Costa Rica Newbie, please help

Old Sep 27th, 2007, 01:59 PM
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Costa Rica Newbie, please help

My son is in Costa Rica for the next 10 months, studying in San Jose. I know virtually nothing about the country. We are planning to take a 5 day/4 nt trip in April, and then another in late June.
We'd like to make our base in San Jose, so we can spend time with him.
Are there any day trips that are feasible from San Jose? Would we need to rent a car, or is it possible to take public transportation?
How far are beaches,etc?
Thanks for helping this ignorant soul!
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 03:03 PM
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The La Paz Waterfall Gardens is very nice - about an hour from San Jose. We stayed there at the Peace Lodge and hired a driver to pick us up at the airport and drive us for 50 dollars. The most popular combo destination for first timers is Arenal (volcano) and Manuel Antonio (beach) - each about 3 hours in opposite directions from San Jose. For in-country travel, you can drive, hire drivers, take Interbus, or fly on Sansa and Nature Air - just depends on where you'd like to go, your budget, level of comfort, etc.
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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Oh thank you so much--that's the kind of info I needed!
Is Arenal an all-day thing?
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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Arenal is more like a four day thing. You could easily spend your entire trip there. Just seeing the volcano is amazing - sometimes it gets socked in by fog, but we were lucky enough to see it every night we stayed there. There's also natural hot springs, ziplines, hanging bridges, and a day tour to Cano Negro, which is an amazing boat ride where you can view tons of wildlife like monkeys, sloths, birds, caimans, etc. You wouldn't really want to go for just a day since it takes a while to get there. We stayed at a place called the Lost Iguana if you'd like to check it out - it's a wonderful spot.
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:58 PM
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Just looking at it from another angle, Arenal IS offered as a daytrip out of San Jose. We had friends who opted to do that, loved it, and went back for 4-5 days a few months later. Volcanogirl is right in that most people make it a destination (and a very popular one), but many others do it regularly as a daytrip out of San Jose and have a great time. Arenal is close to 3 hours from San Jose, so it makes for a long day. I just wanted you to know that people DO visit there as a daytrip and find it quite enjoyable, especially if tied to San Jose as you are going to be.

One of our favorite San Jose hotels is the hotel Don Carlos.

wwwdoncarloshotel.com

If you look at the website, you'll see all the tours offered by their tour desk (and operator Juan Carlos). I don't know if you'd prefer to tour alone or wouldn't mind small groups, but it is nice to let someone else do the driving and also nice to have a knowledgeable guide sharing lots of interesting information. You could even arrange tours through them, and taxi there for pick up. Taxis are cheap and plentiful.

Some of the daytrips (like Arenal) are full days--in fact the tour that takes you up to Arenal is an EXTRA full day, but they pack in some nice highlights and you're getting treated to some great scenery in transport (at least on the way up there!).

Hope you have a wonderful time. I'm just thinking about Easter--not sure your dates, but expect Holy Week to be VERY busy (the Costa Ricans are vacationing as well). Highways are busier, tours are fuller, it is one of two PEAK weeks of the year, Christmas/New Year's being the other one.
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Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:17 PM
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Oh, you have all been so helpful! Thank you so much! I'm going to check out the hotel you mentioned.
Tammy
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Old Sep 28th, 2007, 03:53 AM
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Okay, you can go for a day, but you have to promise to go back someday to get the full experience!
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Old Sep 28th, 2007, 09:03 PM
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I wasn't being "difficult" vg! We've had 2 groups of friends do it as a daytrip. The last was a mother/daughter team last March and they loved every minute of it. Came back in about 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. giddy as heck! They'd done ziplines, seen lava, soaked in hot springs, ridden horses, stopped for shopping in Sarchi even, I think. They were happy campers! For them, it was their only option and better than nothing!

Where you going next?
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Old Sep 29th, 2007, 04:35 AM
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shillmac, I never think you're being difficult; I think you're fabulous and helpful. Those people packed the most into their day! As far as where we're going next, we're starting to run into the dilemma - do we want to keep trying new places or go back to the ones we love - Arenal, BdC, etc. Good problem to have, right?!
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Old Sep 29th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Yep, it's a good problem! Okay, I feel better. . .just checking!

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