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Costa Rica, May '07, have the beginning and end, need help on the middle

Costa Rica, May '07, have the beginning and end, need help on the middle

Jan 14th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 720
Costa Rica, May '07, have the beginning and end, need help on the middle

Hi all, again,

Thanks for the past help - I've printed out all your past posts to me. Now that the holidays are behind us I have to get serious about getting things as wrapped up as possible.

To remind you:

We're (now) 3 couples (started with 2) ranging from early 50s to early 60s. All 3 guys are surfers. Our trip scenario has changed since my first post when it was just going to be DH and me. The focus is now on surfing with a few other tidbits thrown in for us non-surfer types.

Arrive SJO 12:45 May 9. Have to get rental cars (working on that - thanks for the great recs here). We'll overnight at Sanchiri Mirador and Lodge overlooking the Orosi Valley and the Rio Reventazon. I hope we'll have time to get to the Uharras ruins, dam, and maybe even do the loop road that afternoon. It all depends on how long it takes us to get through customs with 3 surf boards and get our rental cars.

This first night's choice is so I can show the others the view I woke up to every morning for 4 years. It's the closest I can get to that experience for them and I want to show this at least a taste of where I used to live.

May 10 - We'll get up early and drive to "Pavones" - have been mulling which route. Still haven't quite decided. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Nights of May 10, 11, 12 are at Casa Siempre Domingo. This place looks like it will be a slice of heaven even is the surf isn't cooperating. But we're hoping the guys will have some of those 2-3 minute rides. I've heard their are tide pools a bit farther south for us to explore. Any info about this area is appreciated. Things to see/do, places to eat - or avoid - will be most welcome.

May 13 we get up early and head "northwest.

From here until our last few nights in CR the itinerary is going to hinge, at least to some extent, on what the surf is doing. We're considering Dominical, Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, and Nosara. None of us have been to Dominical, one couple has been to the other two. If checking the web surf sites shows the 3 areas to be about equal for good surf any suggestions on how we should split our 6 nights? (I already have plans for the last 3. That's coming up next.)

So, we have the nights of May 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 to spend somewhere. We're hoping that early May we can "just wing it." But I worry that it may get dicey with 3 couples to find rooms for. Thoughts on this?

When we leave on the morning of the 19th we'll be heading for the Arenal area. If we're situated so that it isn't a ton of miles out of the way, I want to go to/through Guaitil to get some pottery. (My husband and I are hobbiest potters.) Any info from those of you who've been there would be a huge help.

May 20, 21 - Arenal

We're going to have only these 2 nights in Arenal. Too few, I know, but it's the best I can manage. DH and I hope to hit one of the thermals, maybe the hanging bridges, possibly a waterfall rappel. Also are interested in one of the evening tours closer to the volcano. Not sure how our friends are going to want to use their time. The one couple has been to this area before - ziplined, etc. the other hasn't.

I think we need to decide on and book some place for these 2 nights before long. I know things aren't as busy in May, but I just don't want to spend any of the limited time we have for this area driving from place to place trying to find a vacancy. Does that sound logical to you vets?

May 21 - we have the morning free to do more around Arenal before we head a short ways to
our last night's lodging. we're staying at the Costa Rica Tree Houses Hotel and Resort, between La Fortuna and Cuidad Quesada. These are cute "cabins" literally build up in trees. They're about a mile northeast of Santa Clara.

May 22 - Since our flight isn't until 2:00 I felt we were safe staying this far from SJO. It's supposed to be about a 2 hour drive. I'm hoping we can go through Sarchi and Grecia on our way to the airport if we get an early start.

Sorry this is a "book" but I wanted to give you as much info as I could so you wouldn't have to ask too many questions. I know it can be frustrating for you when people just say "I'm going to CR, what should I do, where should I go, etc.?" And that's all the info they give.

Thank you for the help you've already given me, both through personal posts to me and all you've written for others. My CR folder is getting very, very fat. What I can't use this trip, I'm saving for next time.

Floridafran is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 648
Pavones is the longest left break in the world, thatll be fun

Dominical and Mal Pais both have greatr surf and lovely beaches.


guanacaste is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 12:05 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
What a trip--and I love the start of it. I don't blame you for wanting the others to experience the beauty of that particular region.

I, too, would recommend Dominical and Malpais for your 6 nights.

And I have been to Guaitil and loved it there. We bought a beautiful round pot with lizards around the top of it. Dark, almost black, green. I'm looking at it right now--one of my favorite things ever! They'll pack stuff up for you which is helpful. I paid $60 for that, then paid $20 each for each of our children to have smaller versions.

If I read you right, you can stop by Guaitil on the way to Arenal, but it WILL be out of your way from Malpais. Now if you go to Nosara, the stop will still be out of your way just a bit (you'll have to backtrack back down to the Friendship Bridge), but not far. Have you looked at a map. . .I assume you have.

