Adventurous Itinerary?

Jul 14th, 2004, 08:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
Adventurous Itinerary?

OK, I would love some advice from anyone who has been to Costa Rica. I am going end of July with my girlfriend, I am 24 years old; like to have fun. I ruled out Corcovado because I simply do not have enough time or $$$. Maybe the next trip. Keep that in mind as you review my plans:
Day 1: Arrive San Jose
Day 2: Early Travel to Monteverde getting in at 1:30pm. What should I do this day- is there time for any tours?
Day 3: Monteverde (is there enough to do for 2 days here?)
Day 4: Travel to Tabacon Hot springs and spend the night there. Will I have time to see the La Fortuna waterfalls on the way? How long does it take to get from Monteverde to Tabacon?
Day 5: Day trip to Cano Negro; where should I spend the night? Arenal or Cano Negro? Is this place as awesome as it sounds? I am looking for crazy wildlife.
Day 6: I could (a) spend another day at Arenal or (b) immediately travel to the beaches of Tamarindo or (c) go to Manuel Antonio. The rest of my itinerary is flexible. Basically I'll spend it at either Tamarindo or MA depending on what you guys tell me to do so here's where I need some advice.
Day 7: ?
Day 8: ?
Day 9: Travel back to San Jose
Day 10: Fly home

I love Fodors. You guys rock.
Richie_C is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 08:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Since you are looking for wildlife, I would recommend MA over Tamarindo. Also, most tours to Cano Negro will take you there and back in one day from La Fortuna, so there would be no need to spend the night there. I'll be heading up there later this month too.
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 37

I just came back from Costa Rica and I had a BIG adventure trip. I would choose to go to Tamarindo! The waves are huge constantly...and it's a BIG THRILL to surf!! I had so much fun "trying" to surf the waves. Plus, it was something different, I seen the forest, animals, waterfalls...I needed something different. This was my itinerary and the drives were not all that long.

San Jose to Arenal (2 days).
Arenal to Monteverde (2 days).
Monteverde to Tamarindo (2 days).
Flight from Tamarindo to San Jose on departure day. TAKE THE FLIGHT, they are cheap!! Driving from Tamarindo TOO long!

If you are short on money, stay at another hotel in Arenal. Arenal Paraiso or Hotel Las Lagos are GREAT. Then, just take a cab to's about ten minutes.

Email me: [email protected]

if you have anymore quesitons. Good luck!
Wes2004 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 694
Another advantage of Tamarindo over Manual Antonio is that you can see some 'real' CR nature without the throngs of people that are destroying MA.

For wildlife try going to Rincon de la Vieja National Park [about 2 hours from Tamarindo] which also has nearby canopy tours, hot springs and lots of other volcanic stuff. Nearby are several waterfalls and the opportunity to raft a class 3 river.
If you are really full of energy you can climb 6000 foot Rincon de la Vieja volcano.
A 'real' Costa Rican experience and much less touristy than MA.

At Tamarindo is great surfing, excellent salt water fishing, ATV, Jetski and horseback tours, plus monkeys and other wildlife plus a mangrove estuary with plenty of crocs and birds.
Tamarindo has lots of nightlife, action of just about any kind you can imagine, and good places to eat and drink.


gannetmusic is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 11:59 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 149
Richie, we went to Costa Rica four years ago, and went to some of the places you are thinking about. We drove first from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. Monkeys swang through the vines right outside our hotel room. The next morning we went hiking in the park and heard howler monkeys although we didn't see them. Except for lizards, I don't recall other wildlife. We had planned to spend 2 nights there, but got restless after one night. I'm not much of a beach person though. Next we went to Arenal and Tabacon. We loved Tabacon. I could have stayed there forever. I was 20 years older than you are now, but our son's fried who had spent a college semester in Costa Rica highly recommended Tabacon. So I think young people like it too. The roads were terrible and driving took longer than we expected. It took us 5 hours to drive from Tabacon to Monteverde.
We were there in January, and it rained nearly the entire 2 days were in Monteverde. We went on a early morning tour of Monteverde with a guide that the hotel arranged and it was great. Take footwear for mud. They were renting rubber galoshes when we were there, and it was so bad I thought I'd ruin my hiking boots so I rented some.
Anyway we saw lots of wildlife in this tour, the quetzal(maybe incorrect spelling) and howler monkeys, and a few others I can't think of at the moment.
We had planned to do some hiking but didn't because of the rain and mud. We did visit the butterfly place and enjoyed it. Saw lots of hummingbirds.

