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Costa Rica - Arenal or Monteverde or ?

Old Nov 1st, 2007, 05:38 PM
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Costa Rica - Arenal or Monteverde or ?

For our next Jan/Feb 2009 trip to Costa Rica (14 days) I was thinking to split our time between Arenal (Lost Iguana – 4 night), Monteverde (4 nights) and Osa (Bosque del Cabo – 4 nights) – with the last 2 nights (1 full day) at the Peace Lodge.

I am having second thoughts, that maybe I should include some beach time for a few days, so maybe Manuel Antonio? Or Casa Chameleon? Or something else?
What do you all think? We are not major beach goers, but we love the ocean view, walks on the beach, the sound of crashing waves. Would Osa give us all that, even though we would not be so close to the beach?

If not considering the volcano, how similar/different are Arenal and Monteverde? We would do the zip lines and canopy tour in one place only. Which one would you pick?
Thanks a lot


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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Bosque del Cabo has cabins that have gorgeous ocean views. We slept with the sound of ocean waves crashing every night. The only drawback is that you have to hike to the beach, and it's not just a stroll, it's a hike.

There's the Golfo Dulce and the Pacific right there, but you just have to hike down. They will come and pick you up if you request it. One thing we did there that was really neat was to go to the animal sanctuary. To do that, they drive you to Puerto Jimenez, and then you get on a little motorboat and head across the Gulf to get to the sanctuary. We got to be out on the water and saw a lot of dolphins. They also have an excursion where you can swim with the wild dolphins if you'd like; they pull you behind the boat with the dolphins swimming all around you. You can definitely get beach time there, but it's just that's it's not effortless.
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Old Nov 1st, 2007, 06:32 PM
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You have a very nice itinerary. Arenal and Monteverde are very different and you will certainly enjoy both places. Monteverde is cloud forest, so cooler, damper, etc. The plant and animal life will be different as well. Birding is good, but it is at Arenal as well!

Arenal has that great tour to Cano Negro, the hot springs, the volcano (of course).

Arenal & Monteverde together make a nice combo if you have the time--and you do. Bosque del Cabo and Peace Lodge are excellent choices as well. Bosque del Cabo has plenty of beach for you. You have to hike down to it, but that's part of the fun! It's gorgeous.

Logistically, have you worked out your transfer options? That may require a bit of itinerary "tweaking". I think you'll find that, when you get it all on paper, you may have to give up a night at Monteverde and/or Arenal. For example, with the order you listed, are you going to arrive in time to get to Arenal for the first night? If you deplane after 2:00 p.m., probably not. There goes a night. Not wasted (you can relax nearby and rest up), but it does affect the itinerary.

I'd suggest limiting Monteverde AND Arenal to 3 nights each. BUT at MV you're 4 hours away (or close to it) from the international airport, so that puts you in a bind for being in position to catch your domestic flight to Bosque del Cabo--again, according to the order you mentioned.

Your best option would probably be to fly down to Bosque del Cabo first--logistically. You may still need to spend the first night near the airport, but that isn't a big deal.

What about this? Just trying to make the most of your time. . .

1st night--airport area (depends)
Early a.m. fly to Puerto Jimenez
2nd night--BdC
3rd night--BdC
4th night--BdC
5th night--BdC

A.m. flight back to SJO, rent car, drive to Monteverde--or arrange transfer (this is a day of travel pretty much, but very scenic!)

6th night---Monteverde
7th night---Monteverde
8th night---Monteverde

Drive to Arenal (3-4 hrs) OR arrange a transfer

9th night--Arenal
10th night--Arenal
11th night--Arenal

Drive to Peace Lodge (2.5 hr or so)

12th night--Peace Lodge
13th night--Peace Lodge

Next day, fly home (Peace Lodge is a little more than an hour from the airport). You need to arrive at the airport 2.5- 3 hours in advance (PLUS allow time to turn the car in, at least 30 min)--all this MAY require a last night near the airport, if you have an early flight.

You can easily see when you put it on paper that you don't always have as many nights as you think. And so much depends on your arrival/departure times--and the itinerary order really makes a difference as well.

You are right to schedule 2 nights at Peace Lodge. Don't short yourself there. You'll know more after your flights have been scheduled, of course.

