Costa Rica for 9 days with a 3 year old

Old Jun 19th, 2012, 03:52 PM
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Costa Rica for 9 days with a 3 year old

We are a couple with a 3 year old planning 9 days in Costa Rica from 8/31 to 9/9. I understand its the rainy season but have read its usually ok until 2 PM. We dont plan this trip to be overly active so we are content on planning our day to be active for the first half and rest in the hotel for remainder of the day. That is also the reason we will likely book in nice resorts (recommendations will be greatly appreciated) since we expect to spend more time there then we normally would.

I am looking for feedback on the following itinerary and our choice of destinations. Also looking for accommodation and activity recommendations. Any thoughts on spending 4 nights in MA ... is that too much? We plan to rent a car to get around. I had originally planned Monte Verde but read several reviews that it wasn't worth the drive and my wife and daughter are both very prone to motion sickness. So I decided to spend those extra nights near Poas after getting into San Jose.

8/31/2012 Fly in to San Jose (1:15 PM arrival). Drive to Poas Lodge and rest
9/1/2012 Visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens in the morning. Visit Poa NP in the afternoon if the weather is good.
9/2/2012 Drive to Arenal
9/3/2012 Arenal (Sky Trek)
9/4/2012 Arenal (Hanging Bridges)
9/5/2012 Drive to Manuel Antonio
9/6/2012 Manuel Antonio (not planned activities yet for MA)
9/7/2012 Manuel Antonio
9/8/2012 Manuel Antonio
9/9/2012 Drive early morning to San Jose and fly out (12:45 PM flight)
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 05:12 AM
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I think your itinerary looks good. We stayed at Tulemar Bungalows in MA with our 3 year old last year and it worked out perfectly. They have a private, calm beach with beach toys and a restaurant. Lots of swimming pools too. There was tons of wildlife on the property, so we really didn't have to plan any activities. We walked to everything from there and had no car. Check out villa mot mot. I think she rents it on vrbo.com. It was a beautiful house.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 07:05 AM
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I think it looks good. I'd recommend visiting the natural hot springs while you're in the Arenal area; both Eco Termales and Tabacon are nice. Your daughter would probably enjoy going to Proyecto Asis animal rescue center; you can get very close to the wildlife, and we even got to feed bananas to monkeys there. Our favorite place to stay is the Lost Iguana. If you want closer to town, Nayara is nice. Los Lagos and Silencio del Campo are popular with young families if you want to explore those. Is only one of you going to zipline while the other stays with your daughter? The Penas Blancas river float is also very fun. We saw capuchin and howler monkeys when we did it and sloths.
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Old Jun 20th, 2012, 06:31 PM
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Thanks mad and volcanogirl. Will look up your recommendations. The rescue center and river float sound nice. Would the 3 year old be able to go on the float.

Only I will do the skytrek....my wife does not intend to go which works out well and she can take the tram back with our daughter.

I did look up with Silencio de Campo earlier. It does look nice for families. I am also getting a great deal on Arenal Manoa.... anyone has feedback on this one.

In Manual Antonio Si Como No looks very appealing and getting a fairly good rate on that. Any thoughts will be much appreciated.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 02:35 AM
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We haven't stayed at Si Como No, but we toured it while we were there, and it's a nice spot. Gets consistently good reviews. I think it's a good choice. Tulemar is also very popular.

If the 3 year old can sit still in a raft and would have fun floating down the river then it's doable.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 08:34 AM
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I haven't stayed at Si Como No, but have heard it's kid friendly. Some things to think about are that it's not on the beach (if that's important to you), and I'm not sure how much wildlife you'll see there. Tulemar is right next to the park and is directly on a calm, private beach. we didn't even bother going into the park when we stayed there, as we had monkeys, slothes and toucans right outside our door. The villas rent at different prices and as far as I know, villa mot mot is the best deal and really nice. Good luck with your planning!
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 10:06 AM
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mad you're right about that. I have received some quotes on Tulemar and mot mot is booked and the others are 30 to 40% higher. Quite a difference. Will keep looking.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 10:32 AM
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I think Si Como No has a shuttle to the beach, but you'd have to check with them to be sure. I was watching Bravo the other night, and one of those housewives shows was in Manuel Antonio, and they stayed at Si Como No - lol.
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Old Jun 24th, 2012, 10:13 PM
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Anyone has thoughts on the following properties

a) Arenas del Mar. I'm getting this for only a little more than Si Como No. Is it worth it. In Tulemar everything is much more expensive given that Mot Mot is booked.

