Back from 12 days in CR

May 14th, 2004, 12:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11
Back from 12 days in CR

Just back fron 12 days in CR (5/1-5/12).
Flew to Liberia via Atlanta from Newark
(my son (8) says when we land in Liberia
"how can this be an airport?").
Stayed at a rented house in Playa Panama,
great house with a pool. Temps were 95
every day, so we really needed the pool.
The people were great, very warm and
friendly. Bank, Grocery Store and Shopping
in nearby Coco. We took a day trip to
Tamarindo (be sure to stop at the "Monkey
Park" on the way, the kids got to hold/feed
baby howler monkeys) the beach there was
more like the beaches here in NJ, grey sand.
The beaches north (coco, panama) were black
sand, almost like mud.

Drove to Arenal for 3 nights. The hotel is
great, the resturant is excellent. It rained
the whole time and we did not see the top
of the volcano, but we enjoyed it. Walked
some of the trails (kids 5 and 8) but nothing
too hard. Did a day trip to Tabacon spa, the
kids (and the parents) loved the hot springs
and pools. Nice restuarant there as well.
After constant rain we had to ford two
bridges that were overflowed to get down from
the volcano. Best to get a 4WD if you're
driving anywhere in that area (the roads
around the north side of the lake are also
very curvy/steep and some are not paved).
Went deep sea fishing, stayed closed to
shore for the kids (I got more sea sick than
they did) and we caught some smaller fish
(2 ft amberjack) and my son was thrilled.
Rest of the time hung out by the pool.
The food was good, no problems drinking the
water. No bugs during the day in Guanacaste,
but at night they came out. Little frogs
would be all over the outside of the windows
to eat the bugs that were attracted. Saw
many colorful birds, lizards/geckos,
scorpions, kodimundi, howler monkeys (heard
them in the mornings) and many butterflys.

It was a great trip and I have 5 hours of
video and 8 rolls of film to go through.
We will definitely be going back at some
point in the future when the kids are older.
ajax25 is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 12:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Thanks for a great report-I enjoyed reading it! Isn't CR an amazing place? I'm glad your son had such a great time! We've driven my the "monkey place" at Tamarindo a jillion times and never stopped. We'll have to do that! What fun to hold the babies!
shillmac is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 01:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11
Yes, CR is great! We stayed away from
the San Jose area and loved the local
flavor of smaller towns around Coco.

The monkey park has Howlers, Spider and
carpucian (sp?) as well as a butterfly
tent (blue morphos) and a lot of birds.
The had three baby howlers and the kids
(5 and 8) got to hold and feed them.
ajax25 is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 56
I am going on my honeymoon there in October (like most on this board know I am) and I was told not to get a 4WD and a car would suffice for the arenal area - I am going to arenal-Manuel Antonio-La paz waterfalls - since I am in the rainy season more than you - do you suggest it?
blakeas is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 390
Most tourists places in CR dont require a 4x4,but the clearance of the 4x4 helps with all the gnarly potholes.
koa is offline  
May 15th, 2004, 05:32 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11
I would suggest a 4wd for driving to
arenal. Not so much for the 4wd but
for the clearance. I felt much better
driving through a foot of water knowing
that I had that clearance. Also helps
with pot holes as mentioned above.
I only put it in 4wd a couple of times
during the 12 days. The xtra room was
also nice to have.

We were driving from the pacific coast
so we drove around the north side of
the lake, where some of the sections of
road are not paved and we drove up to
the observatory lodge at lot of which
is pretty rough. Coming from la fortuna
and going to one of the other hotels
may give you better roads.
ajax25 is offline  
May 15th, 2004, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 579
Can you tell me where the monkey park is in Tamraindo? Thank you!
flycatcher06 is offline  
May 15th, 2004, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
I believe it is on the highway from Belen to Tamarindo. Someone please correct me if I am wrong! It should be on the right as you are driving from Belen to Huacas and before you make a left at Huacas to drive to Tamarindo.
shillmac is offline  
May 15th, 2004, 08:06 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 45
Hi ajax25,

We are headed to CR in a few weeks for 2 weeks with our 4 and 6 year old. We are also flying in Liberia, spending 4 nights in Hermosa and then we aren't sure where we are going. Your trip report was great. Thanks!

The monkey place sounds great. I am going to add that to my list.

How far was your house in Playa Panama to the beach? Where there other kids in the area? Was it walking distance to any restaurants or shops?

How did you like Tamarindo? I have heard mixed things. Are there any other places you would recommend staying?

Also, did you spend any time in Liberia? Do you think kids would enjoy spending time there?

