8 nights in Costa Rica

Sep 19th, 2008, 06:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2008
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8 nights in Costa Rica

My boyfriend and I are planning our first trip to Costa Rica in mid-January, and we would love some help with our itinerary. We were figuring 8 nights/9 days, flying in/out of San Jose. We do not want to rent a car. Is it possible to do Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio, or will it be too rushed? We definitely want to go to Arenal - do the Cano Negro Reserve, the thermal baths, see the volcano and waterfalls. We love to try new things, and we like to have some diversity on our trips. Any suggestions? Thanks!
krag is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 07:22 AM
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I'd either add a day or drop Monteverde and divvy up its days either (1)between Arenal and Manuel Antonio) or (2) add some time in the Central Valley area after Manuel Antonio. The Quetzal viewing in January isn't ideal--they don't start breeding until February.

So, either:

Arenal-Manuel Antonio


Arenal-Manuel Antonio-Central Valley

Poas, Doka, La Paz waterfall, the best whitewater rafting in CR, Sarchi--plenty to do in the central valley.
RAC is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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Best adventure tours.

Spend half your time around


include a night or 2 at Monteverde.

finish at



Have Fun,
qwovadis is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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cost-effective shuttle transport
qwovadis is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 09:06 AM
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I like RAC's idea. SO much to do at Arenal and Manuel Antonio.

Also, depending on your arrival/departure times, you may need to spend the first, last, or both nights at the beginning and end of your trip near the airport.

The central valley does, for sure, have some interesting things to do. That said, I do think you should plan so that you have 3 full days at Arenal and 3 at Manuel Antonio--if possible.

And you need to get some reservations quickly. That will be a busy time, and isn't too far away.

Good luck and have fun!
shillmac is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 09:31 AM
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Shillmac is right--if you can settle on your places, try to book them within the next week. That means inquiring about availability for about 5-7 places in each location to see which have availability.

The big bonus of the central valley--besides the attractions--is that you're near the airport.

If you're doing 8 days and 9 nights, you could easily do:

Day 1: Arrive and transfer to Arenal
Day 2: Arenal
Day 3: Arenal
Day 4: Arenal
Day 5: Transfer to Manuel Antonio
Day 6: Manuel Antonio
Day 7: Manuel Antonio
Day 8: Manuel Antonio
Day 9: Head to airport (about 3-4 hours away)


Day 1: Arrive and transfer to Arenal
Day 2: Arenal
Day 3: Arenal
Day 4: Transfer To Manuel Antonio
Day 5: Manuel Antonio
Day 6: Manuel Antonio
Day 7: Transfer to Central Valley
Day 8: Central Valley
Day 9: Fly home

The second one would be much more preferable if you have a morning flight.
RAC is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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I just spent 4 months there and had a GREAT time - it really is a stunningly beautiful country.

Here is my suggestions:

Firstly, Arenal Volcano is great for a couple of days and it is truly amazing to see an active volcano erupt while you are relaxing in some seriously hot springs!

Get the jeep-boat-jeep to neighbouring Monteverde and visit the cloud forest, half a day of zip lining and then do the whole learn spanish abroad thing at http://www.viaspanish.com/Learn-Span...osta-Rica.html .

Last, but certainly not least, get a speedboat to Montezuma from Jaco, and enjoy a laid back and beautiful beach town with fantastic beaches and waterfalls. Finish it off with a magical day trip to Tortuga Island, one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.
BenPaul is offline  
Sep 19th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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I don't know that she has time to learn Spanish while on this trip.
RAC is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 03:29 AM
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I don't think you really have time to do Monteverde on this trip; I totally agree with RAC's suggestions. For our first trip, we had the same amount of time, and we did a combo of Arenal and MA, with out last night in San Jose to be close to the airport. The Peace Lodge is an hour outside San Jose and a great place to stay with 5 beautiful waterfalls on the property - you need a full day there to enjoy the property. Kind of an indulgent over the top spot, but very romantic.
volcanogirl is offline  
Sep 20th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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Yeah, if you're into waterfalls, it's hard to beat La Paz. But, I would recommend that you start booking your hotels and flights NOW. The good places in CR book months and months in advance.

RAC is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:25 AM
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We just got back from Costa Rica and spent three nights in the Arenal Volcano area, 1 in Monteverde and 3 on the Pacific Beach of Samara. It was one of the best vacations we have ever taken! We found a company based in La Fortuna to handle all of our travel plans called Desafio Adventures -- we can't say enough good about them -- really helpful and they picked us up at the airport, helped get us some hotels rooms, and they do rafting and waterfall rappelling. We also went on their liquid lava volcano hike with hot springs (pretty touristy.) We had a great guide namedd Elmer. We really enjoyed Playa Samara because we wanted to avoid the crowds of bigger beaches. Might not be for everyone, though because it was pretty quiet. One night in Monteverde was enough for us -- it was much colder up there in the cloud forest. Overall, I would recommend as much time in La Fortuna to do more activities. Have a nice time.
Sportster is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 07:28 AM
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My husband and I are traveling to CR this Saturday. We booked hotel reservations just last week and are still booking a few places now. I think usually you need to book months in advance and we were worried about this, but--I think because of the economy and slowdown in travel, all of the hotels we contacted had availability and the rooms we wanted (and we contacted many of the hotels recommended on this forum and in guidebooks, etc).
erinmatt is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 08:08 AM
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Sportster, we liked Desafio too. We used them for the Jeep Boat Jeep, and they did a great job.

Erin, I think you're completely right. Our guides told us American tourism is way down in CR due to the economy. We saw very few Americans this trip compared to what we've seen in the past. Most everyone we met was British, Dutch, or Spanish - lots of Europeans.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 6th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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sportster is the company you used


I just checked them out and I see where they have tours, but they also offer to help reserve etc.

Did you just call or email and get help on where to stay and what to do etc.

bgsnmky is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 3
Hi Everyone,

My husband and I are leaving for Costa Rica in one week, and staying until the end of January. We want to make reservations in advance but don't know how. Do you have to call these hotels to make a reservation? Once you call and get ahold of them, do you have to speak spanish to communicate with them?
gjm is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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We always go to the hotel's website and call the number listed there. We haven't had any problems. If they speak Spanish, we just say "Ingles por favor" and they will speak English or usually find someone who does. CR is pretty tourist friendly. Most of the hotels we've stayed in have required a deposit made in advance, a lot of times they will ask you to fax them with your name and credit card info.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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We've always used e-mail to set up our hotels, but if you are leaving in one week, definitely phone them. Most hotels have at least one or two people who speak English manning the front desks and phones.

Have fun, it is a fantastic country and you can see a lot in three weeks!
colibri is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 07:37 AM
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e-mail is a great idea too. Sometimes their systems don't work so well or they aren't in a hurry to get back to you, so be sure to follow up if you don't hear back. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 7th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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Do the hotels have websites in English? If so, email will usually work, but sometimes a follow-up call is necessary (note: web forms are much less reliable than email).

Most places speak English, not only for Americans and Brits, but also Dutch, Swedes, Germans, etc.
RAC is offline  
Jan 8th, 2009, 05:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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The Hotel I usually stay at in the City has English and Spanish website www.bedandbreakfastcr.com they owners speak English, Spanish and Italian. One of the owners was Canadian, we chatted and she ended up booking me on a tour, Calypso Cruise. It was amzazing the best $99 I spent in a long time. If you need a place to stay in the city not to far from the airport check them out. They picked me up from the aiport so i didnt have to find my way and when I got there they gave me a free upgrade.
melay is offline  
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