costa rica it is! any suggestions for rookies?

Aug 12th, 2003, 02:12 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 27
costa rica it is! any suggestions for rookies?

with the help of some of you out there, especially Iza and Suzie2, my wife and i have decided to visit costa rica for the first time. we leave in ~4 weeks and will be there 8 full days. we'd like to be flexible to allow for bad weather but our rough itinerary is as follows. if anyone has any comments or suggestions or recommendations they'd really be super welcome.
arrive late in SJ, stay there
next day rent 4WD, drive to arenal and stay in arenal/tabacon area 2 nights- here we plan to book in advance since we'll do this anyway
weather permitting drive to monteverde - would like to do the jeep/boat/jeep thing but we'll have a car - stay there 2 or 3 nights, hike and do a canopy tour (have to confess to a fear of heights but i'm determined to do it even if it scares the hell out of me)
either drive west to tamarindo or south to manuel antonio - this will depend on how time has gone - ma seems much closer to SJO - if monteverde is washed out perhaps we'll do both
stay last night in SJ, fly back to cal relaxed, rejuvenated, ready to take on the world
i realize this is a pretty conventional itin - i guess the older you get the more conventional you get - but for a 1st visit maybe thats a good idea.
what do y'all think?
gracias, st
suburbantrain is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 04:11 PM
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Your itinerary sounds good to me if you have 8 full days, Suburbantrain, even if it is conventional ;-). Try and stay outside of San Jose for your first and last nights - I think you will have a much more enjoyable experience that way. Don't know what your budget is but both Vista del Valle and Xandari are wonderful for those first and last night stays. I also heard good things about Orquideas Inn (Ally, another frequent poster here, stays there on her trips).
Iza is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 04:12 PM
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In Arenal, Arenal Paraiso and Montana de Fuego are apparently both good for volcano viewing (because of weather we had no luck on our previous try - we'll see what happens this time). We stayed at Arenal Paraiso and liked it OK (very rustic wooden cabinas, very clean, good breakfast). This year we'll stay one night at Tabacon Resort since I want to visit the hot springs again and they include free admission.
In Tamarindo, our favorite place to stay, hands down, is Capitan Suizo and that is where we'll be this year again.

In Manuel Antonio, we enjoyed Si Como No but there were some recent negative comments (maybe things have changed since their expansion? We stayed there in 2001 before the addition of a bunch of new rooms and a pool). But there are definitely plenty of other places to choose from (Villas Nicholas next door to Si Como No looked good from the outside).
Have a great trip! I'm sure you'll enjoy CR.
Iza is offline  
Aug 12th, 2003, 10:59 PM
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I also agree with not staying in San Jose. Stay out in the suburbs closer to the airport. Hotel bouganville is another nice place to stay without being in the city. San Jose is crowded, polluted and crime ridden.
koa is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 12:41 AM
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thanks iza and koa - we'll sure stay out of sj - orichedeas looks good iza - on the way to arenal - will also check out bouganville, thanks koa.
from your previous post, iza, you must be off to cr in the next few days - wish you a wonderful and new journey
s train
suburbantrain is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 06:13 AM
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Just got back from CR last Saturday. We spent 2 nights at the Arenal Observatory Lodge and 5 nights at Villa Caletas. We also rented a car.
There are more hot springs in Fortuna than Tabacon. Tabacon was horribly crowded every time we checked it out, day and night. By day there are busloads of tourists and at night it seemed to be quite the "scene". If you try the other hot springs, none of them rent towels, so bring your own.
Villa Caletas is north of Jaco on the Pacific and about 1 1/2 hours north of MA. it's a stunning hotel and we loved it.
We enjoyed MA for a day. The beaches are beautiful and we saw monkeys in the trees. Si Como No is just one of about 50 hotels there. Lots of them looked very nice.
BTW, we drove around the lake toward Tilaran (the way to Monteverde). The road is heavily pot holed and slow going, but if you're going to rent a car, why pay to have it sit while you do the jeep/boat/jeep thing? If you drive, stop at Toad Hall for lunch, it was really nice.
Have fun!
Kristina is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 09:30 AM
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It all depends on what you like. I just spent 3 nights in SiComoNo and 4 nights in Tamarindo, Flamingo area and really preferred Tam/Fla. The beaches, restaurants and towns were much nicer and accessible than in Manuel Antonio. We had rented a 4x4 and were able to travel between the towns in Guanacaste area and really had an awesome time. Hope you do the same. Enjoy.
ewesthoff is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 09:50 AM
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Just wanted to mention our friends who own the Orquideas Inn sent us an email on May 19th that they think they've sold the hotel. (They want to retire back in the States too be closer to their families) They were supposed to know in 30 days. I've not been able to reach them by email (have not tried to call yet) to confirm whether it was sold ot not. In any case, I would think that the new owners would keep at least some if not all of the wonderful staff, and that they would still have the huge, wonderful, fantastic, unbelievable breakfast buffet included in the price. They have SO many repeat visitors due to the staff and services, not to mention the comfortable new rooms and views, that they would not want it to change!

I'll second the recommendations of Captian Suizo in Tamarindo and Villas Nicolas in Manuel Antonio.

Don't forget to put some cash back for the departure tax. I've heard it's gone up to $25 per person, can anyone verify??

Suburbatrain, please have an Imperial and Heart Of Palm salad for me!
Ally is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 03:59 PM
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Yes, have an imperial for me, too. We just recently went to CR for 11 days and had a great time. When we got there the first day, we left the airport immediately and drove to Tabacon. Our plane landed at 12 noon, and we were on our way by about 2:30. If you want to get to a destination, make sure you get on your way immediately, since driving at night in CR is generally not a good idea, at least not long distances. We very much liked the Tabacon Resort, it was beautiful and not crowded at all. For your first and/or last night I suggest the Xandari Plantation. It is only about a ten minute (very easy) drive from the airport. The location and accomodation are breathtaking. You will not regret it. We also stayed in Manuel Antonio at SiComoNo, which was excellent. However, next year we are planning on visiting the Nicoya peninsula. I can't wait for Iza's report on the Flora Blanca (sp?) property, which is where we would like to stay. It just had a great write-up in Conde Nast. Have a blast!
kirstenrdh is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 04:21 PM
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Hey Ally and all,
I believe the departure tax is now $26. For the new people, pay that first before getting in line to check in to your airline.
Regarding the Jeep/boat/Jeep. I think I recall seeing that Jacques ( can arrange for your car to be driven up to Monteverde for you if you decide to go on the j/b/j which they run.
Yes your trip is the traditionally conventional one that everyone has to do at least once. It gives you a nice feel for what CR has to offer. There are other canopy tours besides the ones in Monteverde so you won't have to miss out if you should end up not going up there.
Tamarindo is a hike to drive to and from to get back to SJ but if you just want to relax by the beach this would be a better choice. MA is better for monkey watching and has more tour type things to offer.
You'll have a great time!
Suzie2 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 10:48 PM
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thanks for your great advice folks - totally taken aboard. consider the imperial and heart of palm salad a done deal ally - don't think i'll have any problem with another imperial for you kirsten.
just as soon as we get through the "trying to find a photocopy of the green card that was stolen so that my wife (who's from a country that needs that) can get a visa (aaaaargh) we'll be soooooo lookin' forward to it.
thanks again people
suburbantrain is offline  
Aug 15th, 2003, 09:12 AM
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I found out that the Orquideas was indeed sold. I'll miss Fred and Darlys very much, but happy to report that nothing has changed! Same great staff and service, same fabulous breakfast buffet!
Ally is offline  

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