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MissyT Oct 20th, 2015 08:36 AM

Costa Rica Beach question + more
Traveling to Costa Rica in early March with my 2 adult daughters. Looking to split our time (several days in each) inland, leaning towards Arenal area, but for the beach portion wanted to know more about the Manuel Antonio area.

**From what I have read it sounds like the most tropical, non commercial, pristine of the beaches in the country, yet near other activities.
-Several people have suggested accommodations that are a quick ride from the beach, but I see listed some close to the beach, walkable. I like the close version, so we can each spend different times on the beach. Why was this not recommended to me?
-Any suggestions for accommodations? Do not need an all inclusive, but breakfast and a trip excursion desk would be nice. Picturesque water view would be ideal, but I might not want to spend that much.

I love reading everyone's ideas!

RAC Oct 20th, 2015 08:48 AM

The beach inside Manuel Antonio park is lovely, but of course you have to pay and hike to use it, and there are no services there.

Outside the park, the beach is not what you're looking for. Very commercial, and has had pollution issues (sewage from overdevelopment).

lostworldadventures Oct 20th, 2015 09:15 AM

I spent 5 days in Tamarindo with my 13 year old niece and 60 year old mom. My niece learned how to surf and my mom loved lounging at the pool where we stayed. It was very relaxing and while not the most beautiful beach in the world, we definitely enjoyed ourselves. There are lots of restaurants and shopping to choose from. I would definitely recommend it for a beach trip, and Arenal is only a 3 hour drive away. We did both in 8 days.

Are you renting a car?

Patty Oct 20th, 2015 09:47 AM

We stayed at Tulemar in Manuel Antonio which has its own private beach. They have a beachside cafe that serves breakfast and lunch and also concierge service. For dinner, there are options within walking distance and the bungalows/condos have kitchens. Lots of wildlife right on the property. What's your budget? March is high season so it won't be inexpensive. I wouldn't describe the MA area as non-commercial. I think you may have gotten the wrong idea.

volcanogirl Oct 20th, 2015 10:38 AM

We love Tulemar Bungalows too. The property is great with the beach right there, beautiful views, and we saw lots of monkeys and sloths right on the property. The MA area does have development though. The beach inside the park is gorgeous, but there would be a lot of people there most likely.

plambers Oct 20th, 2015 11:10 AM

We stayed in Domincal-many lovely beaches within a 20 minute drive.

MissyT Oct 20th, 2015 12:25 PM

Thanks All!

I had been given feedback from a friend that had been there that Tamarindo beach sand was more coarse, and dark, like a mix of sand and dirt. And that the town catered to the surfers, with not much of a mix of shops and restaurants. That is why I was leaning away from there.

Manuel Antonio seemed as if it had a nicer beach, and was a more natural setting, and general beach location.

How far is it from the Arenal area to Manuel Antonio? Drivable? Or if a long drive, is there airplane service?

I was previously thinking of using a travel agent, but since the local agents that know the country well can not help me with my confusing international air requirements, am having second thoughts. Do I really need a local agent? You all seem to do a wonderful job of recommendations!

volcanogirl Oct 20th, 2015 01:04 PM

Yes, it's driveable. Roads are in pretty good shape. It takes about 4.5-5 hours to go between the two. Sansa and Nature Air are the in country airlines if you want to check those.

Patty Oct 20th, 2015 02:23 PM

CR is very easy to book on your own. MA beaches are also darker sand. You're not going to find white, powdery sand beaches on the Pacific coast if that's what you're looking for.

volcanogirl Oct 20th, 2015 03:47 PM

I don't think you need a local agent either, easy to book everything on your own. If you stay at Tulemar, they'll provide you with a concierge.

MissyT Oct 21st, 2015 09:22 PM

--Is there any good sites between Arenal and Manuel Antonio, to break up the drive? In addition to wildlife and rainforest, I am a very interested in local crafts.

--Should I book day excursions in advance?

--How about drivers to and from the airport, or between locations.

--Any lodging suggestions in the Arenal area?

This is so helpful to learn from people who know the area!

volcanogirl Oct 22nd, 2015 02:38 AM

Yes, you can stop at the Rio Tarcoles. There's a little rest area there where you can park and see the huge crocs down in the river below. You can buy fresh fruit smoothies, and I believe they have items for sale like wood carvings, etc. We always book our drivers through our hotels when we reserve them. We've stayed at the Lost Iguana, Nayara, The Springs Resort and Spa (stayed on a Groupon), and the Arenal Observatory Lodge and have liked all of them. Silencio del Campo is also popular. Depends on your budget, if you want wildlife or hot springs, etc.

Patty Oct 22nd, 2015 01:50 PM

We booked drivers in advance. We only went on one tour to the Damas Mangrove and I can't remember if we booked in advance but it's probably a good idea in high season. We booked our entire trip only a few days in advance but we went in August.

volcanogirl Oct 22nd, 2015 02:29 PM

Manuel Antonio Expeditions is a good group to go on tours with; we did a guided tour of the national park and the Damas mangrove tour with them. I booked in advance just because I really wanted to go with them and didn't want them to be booked up.

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