b) In Arenal, having a tough time deciding between Arenal Manoa, Los Lagos and Silencio de Campo. Manoa looks like the prettiest of the three from the photos. But Los Lagos seems to be the most fun though some find it disneysque. Silencio is apparently more basic and laid back. Getting all three for roughly the same price. Liked Lost Iguana but I cannot get a good enough deal on it... much too expensive at the rates I can see, plus much further away from town

Also any thoughts on spending 4 nights in Arenal and 3 in MA versus the other way around. After reading more, looks like Arenal has more activities.
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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 06:34 AM
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Have not stayed at Arenas del Mar, but it always gets good reviews. Your 3 year old would probably love Los Lagos; there's a lot on the property to do with kids. I don't know if you saw it, but the Lost Iguana is running a buy two nights get one night free special for green season. With little kids though, Los Lagos is probably more appropriate. We like Arenal for all the activities, so we always put the most time there, but having a 3 years old will limit how much ziplining, white water rafting, all day touring, etc. that you can do. With a child that young, I'd probably leans towards more beach and relaxing time, but really just up to you and your personal preference.
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 07:40 AM
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Thanks volcanogirl, we have decided to go with Los Lagos and Si Como No.
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 07:54 AM
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I think that's a great combo for a young family. Have a great time.
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 08:41 AM
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shoonye,

did you actually call Lost Iguana. I am traveling mid July and received quotes from them and Arenal Springs Resort. We chose Arenal to be closer in town but Lost Iguana was going to give us-buy two nights, and get third night for FREE. Don't let rack rates on ANY of the places scare you. Just call the hotels directly and NEGOTIATE. If you are AAA, military or anything mention that and if all else fails tell them you'd rather have a lower rate from them instead of them giving commission to a travel agent, Expedia, Hotels.com , etc. Hope this helps. Now get on that phone and NEGOTIATE!
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 01:43 PM
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Thanks VG.

pbianche, appreciate the call out. I will certainly do that with the hotels i'm selecting. I notice you will be renting a car as well. Have you decided which company to rent for. What are the typical rates you're getting. Is credit card insurance enough or will we have to buy separately.
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 04:33 PM
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we tried renta4X4incostarica.com which we found out about on this site. its owned by an ex-pat, named dean but he is booked solid and has no cars our week since he is small, local owned. he highly recommended www.506carrental.com and a guy named alejandro is working with us. we compared vamos, 506, and several others and yes the rate we received was excellant. they are picking us up at airport and taking us to their locale and we also are also renting a cell phone and gps. they let extra drivers be added for free. we are to get a 2009 or newer 4x4. we must take the required liability but the credit card will cover cdw insurance. the 4x4 including insurance is $325. throw in a cell phone and a gps and still under $400. AND they give a cash discount so it will be a little over $300! A DEAL. Check with your credit card co. I have Capital One MC which I got specifically to rent a car in Ireland two years ago since most cards won't cover Ireland. They do cover Ireland and CR but not all cards do. It is up to the card NOT car rental company. Companies are cool with it IF your specific card will step up to the plate
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 07:34 AM
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I am just reading all the great responses - we are leaving for Manuel Antonio July 12th and will be staying at Arenas del Mar....the views are supposed to be great. I can tell you that the people there have been wonderful to work with...helping us with transportation details from San Jose and back, etc. I am really looking forward to our trip!!
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 11:01 PM
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Thanks pbianche...very helpful. I will check with both those companies.
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