Costa Rica Gurus - Please Advise!

Old Mar 4th, 2003, 08:32 AM
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Costa Rica Gurus - Please Advise!

Greetings - I am planning a trip to Costa Rica that will last approximately 8 days at the beginning of April. I have a few questions I am hoping this forum can answer...
1. If you could only do Manuel Antonio or Monteverde, which would you pick? (I will be going to other beaches, so that need not factor in heavily).
2. Has anybody out there been to Mal Pais - what was it like?
3. I'm debating whether to rent a car or take a few flights within the country - the cost might not actually be that different because the car rental cost would be split by myself and one other person. Which would you do, if the cost were the same?
4. On a related note, do you know if there is any sort of 'frequent flyer' type discount in Costa Rica (say you get a discount if you do 3 flights or something)?

Thanks a lot! I appreciate any responses to any or all of these questions!
alliwini is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2003, 12:27 PM
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Personally, I would go to Manuel Antonio instead of Monteverde. There is SO much more to do in the MA area. Monteverde is more about just hiking and seeing the forest..and looking for birds. You'll see more wildlife in the MA area. And there are canopy tours there as well. May not be the REAL cloud forest, but lush just the same. And, MA is SO much eaiser to get to!

I've been to Mal Pais. LOVED it. Very little crowds, mostly surfers. There are only a couple places to 'party' at (Franks on the intersection of the main road, and the Mal Pais Surf Camp) The surf camp had a fun crowd when I was there with pool tables, skateboards, a large pool, videos, board games, etc., but you're not going to find any 'clubs', or discos. It's a nice little town, and somewhat sleepy as it's not large by any stretch of your imagination. Great places to eat, and enough of them for such a small town. There is a national park close by, but we didn't go there. Beach is long and beautiful.

Not sure about "Frequent Flyer" discounts in the country. Nature Air and the other airline, (sorry the name escapes me at this time) have web sites. You can probably find an email on their web sites so you can question them about that. If they ARE available, please let me know!
Last, normally, I would always say 'rent a car', but with only eight days, I'd consider flying so you can get to your destinations quicker, depending on where your going. For instance, it could take most of the day to get to Mal Pais in a car!

Have a great trip!
Ally is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2003, 04:35 PM
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Hard questions. I've only been to Costa Rica twice; the only place we returned to was Manual Antonio. We enjoyed Monteverde when we were there last year, will probably go back some day. But, it just seems like things there are more of a hassle. The roads are so bad that even walking is a challenge. Besides, we were going partly to escape the cold, and it's cool in Monteverde.

On our recent trip we took a couple flights and had a driver from Manual Antonio back to San Jose. We certainly could have flown, but decided to see a little bit of the country. Last year we rented a car, driving (other than Monteverde) wasn't bad, other than poorly marked roads and not very accurate maps.
JeanH is offline  
Old Mar 4th, 2003, 07:27 PM
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I would choose Manuel Antonio. There are just so many more options there for things to do and as was mentioned, it is a lot easier to get to. Manuel Antonio is not just about beach.
If you want a change of scenery from MA you could go down to Dominical (Villas Rio Mar is a decent place) or up to Jaco if you are into the young surfing crowd. 8 days isn't much so I wouldn't plan too many changes of hotels.
At least one of the airlines (Nature Air or Sansa) has a pass where you can fly as much as you want during a period of time for a certain amount. If you stick to just Manuel Antonio I would just fly there and forget renting a car. Keep in mind that travel times on the road are much longer than they appear by looking at a map. If you do drive I would not recommend you drive at night and never leave anything in the car while sight seeing.
Suzie2 is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2003, 02:13 PM
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EASY ~ pick Manuel Antonio. Having been to both, I'd definitely go back to MA again.

Two airlines that fly within CR are Nature Air and Sansa. Don't know if you get a better rate by doing more flights; check on their websites. I've only flown w/Sansa (Manuel Antonio to SJ, and on another trip, Tamarindo to SJ) --- reliable, quick, easy ... if only ALL airline travel was that simple. Regarding decision on whether to rent a car or fly (excluding cost issue), I'd do following: Pick up your rental car when you arrive in San Jose, drive to Manuel Antonio, other destinations, etc. Turn in the car at MA and fly back to SJ.
Tess_Durberville is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2003, 05:21 AM
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I agree, Manuel Antonio is the place! It offers a lot of activities and they are not too far. It's a good balance for tours and relaxation. It has nice beaches and lot's of places to eat both in Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Do not forget to go on the jungle tour at Riosparaiso and try their overnight lodging with no electricity. It's a wonderful experience. Go to, they can do the reservations for you. Have a great time!
paeng41053 is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2003, 04:38 AM
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Sansa has a "Costa Rica AirPass" which allows you to take unlimited internal flights for one week ($199) or for two weeks ($249).
KellyF is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2003, 05:47 PM
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Mal Pais is great - we took ferry at noon from Punteranus and even with the roads we were there at 4:30 - met a few cattle head on the way. My son was surfing there and staying at Franks so Frank put us up in one of his new units.
We truly enjoyed the beach and beach bar and places to eat. A Must!!
I live in Tamarindo part-time so enjoy the area a whole lot!
marilynn is offline  
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