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Costa Rica 14 day itenary help

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Mar 20th, 2013, 10:20 AM
  #1
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Costa Rica 14 day itenary help

Planning family trip over Christmas to Costa Rica. Would like to visit: Tamarindo, Arenal, La Fortuna, Monteverde, Manual Anotonio and Tortuguero. Travelling with husband, 8 year old, 18 year old, and very active and healthy 79 year old grandparents. We will have to rent 2 vehicles and prefer to only change hotels 2-3 times over two week period. Any suggestions on how to do this and where to stay?
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Mar 20th, 2013, 10:58 AM
  #2
RAC
 
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First thing to figure out is which 2-4 places you want to see most.

Without knowing what your collective interests/goals are, we really can't make recommendations.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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Agree with RAC, you list several places but said that you don't want to stay at that many hotels. Of all the places you've listed, Arenal (Same place as La Fortuna) and Manuel Antonio are the easiest to get to and offer tons of hotel and restaurant choices, as well as lots of activities. You can't drive to Tortuguero since it's canal based; you would have to either boat in or fly in. Do you have an idea of what you'd like to see and do, climate, beach, volcano, cloud forest, etc.?
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Mar 20th, 2013, 12:00 PM
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I'm thinking that we will start in the Arenal area (1 week) and then perhaps move to a second location for the second week. Ideally I would like to get a house for the family and then do day trips from there. The activities include - Arenal volcano, at least one zip-line, mountain water slide, mud bath, hot springs, hikes to see wild life (national parks), trip to Montevedo cloud forest, la Fortuna waterfalls. Definately spend some time at the beaches (Manuel Antonio). My family loves the water (snorkelling, swimming, trying out surfing). We've never been to Costa Rica so I don't know how much is reasonable to fit in. When we have travelled before as a family we stay in one place and do day trips. If we rent a house we will eat breakfast and dinners mainly there (groceries). Basically we need to find an area (or two) that have the most activities close by.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 12:10 PM
  #5
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If you want 2 locations, Arenal and Manuel Antonio make the most sense, though you'd better start booking soon if you want to make sure you have a place to stay--that is the busiest time of the year in CR.

Monteverde is really not doable as a day trip from anywhere. The real choice is adding it as a destination or skipping it.

Likewise, you could probably toss out Tamarindo and Tortuguero.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 12:25 PM
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Yep, the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio are your best bets. A house will be harder to come by in Arenal. You can hike at the volcano, hike at the waterfall, hike the Hanging Bridges, zipline at Sky Trek, visit Tabacon and Eco Termales hot springs, and do the Cano Negro tour and Penas Blancas river floats to see wildlife. No mud baths or mountain water slides that I know of. Have you heard of a mountain water slide somewhere? Tabacon has a water slide, but not sure if that's what you're looking for. The Springs Resort has a beautiful river where you can go tubing and kayaking. If you want to see Monteverde, you'll really need to go for at least two nights; it's a pain to get to. Long bumpy road, and you won't want to turn around and come back the same day. Manuel Antonio has a beautiful beach inside the park, and lots of wildlife; the snorkeling wasn't great when we did it - lots of sediment in the water. You can also do a mangrove tour and horseback ride, do boat tours, etc.

