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Christmas in Costa Rica - 3 days

Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 09:00 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Christmas in Costa Rica - 3 days

My husband and I will be traveling to Costa Rica for 3 days for Christmas - arriving the early afternoon of Christmas day (Thursday) and leaving the early morning on the 28th (Sunday). We understand that is not very much time at all - we realized these few days would be the only vacation time available to us for awhile so we wanted to make the trip. We redeemed frequent flyer miles so it was very inexpensive. We are arriving and departing from SJO.

We are hoping for some advice and guidance on the best way to tackle these 3 days in order to maximize our experiences.

We are interested in the following types of activities:
- interacting with/observing animals (I'd love to get up close with a sloth)
- rain forest treks
- seeing the beaches (I'm an open-water diver but my husband is not, and neither of us are interested in surfing so it would just be a short trip to the water most likely)
- zip-lining
- gardens/parks

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you!
undergrace is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 09:17 AM
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,256
Manuel Antonio is a great beach destination. It's a pretty area with lots of hotel and restaurant choices, very easy access to wildlife, nice beaches, and a national park full of wildlife. Lots of adventure activities as well. We stayed at Tulemar Bungalows and loved it - they have their own beach, did a guided tour of the national park, sailing, the Damas Mangrove tour, and the Villa Vanilla spice tour - if you like gardens, you would love it, and they serve yummy treats at the end made with their own cinnamon, vanilla, etc.

If you want more off the grid, the Osa is really beautiful with great hiking and fantastic wildlife spotting. The area is more isolated, so a lot of people spend their entire trip at their lodge. We love Bosque del Cabo in that area. If you chose this option, you would want to take an in country flight from SJO down to Puerto Jimenez.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 11:27 AM
  #3  
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Thank you volcanogirl! Manuel Antonio looks promising. It appears as if it's about 2 1/2 hours away from SJO. What types of transportation is available? Since we are arriving Christmas Day I am concerned that options might be limited. Would it be better to spend the night in San Jose and then take the bus out in the morning (the 26th)? Do you know of any good moderately-priced tour companies or tour guides that could assist us?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 02:05 PM
  #4  
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I just researched flights to Quepo, rather than spending 6 hours on a bus roundtrip (since we have such little time to work with) - that looks promising! I will discuss it with my husband, since even though it's much pricier ($260 total) it would allow us to enjoy MA much longer. It would also allow us to connect through SJO straight through so we'd arrive in the mid-afternoon on Christmas Day and give us a solid 48 hours there. And it appears once you arrive in Quepo it is an easy journey to MA so we could easily get a taxi or request a pick-up from our hotel.

So now the real question is - what is the best use of our time? Are there tours available where you can interact with the animals or are they just where the guide will take you through the National Park and you *hope* there are animals along the way? Should we plan on doing the NP for an entire day and save the beach/zip-line/etc for the other day?

Also, my husband likes collecting small bottles of sand from the places we visit. Is there any problem with that?

Thank you!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2014, 03:09 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
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Yep, Nature Air and Sansa are the in country airlines. You could also drive yourselves, hire a private driver, or try to take the Interbus shuttle. The roads are in good shape between SJO and Manuel Antonio. We did a guided tour of the park with Manuel Antonio Expeditions; they are excellent. Also used them for the Damas mangrove tour. On both tours they spotted wildlife we would have walked right by. We've been to the national park there twice and both times we saw more capuchin monkeys than we could count. You can get fairly close to them because they're so used to people in that area. We also had lots of monkeys at our hotel, just swinging around in trees. We had a baby sloth fall out of a tree at our hotel, and our concierge and a guide got a ladder to put it back up in the tree, and when they got up there, there were two momma sloths, and they didn't know who to give the baby to. Sloths are pretty prevalent, but hard to spot on your own. I'd do a guided tour of the park just to ensure that you see everything. We used Juan Brenes from MAE that I mentioned above. He's great. If you want to swim, there's a beautiful beach inside the national park, so you can do the tour and then hit the beach if you want to. Then you could do adventure activities the next day. I don't know what the rules are regarding taking sand. I did it in Hawaii when we honeymooned. I just put it in a film canister. I would think it would be okay, but you could check with your hotel or guide to see if there are any local rules.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:49 AM
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We also stayed at Tulemar and you're pretty much guaranteed to see wildlife on the property (availability may be an issue though). We saw capuchin and squirrel monkeys and both two and three toed sloths. We didn't even go into the national park. We also took a tour of Damas mangrove and saw capuchin monkeys and a silky anteater.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 11:54 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Forgot to mention that we had a private driver from SJO to MA. I'm not sure how much time you'd really save by flying by the time you wait for the flight and transfer from Quepos to MA. Cost wise it's probably similar.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2014, 12:13 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
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Our experience was similar to Patty's; we also used a private driver. Saw capuchins and a silky anteater (maybe the same one!) on the mangrove tour. Sometimes the capuchins will even come aboard the boat because people feed them. MAE does not believe in feeding them, but they still come on the boat just in case.
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