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lutherkins Jan 28th, 2007 09:46 AM

Can we do Costa Rica on this budget?
My husband and I are trying to plan a vacation for our 1 year anniversary and would love to go to Costa Rica. We are looking at 10 days in late July early August. Traveling from Chicago. Do you think we can do this trip for $3,000?

shillmac Jan 28th, 2007 11:32 AM

Absolutely. We spend about $4000 every year for one month. We do a few moderate places, and an occasional splurge for $150-$200 per night. We don't usually frequent places more expensive than that, and there are several! :)

We also rent our own vehicle, eat Tico food (seldom paying more than $8-$10 for the dinner meal--most restaurants will be in this range), enjoy complimentary breakfasts at most hotels, and snack for lunch.

You definitely can do it. Be careful, though, we had friends who used an agent (don't know which one, haven't asked) and went for 9 days for $5000. This should never have happened. They didn't stay anyplace all that special either. One of these days, I'm going to get the particulars on that trip. I just heard enough to know that they got ripped off! Costa Rica is very easy to book for yourselves. Very easy. But still, there ARE some very reputable people who can assist you if you'd prefer that.

This board is a great place to find out all you need to "doing it yourself"! Good luck and have fun! :)

You're talking $300 per day and that will be absolutely no problem. Even if you take the airfare out of that and need to keep it to $200 a day--no problem. There are plenty of fun and interesting (and clean!) hotels for $50-$100. Food is very do-able at $40-$50 the both of you. Tours about $50-$75 depending. . .

shillmac Jan 28th, 2007 11:34 AM

By the way, a friend of mine (and also a friend to many on this board), Neta Talmor, owns a package that is one of the best deals I've ever seen. The receptionist, Liseth, at Las Orquideas Inn assists her with it (since Neta is living in Canada now). The package is called Heart of Costa Rica and offers some excellent locations and hotels (truly the best of Costa Rica). I think it is a 10 day pkg. Check it out:

shillmac Jan 28th, 2007 11:38 AM

I just want to add that I am not "pushing" this package and, in fact, I seldom mention it to anyone (as other posters know). However, I was spending time with Neta when she was developing the package. It was then, and is now, as good a deal as you are going to find anywhere. The hotels are all excellent choices. I can tell you that when she put the package together, it was not to make a few bucks, but to allow a way for lots of people to enjoy this beautiful country without breaking the bank. That continues to be her goal. She has always worked to pass the value on to customers and not take it off the top so much herself. For me, if I were looking for what you are looking for, this would be reassuring to know. :)

lutherkins Jan 29th, 2007 09:14 AM

Thanks for the information. Can you share some of the hotels that you've stayed at that you recommend?

shillmac Jan 29th, 2007 05:30 PM

You know, we usually enjoy just about anything! Very easy to please, just so happy to be there! :)

We like Arenal Paraiso and Arenal Observatory Lodge. I KNOW that I would enjoy Lost Iguana, but it's a little more $$--it would be one of our splurges!

At Manuel Antonio, we liked Hotel California, Costa Verde, and Si Como No--the latter being one of our splurges! :)

We like Flamingo Beach Resort on the Pacific Coast.

Villas del Sueno at Playa Hermosa (up north) was nice, but older and less "stylish" El Velero on the beach looked like more fun!

We enjoyed our stay at Laguna Lodge in Tortuguero, La Quinta de Sarapiqui near Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. . .

In the south Caribbean area, we thought Almonds and Corals Tent Camp was fun (luxe tents!). Azania Bungalows very nice. . .and we really liked the little colorful cottages where Miss Holly's restaurant is located (for some reason, I've developed a block with regard to their name!). Nice swimmable beach right there.

In Malpais, we thought Tropico Latino was fun, and we liked Amor de Mar in Montezuma (lovely property, but rocky shoreline--the tidepools were fun). We were there in July, there wasn't a drop of rain for days (rainy season) and the lack of AC was unpleasant.

Bosque del Cabo on the Osa is by far our favorite so far--just for the sheer magnitude of the experience there.

We are very fond of Hotel Villa Bonita for first and last nights near the airport and stopovers between locations.

Savegre Hotel down at San Gerardo de Dota is a great place to experience the cloud forest.

Casa Turire (another splurge) is on a beautiful estate down around Turrialba--we just relaxed there and did nothing for 2 days. It was nice.

For a rustic, no electricity experience, we had a ball at La Carolina up near Bijagua last July. Great place for those looking for a different adventure.

El Sapo Dorado in Monteverde was nice as well.

I've lost track of all the places, but these are a few of our favorites. We have a whole list waiting for us still!

Almost without exception, the above choices are less than $100 per night.

shillmac Jan 29th, 2007 05:32 PM

Ah, and who could forget Las Orquideas, also near the airport--great place!

And what is now called AmaTierra, formerly La Finca Que Ama down near Puriscal--great place. Yoga retreat now. . .

shillmac Jan 30th, 2007 05:03 PM

Okay, I've got it now--the little cottages that we enjoyed so much between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo (I think on Playa Chiquita). Aguas Claras is the name. And Miss Holly's restaurant has great food for breakfast and lunch. Aguas Claras is operated by Flore and Mario (don't know the last name), a very nice couple. It is one of just a few places with close beach access (not across the road) to a swimmable beach!

lutherkins Jan 31st, 2007 06:26 AM

Thank you so much for all of the info. It's getting me excited!

shillmac Jan 31st, 2007 04:34 PM

You're very welcome--just wait until you get there! :)

fishee Feb 3rd, 2007 01:53 AM


fishee Feb 3rd, 2007 01:58 AM

There are crazy low fares (through Northwest Airines) from SF or Seatlle or Las Vegas, or LAX, to SJO for only $207 r/t.

I just bought 4 roundtrip tickets SFO-SJO (Northwest/Delta Airline codeshare) for a little over $800 (total). -- it's also coming up on orbitz and travelocity. I don't know if the fares will come up as late as July/August but I purchased for mid-May.

I don't think these will last long, some are speculating they might be mistake fares. But I have my ticket confirmation numbers and my card has been charged. Good luck!

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