We had a great time in Costa Rica. Hope you do.
krisz is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 01:28 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 77
One slight tweak to your itinerary, I believe, would make sense. Go to Arenal BEFORE Monteverde, not AFTER. Then you are headed in the right direction for visiting either Manuel Antonio or Tamarindo - rather than doubling back.

I would vote for Manuel Antonio over Tamarindo - although I believe this is strictly a personal preference. The two locations are quite unique from each other.

I'm assuming you want to visit a beach. If that is not what you are looking for, then why not consider heading in the opposite direction - east - and visit the little-discovered Sarapiqui region? Great for wildlife, few tourists, neat places, a great place for adventure. Type "Sarapiqui" into Google and see what pops up (I haven't done that, by the way) or check the index of your Lonely Planet guide.
Barbarian is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 02:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
I appreciate all the advice. So we have 2 votes for Tamarindo, 3 for MA.
Special thanks to Barbarian on where to start- hitting up Arenal before Monteverde. Two problems with that one though: (1) I just thought it would be nice to hit up some activities before relaxing in the hot springs- otherwise it might be a little anti-climatic. (2) I couldnt' get a reservation at Tabacon for the first two days of my trip so that leaves me with little option. How long does it take to get from the Monteverde area to Arenal? I'm curious in the event that I do decide to backtrack on my way to another location.
Richie_C is offline  
Jul 14th, 2004, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144

I haven't done the trip between Arenal and Monteverde, but from what I've read here, it takes quite a while. It's not a long drive distance-wise, but I guess the roads are awful and you have to go really slowly. I believe it takes hours. What about doing things in the opposite order? Starting at MA or Tamarindo, then Monteverde, then Arenal? That might work if you want to leave the hot springs for the end of your trip.

We loved Manuel Antonio and didn't go to Tamarindo, though we would have if we could've stayed longer. But, I wouldn't make your decision based on votes. I think it really would have more to do with your taste, what you're looking for, etc. Hopefully, someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read on here, I think someone your age might prefer Tamarindo over MA. Plus, I believe it's a less expensive area if money is a concern. Of course, on the other hand, Jaco is only an hour from MA and it seems to be more geared towards a younger crowd than MA, so you could go there, too, if you stayed in MA.

You didn't say much about what you're looking for other than wildlife. Do you want to go to the beach? If so, for surfing or just hanging out? When you say you like to have fun, do you mean daytime nature-oriented adventures or nightlife? Maybe if you clarify that a bit, someone can better help you to decide.

No matter where you go, you'll have a blast. Our 23-year-old daughter had a great time and she was stuck with parents and siblings. Imagine how much fun she'd have had without us!
JoBurritt is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 06:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
OK- my revised itinerary and a few more questions thanks to you all. My biggest Q is whether it is stupid to spend the most number of days in Tamarindo- what if I get to the rainforest and love it? Now, I've been surfing and enjoy it, but am not sure my girlfriend will. Is there really enough to do in Tamarindo? Another q: I'm afraid I'm not seeing enough of the rainforest. Is Monteverde a rainforest? If not, I would love a recommendation for great rainforest viewing in the northwest part of the country (between Tamarindo, Arenal area)? I appreciate all your help.

Day 1: Arrive San Jose
Day 2: Fly to Tamarindo
Day 3: Tamarindo
Day 4: Tamrindo
Day 5: Travel to Monteverde- canopy zip line tour
Day 6: Monteverde
Day 7: Travel to Arenal/Tabacon
Day 8: Day Trip to Cano Negro- how long is the drive?
Day 9: Travel back to San Jose
Day 10: Fly home
Richie_C is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 07:05 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 356
Richie C - I think your revised itinerary looks pretty decent. We just got back from CR - went to La Paz (Peace Lodge), Arenal & Tamarindo. We are a bunch of early 30s & had a great time. I think I would have loved Tamarindo even more if we had gone there 1st - just because by the time we got there after all the awesome adventures we had done, it seemed slightly disappointing as if it were another beach like many others we've visited in our lives. BUT - the town is very cool & lazy & yes, you will have things to do even if your gf doesnt like surfing. Just lying on the amazing beach is cool, sunset & happy hour at Zullymars, definitely have lunch at Shark Bite Deli (we went there twice - its fun & cool), went on a sunset cruise with Mandingo cruises (dont go if you might get seasick - I did majorly & it wasnt fun for me!).

Two other thoughts - one, if you keep things as you last listed them, you would have time to visit Fortuna fall on the morning before your drive back to San Jose. Fortuna is the direction of San Jose & if you went 1st thing in the morning & then had a good early lunch in Fortuna (great Mexican at Las Brasitas) you'd still have plenty of light left for the drive back to San Jose.

