costa rica trip advice

Oct 15th, 2004, 10:53 AM
  #1  
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costa rica trip advice

Hello--
Will be taking a 10 day trip to CR Dec 29-Jan 10; young middle aged couple (?!) but very active; love the outdoors and prefer adventure over just hanging out although want some relaxation time too. We plan to stay in SJ overnight on our arrival day then head out to St Elena/Monteverde for 4 days. Had originally planned to head to Manuel Antonio then perhaps Caribbean coast for a change in flavor. Not sure about that part of the trip-- Tortuguero is awesome I'm sure but maybe too far to travel in that length of time. Any ideas for either or change all together?? Would love recommendations for hotel in MA. Thanks all in advance. PS-- we are not the luxury types; prefer interesting and local flavor over luxury.
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 01:26 PM
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Even though I happen to love Monteverde, and cringe whenever I see posters recommending that it be skipped over, I personally think that four days there may be 1 or 2 too many. Did you consider combining Monteverde with a visit to Arenal? I would also think that both Manuel Antonio and the Caribbean coast may be too much. I've never been to MA, but I have been to the southern Caribbean and loved it. I recommend you chose one or the other (or perhaps a beach on the Nicoya Peninsula) and leave the other one for a later trip. Enjoy your trip.
rbrazill is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 02:31 PM
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rbrazill is right from San Jose, you can catch public transport to Fortuna visit Arenal Volcano and Tabacon hot springs, very nice, from Fortuna there is ride a called jeep boat jeep that will bring you to Monteverde, spend a few days there, but book hotel day by day I had mixed reports from Monteverde so if you like it stay if not move on. The best you can do after Monteverde is head towards Liberia, maybe visit Rincon de la Vieja and just continue down the pacific coast that way you wont loose to much time on the road. Bonnes Vacances
Hobby is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 05:37 AM
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Manuel Antonio is a wonderful place. I wouldreccomend hotel villas nicolas (www.villasnicolas.com). It is not expensive and it is nestled in the rainforest with a view of the ocean. Check it out. Also, next door is the luxury hotel Si Como No (sicomono.com)--they have a great restaurant and if you eat there you cna stay for a free movie in their dtate of the art movie theater that seats about 100. The movie changes nightly. I really enjoyed this as you can't safely drive too much after dark. It gets REALLY dark with limited lighting at night. In San Jose I would reccomend the Don Carlos Hotel. I like the idea of an airport shuttle when you arrive in an unfamiliar place. We are going in November, so if the quality of anything has changed, I will write again. We are staying a night in San Jose and rafting the Pacuare River the next morning, I saw adventure in you post...you must check this out! It is class 3-4 and it is gorgeous and exhilirating! (qqq.riostropicales.com) Have a blast!
swigswig is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 07:12 AM
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LOL. As swigswig mentioned, it does indeed get very dark. Had a flashback to my attempting to walk from El Avion after dinner one night back to Costa Verde (at most comparing to 3-4 blocks). It took me a loooong time, as I literally could not see 2 ft in front of me!

Back on topic, in MA I would recommend the Costa Verde, I really enjoyed my stay there. Also, Tulemar looks very interesting, as does Casitas Eclipse.
tully is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 11:22 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for all the advice. We are now thinking of staying on Pacific coast instead of trying to go to Caribbean over MA/Quepos. Osa seems to be popular but it seems only way there is by plane. How are the flights? Small planes aren't my idea of fun. We had planned to rent a car in SJ at the beginning of the trip. BTW--we are planning to see Arenal while at St Elena/Monteverde. Thanks again and any other tips/advice would be greatly appreciated!!!
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 12:22 PM
  #7  
 
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The Osa is wonderful- the flora and fauna is incredible. Lots of local color in Puerta Jimenez without the thousands of tourists and still a good choice of lodging . The flights are short but that is the best way to go.
Keep in mind that some of your dates are prime - reserve at least through the 1st somewhere.
The selection of tours in Puerta Jimenez are varied and unique- so far this is our favorite section of the country- we last stayed at the Iguana Lodge/Pearl of the Osa and that would be a great place to start a trip on the Osa
greenfieldhunter is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 12:56 PM
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I like the idea of staying overnight at SJ so that you can get an early start on a full day in CR. We did this recently.

