Costa RIca 9-day itinerary

Old Jan 20th, 2003, 05:34 PM
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Costa RIca 9-day itinerary

Planning a first-time trip to Costa Rica and cannot wait to go! We were recommended this itinerary - was hoping someone would be kind enough to evaluate. My big question is whether to stay at hotel Punta Leona or skip that and go to Manuel Antonio for the canopy/horseback tour:
Days 1-2: San Jose for Poas Volcano and rafting on the Pacuare (hotel Grano de Oro)
Days 3-4: Arenal area (hotel Tabacon Hot Springs Lodge)
Day 5: Monteverde for canopy tour (hotel Sapo Dorado)
Days 6-8: Punta Leona area (hotel Punta Leona) - I don't know anything about this place, but looks nice in the pictures. Should I stay here or instead go to Manuel Antonio?
Day 9: Drive back to San Jose

Any feedback would be most appreciated!

Old Jan 20th, 2003, 07:28 PM
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David: I think you are trying to cover too much territory for 9 days. Travel within the country is very time consuming. For example, it will take the better part of an entire day just to get from Arenal to Monteverde, leaving you no time for a canopy tour. I would recommend that you eliminate one of your destinations (Monteverde?) and then your itinerary will be more do-able for 9 days.
I haven't stayed at Punta Leona, but heard it was o.k. Personally, I would stay in Manuel Antonio.
Have a great trip!
Old Jan 21st, 2003, 06:55 AM
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We did 9 Day's in Costa Rica in November. Arenal, Monteverde & Manuel Antonio. We did the canopy tour and rafting from MA both were great. The benefit of planning most of your excursions from one location, like Manual Antonia, is the ability to adjust for the weather. It is a long haul into and out on Monteverde on rough roads. I would not go there unless you are staying 2 nights and are interested in hiking in the national park. We could not do the Canopy there as planned because of high winds and rain. We left a day early and drove to MA. There are day trips from Arenal to Monteverde via boat and horseback or Jeep.
We did not do it - but I wish we had.
Have fun
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 10:08 AM
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Dave- I agree that you may be trying to do a bit too much. I would think about choosing between the day trip to Poas and the Arenal stay--both are great, but on the Poas trip, which I recall being a little closer to SJ, there a few nice stopping points for waterfalls, birds, roadside lunch , etc-still time to get back to your hotel to rest up for your Pacuare day trip(you'll be picked up by 6 am. By the way I believe that one of the Pacuare outifts-aventuras naturales-has a lodge and either a canopy platform or zip line. I would cut out Monteverde on this trip-save it for trip #2 and if you were going there to see Quetzales-or experience the cloud forest try one of the lodges near San Gerardo de Dota for a day trip or an overnight---we stayed at Albergue de Montana Rio Savegre-owned by the Chacon family and had the greatest time---quetzales, hummingbirds, horseback riding, and a cloud forest as thick as pea soup AND even trout fishing in the heaqdwaters of the Rio Savegre!
After that, I'd head to Quepos/Manuel Antonio for all the great stuff there-including a day of r and r at one of the beaches in the park. Have a great trip. you might save a lot of time and maybe even some money if you skipped the rental and got a travel agent or your hotels to help you arrange for drivers AND if you flew from SJ to Manuel Antonio rather than drove--I think it should cost maybe $100 per person rt--35 minute flight instead of multi hour drive!
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 10:26 AM
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I have never been to Punta Leona, but I have been to Manuel Antonio and it was beautiful. It was definitley one of my favorite parts of Costa Rica. I would agree with the previous posting about flying to different areas of Costa Rica rather than driving. By flying you will save alot of time and it really won't cost that much either. IF any part of your drive entails waiting for a ferry, don't do it. When we were driving the lines for the ferries were 6 or more hours long.
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 02:14 PM
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Hi, I was a bit disappointed in the Arenal area. The mountain was in clouds and the Tabacon hot spring was very commercial and touristy. We did stay at the Tilajari which is a wonderful place. If you are going to this area, I'd stay at the Tilajari instead. You're going to love Costa Rica!!! You might also reconsider driving back to San Jose from Manuel Antonio. You might like to look into a flight.
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 06:42 PM
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We just came back from CR. it's a great country!
-We loved Monteverde,it's gorgeous, great climate, very peaceful although kind of touristy,but not too bad. You might not like driving there; from Arenal it would be at least 3 hours,including 1 hour on a dirt road. If you do go there - stay more than 1 night, go for a hike into a rainforest, but not the main one. The canopy tour with Original Canopy Tour was kind of slow (I heard SkyTreck is faster). The good place to eat is Cafe Paradiso. We stayed at Sapo Dorado, it was OK, but not great; a lunch at their restaurant was really bad.
-Arenal was rainy, but still beautiful. You might be out of luck and won't see the volcano behind the clouds. Tabacon Resort looked way too crowded,
-I didn't like Manuel Antonio at all. I don't understand what people are raving about. The MA park was more like a zoo, it was so touristy. The hotel had a great view, but beach was a problem. The free beach is small, dirty and very crowded; the beaches in the park are cleaner, but in order to get there you have to get into the park (and pay $7 and be out by 4pm). MA is very touristy and also expensive by CR standards. We couldn't find a good restaurant there, even for the US price. By the way, Jaco is not a nice place. I would skip the Central Pacific alltogether and go to Nicoya Peninsula instead. We loved Montezuma! Big and beautiful beaches, CocoBlanco national park nearby, Curu (a private reserve) where you can play with the monkeys, a great food. You can also go to the Carribean cost or Osa Peninsula if you are more adventures type.
- Finally, I would never again stay a single night in San Jose, even if the hotel is nice. The city is ugly (the downtown is not an exeption), traffic is bad and it smells of a diesel fuel. Skip SJ if you can, there are so many nice places in CR!!!
Have a good trip!
Old Jan 26th, 2003, 06:10 PM
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I would suggest Manuel Antonio over Punta Leona. There isn't too much to do in the Jaco area (where Punta Leona is) We weren't too impressed with the town of Jaco.
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