Secondly, if you were still able to revise your itinerary & drive Arenal on your arrival day (assuming you get in early enough), then Monteverde, then Tamarindo, last night in SJO - will give you one less night in SJO & you can use it elsewhere. The drive Tam - SJO was easy & we hit a little traffic which slowed us down - but still the whole thing took no more than 5 hours. We left Tam at 8am and were in our rooms in SJO at 1pm (this included the traffic, a stop of monkeys across the road, a stop for snacks & a stop by the police for speeding!)

If you want any other details for the areas - check out my trip report "Peace Lodge - Arenal - Tamarindo - Alajuela Trip Report". Have fun!!!

FYI - I know people are going to start to think I work for Peace Lodge because I rave about them so much - but if you have an afternoon flight out on your last day AND assuming you're driving, you might want to splurge and stay at Peace Lodge your last night. VERY ROMANTIC & a wonderful way to relax in an awesome environment after your trip. It's not much more than Tabacon I don't think. To save on some $, stop & get some goodies (cheese, crackers, wine, fruit, etc) at a super before you arrive so you can avoid their dinner which was pricey but good($60 per couple inc tip no drinks). There is a fridge in the room. Definitely get the room service breakfast - very romantic & relaxing!

sclubb is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144

My only concern, given your quest for the rainforest, is that I don't think you really have much rainforest area on your itinerary. Monteverde is, I believe, a cloud forest, not a rain forest. I'm not an expert on the difference between them, but I know there is one. Hopefully, someone else will chime in here who knows of a rainforest in the northwest. Regardless of where you go or what you do, I think you'll have a great time. We enjoyed every part of our trip and there are so many more places in CR we'd still like to go.

One other thought, and others may completely disagree with me. To me, the fun part about the rainforest was seeing the humongous plants and the animals, especially the kinds of animals we don't have at home, such as monkeys, sloths, etc. If that's what you're looking for, and you're not into identifying a bunch of different plants, it may be more of a quality thing than a quantity thing. If you're not seeing anything new and different that interests you, lots of time in the rainforest may not be all that exciting. We saw the most animals on our boat tour and that was way more fun than all of our rainforest hikes combined. I don't know much about the Cano Negro tour, but that may give you the rainforest "fix" you need if you're lucky in what you see. In other words, to someone who is not into botany or zoology, once you've spent a few hours just walking through the rainforest, you may feel you've seen enough rainforest.

I hope I've made some sense here--not sure whether I have.
JoBurritt is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
I'm not sure how long the drive is to Cano Negro, but I wouldn't drive there anyway. I've heard that hiring a boat & guide there is really no cheaper than taking a tour from La Fortuna. Nobody I've talked to has recommended driving there on our own. They all said the tours out of La Fortuna are the way to go. That way, you can relax during the ride instead of trying to navigate the bad roads up there.
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 12:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
What you will find in the northwest between Tamarindo and Arenal is Tropical Dry Forest. However, while it is different from what you would consider "rainforest" (located primarily on the Osa), there are some beautiful areas with lots of wildlife. I think someone already mentioned the Rincon de la Vieja are to you (this is the dry forest area I am talking about). In this area, you can do a guided horseback tour through the forest, mud baths from volcanic mudpots, etc. Very cool and often overlooked area. The cloud forest areas are, of course, Monteverde, and also the Los Angeles Cloud Forest between Arenal and San Ramon as you travel back to San Jose. They are called cloud forests because they are at high altitudes, literally in the clouds much of the time. Your choices are good. You aren't going to go wrong. All of these areas are wonderful and offer something interesting and unique.
shillmac is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,265

Welcome Back! How was your trip? Can't wait to hear about it.

lvk is offline  
Jul 16th, 2004, 12:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
Well I certainly appreciate all the advice. In any case, I have created one of the most popular Fodor's travel dialogues in existence right now- this trip has been worth it just for that. Perhaps either in my next life as a botanist or on my next trip down to Costa Rica (whichever comes first) I will make it down to the Osa to take in the "real rainforest" in all of its glory.
Richie_C is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mexico & Central America
Aug 16th, 2007 06:55 PM
Mexico & Central America
Jan 6th, 2007 08:17 AM
Mexico & Central America
Feb 28th, 2006 08:45 PM
Mexico & Central America
Apr 11th, 2005 03:46 PM
Mexico & Central America
Mar 26th, 2004 12:57 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:42 PM.