5 nights at the beach in CR -- what town(s)?

Old Feb 6th, 2020, 01:05 PM
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5 nights at the beach in CR -- what town(s)?

Seeking advice for a 5-night beach vacation in April. Which coast: Caribbean, Pacific, or Guanacaste? Which spots are best for swimming, paddle boarding, and snorkeling? We're not interested in surfing or fishing. We'll have a car and would like to take day trips and go exploring. We're seasoned travelers, fit & active, and won't have children with us. We're leaning toward Guanacaste, but should we consider the Caribbean side? And should we stay in one place the whole time or split it between two towns? Many thanks for any suggestions and tips.

Last edited by axeljen; Feb 6th, 2020 at 01:06 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old Feb 6th, 2020, 02:23 PM
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Our favorite is Manuel Antonio on the Pacific side. The Guanacaste area is drier so not as lush as MA. We love it for the pretty beach inside the national park, good open air restaurants, and the abundant wildlife - lots of sloths and monkeys. Costa Rica isn't known for good snorkeling; the visibility isn't always the best due to sediment in the water. Tulemar Bungalows is a nice spot, and they have their own beach. Five nights isn't very long for a trip to Costa Rica. I'd lean towards staying in one spot the entire time. Do you need to stay first or last nights near the airport due to flight times? You don't want to drive between cities in the dark.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 05:12 AM
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Thank you for your suggestions. I haven't booked our flights yet because I wasn't sure whether to fly into Liberia or San Jose, but no, we won't drive at night. I looked at Tulemar Bungalows but the room rates in April are quite high, probably out of our range.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 06:02 AM
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If MA interests you, you'd fly into San Jose for that; if you want to go to Guanacaste then you'd go to Liberia. There are a lot of other hotel options in MA. Costa Verde, Si Como No, La Mariposa, and Villas Nicolas are popular, lots of others as well, and you can check VRBO or AirBnB. Avoid Easter if you can; rates will be really high then.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 09:33 AM
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With the 5 nights, I would stay in one place. Our daughter and her fiancé’s family were in the Playa Conchal area last June and enjoyed the water sports etc.
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Old Feb 7th, 2020, 10:12 AM
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Dominical and Uvita are popular as well if you want to explore those.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 09:07 AM
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Thank you for your suggestions. We've settled on Manuel Antonio. We plan on flying to San Jose then getting a short flight to Quepos, and staying in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area, hopefully at an Airbnb. Should we still plan to rent a car? In addition to touring the national park we'd like to visit some nice beaches.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 09:39 AM
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If you are going to rent a car, I would rent it at the airport in SJ, and drive to Quepos/Manuel Antonio.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 11:23 AM
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There's a local bus you can use, and if you do tours they'll usually pick you up and drop you back off. Taxis are also available.
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Old Feb 8th, 2020, 03:56 PM
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Michelle has a good point; most people drive to MA and save flying for areas that are harder to get to like the Osa. San Jose to MA is only about a three hour drive. The small airlines really limit the weight of luggage you can bring on board. Up to you and what works best for your schedule. If you do decide to drive, stop at the Rio Tarcoles to see the huge crocs down below the bridge. Don't leave anything in your car unattended if you drive.
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Old Feb 9th, 2020, 01:54 PM
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OK, that's good to know. We'll be landing in San Jose around 12:30 pm so that would give us enough time to drive to MA before it gets dark. Although, we're considering staying a bit farther out, like in Dominical, to be in a less touristy, less crowded area. If we base ourselves there, do you have suggestions about what to do on the days we won't be touring MA? Many thanks for all your help.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:31 AM
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The most popular thing to do is go to the beach. I believe there's also a waterfall hike and an animal sanctuary. In Manuel Antonio we've gone sailing, snorkeling (not great), visited the national park, had lots of beach time, done the Villa Vanilla spice tour, and a day trip to the Rio Tarcoles to do Jose's Crocodile Tour. The crocs are pretty amazing.
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