Costa Rica etc. on our own

Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:26 PM
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Costa Rica etc. on our own

I am trying to arrange a week in Costa Rica - for a family with 2 college kids. What's the best way to go about this? I thought about a Backroads or similar trip, but just don't have $20,000 to drop on one week, although I love the itinerary and places they stay. Is it possible to work out a trip that would include interesting activities and excursions without complicated logistical issues? (I want to be on vacation, too, after all!) Have any of you done this before? Any suggestions? How about other locations too?
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 09:28 PM
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jkheigle
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Hi Lybern,

When are you going?

I have found the posts here addictive and an absolute compliment to guide books and maps in hand.

I'm going in 2 weeks, started planning 2.5 weeks ago. Yikes. Didn't even really know where Costa Rica was geograpically!
The guide books overwhelmed me. This forum helped.

Two and 1/2 weeks later, I have a list of what I want to do on the SECOND trip -- a desire already to revisit, and I haven't even been there yet!

If I had college kids with me, I would split the time between Arenal and the Beach (Tamarindo vicinity), and if longer trip, squeeze in Manuel Antono OR Osa Peninsula. But remember, I have not been there. Look to the seasoned posters here.

Arenal offers lots of nature adventure (hanging bridges, river rafting, rapelling off water falls, zip lines)

Lots of similar stuff in MA but without the volcano, and with a beach.

Tamarindo, what young person wouldn't like a beach environs?

What would I do?
Day 1: Arrive SJ, 1st Nite close to Airport
Day 2: Overnite River Raft trip(Pacuare River Lodge)
Day 3: Finish river Raft, rental car waiting at office near river drop off... drive 3 plus hours to Arenal area for 1st of 3 nites in Arenal area.
Day 4: All day in Arenal Area
Day 5: All day in Arenal Area
Day 6: Drive 5 hours to Tamarindo? Yikes.
Day7: All day in Tamarindo
Day 8: All day in Tamarindo
Day 9: Drop car at airport, fly back to SJ

Now, since I don't really know first hand about Costa Rica -- these are just suggestions that give you some continuous nites in one spot.

I've read of people taking scooters and atvs out of Tamarindo up to Playa Grande(the younger "kids" might do this, while the older "kids" hang out at the hotel or go deep sea fishing....I don't know)


RENT A CAR. Fly into SJ and out of Liberia (if that is possible...)

Sorry for the long post. But maybe it will start some dialogue with the people here who really are in the know. I'll post my report in January!

PS I am a professor and have received quite a few recs from my students who have travelled in CR. At Arenal, they loved the thermal baths, Cano Negro was "really neat and relaxing", loved hiking to the falls and loved the canopy tours at arenal. They also thought La Fortuna was "cool"...



 
Old Dec 1st, 2006, 04:48 AM
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Thanks for the great info - you are at least 2.5 weeks ahead of me! How will you arrange all the excursions? Are their tour companies? What about hotels - have you found a good - reliable source of information that you'd recommend? I, too, feel overwhelmed by the guide books. How to sort it all out with so little time!
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 05:42 AM
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For hotels, check out www.tripadvisor.com and search in the areas of interest. This forum also gives excellent info on hotels and by cross-referencing the two you are sure to find great hotels.

If you want to go with an organized tour without spending a fortune you might consider GAP adventures
www.gapadventures.com
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 06:33 AM
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A week isn't very long - but if that's what you have, that's what you have! Not at all hard to arrange lodging, rental car (if you want that - or driver if you don't). Very easy to arrange excursions from whatever lodging you choose. With a little research on this board and tripadvisor.com you can choose location and lodging that suits you. With just a week you might want to consider basing yourself at somewhere nice outside San Jose and make day trips around - or Arenal, or a beach area. Or for the best adventure go directly to the Osa.
If the research sounds like too much work (some people like it others don't), contact Pat Hewitt lovecostarica.com. He's a very well respected and known travel agent (lots of positive reviews on these boards, including mine)who specializes in Costa Rica - he works out of New Orleans and owns property in CR. He doesn't sell any "packages" but makes great suggestions based on your interests/budget and then makes arrangements with various vendors.
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 08:20 AM
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i agree with jkheigle, except not tamarindo- too many temptations for college kids maybe!?
from liberia airporet ur 35 mins to playa hermosa:

http://costa.rica.typepad.com/playa_...ome/index.html

a clean safe swinning beach. from there a day trip to rincon de la vieja is easy!
then go to la fortuna- or u could do it the other way round, depending on ur flight arrival time- make sure u do a day trip to cano negro reserve, lots of wiildlife amnd birds to see, and only about USD50 p.p

http://costa.rica.typepad.com/la_for...ome/index.html
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 09:45 AM
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Most tours can be easily arranged through your hotel one day in advance. But I can also vouch for Pat Hewitt as he helped us arrange our honeymoon in Costa Rica a few years back.

When you say a week, do you meek 5 days or 7 days? Those extra two days could amke a lot of differences in recommendations.
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 05:15 PM
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In Arenal I would highly recommend Los Lagos. Very close to volcano, great views, food is excellent, has a hot spring pool with swim up bar and a cool pool. Both pools have water slide that are a good laugh. Try them at night in the dark. You should be able to find their web site.

At Arenal, Skytrek ziplines/canopy tour in not to be missed. Just show up and go. 400-700meter cable lines over jungle valley. Check it out on line as well.

Hanging Bridges is good if you water more flora, or is it fauna...its both.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 05:32 AM
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jkheigle
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Hi lybern,
How's the search going?

I plan on using the hotels to book tours, but I'm wondering if i should wait till we get there, or book now. Booked tours are non-refundable unless the company cancels the trip.

just to share a bit of info:

I used TriColor for car rental. 9 full days: $359 including taxes and mandatory insurance. They're one minute from airport, and pick you up/drop you off at airport. I got a 4x4 Jimny (you'd probably want something bigger). Very reasonable rates, and a few good posts here about them.

www.arenal.net will get you excited about stuff to do in that area, also has links to almost all hotels in the area, plus a map of their locations! Great Tour descriptions (source of what to do there), directions from San Jose.

I've changed my itinerary about 10 times, but the hotels have been very patient with me.

I really appreciate the advice and the time "seasoned" CR visitors / residents give to this forum.

Good Luck
jackie
 
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