I can tell you that you'd enjoy 5 nights at Bosque del Cabo. And some people who are seeking more of a beach experience opt to combine BdC with a couple of nights right there in Puerto Jimenez at one of the hotels ON the beach such as Iguana Lodge. You could do that if you drop Monteverde from your itinerary (and it would make the entire trip a LOT simpler, with less long distance transfers). Just an option to consider if you really want to work in more playa. I surely wouldn't try to fit in another separate beach location, though, such as the ones you mentioned, UNLESS you do them instead of the Osa Peninsula. Good luck! It certainly isn't too early to be planning if you're wanting to find space at BdC in January of 2009. Amazing. . .!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 05:34 AM
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Volcanogirl,
Any recommendation for the cabin with the best ocean view and a nice terrace? I don’t think we’re be interested in swimming with dolphins. But being in a boat close to them and photographing them, that sounds fantastic.

Shillmac,
Great info, as usual. I think we will stick to our original itinerary. Definitely Cano Negro is in the plan.
No, I have not thought of the logistics, and I see your point. How do you recommend we do it, so we end the vacation in Bosque del Cabo? It seems the most relaxing of the 3.

I think our Continental flight arrives in early afternoon – can we hire a driver to take us to either Arenal or MV that day? I know that the transfer between Arenal and MV is doable in a day. But from which one of them is it feasible to get to BdC in one day? I know we need to get to SJO, then take a domestic flight then get a ride from there.

I was thinking of having all the transfers done by hiring private drivers (or arrange with the hotels) and only rent a car locally for Arenal. How does that sound? Would we need a car in MV? Somehow, it feels wrong to drop MV from the itinerary, though I know…there’s probably no wrong decision there. Each area has a lot to offer…
Thanks

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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 06:33 AM
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Arenal may be easier to leave from and get to SJO in time for a flight to Puerto Jimenez. Nature Air also has flights from Arenal to SJO.

Where I live I am surrounded by beaches so it's not on the top of my list but it's a very nice walk down the Golfo Dulce trail to the 3 beaches (the last one is the nicest) and you can arrabge BdC to pick you up whenever you wish.

For cabins, personally, I think Lapa & Congo cabinas have the nicest deck & views. Mariposa has a nice deck area as well and a larger porch but the view is slightly blocked by some trees.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:20 PM
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Hi, xyz, yes I think Congo has the best view of them all. They are all good, but that one seems particularly special. It looks out onto an arched rock and another rock a little further away. I actually tried to book that one, and it booked up 8 months in advance. When we got there and went to dinner, we met the couple staying there, and they said they booked it especially for their anniversary because she knew it was the good one! Lapa is right next door, and Mariposa is on the other side and on the end, so it seems a little bit more private. But all the ones I saw would most likely make you happy.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:32 PM
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tully, funny I typed all that before I read your post. Looks like I could have just said, "Ditto what tully said." xyz, we used private drivers, and that worked out great for us. We have not made it yet to Monteverde, so I can't offer advice on that area.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Tully, VG,
Thanks – we’ll try to get Congo then. And if it’s easier to get to BdC from Arenal than from Monteverde, we’ll probably do (in this order) MV, Arenal, BDC and Peace Lodge in the end.
For now, I assume that we can get in 1 day from Arenal to BdCabo.

If Continental keeps their current schedule, the flight would arrive there around 12:30. Is it feasible to think we can get to MV the same day? If not, and we have 7 nights to split between MV and Arenal, how would you split them? Where would you do the zip lines?
And what’s a nice place to stay in MV?
Thanks
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 05:04 PM
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Peace Lodge at the end is a nice touch. It's really posh. I loved BdC, but I think having the big cushy bed and fireplace and all the over the top features of Peace Lodge will be a nice way to ease back into real life. Sky Trek has ziplines in both Arenal and Monteverde; both of them get good reviews, so you'd be fine either way.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 05:06 PM
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I can't remember if I mentioned this or not, but BdC will arrange your flights from SJO to Puerto Jimenez for you via NatureAir or Sansa if you ask them to. They did all our arrangements for us, and it made it pretty easy.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2007, 06:15 PM
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VG,
Great to know that BdC will arrange our transfer – we will definitely ask them about it.

Good to hear Peace Lodge is a good option. Some people here seem to love it, some think it’s a little bit over the top. Never been to Disney Land, so can’t compare. But it’s close enough to the airport, and the waterfalls, birds and hummingbirds sound great. Yeah, and the Jacuzzi
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