip there is also a tram. Of the two boat tours (Cano Negro and/or Sarapiqui) Cano Negro is probably the one you would be less likely to go to from anywhere else so if it is something you think you would enjoy I would do it from Arenal. The Sarapiqui, unless you decide to go rafting, is more in the main stream of tourism down there and there are a lot more opportunities to go there.
Cano Negro is very similar to Tortuguero in that you travel by boat almost exclusively to see the wildlife.
Jessie_ is offline  
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