The small planes are much more exciting. I once sat next to a nun who quietly went through the rosary the entire flight!! There was no sleeping on that flight.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 03:23 AM
  #9  
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How are the roads from Quepos/MA south to Dominical and Osa?
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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I'm a little confused about the comment "we are planning to see Arenal while in Monteverde". You do know that travel time between them is 3-4 hours? You can't really see Arenal as a day trip from Monteverde, because by the time you got there, you'd have to turn around and go back, therefore leaving no time to really 'see' anything.
You should really split the time between the two!
The road from MA to Dominical is very rough. A hard hour +1/2 drive, but no worse that the road to Monteverde.
Ally is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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Ally's statement : "by the time you got there, you'd have to turn around and go back" fails to take into consideration the time of departure. I declare this a false statement.

Day trips are offered by the hotels in Arenal. If you've never done this trip, it is careless to denounce the possibility of such a trip.
TripleSecDelay is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 10:59 AM
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"Do-able" differs greatly from "recommended". Although day trips to Arenal from Monteverde (and vice versa) are certainly possible, why would anyone want to visit either place for just a few hours when both are worthy of 2-3 days and need that much time to be fully appreciated. I believe this is what Ally was saying.

We haven't been to Monteverde, but I've talked to several who have done "day trips" there from Pacific resorts--every single person was unimpressed and wished they'd not selected that particular tour. And I know that Monteverde is surely every bit as wonderful as Jessie, rbrazill, and others say it is. That leads me to believe that people are disappointed only because they didn't have enough time to fully appreciate the area.

I don't care if it's Monteverde, Arenal, Montezuma, or the Osa Peninsula--if one can't allow enough time to enjoy what the region has to offer, one should save it for another time! Costa Rica just isn't the place to rush from here to there in a frenzy--or, I should say to TRY to rush from here to there. . . . . .
shillmac is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 10:59 AM
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Excuse me please. You are right. I have only heard it is too far for a day trip. I've never tried to do it myself.
As long as you're putting my post down, why don't you at least give more information yourself? What hotels offer the day trips...what time do they leave and return and how much time do you actually have in the area? I can't imagine having any time to do anything but look around, but you tell us. Thanks.
Ally is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 11:10 AM
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kthyrn: Regarding road conditions from Dominical down to the Osa--we were on these roads (taxi and public bus) in July. The road from Dominical to Palmar Sur is amazingly excellent--fairly new, wide, and smooth. Takes about an hour. Of course, because it was new at the time, the rainy season had not had time to take its toll on the highway surface. From Palmar Sur you'll be very close to Sierpe and your boat transfer over to the Drake Bay side of the Osa.

