9 day Iternary to Costa Rica

Old Jan 26th, 2016, 05:06 AM
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9 day Iternary to Costa Rica

Hello,
We are planning our Costa Rica Trip and really have been a little confused of how many days to spend in each place. We are there for 10 days. We fly to Liberia. Initial idea was to just stay in Arenal , Monte Verde and Tamarindo. But after all the reading and reviews here, we would like to add Manuel Antonio and cancel Tamarindo or stay one night , just to relax.
So we are thinking of Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Monte Verde, may be Tamarindo. Can you please advice, how many days can we stay at each place? And some good hotels and activities, please. We are 4 families, 8 adults and 8 kids ( 7-11 yrs old).
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 09:36 AM
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Hi, S - I saw your comment on my trip report so thought I'd respond here. We usually stay about four nights in the Arenal area, but you can do it in three. We stayed three in Monteverde which gave us some time to relax; you could do it in two if you want to rush it. Manuel Antonio is good for about three nights. Have not been to Tamarindo, but I'd only do one beach location in such a short time frame. Are you already booked to fly into Liberia? Most people fly into SJO for Manuel Antonio.

In the Arenal area, we like the Cano Negro tour to see wildlife, the Penas Blancas river float, the natural hot springs - Tabacon for fancy or Eco Termales for local and charming, but smaller, the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center, ziplining at Sky Trek (I believe you need to be at least 8 years old to do this, but double check me), the waterfall hike, hiking at the Hanging Bridges, tubing at the Springs Resort and Spa, waterfall rappelling with La Roca, and rafting with Rios Tropicales. Both Desafio and Sunset Tours are good tour companies if you need one; they'll pick you up and drop you back off at your hotel usually.

In Monteverde, we did a guided tour of the Reserve to see wildlife/quetzals, went ziplining on the Original Canopy Tour (Sky Trek is there as well), and did a fun night hike at Hidden Valley where we saw some new things like a fox and a porcupine.

