Costa Rica tips -traveling with students

Old May 19th, 2007, 11:54 AM
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Costa Rica tips -traveling with students

Leaving June 20 with high school students to include San Jose, Tortuguero, San Carlos, Monteverde, Carara Biological Reserve, Jaco, and Manuel Antonia. A few questions:
1- Should I have students bring cash to change into colones or can we use ATM cards to get colones? 2- Are there any fun dance clubs at Jaco Beach for the younger set? 3- We have day activities planned -- hiking, zip lines, waterfall, volcano, etc. but would appreciate any evening activity suggestions. Particularly at Jaco Beach -- a free day. Thanks so much!
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Old May 19th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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We've been to San Jose, Manuel Antonio, and Arenal, and we never had to exchange our money. At least in the areas we went, American dollars were widely accepted. The places we went gave us change in colones, which we were able to spend along with the dollars. Not sure about the other areas.

If you're going to the volcano, Tabacon has hot springs that the kids would probably love.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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Thanks. What about things to do in San Jose? We are there an afternoon and morning. Museums, last chance to shop for gifts going home, and soccer stuff. Yes, teenage fellas with a love for the game.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 02:54 PM
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We're getting ready to go to San Jose and are planning to spend a day at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens - it has beautiful waterfalls, hiking, a ranarium (frogs), serpentarium, an aviary. I just posted a question about it, and everyone recommended it. You can hold the little frogs, feed hummingbirds, etc. It's near Poas Volcano also.

I also hear good things about the National Theater and Gold Museum.
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Old May 19th, 2007, 08:21 PM
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The National Theatre is beautiful and its history and artwork rich. The Gold Museum interesting--at least to us old fogies.

The kids should see the Mercado Central, but very carefully. Tends to be a hangout for pickpockets, and petty theft isn't uncommon. The kids should find a way to carry a bit of cash without purses and backpacks and obvious money holders on them. Zip pockets in pants legs, etc.

The Jade Museum might be interesting to some. Avenida Central the 4 or 5 blocks down to the Mercado has lots of shops. The souvenir shops are more along smaller side streets. The Hotel Don Carlos (where are you staying?) has an excellent gift shop. One of the best you'll find.

At night, they might enjoy a taxi ride (have hotel arrange for all of you) over to El Pueblo, a "mall" of restaurants, discos, artisan shops. Also, there are places (hotel will know) where you can have dinner and a folkloric dance show.

They shouldn't be out and about at night except by taxi.

Over by the University of San Jose, you'll find a more "collegiate" atmosphere with Planet Mall and a few more trendy shops--east part of town.

I just want to add to please be cautious about swimming, particularly around Jaco. Currents are a problem at many beaches, and accidents happen with frequency. With a lot of kids, that kind of situation can get out of hand in a hurry. Do check meticulously and heed warnings! Other than that, I don't know much about Jaco. Didn't care for it myself--very sleazy. Maybe someone will be able to post with a higher opinion and be more helpful to you.


Have fun and enjoy! I don't think I envy you! Not that I don't enjoy traveling with a large group of kids (did it for years and years as a youth minister). It's just that I know how exhausting it is! The responsibility is a huge weight. Good luck!
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Old May 21st, 2007, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for all the good tidbits. Still want to know....are there ATMS everywhere or just in San Jose? And we are driving from Jaco Beach to San Jose one morning....should we stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens? Sounds like something the students would really enjoy. I assume an entry fee for those who aren't staying there. And then forgo the Gold museum, etc. in San Jose....
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Old May 21st, 2007, 01:08 PM
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There are ATM's in most of the towns you will be in. Tortuguero might not have one. No guarantee that they will always be working so make sure the kids have emergency money to tide them over for a day. They can always go into the bank but that could take some time and they should have their passport with them.

El Pueblo is okay. I have been there a couple of times. Several different restuarants/bars. Most of the shops weren't open when I was there in the evening. We went on the night of a big soccer game and hardly anyone was there watching the game. There is one pretty lively disco right as you get there.
http://www.costaricauncovered.com/ni...Costa_Rica.htm

I think everyone would find something to enjoy at La Paz waterfall gardens. It is a beautiful place. It is about 1 1/2 hr from downtown San Jose or about 1 hr from the airport area. Thought I should mention that because your time is limited.

If you don't want to get into that much time and money you could think about Zoo Ave. It is not far from the airport and takes about 1 1/2-2 hrs to go through unless you run through.
http://www.moon.com/planner/costa_ri...e/zoo_ave.html

La Sabana park might even be an idea.http://www.costaricabureau.com/costa...o/pavasroh.htm

Strangely enough, the Criminology museum is supposed to be pretty interesting.

As was mentioned, Mercado Central might be a good place to do some last minute shopping. Lots of vendors right on the streets too.

If you happen to be by Hotel Don Carlos it would be a good place to stop for gifts. Their gift shop is about 1/2 the size it used to be but they still have a good selection.
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Old May 23rd, 2007, 08:18 PM
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I recently returned from a 10 day trip with 22 of my students. The money question always comes up and recently I suggested using cash in small quantities. Meaning carry small bills U.S. and change as needed. Never was there a problem paying in Dollars! If someone wanted to use Colones they could visit a bank during the week. Also when they would buy smaller item they would get the change in Colones. There were ATM's in many of the areas we visited, although I never used them. Enjoy, the kids will have a great time, but you should explain the the Ticos are early risers and often towns are quiet after dark. Very different form my experiences in Mexico.
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