You won't need to worry about getting rooms--there should be a lot available that time of year. I can understand your wanting to get it taken care of in advance, though--I like that better as well.

Sounds like a great trip! Have fun! We've researched Casa Siempre Domingo, thinking we'd get to Pavones last summer. We put it on the back burner in favor of Bocas del Toro, off the coast of Panama. But that's certainly the place I'd stay. Enjoy!
shillmac is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 06:10 PM
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Posts: 720
guanacaste and shillmac,

Thanks for the quick replies.

So much is going to depend on what the surf is doing. But it's reassuring to know that if we do "wing it" we aren't being totally stupid.

And yes, Shillmac, I've looked at the map. And looked, and looked, and tried to plan. But as has been pointed out so often here, distances in Costa Rica can be deceiving. Do you have any estimate on about how long it would take to make it back to the Friendship Bridge from Guaitil?

Your pot sounds beautiful. That's the sort of thing I want to find. I have a tiny (no more than 3" tall), plain, almost black, long-necked piece that Costa Rican friends gave me when I lived down there. I've cherished it all these years and can't look at it without thinking of them.

If you have suggestions for a particular shop/home to visit I'd love to know. I've been reading all I can find on the place and the potters but I think quite a bit of the info is rather dated. One reason I love the Internet and especially this forum. The things we learn here are current and from personal experience.

Regarding our first day. Assuming we get on the road in some reasonable amount of time, how much do you think we can get done of the loop around the lake with a stop at Ujarras? There was a time when I knew this but I have no feel for how long it will take to get to Paraiso de Cartago from SJO since the roads have surely changed quite a bit in almost 30 years. (Hard for me to believe it has been that long since I left CR.) It was all 2 lane, undivided highway between Pariso and San Jose except for a short stretch of "freeway" near Tres Rios.

I just want to thank all of the regulars like Shillmac, guanacaste, Percy, Earthtraveler, tully, dfarmer, Suzie2, and others who names I can't recall at the moment, for all the great posts you've made here. I've wanted to go back to Costa Rica for years, but there was always some "reason" not to. Your reminders of how wonderful the Ticos are and how breathtaking the country is, was the push I needed. I know things won't be like they were. (Heavens, there's a McDonald's in Paraiso now, I hear. When I was down there the closest fast food was in San Jose - McDonald's or Pizza Hut - take your pick.) But the things that made me love CR haven't changed. And I can hardly wait to go back.

Floridafran is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Thank you, for letting us see it through your eyes a little bit from 30 years ago! I'd love to hear more, and how I wish I could have wandered around Costa Rica back then! My world was very small, then. . .those were my college years and getting to California once a year with my mom to visit my brother who lived out there was a big deal. My first time to fly, in fact. I've hated it ever since! Getting back to Costa Rica at least once a year has given me incentive to get beyond all of that nervousness!

Okay, about Guaitil. . .I think it would take you about an hour and a half to get back down to the Friendship Bridge from Guaitil/Santa Cruz. But the only part that will be out of your way would be that stretch between Nicoya and Santa Cruz. That isn't so much backtracking--assuming you'll be coming from Nosara.

But from Malpais another story. I can tell that Guaitil is important to you--and I do hope you can go there. We went on a Sunday afternoon, just killing time, enjoying the countryside. We only visited a couple of places. I think most are comparable. I couldn't recommend one.

Anyway, from Malpais, you're talking probably 4 hours out of the way. Could you spend a night at Tamarindo, since there's good surfing there? That would be helpful!

I would hate to recommend that you drive up the east coast of the peninsula to Nicoya because it is a VERY rough road--at least it was 18 months ago--very. Not sure it would save you any time to do it that way. But at least you'd be moving, and not waiting on the ferry to Puntarenas. I've been told that you can take a road from Cobano up to Jicaral, but not sure what the condition of that would be. . well, actually, I have a pretty good idea what condition!

As for your first night, I think it is pretty optimistic that you would have time to see much that afternoon. You know how early the darkness falls. I do hope it works out for you, though. I know that, once down in that area, it is all fairly compact right there around Orosi, Ujarras, the lake, etc. But I'm not familiar with that hotel.

I think that, with 3 couples traveling together, you are going to be slowed down considerably. Even trying to stay together driving through San Jose. Or around the circumvalacion (or however it'l spelled!) should you choose to try that route. . .it's a reasonable guess to think that, by the time all of you get your vehicles and are on the road, it could be 3:00--at the earliest. And you're 20 min. the other side of San Jose. Cartago by 4:30 would be my guess. . so you see what I mean?

