Costa Rica Itinerary

Old May 1st, 2003, 09:17 AM
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Costa Rica Itinerary

I am heading to CR the first week in June. Intinerary is
2 nights San Jose ( Marriot),2 nights Arenal ( Tabacon) 1 night Montaverde ( Fonda Vela) and 3 nights Guanacaste ( Melia Playa)
Any comments on the hotels would be welcome. Is the beach at Melia Playa good for swimming? Any must do excursions and/or tour operators suggestions would be helpful.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 10:08 AM
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There is a Melia Playa Conchal and a Melia Sol Playa Heromsa. Any idea which one you are staying at? Both nice but Conchal is the better of the two.
Otherwise I would probably limit San Jose to 1 night unless you mean 1 night when you arrive and one night when you fly out. Post which hotel and we can respond more on beaches and tours available.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 10:37 AM
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it's the melia playa conchal and yes it's the arrival noght in SJ, a day to tour and off to Arenal the next morning. What should we expect for weather?
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Old May 1st, 2003, 07:25 PM
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The rainy season is starting in Costa Rica but that only means that it will rain for a couple of hours in the day time. At the beach, you will not have any problems with the weather since it is the beach!!! You'll love Arenal, the hot springs and massages are awesome
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Old May 1st, 2003, 08:28 PM
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Your choice of hotels is good.
Tabacon is wonderful but do get out and see other things around there. Fortuna is a nice little town and the Volcano is amazing.
Be prepared for cool temps (lows in the upper 50's-low 60's possible) and rain up in the Monteverde area. Rain is a possibility any time up there and with it being the green season your chances are better. The Fonda Vela is a very nice place but not near anything but the reserve. You won't have much time for sight seeing because you will have a 4-5hr trip to get there from Arenal and it gets dark by 5:30-6pm. If you would like to be closer to town and have a few more options for things to do you could look into staying at the Monteverde Lodge. The weather can be strange up there. It could be raining cats and dogs in the reserve and surrounding area (including Fonda Vela) but dry near Santa Elena which is the little town. There are some great places between Fonda Vela and town that you could get to from FV or Monteverde Lodge. Stellas bakery has wonderful stuff. Casem's is the womens coop and sells locally made handicrafts. There is also a cheese factory and several other art shops. Monteverdeinfo.com has a map of the Monteverde/Santa Elena area and shows where the various hotels and tourist spots are. With only 4-5 hrs of daylight once you get there you won't have time to see much.
The Paradisus Melia Playa Conchal is a beautiful place and is one of the prettiest beaches IMO in that area. Swimming is good there. I have been to the beach but not stayed in that hotel. I was staying in Flamingo which is just up the road.
The Paradisus is in the northern guanacaste area and should be a bit drier than Monteverde. If you have the opportunity to go up to Rincon de la Vieja I would highly recommend it. Bring any food or drink because there is no place in the park to buy anything. Perhaps Michael (Sailing) can give you some other possible tour options. It has been 3 years since I was there and I am sure there are more things now than then to do.
With all that said and with Monteverde being one of my favorite places I am going to say that you might want to consider skipping it. You aren't going to be in CR very long and the driving times to and from Arenal to Monteverde to Conchal are pretty long.
This is what your trip would look like as it stands.
D1 arrival day n SJ
D2 n SJ day trip
D3 3/1-4hr trip from SJ to Arenal n arenal
D4 2nd night Arenal day trips
D5 4-5hr trip to Monteverde 4-5hrs sight seeing
D6 4-5hr trip to Conchal n Conchal
D7 2nd night at Conchal
D8 3rd night at Conchal
D9 head back to San Jose to go home? or 1 night in San Jose and go home on
day 10.
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Old May 2nd, 2003, 06:55 AM
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suzie2- A 4-5 houd drive from Arenal to Montaverde- I must have completely misread the map and driving times. The chart in driving times from SJ says Arenal is 4 hours and Montaverde is 3 1/2 hours-and they both seem to be in the same general direction from SJ. The chart also says 5 hours from SJ to Tamarindo ( where Playa hotel is) and leaving from Montaverde makes it appear that I'm more than halfway there. This makes a big differnce in my plans.
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Old May 2nd, 2003, 03:58 PM
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The ride up and down the mountain to Monteverde is very time consuming. The shortest way up (4hrs) is by Jeep boat Jeep or horseback but the weather might not be the most pleasant for that.
It is 3 1/2-4 hrs from SJ to Arenal on pretty good roads.
The reason for the time confusion to Tamarindo is because of the long ride down the mountain before you can actually get on your way to Tamarindo. I did a homestay in Flamingo which is just about a half hour from Conchal. From there it took 4 hrs (by private transfer with people who knew where they were going) to Monteverde. If you are driving yourself you need to allow for getting lost because the road signs aren't very good and there is always the possibility of cattle being moved on the roads in the Guanacaste area.
The roads in CR are very deceptive when looking at a map. The maps don't show you the pot holes that you need to slow down for or the unpaved roads with small rivers to cross. Many of the roads are in decent shape but pot holes can and do swallow people in places .
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Old May 2nd, 2003, 04:25 PM
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The maps make the distance between Arenal and Monteverde look very close. But the last 20-30 kilometers, the area between Tilaran and Monteverde is brutal. It's been a couple years, but I think that last stretch took over two hours. Huge pot holes very close to huge rocks sticking up from the road bed. No way to avoid them. I'd highly recommend a four-wheel drive, for clearance if nothing else. And you're in the rainy season besides. Unless this is your one and only trip of a lifetime to Costa Rica, I think I'd reconsider Monteverde too. The best reserve touring is early am, more wildlife to be seen. It's a wonderful place, I think it deserves more time to do it justice. The road down the other side of the mountain, the one to the PanAm highway is much better. Still gravel and bumpy, but at least you can go more than 10 miles an hour. And be careful once you get to the highway, we were so thrilled with a smooth road that we were driving highway speeds. Just like home. Oops. Around the curve and there are cattle on the road. Not escaped cattle, that's just the way things are. Driving in Costa Rica is not like driving in the USA. But, if you have the time, it's an adventure in itself. Jean
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