Costa Rica Itinerary help?

Old Jul 21st, 2008, 02:23 PM
  #1  
czk
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 14
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Costa Rica Itinerary help?

There seem to be quite a few Costa Rica experts here, so I am hoping you all can help me.

My husband and I (28 & 32) are planning a vacation with my parents (59 & 61) to Costa Rica for late June or July 2009. I have been put in charge of the planning for the most part and am having some trouble figuring out how to make this work to make all of us as happy as possible.

Here is what we're looking for:

1. 10 days or so in length
2. Arenal is a must, including hiking and hot springs (Tabacon vs Eco Termales?)
3. Would like to visit a beach on the Pacific side; we like swimming and snorkeling
4. The cloud forests interest me, but the roads look difficult? Is a day trip possible?
5. We would ideally like to move locations once, 2 if we really have to but not more than 2 times
6. My mom likes to veg and relax, not into adventure-y stuff, spas are good
7. A canopy tour is a must for the rest of us
8. My husband gets motion sickness, so I am curious about road conditions, traveling by boat, etc.
9. We like private drivers and guides when possible

Hmm, ok, that's a long list. Is it possible we can go and all be happy? #5 is making the planning the most difficult for me, so if anyone has any thoughts on how that could work, I am all ears. Thanks!
czk is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2008, 03:04 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,085
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would suggest a combo of Arenal and Manuel Antonio as many first timers do. With 10 days, you also need to see what your flight schedules are since your first and last night might need to be close to the airport, leaving you 4 nights at each location.

Arenal will offer thermal springs (I would go for Eco Termales personally), hanging bridges, canopy tour options, hotels ranging from higher end to budget.

A day trip to Monteverde is not possible, I suggest a minimum of 3 nights there, so I would hold off for a future trip. The roads are rough, so it takes a long time to get there.

Manuel Antonio has plenty of activities from canopy tours to hiking, loads of wildlife, beaches. There is also a wide variety of hotels to choose from in this area.

Costa Rica is not known for snorkeling - water is often pretty cloudy although some areas may be better than others. I was happy with a snorkeling trip out of Flamingo Beach to sheltered cove at an island, but it was nothing like the Caribbean.

The roads to Arenal and MA are not nearly as bad as to some other more remote destinations. Hubby should be fine with Dramamine or another drug.

Hope this helps.
colibri is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2008, 09:30 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 10,193
Received 2 Likes on 1 Post
I 2nd Colibri's advice. For 10 days: Arenal, Manuel Antonio and maybe throw in the Peace Lodge for a couple of nights. A great trip!

MY
MichelleY is online now  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 03:13 AM
  #4  
RAC
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,951
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think you have time to do all three.

You could do four nights in Arenal, three nights in Monteverde, and three nights in Manuel Antonio.

Especially if you get in early enough on your first day to make it to Arenal.
RAC is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 04:51 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,706
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'd go Peace Lodge, Arenal and Manuel Antonio. The Peace Lodge could give you the cloud forest experience without having to go all the way to Monteverde - a couple of nights there would be good for your mom, it's a relaxing spot with waterfall showers, jacuzzis, etc. We've always hired our drivers through our hotels and have had good luck doing that.

We've done both Tabacon and Eco Termales, and it depends on what you're looking for, but we really liked ET a lot more - they serve a nice dinner and limit people to 100 a night, so it's not loud and crowded like Tabacon. Tabacon was more of a big Disney experience, but some people like that. It has a water slide, loud music, etc.

We've stayed at the Lost Iguana in Arenal and loved it; they have new spa facilities there that you may want to check out.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 04:52 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,706
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
P.S. I doubt you'll find good snorkeling in Manuel Antonio; we did it, and it was pretty bad due to all the sediment in the water; CR isn't known for its snorkeling. The beach inside the park is very pretty though.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 05:01 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,085
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you only want to move a maximum of two times I would skip Peace Lodge and just do a day visit to the gardens on the way to Arenal if you arrive early enough. Without knowing your arrival time in San Jose, it is difficult to plan on only moving two times, yet wanting to see different areas.

You do not want to be on the road after dark, so you may need to spend your first night within an hour or so of the airport.

I don't think you are going to be able to do what you want with only two moves!
colibri is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 11:58 AM
  #8  
czk
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 14
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you everyone for your thoughts. I had read about the Peace Lodge and found it interesting - maybe I can convince the troops we need to add a stop there!
czk is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 12:24 PM
  #9  
czk
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 14
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Any suggestions for places to stay in Manuel Antonio?
czk is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 01:38 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,706
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The most popular are probably Buena Vista Villas, Tulemar Bungalows, Si Como No, Villas Nicholas, Costa Verde, and Mango Moon.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 02:25 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
www.caravantours.com

would give you the best tour experience for your group covering all the major areas no worries hassles.

