Costa Rica - Family of 6 - July

Old Mar 29th, 2014, 11:54 AM
  #1  
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Costa Rica - Family of 6 - July

Planning a trip for the family in July to Costa Rica. Mom, Dad, and 4 kids ages 18-12. So adventure is on the list for our one week vacation. We've never been to Central America so we're looking forward to it.

As I've researched Costa Rica I am pleasantly surprised how much there is to do. Certainly we want to see a rain forest, volcano, etc.

But I wanted to get your advice on how best to use our week. Should we establish a "base" on the coast and do day trips? Is it better to do an A-B-C trip?

Given the limited time, what would you recommend as an itinerary?

Also, its often hard to find reasonable accommodations for a family our size, so any suggestions here would be great too.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 29th, 2014, 10:04 PM
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A lot of first timers like to do a split between Manuel Antonio and the Arenal area - lots of adventure activities, wildlife, beach, volcano - two areas is about right for a week long trip. Day trips for the most part aren't that practical in CR since it takes a long time to get from place to place.
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 09:26 AM
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Thank you for your reply.

Per google, the drive from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is about 2.5 hours - then 4.5 up to Arenal, then about 3 back to San Jose.

I know these are the most visited. Are they the most visited because they are that impressive or more of a great location.

For example, I'm flexible on airports - I could go into Liberia or even start at one airport and finish at the other.

Thoughts?
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 10:29 AM
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We always fly in and out of San Jose. If you were interested in going to one of the Guanacaste area beaches up north then Liberia would be a better bet for you. For us, San Jose has always been cheaper airfare. These are the most visited areas because they're easy with great infrastructure with tons of adventure activities and outings to do. They're the most popular with families as well. If you wanted to go more off the grid, you could go to the Osa, if you want cloud forest Monteverde, turtles in Tortuguero, etc. but these two areas offer an easy great first trip. Manuel Antonio has gorgeous beaches, tons of wildlife like monkeys and sloths, and lots of hotel and restaurant choices. Arenal/La Fortuna has the volcano, tons of adventure activities, natural hot springs like Tabacon and Eco Termales, Hanging Bridges, etc.
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 10:47 AM
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We flew into San Jose- next day we went river rafting- that was fun day.

We flew to Manuel Antonio- well, to an airport close to there and then travelled by a pre arranged car. Spent a few days there. The flight was an experience- they weigh you with your carry on before boarding- I think the plane held 6 passengers. Beautiful views flying through the coffee fields.

Flew back to San Jose and were picked up by a driver and drove to Monteverde - I think we only spent 1 night there.
Drove to Arenal area- spent a couple of nights exploring- Arenal was rumbling while we were there- woke up one night and my daughters bed was moving across the room.
Spent an evening at Tabacon Hot Springs- Arenal erupted while we were there with a loud "boom" Pretty exciting.

Drove back to San Jose and spent last night near the airport

It was a great trip!
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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Thanks for your replies so far. Based on your feedback, here's where I'm at:

1. Fly into SJO, rent a car, then drive to Arenal Volcano area.
2. Question: Where should a family of six stay at Arenal - not luxury but not shoestring. Most hotels limit you to 4 in a room, so we always have to be creative.
3. Spend a few days touring Arenal area along with activities.
4. Drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio
5. Where should a family of six stay at Manuel Antonio?
6. Spend a few days
7. Drive from Manuel Antonio to SJO

