Costa Rica 7/30 - 8/13

Old Aug 16th, 2004, 02:02 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Costa Rica 7/30 - 8/13

Cast: Me, my spouse, and 11 year old daughter

Places we stayed: Pura Vida Hotel (Alajuela), Mawamba Lodge (Tortuguero), Hotel Tilajari (Muelle), Arenal Paraiso (Arenal), and Si Como No (Manuel Antonio)

Best Memory (me): Eating a $10 filet mignon at El Novillo at night while watching lava careen down Arenal volcano across the road.

Best Memory (spouse): A huge green sea turtle laying a large number of eggs on a beach in Tortuguero.

Best Memory (daughter): Having an hour long surfing lesson from a dread-locked surfer beach bum dude at Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio.

What we packed that we wouldn't pack again: Insect repellant. We brought lots but only used it once.

Biggest pre-travel fear that didn't materialize: Driving. Believe me, driving on the beltway around DC is much more terrifying. In fact,the driving in Costa Rica was very enjoyable. A 6 hour drive seemed to go by very fast. It was also pure joy not seeing a Cracker Barrel every 30 miles.

Best driving adventure: Crossing the 30 yard "railroad bridge" just outside of Quepos. (Those who have been there know what I am talking about).

Best Hotel Room: Si Como No

Worst Hotel Room: Mawamba Lodge. It wasn't really that bad. The guide books might say it had "rustic charm". Our only real complaint was that the shower didn't work right. Cold water from the shower head and hot water from the faucet. My daughter washed her hair by lying on the floor with her head under the faucet. I was to old to do that.

Biggest hotel pool: Hotel Tilajari

Most fun hotel pool for a kid: Si Como No

Hotel pool with the best view: Arenal Paraiso

Best Service: Hotel Tilajari

Best Hospitality: Hotel Pura Vida

Best meal (me): the fresh tuna with mustard sauce at Si Como No's Rico Tico grill. Awesome!

Best meal (spouse): some sort of chicken dish at Hotel Pura Vida

Best meal (daughter): all she ate were pizza and chicken nugget things.

Best Pina Colada: La Cantina in Manuel Antonio

Best Drink (any category): The wild lime daiquiri at the little bar that sits by the parking lot of the Mariposa Hotel in Manuel Antonio.

Best bird watching: Just outside the dining room at the Hotel Tilajari.

Best wildlife encounter: The green turtle laying her eggs in Tortuguero.

Best Costa Rican experience (according to my daughter): A cab ride from Manuel Antonio to Quepos. As my daughter put it: "the cab had a flat tire, the driver didn't speak any English, and he didn't know where anything was." She wanted me to leave a big tip.

Only aggravation of the trip: Waiting 1 1/2 hours for them to make our pizza at the restaurant Caio in Quepos.

Best place we relaxed: Termales del Bosque outside of San Carlos. These were a series of hotsprings deep in the forest. It was a real "locals" place and after awhile we had it all to ourselves.

Best bonding experience: The Mawamba Lodge broke us up into groups of about 12 people and assigned us a guide who provided various boat and walking tours around Tortuguero Park during the 2 full days we were there. We got to know another American couple, a Dutch couple, a Spanish couple, and a German family very well.

Nicest Tico I met: The "frog-man" at the Mawamba Lodge. This guy raises and nurtures beautiful tree frogs in the pool area of the lodge. He will spend as much time as you want showing you and explaining about his "babies".

The one thing we would have done differently: The 6 or 7 hour ride from San Jose to Tortuguero on bus and boat was eye-opening and informative. The same ride back was sort of a waste of a valuable day. We should have flown back.

Best weather we had: Tortuguero! It's the rain capital of Costa Rica but every day we were there was sunny and about 85 degrees. It did rain buckets at night though.

Biggest overall impression of Costa Rica: The people are terrific.

