Book or go on the fly? Itinerary OK?

Old Jul 24th, 2002, 01:23 PM
Glenn G.
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Book or go on the fly? Itinerary OK?

Honeymoon in Costa Rica coming up in last week of August and 1st week of September. Have booked a hotel in Tamarindo area for first week already. For the 2nd week, should we make reservations ahead of time or just show up and choose whatever hotel in a certain area appeals to us? I am currently having difficulty choosing b/w the Arenal Paraiso and the Arenal Lodge.

In addition, any recommendations re our itinerary? As of now, we are booked for one week at Melia Playa Conchal (can't change that - a timeshare stay) and are planning 2 nights in the Arenal area, 1 night at La Paz waterfalls, 1 night at Xandari in the Central Valley, 2 days/1 night on the Pacuare river, and then 2 nights at Makanda by the Sea in Manuel Antonio (as hopefully a nice finish to the honeymoon). Suggestions on what to add or cut out? Should we try to make it to the Osa Peninsula during that week? Thanks in advance!
Old Jul 24th, 2002, 04:24 PM
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Glenn, at the time of the year you are going you may be able to just go on the fly. However, if there are specific places you really want to stay at I would book in advance since there is always a chance that they will be full. I think you have a good chance of getting a room almost anywhere at that time of year (esp. Arenal) but in case your first choice is not available you should have some backup choices.
It looks like are trying to do a lot in your second week - you may want to combine your La Paz (where were you planning to stay in that area?) and Xandari nights into just 2 nights at Xandari (you can go on a day trip from Xandari to see the waterfall or some other attraction like Volcan Poas). By the way we loved Xandari when we stayed there 2 years ago. We also stayed at Arenal Paraiso and were not that impressed (Montana de Fuego may be a good alternative).
Make sure you take driving time into consideration when planning - generally it is not a good idea to drive from a remote destination on the same day your flight is leaving. Most people plan to spend their last night in San Jose area. So maybe a better itinerary would be Arenal, Manuel Antonio, Pacaure, Xandari in that order (Xandari would be a great finish to a honeymoon).
You will not do Osa justice unless you go for at least 3 nights.
Old Jul 24th, 2002, 06:20 PM
David N Cook
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Don't be afraid to wing it, there will be plenty of choices that time of year. Whichever you choose, don't miss Arenal. Monteverde is nice and is between Tamarindo & Arenal so it might be a natural choice for 1 nite or so.
Good luck, you'll have fun!
Old Jul 25th, 2002, 01:05 PM
Glenn G.
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Thank you so much for your insight Iza and David. Iza, I think you made the right call in terms of Xandari - I think we will stay there for two nights and use it as a base for exploration. It looks wonderful and I am glad to hear you affirm it. However, I think I will still sandwich the stay in the middle of the trip b/c I want to avoid driving to/from Manuel Antonio which I am told would be 5/6 hours from Monteverde/Arenal and 4-5 hours from San Jose. As a solution (and to end the honeymoon with a surprise) I thought we would fly to Quepos and stay at Makanda for our last two nights and then fly back on Sunday morning about 3 hours before our flight to the U.S. Do you see any problems with that?

As for Monteverde, David, I thought long and hard about going there, but decided against it b/c of the difficulty in getting there. Instead, I plan on us doing a day trip to the Los Angeles Cloud Forest from a location in the Central Valley and then staying a night in the jungle on the Pacuare River. Do you think Monteverde is worth the difficulty getting there (we will have a rental SUV at the time which we would have to use to get there)???

All of this has been that much more difficult b/c of wanting to raft the Pacuare which is east of San Jose. I have heard amazing things about it. It is hard to start the trip near Tamarindo (which we have to do b/c of our timeshare situation), go to Arenal and Central Valley, then go all the way east to Turialba/the Pacuare and then still be able to end the honeymoon at a nice, secluded beachy type of resort. Any suggestions would be welcome, but it seems that (1) my desire to raft the Pacuare and (2) my desire to end the honeymoon at a sunny/secluded destination are throwing a wrench into things.

Sorry for the rambling reply and thanks again!!!

Old Jul 25th, 2002, 02:39 PM
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Glenn, the only problem with flying the same day may be any delay caused by weather. Take the earliest flight possible so that you leave yourself some extra time. And I would say, fly Sansa and not Travelair. From our experience (2 trips to CR), Sansa seems to be more on time than Travelair, plus you will be ariving in the same airport as your international flight will be leaving from (different terminal though).
Have you thought about rafting Pacaure as a day trip only, without staying overnight? Not sure if that is a possibility but you may want to look into it.
I think you are right in scrapping Monteverde - a lot of people say it simply is not worth the effort and you can get a similar experience at Los Angeles without the added inconvenience of horrific roads.
I think your plan may actually work fine but you'll have a busy week your second week.
Make sure to visit Tamarindo when you're staying at Melia. Flamingo also has a pretty beach. A day trip we enjoyed from that area was to Rincon de la Vieja (including a canopy tour and a volcanic mud treatment at a small hotel/spa in that area).
Old Jul 25th, 2002, 05:07 PM
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Glenn: I agree with Iza about rafting the Pacuare as a day trip. In fact, you can easily do this from Xandari as they will make the arrangements for you to picked up right at the hotel. They use Costa Rica Expeditions, which is one the most respected tour operators in Central America. Contact Marcela @ Xandari for more info. ([email protected]).
Old Jul 27th, 2002, 07:08 AM
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Dear Glenn, Wise decision to leave out Monteverde. We just got back from Costa Rica (16 days) and drove from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and back to San Jose. The drive to Monteverde was horrendous and the roads in Santa Elena are unbelievable. (Can you even call one hug pot hole after another a road?). The forest itself was disappointing. We did not go there expecting to see wildlife and it was still disappointing. We took a guided tour and while it was very interesting to learn about plants,etc. it was not what I expected. You will love Xandari. We started and ended our trip there. When we arrived there we really did not want to leave. Do the rafting trip from there. They are completely reliable. They also provide complimentary airport transportation. The grounds are so beautiful. we drove from Manuel Antonio back to San Jose and it took a little over three and a half hours. We also went to Tamarindo a few years ago and enjoyed it. Have a wonderful time. Karen
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