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Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: which 2 will be best choices for 23-year-old son and teen daughters?

Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: which 2 will be best choices for 23-year-old son and teen daughters?

Old Apr 29th, 2005, 11:02 AM
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Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica: which 2 will be best choices for 23-year-old son and teen daughters?

Our first family trip to Costa Rica is coming up in June! My husband and I are travelling with 23-year-old son and 2 daughters, 18 and 19. We will visit Arenal, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde. Unfortunately, my son will have to miss 1 of these 3 due to his work schedule and due to the fact that the airline changed his flight home.

If he misses Manuel Antonio, he misses the liveliest destination from a young adult's perspective. He and his sisters enjoy doing things together and meeting other young people.

If he misses Monteverde, he misses the canopy tour I was planning for them...however, I could plan the canopy tour for Arenal instead...does anybody know if canopy tours in Arenal are as exciting as the ones in Monteverde?

If he misses Arenal he misses the chance to see the volcano, and I'm sure that is quite a memorable experience!

What is your vote? He has to miss one of the above. I already asked his vote, he doesn't want to miss anything, but that's just not possible! He said he wants to experience what is unique to Costa Rica, what is different from everyplace else.

If you want to know what he is like, he's highly intelligent, good-looking (he's my son, hey, he's perfect in every way!), enjoys sports such as snow-boarding, weight-lifting, rock-climbing, running, likes to try exotic foods, likes the desert and hiking up to see beautiful views...Oh, and he's single right now!!! Thank you for listening to me brag about my son. Any advice about this itinerary change?

I love spending time with my young adult children and so I work hard to make our family trips enticing enough to get them to continue to accompany us!
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Old May 1st, 2005, 12:27 PM
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I went to all 3 places in March. My least favorite was Manuel Antonio. Although the are is beautiful, it is so damn touristy.

I would not miss Arenal and Monteverde.

Whatever you choose, you all will have a great time. Costa Rica is beautiful and the Ticos are WONDERFUL!!
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Old May 1st, 2005, 06:48 PM
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darioW, thanks so much for the reply. It's so helpful to read why some people prefer Manuel Antonio and why some people prefer Monteverde. It really helps to bring these places more alive, so I can figure out which my family will prefer.

Any tips, darioW, on getting the most out of your visit to Monteverde? Any way to avoid the crowds at the Monteverde cloud forest preserve?
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Old May 1st, 2005, 07:13 PM
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In Monteverde, I did the canopy/bridge walk and that was fantastic.

I did 3 night walks and a day tour in the reserve.

I also did a coffee plantation tour.

Other fun things to do are horseback riding and hike in Santa Elena Reserve.

Have a great trip.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 09:20 PM
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On our CR vacation, we visited all three of these areas. Although we really enjoyed Monteverde, I think it is the one spot I would have skipped if I had to make a choice. I did not do any canopy tours, but do know that you can schedule one in Arenal or even Manuel Antonio. You can also schedule rafting tours in both of these areas. Although I am over 50, I thought that the Manuel Antonio area looked like it would be more fun for my children, ages 25 and 19, if they had been along. Manuel Antonio may be "touristy" by Costa Rican standards, but don't expect Disney World. We enjoyed it very much. Have fun planning your trip.

Sara
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 01:57 PM
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Between Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, and Arenal, I wish I skipped Manuel Antonio and instead went to the North Pacific Coast near Nicaragua.

Manuel Antonio really turned me off. It is expensive and completely tourists. It seemed like most of the employees there were not even Costa Rican. The beaches and park at MA are beautiful but I bet you could get that up north as well.

Again, enjoy your trip.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:41 PM
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Actually , further up north close to the border it can be quite dry , so you would not get that lush , rainforest/beach feel that you get in M.A. It's kind of like a 2 for 1 there !!! I believe that is why a lot of the BIG resorts built further north( called the gold coast I think ?? ) more sunshine , less rain . Although I am sure there are lots of beauty spots !
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 01:37 AM
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Faithie, would that be considered the Guancaste area?? That area eludes me since it's never on the maps! SOunds like it covers quite a range (or region), I believe in the extreme North pacific area, perhaps close to Liberia somewhere?! Geeez, this is so confusing-no matter how much stuff I look up and how many times I look at the MULITIPLE maps I printed out, I feel like I am blind, I swear.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 02:17 AM
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Yes , I do believe that is the area generally ..... I could try to find where I read that .
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 02:32 AM
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The Gold Coast area would include Tamarindo , Playa Coco , Flamingo etc. Typically drier and less humid than the mid-pacific. There is actually lots of rolling golden plains , cattle country , etc. in certain areas .
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 08:11 AM
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Skip MA, it is the most touristy area of the three, and the only thing of interest in the town is the park, which is only open during the day and can be done in one day. I did not enjoy MA as much as I thought I was going to. Expensive and only beach besides the park is the one just outside that isn't that nice. There are lots of tours that can be taken, but no different than any of the other towns in CR. Have fun no matter where you go, incredible country.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 08:56 AM
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My husband and I are about your son's age and we were in CR in December. We loved Manuel Antonio--lots to do both day and night. Plenty of restaurants and bars, some had music or entertainment, some had dancing. Also, we did a canopy tour from MA and were very happy with it so you could always switch where you do that activity.

We also went to Arenal on the last leg of our trip and I would vote that he might want to skip that. We loved it but while the volcano is interesting it is not visible much of the time. Also, although it is active, the activity is usually hidden by cloud cover and sometimes only seen for a few passing moments late at night. So if that's the draw for him, he might be disappointed. (I should add, I do not know if volcano visibility could be different for you since you are traveling in a different season--try to find out!)
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:24 AM
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schlegal1, your viewpoint is interesting as you and your husband are near my son's age. THANK YOU EVERYBODY FOR ALL THE GREAT RESPONSES!

If you are just joining this post please add your viewpoint.

I am glad now that the rest of the family will be seeing all 3 destinations, but am still torn about if I'm making the right decision for my son about what he will have to miss. (He's not sure either!)

Are 3 nights at each destination a good amount of time? (Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, Arenal.) I'm also fitting in 1 night at La Finca Que Ama because I really want to stop there and because I hate long rugged drives and that will break one drive up. Then because of our flight times we have to spend 1 night near the airport at the beginning and end of our trip. (flying in at night, leaving on an early morning flight.)

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Old May 3rd, 2005, 01:53 PM
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One way to reduce your transportation time is to fly from Manuel Antonio to San Jose which takes less than 30 minutes.
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 02:07 PM
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There ARE actually a few other great little beaches "besides" the ones inside the park and the big public beach ..... M.A. IS definitely more touristy than it was in the past , and with the building going on , unfortunately it will only get more so ...... I would get there while it still has its charms (IMHO it does ! ) It is a gem , beautiful views , and if you would like to mix a little exotic jungle , teeming with wildlife ,with exotic beaches ..... then this might be the place !!!!! Obviously not everyone will like everyplace equally , and thats certainly O.K. ! Faith
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 02:51 PM
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Yes Melissa, 3 nights at each should be perfect. With all the activities available in these areas, you could certainly stay longer, but 3 will give you time so that you don't feel so rushed.

It is awful that your son has to go home early. I guess it truly is a toss up and up to him, but since I always schedule a few days on the beach - I would have to choose MA and Arenal or MA and Monteverde.
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