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packvols Feb 21st, 2013 03:46 PM

Costa Rica itinerary
Hello, I am in need of some travel advice for an early June trip to Costa Rica. I will be traveling with my kids (7 yr old girl and 5 yr old boy) and husband. I have been to CR once before and went to Manuel Antonia, La Pez, and Tabacon Hot Springs. I have always wanted to visit the Osa area and hoped to pursue for this trip - especially since my son is a huge animal lover!

What are opinions on staying at Bosque del Cabo or Lapa Rios for 4 nights? Iguana lodge 4 nights? And Arenal area 2 nights? Pros/cons of Bosque versus Lapa Rios with 7 and 5 year old kids? And how would I travel to Arenal from osa? We would most likely fly into San Jose and take the Sansa/nature air flight into PR. Ideally would not like to rent car - perhaps use a driving service/taxi? But would like it to be cost effective.

Overall goal of the trip is to see lots of animals, enjoy nice hikes, and enable the kids to have some ocean time.

Thanks for any advice and recommendations you can provide!!!

RAC Feb 21st, 2013 06:07 PM

All of those are fine places--hard to go wrong.

Why Arenal again? I'd just go straight Osa.

volcanogirl Feb 21st, 2013 07:18 PM

I think it sounds nice. We loved BdC and had great wildlife sightings there. Iguana will give you the proximity to the beach. If it were me, I'd take a day or two of your Osa time and add it to Arenal since there's so much to do there - make sure to take your kids to Proyecto Asis animal rescue center; we were able to feed monkeys, a sloth, and macaws there, and you can get very close to the animals. Kids would love it. Also the Cano Negro tour or Penas Blancas river float and the waterfall hike and Hanging Bridges. And I'm sure your kids would love to check out the hot springs. I think it's a long way to go to just spend two days there.

packvols Feb 22nd, 2013 06:05 AM

Thanks for your replies, RAC and volcanogirl! If we were to go to Arenal what is the best way to do that from Osa? Or is it better to visit Arenal the first part of our trip from San Jose? I loved Arenal and thought the kids would too - that's why I was interested. However I am worried about the transportation aspect. as RAC stated - I wondered if we should only focus on osa? And if we only visited osa would that get boring? Thoughts? Thank you so much!!!

Eliot_Greenspan Feb 22nd, 2013 06:22 AM

If you want to combine the Osa w/ Arenal and not drive, you can actually fly into the Muelle/La Fortuna airstrip now, with Nature Air, and the connections work well leaving the Osa and flying in to Arenal.

The mix of Bosque/Lapa and Iguana is good for the reasons mentioned. Also, I'd take a look at Playa Nicuesa Lodge...

packvols Feb 22nd, 2013 06:27 AM

Excellent! Thank you Eliot - I will definitely take a look at the place you mentioned!!

volcanogirl Feb 22nd, 2013 07:54 AM

I'm not sure if you can fly direct to Arenal from the Osa. When we looked at doing it, you had to fly to San Jose first and then connect. It would save you time. Another option would be to fly from Puerto Jimenez to SJO and then have a private driver pick you up at the airport. The drive would be about 3 hours, and it's a pretty drive. That would probably save you a little money; it would be about $140 or so for the private driver since they charge a flat fee and not per person.

packvols Feb 22nd, 2013 01:00 PM

Thank you, great info volcanogirl. I like the idea of private driver if that only costs a flat fee. And we could do that the last leg of our trip.

volcanogirl Feb 22nd, 2013 01:36 PM

You're welcome, pack. We usually book private drivers through our hotels when we reserve them, and it's worked great for us.

RAC Feb 22nd, 2013 01:37 PM

Couple of caveats about Arenal and kids:

1) There's no guarantee they'll see the volcano during the day--it's frequently clouded in; and

2) It's known more for adventure activities (canyoning/rapelling, rafting, ziplining, etc) that kids might find a bit dull.

I wouldn't think it's worth going out of your way to give them that experience, especially if they're into wildlife. Arenal isn't even a top 10 wildlife destination inside Costa Rica (unless you're staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge).

Not that they couldn't have a good time in Arenal, but they could have a good time in places that are more convenient for your Osa itinerary. I would be more inclined to look at something along the way, maybe Savegre which will provide a cloud forest atmosphere that's much different than what they'll see in the Osa. Or Sarapiqui, which offers tremendous wildlife within 2 hours of San Jose.

volcanogirl Feb 22nd, 2013 01:47 PM

I disagree with that. I would have loved the hot springs, waterfall hike, float trips, and the animal rescue center as a kid. Those are all things that would be really memorable to me.

RAC Feb 22nd, 2013 02:14 PM

If the parents hadn't been there before, or if it wasn't an add-on to an Osa trip, I would agree that they could find some really cool stuff for the kids to enjoy.

But, two nights in Arenal really means one day of activities with sandwiched between two days of traveling. I just don't see the day in Arenal being particularly memorable on a trip dominated by the Osa.

tully Feb 22nd, 2013 04:28 PM

I have to agree with RAC. For only 2 nights, and considering the parents have been there before, I would keep the focus on the Osa to keep the transfers down.

They've had the Nature flights into/out of Fortuna for a couple years now. But to get to PJ it'd take you around 4 hours. a good chunk of daylight lost in transit.

With 2 kids that age, I'd say Bosque over Lapa Rios. You'd have flat ground between cabinas and the restaurant/pool whereas at LR it's stairs. Plus LR is IMO more focused on couples. But take a look at the reviews at Trip Advisor between the two so you can compare.

packvols Feb 22nd, 2013 04:40 PM

Thank you all so much for the advice!! It's really helping me narrow down my choices. Love the critique between bosque and lapas. The more I read I think bosque would suit us better - just waiting to hear back on availability in June. I'm waffling on adding Arenal - but the more I think through perhaps I need to simplify and focus on osa for this trip. My husband's vote may be the deciding factor. And i may be posting again to get some additional advice once i get the basics down. Thank you all again!!

RAC Feb 22nd, 2013 08:32 PM

Maybe substitute the SJO area for Arenal with one day at the beginning after arriving in SJO from the US and another for your last night in CR before flying back. The gold and coin museum would be one option--also give them a dose of being around Ticos in San Jose. And Zoo Ave would make a great introduction to the wildlife for them. La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Poas and Irazu volcanoes, coffee plantations, etc.

Quick correction to post where I said kids might find stuff like zip lining dull. Should have said that they may not be able to fully partake in the area's best activities.

volcanogirl Feb 23rd, 2013 04:41 AM

I agree that two nights in the Arenal area isn't enough; that's why I made the recommendation to take a night or two from the eight days in the Osa. I really think it's worth seeing different areas of the country, and there are so many great activities in that area. I love BdC, but I'm not sure that I would have appreciated that amount of time there as a five year old. Moving a couple of days would give them a chance to see another area and experience some really neat things to do.

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