7 full days in Costa Rica, first week in April

Old Nov 14th, 2018, 02:50 PM
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7 full days in Costa Rica, first week in April

Thank you all for your responses to my Osa Peninsula question - after lots of thought and conversation we have decided that it is just too far to go for a one week trip. Next time.

I just got our tickets flying into San Jose on March 29th, arriving at 730pm and departing April 6 at 8am. Wish we could get in earlier and leave later but it is far from Seattle. With 7 full days I think it would be best for my family (2 teens) to keep the trip to just two places. Looking around it seems the classical trip would be Arenal and Manuel Antonio. Our goals are to see wildlife, spend time at the beach and try to see areas outside of the normal tourist areas, which looks like a challenge in Arenal and Manuel Antonio. We will have a rental car, so not against driving a bit to see areas that are a bit out of the normal pathway, but would be nice to keep a basecamp of an airbnb, if possible.
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Old Nov 15th, 2018, 09:20 AM
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I'd consider staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge; it has wonderful wildlife and feels very away from things since it's set outside of town out by the lake. We saw coatis, toucans, monkeys, etc. there. They also have a free guided hike each morning, a hanging bridge, a waterfall, and breakfast included. The Bogarin Trail owned by a local family is great for seeing sloths - we saw five when we were there.
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Old Nov 15th, 2018, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by volcanogirl View Post
I'd consider staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge; it has wonderful wildlife and feels very away from things since it's set outside of town out by the lake. We saw coatis, toucans, monkeys, etc. there. They also have a free guided hike each morning, a hanging bridge, a waterfall, and breakfast included. The Bogarin Trail owned by a local family is great for seeing sloths - we saw five when we were there.
Thank you volcanogirl. I checked AOL and it is booked for the days we will be there - bummer, looks awesome. The Bogarin Trail looks great. I did find an airbnb about 10 minutes south of La Fortuna that looks nice, a bit out of the way, which is just fine.
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Old Nov 15th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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I really like the Cano Negro tour too - great way to see wildlife via a boat ride. Desafio is a good company in the area if you need one. Bummer about AOL. I'm surprised it's booked this early!
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Old Nov 15th, 2018, 05:15 PM
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Might be worth telephone or email vs online booking?
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Old Nov 16th, 2018, 08:44 AM
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In Manuel Antonio go to Playa Biesanz. It is far less filled with tourists than the main beach. I also like it because locals set up stands there so you can rent sea kayaks, snorkel masks etc. for good rates.
In La Fortuna, if you are feeling adventurous you could go caving. I went and I'm very claustrophobic but once the adrenaline kicked in I was fine. I also recently took my whole family tubing in La Fortuna and we had so much fun!
One other thing, when renting your car make sure your rate includes the mandatory insurance. Unfortunately, a lot of companies here dont disclose that there is a mandatory insurance and then you get hit with high charges when you go to pick up your car. I really like Adobe. They are a local company and are completely upfront with all costs. You can actually get a 10% discount and some other great perks with them.

Last edited by moderator8; Nov 16th, 2018 at 09:43 AM. Reason: delete link
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Old Nov 16th, 2018, 08:51 AM
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If you end up going to Manuel Antonio, we really like Manuel Antonio Expeditions - Juan Brenes is a great guide. We used him for a guided tour of the park - tons of fairly tame wildlife there and a beautiful beach inside the park. Also used him for the Damas mangrove tour. Capuchin monkeys boarded our boat when we did it. Juan found a tiny silky anteater for us.
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Old Nov 16th, 2018, 09:24 AM
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When you post links to your company, that is against Fodor's rules regarding advertising and promotions, costaricavibes. You've been reported.

As far as car rental insurance, here is some information from my favorite lodging (Pura Vida Hotel).

"For all quotes in Costa Rica make sure they include the mandatory basic insurance (a government requirement for all rentals - all rental insurance in Costa Rica is provided by the government run INS agency). The insurance can be reduced a little if you take CDW (Collision Damage waiver) coverage on your credit card. Check with your card company if your credit card covers CDW in Costa Rica. If you get a quote from the internet (e.g. Expedia) and the price is too good to be true, they forgot to include the mandatory insurance."

If you stay at Pura Vida, they work with Toyota Car Rentals, which you can also check directly. Pura Vida offers to reimburse your taxi from the airport, and the car is delivered the next a.m. Be very careful about car break-ins and the tire-puncture scam.

https://www.toyotarent.com/
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Old Nov 17th, 2018, 05:55 PM
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I second Volcanogrl’s opionion about AOL being booked a bummer. The food was meh but the scenery, wildlife sighting and tours ( free and pay) made this the highlight of my CR trip in Jan. 2016.

If your family is open to mind mind blowing zip lining, I’d also recommend Desafio. It was INCREDIBLE! 700 ft. up at 35 mph with the first line taking you straight out towards the Arenal Volcano. The remaining lines are long and zig zag down towards Lake Arenal. One of the great travel rushes of my life.

For me, MA was just ok. I used it as a base to lay by the pool and have cocktails. The nature Park was a fine getaway for 1/2 day
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Old Nov 18th, 2018, 12:56 AM
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AOL has a new chef and a new menu; food was much improved when we went a few months ago. Breakfast and lunch were good; we still thought dinner was a bit expensive and a little fancier than what I'd expect. SkyTrek is also very good for ziplining. Not sure if it would interest you but the Rio Celeste hike is very pretty if it hasn't been raining. It's about two hours from the Arenal area and has a blue waterfall; we did see a sloth and some capuchin monkeys on our hike as well but no guarantees on that. We used Desafio for that too.
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Old Nov 29th, 2018, 09:46 PM
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Thank you all for your responses!

We have decided to split our time between Arenal and Manual Antonio. Due to flights, we will need to spend the 1st night and last night in San Jose, but we will leave early and arrive late to maximize our time. So it will be three nights in Arenal and 3 in Manuel Antonio. We are staying in Airbnbs at both places.
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Old Nov 30th, 2018, 06:55 AM
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Sounds good, hope you have an amazing trip!
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