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Costa Rica in January

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Nov 26th, 2017, 03:39 PM
  #1
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Costa Rica in January

Hi. Hope you may help us plan a trip to Costa Rica this January. Although we have heard so many great things about Costa Rica, we are unfamiliar with the country. My wife and I, late 50's/early 60's love scenery, modest hiking, wildlife, great food, and a nice resort to lie by a pool with a beautiful view after a day of exploring. I realize there are two major airports, i.e., Liberia and San Jose. We plan on staying anywhere between 5-7 nights. Although we do plan on renting a car ,our goal is not not travel around the whole country since we do want time to just sit and relax and enjoy the scenery (although wish we did have the time to explore the whole country!). We would really appreciate if you could advise us where we should fly in and out of as well as where to stay. Also want to see sloths, monkeys, and enjoy some fresh fruit as well if possible. Again, if you could advise for the following:
1. Where to fly in and out from?
2. What part of the country to stay?
3. Recommended resorts.
4. Must do's/see's.
5. Anything else you would recommend.
6. What should we expect for weather in January?

We would greatly appreciate it. Thanks, W
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Nov 27th, 2017, 10:52 AM
  #2
 
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The most popular combo for first timers is the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio. That's what we did for our first trip, and it was fantastic. You can fly into and out of SJO. For us, that's usually cheaper as well. The Arenal area has a beautiful waterfall hike you can do, Hanging Bridges, a volcano (not currently flowing), and lots of adventure activities. It also has the Cano Negro tour to see wildlife, the Penas Blancas safari float, and the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center. At night you can visit the gorgeous natural hot springs like Tabacon or Eco Termales. We've stayed at Nayara, The Arenal Observatory Lodge, the Lost Iguana, and The Springs Resort and Spa (on a Groupon, otherwise pricey) and have enjoyed all of those.

Manuel Antonio has a beautiful beach inside the national park, tons of wildlife like monkeys and sloths, a nice Damas mangrove tour, and the Villa Vanilla Spice tour. Tulemar Bungalows is a great place to stay, and they have their own beach.
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Nov 27th, 2017, 12:06 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
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I agree with volcanogirl. La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio are great spots for your first time and she has great suggestions for places to stay. Another nice spot in Manuel Antonio to stay is the Parador resort.

The weather at that time of year will be perfect! It's the start of dry season and so you won't have any rain. That also means that tourism is more popular at that time so I'd suggest booking stuff as soon as possible.

If you need, I have a car rental discount of 10% on my Costa Rica blog with the company Adobe. They are the only company I fully trust here. A lot of the companies seem really cheap but they don't quote you the mandatory rental car insurance and then you get hit with high charges when you go to pick up your car. https://www.costaricavibes.com/resou...in-costa-rica/

Let me know if you need more tips! Im happy to help.
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Nov 27th, 2017, 03:07 PM
  #4
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Sounds fantastic!! If you don't mind, just a couple of more questions. Since we will now be considering flying into and out of SJO, are you suggesting that we may stay at one resort or are you suggesting that we should be staying at two resorts one in or near each of the locations you recommended? Also, how many nights should we plan? Should I be concerned with staying near the hotel for the departure flight?
Special thanks, W.
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Nov 27th, 2017, 04:05 PM
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Yes, two different locations. You would fly into SJO and drive about three hours to reach the Arenal/La Fortuna area. Stay there three or four nights; we usually stay four. Then drive about five hours from there to get to Manuel Antonio. Stay about three nights. It's a three hour drive from MA back to SJO, so you can either get up super early if you have a late flight and do the drive back or if you have an early flight, stay near the airport the night before. I think those two locations would fit just about everything you're looking for.
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Nov 27th, 2017, 06:54 PM
  #6
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Thanks again. What do you think about this...
Fly into SJO. Flight arrives 1:07pm. Drive to Arenal/La Fortuna
Stay at the Springs Resort and Spa for 3 nights
Drive to Manual Antonio
Stay 3 nights at the Arenus Del Mar Beach and Nature (Hotel Parador did not have the nights we needed)
Stay one night near the airport (any recommendations?) since the return flight is 7:55am.
The hotel in Arenal/La Fortuna looks great.
Is this the order you would do things or should we consider Manual Antonio First and then Arenal/La Fortuna. I only ask because based on the pictures of the two locations Arenal/La Fortuna looks so nice!!!
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Nov 27th, 2017, 08:14 PM
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I personally like to do the beach second just because I view that as the "relaxing" portion of the vacation. We've stayed at a few places that we like Xandari and Grano de Oro are both very nice. Have also stayed at the Marriott on points, and it was great as well. If you want something more basic, there are some American chains like Holiday Inn, Hampton, etc. by the airport. Have not stayed at those.
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Nov 28th, 2017, 04:35 AM
  #8
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Thank you so much for all of your help. This is just what we needed for info for our first trip. Thanks again! W
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Nov 28th, 2017, 05:48 AM
  #9
 
