Costa Rica choices for a senior couple

Old May 16th, 2014, 05:55 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Costa Rica choices for a senior couple

My husband and I are strongly considering Costa Rica for vacation this year. We are seniors but we don't have any health issues that would prevent normal activity. My husband has chosen to continue to work although he really could retire so we will be going on vacation for only two weeks (so I can get him away from work for a while). We love nature, animals, etc. and have traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, so we aren't new to travel but believe in going prepared. So, here are a few questions that I'm hoping to find the answer to.

(1) While we usually prefer to vacation in late September/October due to fewer tourist and lower temperatures, I've read that CR has some very heavy rains in that time frame, so I'm trying to get input on whether we should try to schedule it earlier if we choose CR.

(2) We like to rent a car and drive rather than do a canned tour. So, is it normally considered safe in most areas to drive as lone internationals? We also know someone who lives near Liberia that we would like to meet for dinner if we get to that area so how are road conditions? I've heard they are somewhat difficult as they often need some maintenance.

(3) My husband is one who wants a 'schedule' even on vacation. So, I'm looking at the possibility of doing Panama with CR. Is that doable, or is there enough to do in CR (considering we don't do sports or very strenuous activity) or should we consider the second country too and if so, would that require driving or is there a mode of ground transportation between the two?

(4) I have always wanted to see the rain forest there. I recall many years ago seeing one in Puerto Rica and it was so very beautiful. In fact, I'm wondering if maybe a would be worthwhile to make the 'second country' one where the Amazon would be accessible.

(5) While we like to see beautiful beaches and the water, we are not sun bathers and we live in a coastal state, so that's not where we'd want to spend more than a day or two.

(6) We do like to take day tours once we arrive at our destination and we like to do unusual things (we had fun riding camels in the Sahara Desert last year). So, while an occasional museum may be tolerated, we aren't huge museum goers either. We like ethnic music and/or concerts.

(7) Is it better to fly into San Jose or Liberia from the East Coast US?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks for your input.
1Caroline is offline  
Old May 16th, 2014, 07:06 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,756
I've flown into LIR and SJO and had no problems (if you look at a map, air time is virtually the same); but SJO can be problematic if you arrive late (taxi to a hotel, and have them deliver the rental car in the a.m.); the area is confusing at night, and you should never begin your trip there at that time. Driven many places in Costa Rica (but not the Caribbean), and have had no problems (like most places, you can consult websites for road closures/delays). We love driving ourselves, too.
Going to LIR would be ideal if you were heading to the coast/beaches there (actually, if if you were headed right away to Arenal [La Fortuna] or Monteverde, I think it would be about the same driving time; perhaps 30-40 minutes longer from LIR). I like LIR because it is newer and the area seems less congested and more straightforward to me [just personal opinion]). If you are heading right to Manual Antonio or the Osa Peninsula on the southern coast, SJO might be better.
You cannot drive a rental car from Costa Rica to Panama, but there are drop-offs, then buses or Panama car rental options, I believe.
sylvia3 is offline  
Old May 16th, 2014, 11:20 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 126
You can easily fill two weeks in Costa Rica. And if you want to see rainforest, you might as well see it with some rain. Plenty of nonstrenuous day trips, although as seniors we have done ziplines and enjoyed it. Many people drive themselves and like it. You could do a mix of self drive and not.

A good way to start is fly into San Jose (Alajuela) and stay a night at Toucan Rescue Ranch where you can see up close the animals you hope to see in the wild. Then arrange a ride or drive and park to the boat landing that takes you to Tortuguero, which is only accessible by boat or plane. Two nights there with canal tours, then boat back and visit Puerto Viejo area for three or four nights.

This is just an intro. There are so many activities you can schedule for your husband. But it is recommended you limit a two week stay to three areas.
emmajm is offline  
Old May 16th, 2014, 06:44 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Thank you both for your input. You made emmajm you made agood point about the rain and I really don't mind 'some'rain although I'm not fond of downpours. We experienced a national flood while in Japan. Although they were most gracious and took very good care of us, that was a bit more than we're hoping to see again. It was one of our unique travel experiences though.
1Caroline is offline  
Old May 17th, 2014, 08:16 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,340
Hi Caroline. I personally would not choose September/October to visit Costa Rica, though as was pointed out, in the rainforest it can rain anytime.

Re Panama: I dunno; it's a country on my radar,but I have yet to go there. You could easily pass your time in either country, and the animals aren't aware that there are borders.

I'm surprised that no-one has brought up the possibility of staying at Bosque del Cabo, quite possibly the most popular spot on the forum. It's fairly near the Panama border, and simply amazing! You can wander through the rainforest for hours, seeing more wildlife than you'd think possible or walk to through the rainforest to the beach (or not).