Do you have a budget in mind?
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Mar 20th, 2013, 12:41 PM
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Tulemar Bungalows might be a good spot for you in Manuel Antonio; check out their website and see what you think.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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I was going to suggest the Tulemar complex as well. Besides the bungalows, they have many private homes for rent although prices can be really steep over the holidays http://4tulemar.com/
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Mar 21st, 2013, 03:26 AM
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Thank you everyone for the excellent advice! I have read that we need to book early, hence the rush to figure out what we plan to do. I have found an Almendro home that says it's near la Fortuna with views of Arenal that I am looking into. The waterslide is in Bueno Vista (not sure how far or easy it is to get to). Maybe we will do 7 days in Arenal, 2 in Monteverde (ideas on where to stay?), and the remainder in Manual Antonia (I will look at the Tulemar complex). Unfortunately travelling over the holiday season really cuts into the budget. Is it best to try and book tours now - or can we do it once there? Again, not sure of how busy it will be. I'm not a fan of having everything booked and reserved - takes the fun out of exploring and relaxing - but I know it makes things run smoother during the busy travel season.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 04:17 AM
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Normally you're okay to wait, but at Christmas or Easter I personally would reserve things ahead - very busy time to go, and very expensive time to go too. Eco Termales limits entry to 100 people, and does sell out. We stayed at Fonda Vela in Monteverde and liked it. Even though it seems like you're book early, you're really not; crazy people book a year in advance. I've never heard of Bueno Vista, not sure where that is. One thing I would check on it what kind of security you're going to have if you rent a private home; friends of ours did that, and their place was broken into while they were sleeping, no one hurt, but all their cameras, etc. were taken. Not common, but it can happen.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 05:25 AM
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volcanogirl - the property said it's gated....I assume that might be why. Scary. Bueno Vista Adventute Park - something I came across during my search. Don't know much about it either.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 05:53 AM
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That's BuenA Vista Adventure Park (in case you do more computer searches). It is a nice place with lots of activities, but has crowds drifting in and out. Rooms range from more rustic to comfortable. Huge water slide, lots of horses for riding, ziplining, mud baths, hot springs, serpentarium, and 5 different restaurants with good food. It's a large operation. If these are the things you want to do, this is one place you can do them, conveniently. Located "Province of Guanacaste, on the slopes of the Rincón de la Vieja volcano." Easy to get to from Liberia.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 07:25 AM
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If you're doing Arenal, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde, you won't really be anywhere near Buena Vista.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 07:43 AM
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volcanogirl - good to know. It's difficult to know what travel times will be like on the roads there if you've never been.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 07:49 AM
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Thank you Kinkazote.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 07:53 AM
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Very true, lo. To give you an idea of travel times, it's about five hours or so to go from Arenal to Manuel Antonio; you can stop at the Rio Tarcoles bridge and see huge crocs down below. It's over three hours to go between Arenal and Monteverde; we used the Jeep Boat Jeep service because we didn't want to drive it. Desafio offers it if you're interested. When you do drive, don't leave anything in your car unattended.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 09:46 AM
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My thoughts are now to stay in Arenal for 7 nights, San Raman (Villa Blanca) for two nights, and Manuel Antonia area for 4. Concerned that new years eve falls in there. Thoughts? Question now is where to stay? Book tours ahead through either hotel or arenal.net? Still considering the house in Arenal (waiting to hear back). Want to do Arenal Volcano, Eco Termales, hanging bridges, la Fortuna falls, Sky Trek, Cano Negro, and Pena Blancas River Safari (one activity per day). In San Raman - Cloud Forest Tour.
Not sure about Manual Antonia yet. What to do?
Is there any beaches near Arenal that we can spend time at?
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Mar 21st, 2013, 10:01 AM
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I listed some Manuel Antonio activities above. Arenal is land locked, but there's a volcano and a nice lake there. No beaches anywhere near.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 08:24 AM
  #19
 
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Hi! Just to chime in on the renting of the 2 cars....we traveled with a similar group a few years back (myself, my husband, two kids and my parents - in their late 60s) and in order to avoid having to rent two cars - which I'm assuming you want to to for space for luggage and people? We hired a driver to transport us from location to location when we had luggage. And then when when we were in an area where we wanted to have a vehicle, which for us was only the Arenal area, we just rented a vehicle that the 6 of us could fit in. There was an SUV that had a 3rd row passenger seating that we rented. Unless you do rent a private property in Manuel Antonio, you won't need a car there.

You may want to think about that option. There are many private drivers and we enjoyed learning about the country from ours as he took us from place to place. He made stops as needed for lunch or wherever you would want.

Also, another recommendation for the Tulemar property in Manuel Antonio. It's a great place with it's own private beach. We really enjoyed it.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 08:53 AM
  #20
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Hi ShellD - thank you for the information. How do you go about hiring a driver? I assume you did it before you flew in.
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