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Advice on trip to Costa Rica for myself and three late teenagers

Advice on trip to Costa Rica for myself and three late teenagers

Old May 11th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Advice on trip to Costa Rica for myself and three late teenagers

I am considering a trip to Costa Rica in mid to late July. I am looking for a mix of beach and rain forest with some activities like canopy walks, zip lines etc.
First, is this a crazy time of year to go?
Second, where does anyone recommend to go?
Thanks
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Old May 11th, 2013, 01:12 PM
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July is a great time of the year to go. It is during the wet season, but it is rainy season eight months of the year in Costa Rica. July and August are the least rainy months of the season. Generally you will wake to sunshine, and get a late afternoon rain. Of course, CR is a land of micro climates. So there are no guarantees. But most activities go on, rain or shine

As for where to go? It depends on what you are looking to do. Manuel Antonio / Quepos is a popular choice. Good beaches, and a very pretty National Park. Lots of monkeys. There are hotels there for every budget, and some good restaurants. Lots of nature tours, and it is pretty easy to get to.

If you have surfers in the group, you might also consider Santa Teresa / Mal Pais. Very tropical vibe. Large population of Euro and South American expats, means great food! The ocean is more turbulent here, so you have to pick your swim spot. A little harder to get to than Manuel Antonio, including a ferry ride. But I feel it is worth the effort.

July also marks the beginning of turtle season on the west coast (Tortuguero). Very good rainforest here too. Parrots, monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, waterfowl, etc. I always tell my clients that this is the Costa Rica they see on TV.

Monteverde is famous for the cloud forest, a type of rainforest. Full disclosure: I own a home there, so I am probably a little biased. But this is a great place to hike and bird. The zipline tours were actually invented here. I think the ziplines here are the best in the country.

These are three completely different parts of the country, and not convenient to each other. Well Monteverde isn't too long a drive to Manuel Antonio (3 1/2 hours), but Tortuguero is tucked up into the Northeastern corner of the country.

We sometimes will use a stopover in Arenal for a night or two to make the travel easier. The kids will love the hot springs, and there are some really good adventure tours in this area.

I would say MA for beach, Arenal, and either Monteverde or Tortuguero. It depends on how much time you have.

Of course, this is just my two cents. Lots of folks here on Fodor's know the country very well, and you will find them helpful. Everyone has their own ideas. So let the (friendly) debate begin.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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Old May 11th, 2013, 02:13 PM
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I like the combo of the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio for a first trip; those are the most popular places to go, and they're easy to get around and offer a lot of adventure activities. We loved Tulemar in Manuel Antonio; they have their own beach. Like Pat said the national park is beautiful with a gorgeous beach and tons of fairly tame wildlife. Lots of good restaurant choices. Arenal has the ziplines at Sky Trek and natural hot springs like Tabacon and Eco Termales. It also has the Hanging Bridges. Just about everything you're looking for can be found in those two spots. We've been in July several times and have gotten rain every day but never a complete rainout. We just do our activities early in the day. The sun is up around 5:30 a.m. so most things get an early start.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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In July, we have a little "verano" (summer) for about 2 weeks. This is like a stop in the rainy season. So yes, it is a great time to come in Costa Rica!
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Old May 13th, 2013, 04:16 PM
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You won't go wrong listening to Pat. He arranged our like trip a couple years back and we give him two thumbs up!
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Old May 14th, 2013, 05:23 AM
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The rainy season has already begun, but throughout May and June it's usually just an afternoon shower (at times hard, but usually not of long duration). El Veranillo de San Juan is a pause in the rainy season that usually hits around late June/early July and can last for two weeks or so (give or take).

However, by mid- to late-July the rains start picking up and gathering steam. September and October are by far the rainiest months (often with long extended rains, some times all day or days at a time). But August (especially mid-August on) can be very rainy.

There's an interesting phenomenon in late September and early October along the Caribbean coast where it's often sunny (and the seas calm), while the rest of the country is getting doused...
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Old May 14th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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What about August weather in Costa Rica? Are we looking at being doused regularly if we travel then?
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Old May 14th, 2013, 07:58 AM
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August, depends on where you go. Generally rainy season can mean beautiful morning and afternoon showers.
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Old May 14th, 2013, 08:54 AM
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I like this map to give a general idea of weather patterns. Mouse over the areas you're interested in.

http://costa-rica-guide.com/Weather/WeatherMap.html
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Old May 15th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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We just got back from a 12 day trip to Costa Rica and LOVED IT! We didn't care for the Manuel Antonio area so much. After having been to Monteverde and Arenal/La Fortuna, the crowded and high priced Manuel Antonio area was not so much fun. Parking was terrible and the beaches were crowded and a bit dirty. We really enjoyed Monteverde. We hiked on our own in the Monteverdy Cloud Forest and took a night hike there. We also went to Selvatura Park and walked the treetop walkways...saw an anteater and some monkeys. A very fun and relaxing day. There were plenty of food choices in town and we felt totally safe there. We spent our beach time on the Osa Peninsula where the beaches are not at all crowded and some of the most beautiful beaches we have ever been to, and we have traveled a lot. I highly recommend the Osa if you have the time. We truly felt like the Osa was the unspoiled Costa Rica we came to see while still having plenty of opportunities for hiking and kayaking and other sports. Have a fun trip!
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Old May 15th, 2013, 03:23 PM
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c, I'm really surprised you would say that the beaches in Manuel Antonio were dirty. Did you go to the beach inside the park? We were just there, and it was immaculate and gorgeous. The same with the beach at Tulemar - fantastic and very clean. Which beaches did you go to?
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Old May 27th, 2013, 07:50 AM
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I have planned the following trip to Costa Rica for myself, my husband our 3 teens, 19,17,16.
-2 nights in Arenal, volcano hike, jorsebakc ride and zipline.
-2 nights in MOnteverde doing Sky Adventures
-4 nights Guanacaste area, relaxing
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Old May 27th, 2013, 07:51 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. Guanacaste is a great place to end the trip and relax on the beach. With teens, I would recommend staying in Tamarindo which is a nice beach town. Check out www.tamarindo.com for more information about the area and a couple good lodging choices include www.rpmvacationrentals.com and www.hotelcapitansuizo.com.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2014, 08:14 AM
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I am booking a trip now and am wondering how the combo of Arenal with Guanacaste worked out. I have two 15 year old boys. We are planning to fly into San Jose and stay 3 nts in Arenal. Then we will either head to Marriott in Guanacaste or Marriott Los Suenos which is about an hour from Manuel Antonio. We are locked in to using Marriott because of points. Any thoughts on which would be better??
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 02:34 PM
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Hi - same here. CR is back in the picture for my 50th. Have my heart set on an all inclusive villa in Guanacuaste but also want to get to Arenal area for 3 days. What is distance here? Villa is 20 minutes away from Liberia airport. Thanks all
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