If you want to go on your own

www.xandari.com

Do Coffee platations Poas volcano then maybe a night at the Peace Lodge.Peace lodge for me quite remote not a lot to do after La
Paz waterfall food not great so
maybe just a night.

www.arenal.net

Maybe Arenal Manoa or Lost Iguana.

www.costaverde.com for

www.manuelantoniopark.com

2-3 days in each area.

Hire private driver or go
Grayline or Interbus shuttles.
qwovadis is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 02:29 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,706
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
czk, the La Paz Waterfall Gardens is definitely worth a stop; try to get there when they do the handfeeding of the hummingbirds - it was so cool. I had one land right on my hand. And hiking the 5 waterfalls is also a must do.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2008, 05:41 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 33
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We stayed one night at Peace Lodge, which was very luxurious if slightly over-the-top. I'd especially recommend it if you can hang around the next morning and tour the grounds before the day trippers arrive. It's literally one hour from the airport, if you can figure out the route. Our GPS worked well (until it was stolen).
We also enjoyed Si Como No in Manuel Antonio. Very nice grounds, spectacular views, separate adult pool. Not cheap, though.
We considered doing the cloud forest experience in the Los Angeles cloud forest, which is way more accessible than Monteverde, not too far from Arenal We heard there's a nice lodge there, Villablanca. But didn't end up booking it.
have fun! (If interested, you can search for my trip report on this forum.)
Marco13 is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 05:52 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We stayed at the following places:

Manuel Antonio - La Colina - very nice & reasonable, we had to walk uphill to get to our room which was fine with us. Breakfast included in lovely outdoor dining area.

Arenal - Arenal Paraiso - stay in bungalows; beautiful grounds.

Near Poas Volcano - stayed in Poas Volcano Lodge - absolutely BEAUTIFUL - more reasonably priced that Peace Lodge. Close to Poas Volcano & La Paz Waterfalls. I highly recommend this place!!!!
Kwoo is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 05:54 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Also highly recommend horseback riding tour with Finca Valmy, the highlight of our trip!!!! Includes horseback riding through rainforest & streams, swimming near a waterfall & lunch at the owner's ranch!!! Must do!!!!
Kwoo is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2008, 07:04 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 875
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I also recommend at least one night at Peace Lodge. As others mentioned, there is a lot to do there, so give yourself a full day if you can. We did the waterfall hike the afternoon we arrived and wished we'd waited until the following morning when it wasn't so crowded. I don't think the park opens to "day-trippers" until 8:30 or 9:00 am, so you could get an early start and have the falls almost completely to yourself. The exhibits are wonderful. We spent quite a bit of time in the aviary and the butterfly garden. We also enjoyed the frogs and the cats. The grounds are very beautiful, and if you like tropical plants, set aside some time to just leisurely stroll along the paths.

We stayed at Lost Iguana in Arenal and everyone loved it. Our guide said he thought LI was a little far away for the best views, but everyone in our group thought the views from our balconies were spectacular. The grounds of LI are also very lovely. Make sure you do the hanging bridges. Your mother will enjoy the spa at LI. She could also spend time at the day spa at Tabacon.

The only really bad road conditions we experienced were from Arenal to Monteverde (and we did the jeep-boat-jeep) and from Monteverde to MA.

We stayed at Buena Vista Villas while in MA and absolutely loved it. Gorgeous views and a beautiful private beach great for relaxing and chilling out. They are kind of pricey, but the 2 bedroom Casas are realy nice. As previously mentioned, there are also alot of activities in the MA area for the more adventurous in the group. The Finca Valmy horseback tour is very laid back. Easy for beginners and people of all ages.

What a great way to spend time with your parents. We had 12 friends/family members traveling together, ages 10-49, and there was something for everyone to enjoy during the entire trip. You will have a great time!
Dana_M is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
watson07
Mexico & Central America
8
Jan 24th, 2015 08:23 AM
ThrillSeeker8
Mexico & Central America
11
Jan 27th, 2009 12:54 PM
luvtravelin
Mexico & Central America
33
Aug 16th, 2007 07:55 PM
wego
Mexico & Central America
11
Oct 30th, 2006 06:24 PM
dina4
Mexico & Central America
10
Aug 22nd, 2006 12:36 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -