Advice for First Visit to Arenal + ?

Old Jun 11th, 2007, 10:38 PM
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Advice for First Visit to Arenal + ?

My boyfriend posted my message before it was finished! Sorry! He's fired as my typist. Try again:

My boyfriend and I are heading to CR for our first time. We will be there for 10 days and are definitely spending 5 nights in the Arenal area (at the Arenal Springs Resort).

While there, we are interested in: Tabacon Hot Springs (day pass), SkyTrek Zip Line/Canopy Tour, Venado Caverns, rafting, night hikes, La Fortuna Waterfall Hike, Cano Negro, Sarapiquis river rafting...

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on the any of those activities as well as ideas for the next 4 nights of our trip! Our friends told us to go to Tamarindo but we are very open to suggestions. We are both very athletic, love nature and adventure, while not opposed to a day or so of lounging in the sun with a beautiful view.

Thanks! and sorry about our first-time poster's mistake

-Krista (and Aaron)

kkcarpy is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2007, 12:04 AM
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You could probably make do nicely with 4 nights at Arenal. Have you thought about spending the first 2 nights in SJO and rafting the Rio Pacuare? Then up to Arenal, 4 nights.

I'd skip Tamarindo and head straight to Manuel Antonio (5-6 hour drive, only slightly further than Tamarindo). Lots to do in that area as well--kayaking, horseback riding (check out Finca Valmy tour to the waterfall), the national park with excellent wildlife viewing. . .pretty beaches inside the park, etc.

Day 1, overnight in the city
Day 2, Early a.m. pickup for rafting
evening return, overnight
Day 3, drive to Arenal
Day 4, Arenal
Day 5, Arenal
Day 6, Arenal
Day 7, drive to Manuel Antonio
Day 8, MA
Day 9, MA
Day 10, MA
Day 11--departure

Not sure if you have 10 days or 10 nights. Try to do 10 nights if possible. If you can book an afternoon departure flight, then you can drive back from MA (3 hours) in the a.m., but be sure to allow more cushion. For example, for a 2:30 departure, you'd want to leave MA by 8:00 or even 7:30. Most play it safe and return the night before.

3 nights MA is plenty to enjoy the beaches and see the national park (closed on Monday), but if you wanted more time there, of course, you could skip the rafting trip at the front end of the itinerary. OR, as you say, you can do the Sarapiqui while at Arenal.

But I do think MA would hold more interest for you than Tamarindo, which is okay to visit, but so built up, busy, crowded, not as pretty and certainly not the same kind of wildlife!
shillmac is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2007, 02:27 AM
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kk, we did a combo of Arenal and Manuel Antonio for our first trip. I definitely give thumbs up to Tabacon (although it's expensive) and Cano Negro. We got rained out of our SkyTrek reservation, but it gets great reviews, so I'd definitely do that too. You may want to go to the Hanging Bridges - it's a nice hike through a really lush area, and if the clouds are cooperating, you can get some amazing views. We spent 4 nights in Arenal and loved every minute of it.

I think you'd like Manuel Antonio - good animal spotting in the park and a very pretty beach there as well.

If you stay a night near SJO, you might want to try the Peace Lodge; we're going there on our upcoming trip, and they have an aviary, ranarium, serpentarium, and the La Paz waterfall gardens, where you could so some hiking. Also close to Poas volcano if you wanted to check it out. Enjoy!!!
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2007, 06:29 AM
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Arenal Springs is anice hotel...very new!! Tabacon is one of the most popular palces in Arenal...another suggestion is Aguas Termales...nice hot spring...only 100 people every 4 hours...good and fairly priced food and drinks!! Try Mundo Aventura...thay offfer like a day pass and you can do all the activities..La Catarata de la Fortuna...nice easy hike...just drive there yourself...and save some bucks...

I love Tamarindo...and you can get some good deals...many hotel options.

Thank you for visiting our country!!

100% costarican and loving every minute of it!!
roadadvisor is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2007, 06:43 PM
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Hi kkarpy,

You've already gotten some terrific advice. I will add yet another vote for the Arenal/Manuel Antonio itinerary. It's a great first-time visitors plan that offers a nice mix of volcano, forest and beach.

I've done Cano Negro, the Hanging Bridges, Sky Trek ziplines and Tabacon Hot Springs in Arenal and thoroughly enjoyed each activity. The Arenal area has a great deal to offer.

In MA, we spent time in the national park and also did the Damas Mangrove tour, both of which were wonderful. The beaches in the park are gorgeous, and the wildlife is prolific (monkeys, sloths, coatis, raccons, iguanas, birds, etc...).

Shillmac's suggestion of rafting the Rio Pacuare sounds terrific for an adventure loving couple. I believe the Sarapiqui will be a more gentle river run. Volcanogirl's suggestion of Peace Lodge/La Paz/Poas is also well worth consideration. I loved the Peace Lodge, and the La Paz gardens are just beautiful.

Best of luck with your vacation planning. You've picked an amazing destination!
cmerrell is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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We also booked a stay at Arenal Springs in November. I've heard primarily good things and I can't wait to see for myself.

I agree with shillmac, you don't want to pass up rafting the Pacuare. We are staying two nights in San Jose (again this year) just to do the one day trip. It is so much fun! I'm not even that athletic and I had a blast. It was only my second rafting trip and I pretty much knew nothing. If you're in decent shape, it doesn't matter. Send me your e-mail address if you want to see some pictures. They make you a CD at the end of the trip if you want it. It's only $40 and has dozens of excellent shots of your raft going through the rapids plus scenery from the trip down the river. It is very beautiful there. There is plenty of water in November so we may have gotten a better ride than in drier months. My e-mail address is [email protected].

I liked Tamarindo but I know a lot of people think it's too built up now. Having a nice beach and lot of restaurants and bars was fun for us. We had many choices each evening and everything was within walking distance.
Linda137 is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2007, 12:53 AM
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In Manuel Antonio, try the Finca Valmy tour--a horseback ride to a lovely little waterfall---also rafting on the Savegre is beautiful and a lot of fun.

batson57 is offline  
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