As much as we love driving around CR, it seems more often than not that every transfer takes a LOT more time than we anticipated. We've gotten to where we just expect it and build it in. Can't think of too many times that we've been pleasantly surprised that we had overestimated!

You're going to have to go back to Cartago en route to Pavones, then head south toward San Isidro, right? Down, down, down. . .etc. You're doing that in one day? Is there a way you can spare part of the second morning (get an early start on the day, say about 6:00) and see the sights around Orosi? Then begin your long drive around 8:00 or 9:00? That's packing a LOT into one day, I know. You need one more night in there. . .I wish you could stop off somewhere like San Gerardo de Dota for the afternoon and evening and early a.m., then continue on to Pavones the NEXT day. It would be so helpful and ease you up so much. Hotel Savegre would be a great place for you to stay that extra night. . .beautiful area, and you could be there by 1:00 or so. . .

Think about it--what a dilemma!
Good luck with your planning!
shillmac is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 720
Yes, it would be nice to have that extra night but the "surfer dudes" would have never gone for it. Oh well, gives me things to plan for our next trip.

Thanks so much for the advice about driving times, etc. As I said, things have changed since I was there. We went to the Caribbean side - once - it was an all day drive from our finca near Paraiso. I couldn't believe it when I read in another post here how quickly one can make the trip now.

Since you have such a love for CR I would enjoy sharing with you more stories of the "old days" sometime. And I could tell you tales about driving - and not just in CR. We drove from Florida to CR in April of 1975. Took us 14 days, pulling a 20' travel trailer, with an almost 5 year-old son and not quite 4 month-old daughter. An adventure, for sure. With that experience under my belt I don't see any of the things we'll be facing this trip as insurmountable challenges.

Somehow I will get to Guaitil. The couple who've been to CR 3 times already are eager to see some of the less touristy, off the beaten path, get a real feel for the country things.

I can hardly wait.

Floridafran is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 648
i met a Brit and his wife 3 weeks ago in Corcovado.
They were last here 40 years ago!!!!
Interesting listening to how things were VERY different then, in Monteverde he said that most of the local farmers didnt have shoes.
He told me about riding the train to the Caribbean, there is talk of reviving it, hope so it sounds like it would be a great ride!
guanacaste is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 03:10 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,541
I will be down that way same time, albeit near Golfito (tentative) and Bosque del Cabo (definite). I will use my binoculars from BdC to look across the Golfo & keep my eyes peeled for some eh matured surfers having a blast

I think you have an awesome trip coming up. I haven't been to either Dominical or Map Pais but I think the latter may be nice slight change of scenery and (maybe?) a little better luck finding rooms at the last minute. Maybe when I'm at BdC I'll take one of their sufer lessons - of only to provide the locals a laugh.

Will be an interesting report to read on your return.

tully is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
I'll send my e-mail address to you and you can share some stories when you have time. I really am interested in your memories of CR 30 years ago.

Today I reviewed an e-mail I received from Heidi at Casa Siempre Domingo last spring. She was telling me that they could arrange a rental vehicle from the airport at Golfito. Would that be a better option for you? Driving back to SJO, flying to Golfito, renting separately for that portion of your trip? Probably not, but I thought I'd mention it.

LOL--Tully, I'm curious as to what "mature surfer dudes" look like from that distance! Anyone who is in their 50's and 60's and not afraid of falling (whether on a surfboard or their feet) has my admiration! You should see me negotiating this Oklahoma ice!

Floridafran--It won't be a big deal to go out of your way to enjoy Guaitil--if you consider the extra wandering part of the adventure and not an inconvenience. That's how we approach those long drives. . .
shillmac is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 01:55 PM
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Thanks to all for your comments and advice.

we didn't have a chance to ride the railroad when we lived there, but I heard it was quite a trip. I hope they do revive it.

too bad we won't have a chance to meet and say "hello." I'll keep my eyes open for a flash of light off you binocs and give a wave. I'll be on the shore. I'm not a strong swimmer and have a tendency to panic if I unexpectedly find myself in water over my head. Therefore I don't surf, and haven't even tried. But I hope you do give it a go. It looks like so much fun. I've often wished I could do it.

the guys have long boards so we can't fly, otherwise it would be best way to get there. But I think everyone also wants to get to see a different side of the country. And you're right about the attitude. That's how my husband and I have been with our trips to the U.S. Southwest. We like to get a 4X4 and hit the back roads. When you do that, you have to be ready to adjust your schedule. We, like you, see that as a part of the adventure.

I think for all of us on this trip the journey is going to be as much a part of our enjoyment of this vacation as the "activities."

Whatever we do, it won't be everything we want to - that's not possible if we had twice the time - but it will be fun.

Floridafran is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 04:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,212
Absolutely--pura vida!
shillmac is offline  
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