Thanks for your continued help!
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 02:45 PM
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In the Arenal area, both Silencio del Campo and Los Lagos are really popular with young families. In Manuel Antonio, we like Tulemar Bungalows, great spot if it's in your budget.
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Old Apr 24th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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We are traveling to costa rica with another family so there will be 9 of us. We are also staying a week (7 nights) and trying to plan everything out. We are thinking we are going to do the very same thing: fly into SJO and then travel to Arenal and stay there for 3 nights then travel to Manuel Antonio and stay there for the remaining 4 nights. We are in the process of finding a villa in Manuel Antonio. As I am not at all familiar with Costa Rica, it is mind boggling to try to figure out the best location of a villa. Some claim it is walking distance to the beach and I am not sure if it is realistic to believe that we will be able to actually walk to the beach. I don't want to compromise a beautiful villa a a good price for an OK villa that claims to be close to the beach. We are traveling with our children 21, 20, 18, 16 and 13 so our children are old enough to be on their own. Should we forget the idea that we will be able to "walk" to the beach and rent a nicer villa or should be try to stay as close to the beach as possible? Should we try to make tour Arenal AND Monteverde or just stay in Arenal? Can we make a day trip to Monteverde? I have so many questions!! Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Apr 24th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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Tulemar Bungalows has some beautiful villas, and they have their own beach with a free shuttle that rides around the property. Take a look at it and see what you think. Monteverde is best if you can stay two nights; it's a long bumpy road to get there, not really a day trip destination. With only 7 nights, Arenal and Manuel Antonio would be perfect and maybe save Monteverde for another trip.
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Old Apr 24th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Can you give me some suggestions as to what activities to do in Arenal? in Manuel Antonio? Thanks!
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Old Apr 24th, 2014, 03:16 PM
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In the Arenal area, zipline at Sky Trek, visit Tabacon or Eco Termales natural hot springs, do the Cano Negro tour to see wildlife, hike at the volcano, waterfall, and the Hanging Bridges, visit the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center, go tubing at The Springs Resort and Spa, go to the lake, do the Penas Blancas river float, and go waterfall rappeling with Sunset Tours La Roca. Sunset Tours and Desafio both offer great guides and nice tours.

In the Manuel Antonio area, go to the beach, do a guided tour of the national park to see wildlife, do the Damas mangrove tour, and take the Villa Vanilla spice tour.
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Old Apr 24th, 2014, 05:56 PM
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Sounds like we should maybe spend 4 nights in Arenal and 3 nights in Manuel Antonio? Thanks for all of your suggestions!
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 09:45 AM
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Does anyone have experience (or know of someone that does)with renting a villa through VRBO in Costa Rica? How reliable is it? Thanks!
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Old Apr 27th, 2014, 01:04 PM
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I think how you balance the trip depends on how much beach time you like. We spend a lot of time at the beach in MA, so we do fewer activities there and tend to do the adventurous stuff in Arenal/La Fortuna.
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Old Apr 28th, 2014, 06:45 AM
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Aodantin, we've rented in Costa Rica (and Panama) from VRBO, and so have our friends with success. Look for properties that have been listed for a couple of years, at least (it's on the bottom of each listing's page), and also those that have several recent reviews. You can get a pretty good feel for things by how quickly they respond to emails and questions, or even by calling them. Be sure to ask what type of security the home offers (gated, guarded, safes, etc.).

A lot of the villas in the Manual Antonio area claim they are within walking distance to the beach, but you might not want to walk back because it can be a steep climb. Some houses are close to a bus stop. I've never rented in Manual Antonio, but I researched it and had some houses picked out, we just ended up in a different area that trip. If I can find the ones I liked, I'll post the link.
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Old Apr 30th, 2014, 03:27 PM
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Thanks Janenicole! I appreciate it. We are looking at one called Casa Reserva with Green Coast Rentals.
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Old May 5th, 2014, 06:19 PM
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Woowoo2, where are you all staying in Arenal? We are a family of 5 looking at places in Arenal and I am having a hard time finding a decent place at a decent price.
Suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated!
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Old May 5th, 2014, 07:07 PM
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Silencio del Campo and Los Lagos are both popular if you want to explore those. The Lost Iguana is nice if you want to be someplace jungly. They sometimes offer special deals.
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Old May 7th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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Hi. We are a family of 4 going this July to CR for the first time. We are staying 2 nights in La Carolina Lodge and the next 5 at an all inclusive villa, Villa Vista de Oro, which looks spectacular. Wanted a bit dryer climate since we are going in July.
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Old May 17th, 2014, 08:57 AM
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plambers,
Where are you all flying into?
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