If you are going to the Cabo Matapalo side, it's a longer drive. You'll continue south from Palmar Sur, then west around the top of Golfo Dulce, then south again down to Puerto Jimenez. The road is paved and decent--but slower going for sure. You can count on about 2 hours (or a little longer) from Palmar Sur to Puerto Jimenez.
shillmac is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 12:23 PM
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4 Days in the Monteverde area is a few too many. If you want to see Arenal (and most of the time you won't - it'll be fogged in) you have to drive 4 hours on a very rough and desolate road. If there's been heavy rain - forget it. We had mudslides, downed trees. Talk about adventure! We originally planned 2 days at Arenal and 2 at Monteverde, but the rain (late Apr to early May) never stopped, so we left Arenal and headed to Manuel Antonio early. We stayed at the Costa Verde (www.costaverde.com) and loved it. Lots of monkeys, birds and iguanas to see right from your balcony. Staff was extremely friendly and helpful. They have two sections, but the adult only does not have air conditioning. I don't know about Dec, but in May air was a definite MUST. Humidity was unbelievable and I live in FL so I know humidity! Stop by the Blue Monkey (hotel and restaurant) and learn about the Kids Saving the Rain Forest. Awesome kids! As for adventure - do the zip lining - absolutely incredible! Hire a guide to hike Manuel Antonio Park - they are so informative. Fernando pointed out animals we would never have spotted without him. Hike the big rock in MA(I think it was called cadillac mountain) and you'll come to a beautiful private beach about 3/4 of the way. Driving the roads can be quite adventurous and I don't recommed driving far at night. Very scary. You can swim, cool off before you continue on. After the first zip - I fell in love! Also if you want local flavor in a restaurant - try Ronnies Place. It's located on the tourist map you can pick up anywhere; but not a big tourist area. We met 3 different local hotel owners the night we ate there.. Great food and awesome sunset spot. Hve a great time.
ams0318 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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This is also an issue I have been considering. Has anyone out there actually done a day trip from Arenal to Monteverde? I would be interested to hear from someone that has actually tried it.
jquentzel is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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First of all, thanks everyone for the wonderful comments and advice!! Keep it coming!! The trip to CR will be our first and we are definitely learning as we go with the plans and things seem to be changing daily as we find out more information from helpful people like you who have been there, done that. The first leg of our trip at this point includes staying at an ecolodge in St Elena which we understood to be a reasonable distance to do day trips to both Monteverde and Arenal. We are staying a total of 4 days there so we could easily do 2 days at each. Is that reasonable or enough?? After leaving St Elena, we are heading to Quepos/MA for a few days, after that it's wide open for about 4 days.Any advice on something do-able within that time frame would be great.We do not want things to be frenetic but do want to see as much as possible while we are there. Also,my growing concern is that we had originally planned to rent a car, but after reading all the comments posted about travel, I'm not sure which is the most fun yet practical way to go. Any comments on that??
kthyrn is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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kthyrn - Santa Elena is for all intents & purposes Montverde, so you don't need to do a day trip there, you *are* there. As far as Arenal, personally I agree with Ally & shillmac, among others, as it is "do-able" but not really advisable. Keep in mind....say you leave at 6am & arrive at Arenal at 11am, but you don't want to attempt the 4-5 hour drive yourself after dark - and it gets dark about 5:30 - so you have to leave at 2pm. So, 8-10 hrs of driving for 3 hrs at Arenal. And, as far as I know, the texi/boat transfer only runs in the mornings. And, sorry!, I would not attempt to also do MA & the Caribbean on top of that as well. Personally I would do 1 night in SJO inbound, 3 nights in Monteverde (or Arenal), 3-4 nights in MA and end up in SJO for your outbound.
tully is offline  
Oct 19th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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Tully has given you excellent advice.

BUT, looking at your original post, if you will be in Costa Rica Dec. 29-Jan. 10, that's more than 10 days. Am I missing something?

If you do, indeed, have more time than 10 days, and you are intent on seeing both Arenal and Monteverde, then you should book 2 or 3 nights at each place before heading off to Manuel Antonio for 3-4 days.

OR:
If you want to see the Caribbean, go there first from San Jose early on Dec. 30--3 nights. On January 2, drive to Arenal (or Monteverde)--3 nights. Then 3 nights at Manuel Antonio. Return to SJO on January 9 before Jan. 10 departure.

OR:
If it's the Osa you want to see, I'd fly there out of SJO on Dec. 30. Return on Jan. 3, rent a car (one week rental), drive to Arenal for a couple of days, Monteverde for 2-3 days, then return to the central valley on or around January 8 and spend a day or two at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Poas Volcano, Sarapiqui area, coffee plantation tour, and the towns of Sarchi, Grecia, Zarcero, etc.

If you start out on the Osa, you'll not think Manuel Antonio such a big deal!

You can do quite a bit in 10 days without the frenzy--you just can't do it ALL!
shillmac is offline  
Oct 20th, 2004, 04:43 AM
  #20  
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We will be in CR from 12/29-1/10 which is more than a 10 day trip but we are not counting our arrival and departure days, 12/29 and 1/10. We have pretty much ruled out going from MA to the Caribbean coast which is why I was asking about other places along the Pacific from MA. Thanks for all the advice.
kthyrn is offline  
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