In Manuel Antonio, we like Manuel Antonio Expeditions for a guided tour of the national park; we also used them for the Damas mangrove tour, and we did the Villa Vanilla Spice tour - kids might be bored with this, but we enjoyed touring the gardens and getting all the tasty like desserts and drinks at the end. The beach inside the national park is gorgeous if you want to swim; there are usually a lot of capuchin monkeys around.
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 02:44 PM
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If you are flying in/out of Liberia, then skip Manuel Antonio. Way to far out of the way. Plan at least 2-3 nights in each place.
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 06:42 PM
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Thanks so much volcanogirl. We have already our tickets to Liberia. That's the reason we were trying to avoid Manuel Antonio. But now we are adding it to our trip. Your input really helps.Thanks a lot.
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 06:48 PM
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Thanks MichelleY , that was our initial thought, but reading reviews, I think we should visit it and we do have 4 nights in Arenal, 3 nights in Manuel Antonio, 2 or 3 nights in Monte Verde.
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 06:54 PM
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If you do end up going to Manuel Antonio, Tulemar Bungalows is a great place to stay.
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 03:47 AM
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I will look into Tulemar Bungalows. Getting geared up. Just want to get the best out of the trip and not make it too hectic. Is there differences in Zip lining. All places seem to offer it.
I am worried that I will run short on my days in Arenal/Monte Verde. Really want to enjoy the place.We thought of doing Tamarindo because it is close to airport and we were doing a resort , just to relax. But I am picking Manuel Antonio( for scenic experience) even if it means traveling longer.What are your views on that?
Liberia> Arenal ( 4 nights)> Manuel Antonio (3 nights) > Monte Verde ( 2 or 3 nights depending on whether we want to be closer to airport and relax, otherwise 1 night in Tamarindo).
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 09:20 AM
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Yes, all the ziplines are different. They have different braking systems, some are higher and some are lower, some have longer lines, some are tree to tree and some are done off manmade structures, for some you have to hike up and some have a tram that takes you up. At Sky Trek, you're very high up, so you take a tram up and you're way up above the trees; for some like the Original Canopy tour you're lower so you zip through the trees and you may have to do some hiking. Just depends on where you go. I like Sky Trek in the Arenal area because of the lake and volcano views you get along the way. Lots of good hotels in the Arenal area, the Arenal Observatory Lodge has nice wildlife but is set away from town off a bumpy road. Have also stayed at the Lost Iguana, Nayara, and The Springs Resort and Spa (on Groupon) and have enjoyed all of them. Silencio del Campo is really popular with young families.
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 09:25 AM
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If you want to do MA, I might skip Monteverde if you don't want it to be hectic. There's plenty to keep you busy in the other places. Monteverde is a pain to get to, and it was cold and rainy for us. I think most of what you would do there can be done in other places unless you have your heart set on seeing the cloud forest or quetzals. Ten days isn't that much time in CR.
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 01:04 PM
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@volcanogirl, Thanks so much!!
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 02:00 PM
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Keep in mind that travel times take longer than you would expect. For example, Arenal to MA will take over 4, probably 5 hours. So give yourself plenty of time to get from place to place, since you have such a large group.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 04:57 AM
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Thanks MichelleY, yes, I am anticipating that, and also finding it difficult to find places to accommodate all of us.
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Old Feb 16th, 2016, 03:35 PM
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I'm traveling to Costa Rica in early March. Staying in Arenal then onto Manuel Antonio. I choose to fly in between to save time. It is costing more (there are 3 of us), but it changed the travel time from 5 hours to less than 1, hotel to hotel. Just a thought.
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Old Feb 17th, 2016, 07:16 AM
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I just got back 2 weeks ago from CR. I had 4 nights in Arenal and 4 nights in MA. I LOVED Arenal for many of the reasons that VG mentions above. The hiking opportunities were outstanding (I stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge) as was the ability to see wildlife (toucan, howler monkeys, coati, etc.) The hanging bridges and ziplining via Sky Adventures was the highlight of my trip. The ziplining will blow your mind! I was less enamored with MA. While it was nice enough to lie around my hotel's pool from 3:00-6:00 pm each day with cocktails, I found myself a bit bored up to that point. The national park was nice enough but not as interesting IMO as Arenal. I did do the Damas mangrove tour which was nice for a couple of hours. But if you are flying into and out of Liberia, MA will be LONG drive (it took us 7 hours via shuttle from Arenal). I'd advise against it and visit Tamarindo (which I did not visit) for its proximity.
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Old Feb 17th, 2016, 09:05 AM
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Welcome back, Minn - glad you loved the Arenal area. That's our favorite too. Do you have time to do a trip report?
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Old Feb 18th, 2016, 06:41 PM
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Thank you Newbe and MinnBeef. Flying from Arenal to MA will be expensive. Though very tempted to avoid the drive to MA, we are all set. We are planning to rent out a car. I have been told that the drive is very scenic, hopefully we will enjoy it.
Have my bookings done for Arenal Observatory and Lodge, Costa Verde in MA ( Here we hope to relax a little), and Fonda Vela in Monteverde.
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Old Feb 19th, 2016, 06:25 AM
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If you drive from the Arenal area to Manuel Antonio, stop at the Rio Tarcoles bridge to see the crocodiles down below; they're huge!

At the Arenal Observatory Lodge, we really liked our Smithsonian room. If you want to see wildlife, ask to be close to the observation deck. We were right by it and saw tons of coatis there and could see all the birds at the feeder too - aracaris, toucans, and oropendulas.
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Old Feb 19th, 2016, 06:26 AM
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Glad to hear Fonda Vela is still open. I believe it had closed for a while. It was a family-owned business, so not sure what the situation was there.
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Old Feb 19th, 2016, 07:42 AM
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Definitely agree with stopping at Rio Tarcoles. My shuttle stopped there for 20 minutes or so and yes, the crocs are ginormous.

I also had a Smithsonian room at AOL although mine was in the very back annex near the beginning of the waterfall trail. A bit isolated but less than a 5 minute walk to the lodge itself, a great view of the volcano and blissfully quiet in the evening and early morning (except for the occasional howler monkey noise.) Don't expect greatness in the food at AOL but then you're not really there for the food anyway.

VG-I'll try to write up a brief report.
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Old Feb 19th, 2016, 09:17 AM
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RAC gave me the advice to never order anything with a sauce! That was spot on. The burgers, fish, grilled chicken, etc. were all good, but anytime they tried to put a fancy sauce on it we weren't fans of it.

Awesome - looking forward to hearing about your adventures.
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