Costa Rica - Last Minute Help!

Jul 28th, 2008, 10:33 PM
  #1  
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Costa Rica - Last Minute Help!

Hi All,

My wife and I might be taking the plunge to buy a package deal to SJO from NYC - 5 nights including air for $1316 at the Alta Hotel.

My questions are the following:

1) Is this is a good deal considering that we would leave in 2 days?

2) Can you rent a car easily in Costa Rica?

3) It is too much of a risk to stay for all 5 days in SJO area? i.e. would this prevent us from taking serious side trips?

Thanks!

DKG50
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Jul 29th, 2008, 05:37 AM
  #2  
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There's plenty you can do--especially if you rent a car.

You can do rafting, visit a couple of volcanoes, do a LONG drive out to Carara, visit Braulio Carillo nat'l park, the Rainforest Tram, a few other preserves, the La Paz waterfall gardens, coffee plantations, etc etc.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 05:48 AM
  #3  
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Thanks for the info. Do you think that it would be alright to use San Jose as a central base for the entire 5 days?

From some internet searching, it seems that popular destinations like

Manuel Antonio
Monteverde

are about 3 hours driving from San Jose. Does this seem about right?

Also, how is the driving there? I've driven in Tulum and B.V.I. before...

Thanks again,

DKG50
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Jul 29th, 2008, 06:24 AM
  #4  
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One more question...

Does anyone have a recommendation to go for the Alta Hotel (Escazu, San Jose) vs. the Vina Romantico (Alajuela)?

The prices are similar and we'll be arriving during daylight hours and hope that the drive will be manageable.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 06:56 AM
  #5  
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I'm a little confused--you're getting a package deal, so that means you're limited to that hotel, right?

When we went to Costa Rica, we stayed in Alajuela for three nights (Orquideas Inn).

We did:

Day 1: Arrive on plane, get car, Zoo Ave, Sarchi

Day 2: Pacuare rafting trip (Rios Tropicales picked us up--we checked ahead of time to make sure they would)

Day 3: Volcan Poas and La Paz waterfall gardens.

Manuel Antonio and Monteverde would not make good day trips--3.5 hours driving each way = 7 hours per day on the road. There are much better uses of your time.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 06:58 AM
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DKG, we just got back from Monteverde, and I wouldn't recommend doing it as a daytrip; the roads are very rough to get there, and a lot of it is unpaved - not worth doing the drive there unless you can stay at least two or three nights. The road from SJO to Arenal is in great shape - it took our driver only 2.5 hours, but it was very late at night. I wouldn't be comfortable driving at night myself - things are hard to find, the roads are winding, and we drove through a lot of fog and rain that hindered our visibility. Driving during the day should be fine.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 07:34 AM
  #7  
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Thanks all...again. From what I've been reading, it might not even be worth it to go to Costa Rica only to spend 5 days centered in San Jose.

Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, and Arenal all seem like they're too far away to do! And these three things seem like the main attractions that we'd be interested in. Alas, perhaps we shouldn't go....any thoughts?
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Jul 29th, 2008, 08:08 AM
  #8  
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There is a lot more to Costa Rica than the MA/Arenal/and Monteverde.

If you can stay in the Central Valley area outside of San Jose, you can have a great time in Costa Rica.

There are 2-3 volcanoes--Barva, Irazu, and Poas.

There are tons of wildlife reserves that have a lot in common with places like Monteverde.

There's ziplining, and world-class rafting available as well.

There is PLENTY to see in the Central Valley of the country:

http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-a...entral-valley/

See also:

http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-a...ew-181481.html

http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-a...ew-161520.html

http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-a...ew-161536.html

http://www.fodors.com/world/mexico-a...ew-180918.html
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Jul 29th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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Some people do it, but if I had only 5 days to stay in CR, I'd go to Arenal. They have the volcano which is amazing, natural hot springs, rafting, the Cano Negro tour, ziplines like SkyTrek, the waterfall, volcano hike, etc.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 08:44 AM
  #10  
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I agree with volcanogirl--assuming that DKG50 can book separate flights and hotels, and that there is available lodging in Arenal.

Has the OP looked at booking separately?
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Jul 29th, 2008, 09:16 AM
  #11  
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Thanks you two - you rock!

I'm currently looking at staying at the Eco Lodge in Arenal for 1146 USD - 5 days and 2 tickets - one stop - not bad from LGA to SJO. The reviews on expedia and tripadvisor seem promising...and it seems like a much better location. Except that we'll have to budget in about 3 to 4 hours getting to SJO and back...but that's not really that bad in the scheme of things. Any other thoughts on this?
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Jul 29th, 2008, 09:25 AM
  #12  
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Go for it. Arenal is awesome.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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DKG, I'm thinking this hotel isn't very close to La Fortuna/Arenal - one review said it was 45 minutes from the volcano, along an unpaved road - seems like that would make it inconvenient to get to your activities. I would stay somewhere closer to town - maybe somewhere like Silencio del Campo - it's affordable and gets good reviews.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 10:00 AM
  #14  
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Is it THAT Eco lodge--the one that has all those road signs along the road to Nuevo Arenal?
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Jul 29th, 2008, 10:55 AM
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I'm about to book. Silencio unfortunately isn't available. I was going to book the Eco Lodge knowing that it's about 45 minutes away from the Volcano. Are there really any other drawbacks about it?

http://www.ecolodgecostarica.com/

looks pretty decent.

Help?
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Jul 29th, 2008, 11:18 AM
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www.thealtahotel.com

Stayed there a couple of weeks ago
had a large suite overlooking the
Central value great balcony pool
far superior to the other hotel if
you like cute little boutique hotels
this is perfect.Nice staff good food.Rented a car explored around
Poas volcana La Paz WF Doka Coffee
plantation City Tour.Escazu is a great area where all the embassies
are you won't go wrong there.If you
want to go to the beach head to Jaco
not too far.The only negative for me
was breakfast.It was free but just
fruit breads juice coffee ok just
not great like the rest of the hotel.

So go for it should be great.

Rent a car if you can...

www.mapache.com

Have Fun,
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Jul 29th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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DKG, that hotel doesn't get much talk on the boards; most people stay in La Fortuna - I just wasn't sure you knew it was so far away. It sounds like you've checked it out on tripadvisor and are okay with it. Have a wonderful time; the Arenal area is great. If you have time, I'd highly recommend doing the Cano Negro tour with Sunset Tours and going to Eco Termales for the hot springs and dinner.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 11:49 AM
  #18  
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The Arenal Vista Lodge is also available for about 150USD more. It seems like it's quite a bit closer to the volcano and many of the reviews have mentioned how you can actually see the lava from the volcano from your bedroom. Any thoughts on that?
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Jul 29th, 2008, 12:03 PM
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I believe that one is in El Castillo set on the other side of the lake. You can go to arenal.net and see where all the hotels are located. I'd check it out to make sure you're happy with the location. That's a good site for checking out the hotels. They have a map that shows the volcano and all the hotels plotted on the map. I'd use that and tripadvisor. Hope you can find your dream spot.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 04:16 PM
  #20  
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Thanks again you two; I settled on Lomas de Volcan which I got for $1240 for 5 days, 1 stop flight from LGA to SJO. $100 cheaper than Expedia and it's closer to La Fortuna, which I figure is good seeing that most people on this forum have praised the food there. Thanks again...now it's off to rent a car!
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