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Happy to help; we've been there several times and just love it. Hope you have a great trip!
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Dec 12th, 2017, 07:25 PM
  #10
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Hi again volcanogirl. I am really sorry to bother you again but really need your help. You have been great with your advice and we are trying to finalize our trip. We love your idea of going to the Arenal/LaFortuna and then Manual Antonio. We have decided to go for 7 nights. We actually can get better pricing if we fly to Liberia. With that said, does that make any sense to fly there, stay in Arenal/LaFortuna and then drive to Manual Antonio. Then of course I must ask, does it make any sense to drive back to Liberia for our flight home or do you think we should fly out of SJO? Or do you think we should fly in/out of SJO? Also, regarding hotels, prices are high and availability is slim. You mentioned several places you stayed in Arenal/LaFortuna, i.e., Nayara, The Arenal Observatory, Lost Iguana, and Springs Resort. Which ones do you think we would like best? It appears that Nayara is sold out. Springs looks really nice but very expensive. Looking for a place that has great atmosphere, nice location, views, nice pool etc. Also, if you wouldn't mind, do you also have preferences in Manual Antonio? I know I am asking for alot.
Just trying to book our flights and hotels and want to make sure we do it right. Thank you so much, W
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Dec 12th, 2017, 07:55 PM
  #11
 
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Most people who fly into Liberia just go to the Guanacaste beaches, not to Manuel Antonio. If you go to MA, you're going to want to fly out of SJO. I liked all those places in the Arenal area, check out Tripadvisor and see which appeals to you most. In, Manuel Antonio, we love Tulemar Bungalows.
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Dec 13th, 2017, 04:37 AM
  #12
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Thanks Volcanogirl. I hear you regarding flying out of SJO after MA. But does it make any sense to fly into Liberia and drive to the Arenal area first. From there, per your advice, we would drive 5 hours to MA and then fly home from SJO. Or do you still think we are better off flying into and out of SJO?
Thanks, W.
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Dec 13th, 2017, 10:21 AM
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Sorry, W, I've never flown in and out of Liberia so maybe someone else can chime in on that. Regarding the hotels in the Arenal area, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is more basic than the others. It's got the most in the way of wildlife and hiking trails though because it's set far from town. The Lost Iguana is more upscale rustic, also set away from town, small pool area but mostly shaded. The Springs Resort and Spa is amazing; they have several restaurants on site and wonderful hot springs, also their Club Rio area on the pretty river that runs through the property where you can go tubing and kayaking. Since you used the term nice resort, this would probably be your best bet if it's in your budget. Like I mentioned, we went on a Groupon so we got a really good deal. Sorry Nayara is sold out; it's very nice as well. We had our own jacuzzi tub and outdoor shower there. Not much in the way of grounds though, very small. There's also a Nayara Springs, not sure if you've checked that one. You might also check Tabacon - have not stayed there, but we've used their springs, and they're really beautiful. If you can go more basic, Silencio del Campo is another popular spot. Friends of ours have stayed there and enjoyed it.
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Dec 13th, 2017, 05:18 PM
  #14
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Thanks once again! Is it true that it is a much shorter distance to drive to the Arenal/LaFortuna area from Liberia airport as opposed to the SJO airport? A friend told me it was only about 40 miles away. However, the car rental may be more expensive since I will be picking it up from Liberia and dropping off at SJO! FYI, I checked Groupon, unfortunately nothing for the Springs. Thanks, W
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Dec 14th, 2017, 04:38 AM
  #15
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Interesting change of thought. I just called the Springs Resort to book a room and they tell me that it is a shorter drive from SJO than Liberia airport. Now I am all confused. I guess I will trust them since they are there. And in fact, in goes back to your original thought of flying in and out of SJO. W
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Dec 14th, 2017, 08:51 AM
  #16
 
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With your plan for MA and Arenal, fly in/out of San Jose.
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Dec 14th, 2017, 08:58 AM
  #17
 
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You can't really go by mileage, what you want to ask is how many hours drive. Things can be very close on the map and take forever to get there due to routes, bad roads, etc. The drive from SJO is relatively smooth. If you have any propensity to get car sick, you might take Dramamine. I never get sick in the States, but those twisting, turning ups and downs in CR make me queasy. Sorry no deals at the Springs - we felt very lucky to get that!
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Dec 15th, 2017, 03:20 PM
  #18
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Well, it's done. We are flying in and out of SJO and staying at the Springs and Arenas del Mar. Can't thank you all enough. Had to change to February but that's ok. One thing I didn't think of was does it matter what kind of car I should rent? Does it have to be a 4x4 or can it be a sedan. No plans to do off roading or adventuring off of the main roads. Hopefully that's the last question I bother you all with.

Thanks, W
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Dec 15th, 2017, 03:34 PM
  #19
 
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Sedan is fine for those two areas - can't wait to hear how it goes!
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Dec 15th, 2017, 04:17 PM
  #20
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Your the best volcanogirl!! I'll make sure I let you know. Thanks!!!
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