Thanks so much for your help!

rjd24 is offline  
May 15th, 2004, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Hi, I enjoyed reading your trip report. We are going to CR in August. We are spending 3 nights in Arenal. Did it rain all day every day when you were in Arenal? What was the temp? Did you need long pants and long-sleeved shirts for Arenal? Just trying to get an idea of what to pack for clothes. Did you hike in the rain?
Kwoo is offline  
May 16th, 2004, 02:37 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 356
ajax25 -

thanks for your trip report & for replying to my link about the arenal observatory lava flow. i'm curious how bad the 6 mile to/from the lodge was? we will have a 4WD. but, did you drive out from there to go into fortuna or tabacon? did you drive it at night at all to/from those areas for meals or the hot springs?

also curious if you did the included 3 hour hike with the lodge. what was it like? i've heard good things about it - and that is one of the primary reasons i chose them over some other hotels - plus i was able to get a better rate for a volcano view (which we'll hopefully be able to actually see!).

any other details you can give me on the lodge there & getting around from there would be great!

one other thing - we'll be staying in tamarindo for some time too. how much was the entry for the monkey park? would you recommend this for just adults or is it more geared towards kids? it will be just my husband & i - we're in our early 30s.

thanks so much!
sclubb is offline  
May 17th, 2004, 06:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11

Our house was on the top of the mountains
overlooking playa panama, so nothing was
walkable and there were no kids around.

It was about 20 minute drive to coco,
which is where we went for groceries, food

Tamarindo was nice, but it took at least
on hour to get there because there is
no direct road on the coast. You have to
go east then south and back west. More
tourist shops and resturants/hotels than
coco. If I was staying at a hotel, it
would probably be in Tamarindo, they
were much nicer than coco. Coco did have
a more native feel to it, even though
there were tourist places there as well.

We never went to liberia except to pass
through to go to arenal. The ONLY traffic
light I saw during our 12 days was in
liberia when we turned south on the
main highway. I think there are some
shopping malls and such in liberia, but
we never got to look for them. I don't
think there is much there for kids.

Suggestions for kids.
You need a place with a pool. With
the weather in guanacasta right now
its essential. I was not thrilled
with the beaches and the kids did not
swim at all in the ocean, but then
our house had it's own pool.

They loved the monkey park, arenal
was OK for them, but we didn't take
any long hikes with them. We did the
waterfall hike and it was so muddy they
lost their shoes in the mud. They also
liked the deep sea fishings, esp my
8 year old son who got to catch a 2 foot
amberjack. The crew of the boat was
great and they staying out of the
rough water so that the kids would be
ok (I had more problems than they did).
You can book the fishing trip at the
place below the louisania resturant
in coco.

sclubb, Kwoo

My opinion of the roads changed over
time as I got used to them and the
driving. The first day I though the
road to our house was unbelivable.
By the time I had done arenal and the
north side of the lake, the road to
the house was a piece of cake.

The problem with the arenal drive was
that it just seemed to never end.
We went from playa panama to liberia
and then south to canas, pretty good
roads (at least flat). But the drive
around the lake wore me out, so that
when I got to the arenal observatory
road I was tired of twisting and turning.
Going out was MUCH better and didn't
seem to take that long at all.

Most of the road is not paved and full
of pot holes, but this is the flatter
parts. Most of the really hilly parts
are paved (at least two strips for
the tires). It's not that bad.
The rain makes the unpaved parts worse
and if there is heavy rain the bridges
overflow and that can make getting up
and down a problem. I paid the $40
(for all 4 of us) to got to the hot
springs rather than drive up and down
again. Once you get up there it's a
major effort to go anywhere and get
back, so the $40 was well worth it for

We stayed 3 nights and yes it rained
almost every minute. We knew this might
happen so everyone had panchos. We wore
shorts most of the time and hiked in
our panchos. We only did the waterfall
hike since we had the kids. If it's been
raining a lot (which it had) the trail
gets muddy (kids both lost a shoe in the
mud). It's not reccomended to ware
sandals when hiking. Also, if you end
up in the remote buildings, you'll need
to walk (or drive) back to the restuarant
for breakfast lunch dinner (we called it
the wet walk). Temps were around 70 most
of the time. They have a pool, but I
never saw anyone in it. I did see people
in the hot tub/jacuzzi.

Monkey park was $15 per adult and I think
$15 total for the two kids. They have a
big butteryfly tent with blue morphos.
They also have 3 types of monkeys,
coyetes, kodimundi, fox and the baby
howlers. Also birds and iguana. Not a
big place, but the kids loved it.

ajax25 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2004, 09:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 244
ttt for Magsagogo
TAGriffin is offline  
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