Advice on first trip to CR

Old Dec 27th, 2011, 04:49 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 30
Advice on first trip to CR

My husband and I are travelling from Ireland to CR on 1 January to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Any advice on the following itinerary would be much appreciated:

1 January: Arrive SJO - fly to Quepos or hire car and drive to Manuel Antonio (which would be better?). Stay 4 nights in Issimo Suites.

5 January: Hire car from Quepos and drive/take ferry to Nicoya Peninsula, spending a few nights in Montezuma/Santa Teresa/Mal Pais or further up the coast (Samara, etc.).

8 January: Drive to Monteverde/Arenal for 3 nights.

11 January: Fly home from Liberia.

Does this sound doable or should we spend more time on the peninsula, leave out Monteverde and just do Arenal? Or is there more to see in that area than on the peninsula?

I'm not sure of the driving distances, e.g. how long would it take to drive from Santa Teresa to Samara, or from Samara to Arenal?

Thanks in advance for all your comments.
Grainne is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 12:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 149
Your itinerary is doable. I would rent a car for entire period. Driving in Costa Rica is similar to driving in Ireland (narrow roads, slow speed) with addition to some very rough sections (most notable the road to/from Monteverde). To calculate driving times use this website: . Click on the small map then enter start and end. For example, driving from Liberia to Mauel Antonio takes 4 hours 37 min; add 1/2 hour for pit stop at Tarcoles Bridge. From Manuel Antonio to Mal Pais or Samara is roughly the same, 5 1/2 hours. For Mal Pais you should consider the ferry schedules. Samara is about 4 hours from Monteverde while it takes more then 6 hours from Mal Pais. Monteverde to Arenal (La Fortuna) is another 4 hours (with stops) and Arenal to Liberia is 3 hours.

So quite a bit of driving is ahead of you. For less time on the road You should skip at least one location; 3 locations are usually best fit for 10 days. Try Liberia - Manuel Antonio - Arenal - Samara - Liberia.

If not going to Monteverde then a sedan car is OK, otherwise a small SUV or 4x4 is almost a must (for high ground clearance).

And an insider tip: check La Carolina Lodge a rural farm far away from tourist crowds, horseback riding and close to Rio Celeste.
xelas is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 02:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269 best for me car hire usually no drop
fee at LIR.Good route
great best
MA guide. best free hot springs
IF you stay there MV
MA 120 miles an easy drive
myfav stop for luch dinner or a stay.

qwovadis is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,085
I would definitely drop Monteverde - beautiful cloud forest, but you don't have enough time allocated for both MV and Arenal. You'll find plenty of activities in the Arenal region and better roads since you will be driving a lot.
colibri is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 02:16 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 30
Thanks for the advice.

We've arrived in Manuel Antonio now and are thinking of dropping the Nicoya Peninsula altogether and spending 5 nights in Arenal/Monteverde. Do you think this would be a better use of our time?

Grainne is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 04:26 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,154
Three nights in Arenal and two in Monteverde would work. Personally I could spend all five nights in the Arenal area and not run out of things to do, but if you want to see the cloud forest go for it.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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3 - Arenal, 2 - MV is much more rewarding than your original plan. There are loads of activities in both places. It will take you 1/2 day to drive from MV to Arenal or vice versa.

Hope you are enjoying your trip - wish I was there now instead of waiting until May!
colibri is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2012, 10:17 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,154
And if you don't want to drive between the two, Desafio offers a Jeep, Boat, Jeep service for about $30 per person to run you between Arenal and Monteverde. We really enjoyed the night hike at Hidden Valley.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 30
We're having a great time and have really enjoyed our time in MA.

We've decided to change tack a bit and have booked 4 nights in El Silencio Lodge. Anyone been there?

Qwovadis, thanks for the tip about We saved a fortune on El Silencio by booking through it.

It seems to be pretty remote, but we don't mind a bit of enforced chill-out time.

We've two nights left after that, so might see if we can get a deal on Tabacon or else head to Monteverde.
Grainne is offline  
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