Costa Rica 8 Nights...need help

Old Apr 8th, 2006, 09:42 AM
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Costa Rica 8 Nights...need help

Hi, I think that for this years family vacation we might try Costa Rica intead of going back to Mexico again. We love Mexico for its beaches, culture and laid back attitude. We are looking for something similar in Costa Rica with the added attractions of the wildlife and aventure found in Costa Rica.
We are a family of four with 2 small kids, ages 4 and 6. The main things that we would like to experience are to see all the wildlife we can (my kids love animals!), relax and swim on a beautiful beach (safe for the kids with no "big" waves) and do some light-aventure activities.
We will have 9days/8nights for this trip Dec 26-Jan 3rd. My husband wants this trip to be as "relaxing" as possible, so I was thinking of just staying in one place for the duration of the trip. Would Manual Antonio suite our needs? Please offer some suggestions for a relaxing itinerary for us that will still let us experience the best of Costa Rica.
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Old Apr 8th, 2006, 10:40 AM
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I visited CR this past December and did a whirlwind 8 day tour ending in Manuel Antonion- and ended up wishing I had just based myself out of MA! The beaches were blindingly gorgeous, tons of outdoor activities and you are guaranteed to see monkeys, sloths, birds, etc.

MA has several adventure activities close by (canopy tours, horseback riding, surfing, hiking, etc), not to mention everything that MA can do for you. Great restuarants, as well.

Definitely think that for your family's needs MA will fit the bill.

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Old Apr 8th, 2006, 08:46 PM
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That long in Manuel Antonio would too long for us. 4 nights tops! But it is a great area. Costa Rica has so many great areas that it seems a shame to have a nice span of time and not enjoy at least 2 areas! I'd look into a split between Arenal and Manuel Antonio. You would still have plenty of relax time!
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 10:55 AM
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Los Lagos would be a good place in Arenal for the kiddos. From Arenal in general you could take a slow wildlife boat tour up in Cano Negro or on the Rio Sarapiqui to see birds and animals. A walk on the hanging bridges and the tram canopy tour with Sky Trek would all be things you could do with them there.

The beaches in the MA park are safe. Other beaches do have rips.
I can't recommend a hotel there because I don't stay there. I did stay there once several years ago before they paved the road to get there and have driven through there on my way elsewhere several times since. Too touristy for us and we worry about overbuilding destroying the habitats. There are certainly lots of places to stay and lots of things to do.

Dividing your time between two very different places would give you more of a feel for the country itself.

Don't get too relaxed about making your reservations. That is an extremely busy time of year and people are already making plans and reservations because places like Manuel Antonio do book up early. Even Los Lagos will fill up but most likely not as quickly. Costa Rica is a wonderful place. You won't find the culture that you do in most other CA countries but the people are very sweet (one of the things I love most about the country) and the natural beauty is well worth the trip down there. It has certainly been enough to keep us going back for many many years. We travel to other CA countries for the culture part. keeps track of availabilities of many of the hotels in the La Fortuna/Arenal area. Many of the reservations are done through them.

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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 03:28 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions, I agree that we could do both Arenal and Manuel Antonio without too much stress. They both look like unique and wonderfull places to visit.
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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 04:20 PM
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I just returned from 9 days in CR with our two kids ages 4 and 6. I thought Tortuguero was really perfect for children that age because the boat tours don't require much walking or other adventuring to see amazing wildlife. Hanging bridges in Arenal was similarly good for that reason - my children just loved seeing leafcutter ants up close and personal. We ended our trip in Guanacaste (Punta Islita) and couldn't have asked for a more relaxing, child-friendly spot.

I worried before the trip that moving so much would wear us all out, but we took planes when we could (the flights are short and not too terribly expensive) and there is plenty to do to break up the otherwise long drives. We also hired drivers so we could pay attention to the children and not get stressed about the bad roads and traffic jams (due to construction and, in one case, to a terrible accident on the two-lane panamerican highway).

This was also a departure for us from our usual trips to Mexico. It was a great vacation and very different from Mexico.
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