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14 days in Nicaragua and Costa Rica - Itinerary suggestions needed!

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Apr 14th, 2012, 11:03 AM
  #1
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14 days in Nicaragua and Costa Rica - Itinerary suggestions needed!

I am planning a 14 day trip landing in Nicaragua in early June and spending a week with my family of four - two young adults ages 22 and 18 as well as my husband traveling about before heading to Costa Rica and flying out of San Jose. I have read that Granada is beautiful, Omtempe is a must see and I know my son and husband want to surf so have San Juan del Sur on the list as well.

Once we enter Costa Rica I am thinking we will visit Arenal and I really wanted to get to Monteverde.

Some must dos: hiking to a waterfall (but not commercial like the one I read about near Arenal), zip lining, surfing, rainforest, and one luxury hotel.

Any advice or suggestion is greatly appreciated!
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Apr 14th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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The Arenal waterfall is absolutely gorgeous; it's a natural waterfall that's in a lush green canyon type area with a crystal clear river at the bottom. I think it's hard to beat. It's not really commercial except that you pay a $10 entrance fee. For ziplining, I'd go with Sky Trek - some of the longest, highest lines in the country with great volcano and beautiful lake views. Very fun. You can do some nice hiking at the Hanging Bridges. Our favorite hotels are the Lost Iguana and Nayara in that area. We stayed at Fonda Vela in Monteverde and liked it; it's one of the closer hotels to the reserve and has a good restaurant on site, nice grounds. Very few luxe places in Monteverde.
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Apr 23rd, 2012, 02:39 AM
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Thank you Volcano girl. What do you think of this itinerary?
Right now we are planning on stopping for 2 or 3 nights at Rincon De La Vieja staying at Borinquen Mountain Resort and Spa or Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel. Then traveling to Arenal for 2 nights and on to Manuel Antonio for 2 or 3 nights. I want to end the vacation at the beach before flying home from San Jose. Does this seem like a good plan - should I plan for Monteverde? Should we stop at both Arenal and Rincon de la Vieja? We will have visited volcanoes in Nicaragua as well. We are an active family with two teens and two adults. Thanks!
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Apr 26th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Granada for sure.
Nicer beaches than San Juan del Sur, but it has acticvities!
I personally woouldn't stay 3 nights at Rincon, too long!

http://www.thenicaraguablog.com/nica...a_top_10_list/
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Apr 26th, 2012, 03:28 PM
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I haven't been to Rincon, so can't comment on that. Two nights in Arenal is pretty short. We usually stay three or four nights there, and the same with Manuel Antonio. Arenal has a ton to do. The draw is all the adventure activities, waterfall, ziplines, rafting, Hanging Bridges, natural hot springs, etc.

To me, it seems like a lot of travel time and moving around, but really up to you and what will work best for you. With all your traveling, I would pass on Monteverde - not that easy to get to, bumpy road, etc. and more to do in the other areas unless you have a strong interest in seeing the cloud forest, quetzals, etc.
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May 18th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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I agree about Monteverde!
You can do a half day trip to the cloud forest atop Mombacho Volcano from Granada:

http://nicaraguafishing.typepad.com/...ud-forest.html
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May 18th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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Definitely go to Granada in Nicaragua! It's a beautiful colonial town, you should contact Ramon with No Rush Tours. He has great reviews on Trip Advisor that you can check out as well. I did two tours with him, the Islets Tour and the Mombacho Volcano both were so informative, he speaks great English and has such a wealth of knowledge of the city and the country. We toured the islets, went to an indigenous village, saw the Mombacho volcano (you actually get to see the steam coming out, very cool!), we went to the crater lake which was amazing as well as a pottery town where you get to see them make the famous vases. I had friends that went to Leon and did volcano boarding, it looks awesome and I will definitely be checking it out on my next trip! I've heard San Juan del Sur is great for surfing but haven't had the chance to check it out.
In Costa Rica, Arenal is a nice area to go for a few days, relax in the hot springs, and do some hiking. I would also recommend checking out Manuel Antonio, beautiful beaches, lots of wildlife.
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May 18th, 2012, 05:50 PM
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kms4609; i just checked out your post. I can't recommend enough going to Rincon de la Vieja! Back in 06 we were in Costa Rica with our then 18 and 20 yr. old sons. We loved our day at Buena Vista Lodge. We did not stay there overnight; the water slide was great fun, the zip lines we also did there and were quite an experience! The day's highlight without a doubt was the horseback ride down to the natural hot springs, sauna and volcanic mud baths. That experience was absolutely amazing!!It was pure heaven. http://www.buenavistalodgecr.com/wellness.html

My sons wanted more of the zip lines so the next day they (not us, once was enough for me) did the ones at Borinquen Mountain Resort and Spa. It hit the spot for challenge for them. It was such a thill for them, definitely got the adrenalin going. The lines went across a canyon as opposed to being in the tree tops.

When in Arenal I highly recommend doing this with your kids; the memories will last forever! I never thought I would do something like that but the guides were so supportive and professional. I felt like I was in very safe hands. It was an experience of a lifetime. http://www.arenal.net/tour/pure-trek-costa-rica.htm

There is so much more I could say about where we went but not sure of your interest. I will recommend you check in to La Carolina Lodge, another highlight and a pure Costa Rican experience. http://www.lacarolinalodge.com. You will not be sorry, there is nothing like it! Taking the hike with them to Rio Celeste water fall will blow your mind.

I recently discovered this spot which looks like I would love spending time at. I wonder if you want to consider it. http://www.blueriverresorthotel.com

Your family will likely have an amazing trip. As the kids get older it's so difficult to get everyone's schedule to coordinate to make a trip like this happen. My husband and I are planning on returning to Costa Rica (not with our sons) and are getting very excited about it.
My husband did a trip report if at some point you are interested,
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May 21st, 2012, 08:00 AM
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I'm probably in the minority but I don't enjoy the Arenal area at all. If you're looking for tourist town, this is the place. It's the only place in Costa Rica where I have been ripped off....by tour guides, by hotels and by people in the streets. Tacky little tourist stores. Volcano and nature there is great though. I personally prefer Manuel Antonio. Yes, it's also touristy but better. Great hotels, restaurants, bus transportation easy, walk thru the Park with any guide you find. It'll be great. Gorgeous beach...scenery.......
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May 21st, 2012, 08:04 AM
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If you stay on the outskirts of town, Arenal doesn't feel touristy at all - out by the lake and the Hanging Bridges, it's gorgeous and you're immersed in nature. We can go hours without seeing another person.

I've been wanting to check out Buena Vista Lodge - thanks for the reminder on that!
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Jul 8th, 2012, 04:25 AM
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Thanks everyone. I have decided to skip Arenal. We are heading to Dominical from Rincon. Juldie, I would love to read your husband's trip report if you can provide a link.
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