I would not want to drive in or near downtown San Jose. In the words of a co-worker (who has traveled extensively), ("we nearly died three times in ten minutes"!) Liberia looks to be a comparatively easy area to navigate, and there's a lot to see and do. There's also a great tourist infrastructure in CR, with numerous shuttles, buses and small planes.
Cattail is offline  
Old May 17th, 2014, 09:29 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Thank you, Cattail. That was very helpful and sounds like the type of thing we're looking for. It also seems as if we could possibly find a day tour or something to Panama and maybe to the volcano. I haven't checked the mileage (or kilometers) yet, but it sounds great and I will definitely check it out. How late in the summer months would you see as a good time to go to CR?
1Caroline is offline  
Old May 17th, 2014, 06:35 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,340
We (my husband and I) have been various times January through June/July. the summer months were by far the rainiest, but we still had a fabulous time. If you're lucky, you will experience the dry period in the rainy season that is rumored to exist It didn't rain all day in June and July, mainly in the afternoon, and a bonus was that there were many frogs and reptiles to see.

I am not sure how difficult it would be to go to Panama from Costa Rica. As far as where to fly into, we have found San Jose and Liberia equally easy from the East coast.

I do encourage you to read about the different areas of the country, and see which draws you. Arenal ,Sarapaqui, Osa, Tortugero Guanacaste area are just a few I might suggest.
Cattail is offline  
Old May 17th, 2014, 06:59 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Thanks. I just bought one of the travel books to become more familiar with the country. By the time we go, I am always very familiar with the entire area, so you are right in that I want to find out more about the various areas. We a bit later this year in making our decision as to where to go due to an uncontrollable situation, so I have to do some catch-up. I really appreciate your suggestions.
1Caroline is offline  
Old May 17th, 2014, 08:05 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 55
Would it make sense to stay 3 nites in San jose and then go to a resort/hotel by the coast (and which one would you all recommend for seniors who do speak Spanish. Has anyone stayed at the Westin?
travelforever is offline  
Old May 18th, 2014, 06:58 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,756
3 nights in San Jose is 3 nights too many, unless you are arriving late one night (and then I would arrange a cab or hotel shuttle, and get the car delivered in the morning: I do NOT recommend driving within the city).

If you are going to Westin Playa Conchal (about an hours drive from LIR, as opposed to the 4.5-5 hours from SJO), it will be drier and sunnier (Guanacaste) than elsewhere. Conchal is a nice beach, one of the few that offers (okay) snorkeling, and is near a lot of other beaches/places to explore. Spanish is nice, but not required.
sylvia3 is offline  
Old May 18th, 2014, 06:18 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,340
Sylvia makes a good point, Caroline; Guanacaste may be sunnier in late summer or fall than elsewhere in Costa Rica. Something to consider. At least you won't have time to overthink your choices, like many of us do!
Cattail is offline  
Old May 20th, 2014, 05:24 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Thanks travelforever (love your ID), sylvia3, and cattail. We're trying to find a way to go a little later in the season. The problem is that my husband is a central figure in some major projects at work that require his attention and our window is somewhat restricted. Is the weather any better in late Oct to early Nov. (I've read it's iffy through part of December) or would those of you who have been there suggest that we consider another country this year? You are all being so helpful and I appreciate it.
1Caroline is offline  
Old May 20th, 2014, 10:58 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,340
I think that the closer you can get to December, the better.
Cattail is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2014, 10:47 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,151
I agree with Cat; for most areas the rainy season is May through the end of November, although we went to the Osa in July and surprisingly didn't get a drop of rain. We were there during that "little summer" period when the rains slow down. September and October tend to be the worst for a lot of areas.

We also really like the Arenal area for the volcano, waterfall hike, Hanging Bridges, natural hot springs like Tabacon and Eco Termales, the Cano Negro tour, Penas Blancas river float, and the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center. It would have that jungly feel that you like. Desafio and Sunset Tours both have nice websites if you want to explore those.

We always fly in and out of SJO.
volcanogirl is online now  
Old Jun 29th, 2014, 03:24 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 175
Thanks,volcanogirl. Sorry, but somehow I missed your post earlier, but I just now saw it. Thanks for your input. We have decided to go to Monteverde for 5 days and Arnel for 5 days. We will have a few days left, but we haven't yet decided which beach we will visit. We've had a few suggestions, but no decision yet, so any suggestions for beaches relatively close to the Guancaste area will be appreciated. We just think it would be nice to have a few days at the beach although that wasn't our top priority since we live near enough to nice beaches that we can do a weekend trip there from home.
1Caroline is offline  
Old Jun 29th, 2014, 07:16 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,151
You're welcome, Caroline. I think you'll enjoy both Monteverde and the Arenal area - both nice green places. We usually go to Manuel Antonio for our beach time, but sounds like that might be farther than you want to go. It's about four and half hours or so from the Arenal area. We like it because it's more lush and green than the Guanacaste area and it has easy access to wildlife. Lots of good restaurants you can walk to. Tulemar Bungalows is a great place to stay if you want to take a peek at it. In Monteverde, we had a lot of fun on the Hidden Valley night hike; we saw a porcupine, a fox, and some other cool things when we did it.
volcanogirl is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
itsmesophia
Mexico & Central America
8
Sep 19th, 2011 06:58 PM
wertsbestfriend
Mexico & Central America
9
Mar 19th, 2011 10:13 PM
famgarrido
Mexico & Central America
4
Apr 22nd, 2007 04:40 AM
donalfredo
Mexico & Central America
4
Nov 10th, 2005 03:54 PM
Vicky
Mexico & Central America
12
Aug 31st, 2002 09:21 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO