5 days in Costa Rica First time; Please help.

Oct 23rd, 2017, 08:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 3
5 days in Costa Rica First time; Please help.

we are two families visiting CR for the first time. Two couples in 50's and 3 teenagers. We have to plan for 5 nights and 6 days (From DEC 20 thru evening of DEc 25th.) in Costa Rica and would like to have suggestions from experienced and helpful travelers on TripAdvisor.

The above number of days excludes one day already spent in SJO,btw. We need to divide the 5 nights between arenal, monteverde and Manuel Antonio. We will have private van with driver at our disposal from Dec 20th thru Dec 25th. We are thinking of 2 days in Arenal, 2 in Monteverde and 1 night in MA. can you please suggest kind of optimum use of our time, how should we allocate and any other suggestions ? Thanks a million for help.
Bimal456 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2017, 06:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
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'would like to have suggestions from experienced and helpful travelers on TripAdvisor.'
I suggest posting on TripAdvisor.
baldone is online now  
Oct 24th, 2017, 10:02 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
You really can't do three locations in such a short time frame. It takes about five hours to get from the Arenal area to Manuel Antonio, then three hours to get back to SJO airport. You wouldn't really even have time to do anything or enjoy it. I'd lean towards just doing the Arenal area and Monteverde since those are closer together. No way I'd do three locations in that time frame. The Arenal area has tons to offer - the volcano, lots of great adventure activities like ziplining at Sky Trek, waterfall rappelling with La Roca, rafting with Rios Tropicales. There's also tubing at the Springs Resort and Spa. In the evening, you can check out gorgeous natural hot springs like Tabacon or Eco Termales. For wildlife, the Cano Negro tour is great or Penas Blancas is fun too. There's a pretty waterfall hike you can do and also Hanging Bridges. We usually spend four nights in this area when we go, and we haven't seen and done it all yet. Proyecto Asis animal rescue center is another good spot.

In Monteverde, you can zipline, do a nice night hike at Hidden Valley and do a guided hike in the reserve to see quetzals. It can be chilly; we wore sweatshirts and fleece jackets at night. Two nights is about right, but you could stretch to three if you want to relax more. This area caters a lot to birders.

If you do decide to go to MA, there's a beautiful beach in the national park and lots of fairly tame wildlife like monkeys. We like Manuel Antonio Expeditions for guided tours of the park and the Damas mangrove tour. The Villa Vanilla Spice tour is fun too. Three or four nights is about right.

Maybe check out some of this info and see what appeals to you most.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 24th, 2017, 12:48 PM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 111
Hi Bimal

We're also travelling to CR in December,'17 for 6nights. We are a family of four, couple at your age and two daughters of 19 and 9. By the way, I totally agree with the above advice from volcanogirl. We will arrive on the 21st, rent a car and drive to Arenal. Will stay there for 3N, drive to Manuel Antonio for 2N, drive back to San Jose, spend 1N before our departure. I think Monteverde will be a good choice too, but it will be very similar to Arenal in terms of activities etc. So, I prefer to visit Manuel Antonio to spend some time on the beach, also visit the famous Park. Hope, it will help you with planning.
suchda is offline  
Oct 24th, 2017, 02:58 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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I think that makes sense too, suchda - Arenal and MA would be a good combo. So go to Arenal and pick either Monteverde or MA depending on what your interests are. I forgot to mention that Desafio is a good tour provider in the Arenal area if you need one. They have a nice website you can explore. Also the Arenal area is very spread out while Monteverde and MA are more compact.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 02:41 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 28
Thanks a lot, VolcanoGirl and suchda. Our group is excited and they want to do little of everything on this first trip! So we will do all three places and that will give us excuse to plan for a more elaborate tour of individual areas in future. Also, we will be hiring private van with driver who will bw with us all the time, so commuting will not be an issue,except time. Here is our itinerary might look like:

Dec 19: arrive sjo at night, overnight sjo.

Dec 20: Leave early for MA, rest of the day in MA, sleep MA. We may just be able to do the national park and the beach inside?

Dec 21 Leave for La Fortuna in the mornig, rest of the day select activities. We have reservation for AOL, but we read that there is no AC in room, so thats a concern. Any opinion on Hotel Las Cabos?

Dec 22: la fortuna.

Dec 23: leave for monteverde in the morning, select activities for next 2 days.Have reservation at cabanas la pradera.

Dec 25: Leave late afternoon for SJO, overnight in SJO for next morning flight.

We are hoping that this will give every one in the group something they like and want them to come back for more later. What is the best place to do Coffe/choclate tour, Arenal or Monteverde?

bimal123 is offline  
Oct 28th, 2017, 07:04 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
We've stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge and really liked it. It has the best wildlife in the area since it's set so far from town. We saw monkeys, toucans, aracaris, coatis, and great currasows there. It's off a long bumpy road but that was okay with us. We didn't need the ac when we were there but I suppose it could depend on the weather. I love ac too. There's not much to the town of La Fortuna itself so I wouldn't waste time exploring it since you have such a short time frame. We did our tour at the Doka Coffee Estate and really enjoyed it. Also there's a place called the La Paz Waterfall Gardens about an hour from SJO that's fun to see - very nice waterfall hike, an aviary, butterfly house, etc. They have five gorgeous waterfalls; you can hand feed hummingbirds at certain times of day. We stayed at Fonda Vela in Monteverde, not familiar with La Pradera.
volcanogirl is offline  

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