Will we being going back?: Definetly!
edknees is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2004, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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What a wonderful way to tell us about your trip! I'm so glad you stayed at and mentioned Tilajari Resort. We were there two years ago and were VERY impressed. It just doesn't get much mention on Fodor's because of its distance (30 min or so) from Arenal. But it's a great place to stay. And yes, wonderful service. And what luck with the weather in Tortuguero! Sounds as if all of you had a great time. It's easy to fall in love with the country and the people, isn't it?
shillmac is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2004, 12:36 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 32
Great trip report!

The railroad bridge outside of Quepos almost gave me a heart attack. To top it all off the driver pointed out how rickety it was and was laughing at all of us. Yikes!
fides is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2004, 09:14 PM
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I went to termales del bosque. Isnt that the greatest place! Not as hot as Tabacon, but so laid back. El Novillo is the best place to eat in CR. My little son loved it and he is the most picky eater ever! The steaks there are awesome!
koa is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Edknees: Which type of room did you have a Hotel Si Como No? Any tips on the hotel? I'm going to book rooms there for our first family trip to Costa Rica with teens. Thanks!
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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What a unique and wonderful report. Thank you. To the point on everything. Those steaks are good! We spent three days in Arenal last time and ate most of our meals there. We had clear weather too the whole time and the volcano was really active.

Don't know if I am going to leave my deet home. I have had way too many bites over the years but glad you didn't have any.

You have a valid point regarding the driving LOL.

The first time we drove to Manuel Antonio the road wasn't paved. It had been an extremely long, bumpy and dusty ride and then we came to that wonderful bridge......

Now that your feet are wet you will really enjoy planning your next trip. There won't be nearly the worries most people have the first time.

Jessie_ is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 03:25 PM
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Reading these trip reports is great , diff. views on diff. places , hotels , tours , but in the end We ALL LOVE Costa Rica ! Smiles , Faith .
faithie is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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This is the GREATEST post! I printed it out, and plan to use your bests when we travel to Costa Rica in March. I am salivating!
How was the surf at Playa Espadilla? We have a 16 year old that will want to surf, but also a 5 year old. Obviously, the 5 year old will wear a life jacket, but are the rip tides as big a concern in this as I've read?
Chuckster is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 251
Chuckster, will they let a 5 year old surf? IS it possible? I have a 5 yr.old daughter, never really thought about her learning....
edkees, LOVED your report--what a great way to we will all be seeing copycats really soon..
Thanks for all the info, can't wait til I can get there--still waiting on a great fare.
plmrod is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 04:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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Oops - I did not mean to imply that my 5 year old would be surfing! Only that he would probably be swimming at the beach. Of course, I could make it sound like I have super-child. Um, yes, he's been surfing for years! He loves those rip tides! Sorry about that!
Chuckster is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2005, 09:32 PM
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Chuckster: LOL!
shillmac is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
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I was thinking--wow!~ I was just wondering--stupid moment--got caught in up in the magic of Costa Rica!
plmrod is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2005, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17
Chuckster, We were at Manuel Antonio beach just befor Christmas and the body surfing was FANTASTIC. Perfect waves. People there didn't seem to body surf but let me tell you the conditions are perfect. Your 16 yr old should enjoy that. We didn't encounter any rip tide there. I got a fabulous massage at the beach! Have fun on your trip.
mcbigelow is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2005, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 86
You are all SO KIND! Thanks for the replies - I can not wait. The high in Minnesota this Thursday is forecasted to be -5. Yes. Really. The high. Get me out of here!
Chuckster is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2005, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 27
Sounds like you found a great beach at MA! Do you remember which one it was? I've looked at the map and it seems like there are several...
Thanks - we leave Friday morning and I will be so glad to get out of the gray Chicago winter!
tina_p is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2005, 12:59 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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If you are referring to the beach with body surfing waves it would be the public beach , before you enter the park .Playa Espadilla I believe .
faithie is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2005, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Yes, get you out of there Chuckster! Hang on, March will be here before you know it! Change of latitudes, change of attitudes. . . .
shillmac is offline  
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