Costa Rica Trip Report

Feb 12th, 2008, 03:34 PM
  #1  
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Costa Rica Trip Report

Hi, I haven't been on here for a couple years, (since I used the forums to help plan an adventure through Greece--which I loved and will return many many times! but w/ the US $ being so weak I thought I'd try Central America this time) I had such a great experience in Costa Rica a few weeks ago that I thought I'd post a trip report.

When we arrived in San Jose our rental car was waiting for us. We wanted to get to Manual Antonio before dark so we had a good amount of road to cover. BTW on the way out of San Jose we passed a place that claimed to have like over 100 kind of wings--we didn't get to stop, I'm tempted to on the next trip--anybody ever stopped? We'd love to hear if we should.

In Manual Antonio we stayed in a beachfront cabin at Hotel Abolita which we LOVED--I'm a person who prefers to be ON the beach, not in a town. But definately upgrade to the rooms instead of the cabins, they had a nice veranda outside to enjoy the view & spend the evening. And our room was surrounded by I think its called elan (the flower they use to make Chanel #5), so the air had the nicest aroma!! And the MONKEYS! We did a zipline tour the next morning outside of Quepos, and then got beach time all afternoon. We were all kind of tired so stayed on the beach, but my mom went down to explore Manual Antonio park which she says we definately missed out. We did dinner at a restaurant in town, I can't think of the name but if you go thru Manual Antonio its the place with the giant airplace - trust me, you can't miss it.

The next day we got on the road early & drove near Dominica. We hiked up 800 feet and spent the night camped out under waterfalls in a cave (the ppl had even built showers, bathrooms, and a fully functioning outdoor kitchen) this was the part of the trip we were most leery about--sleeping in a cave didn't sound too appealing but Gretchen that booked my trip assured me it was not to be missed. While we were there we went rappelling down the waterfalls & I went upside down on only my second time down! It was absolutely the most fun thing I have ever done, and I can be a scaredy cat. My boyfriend had a tough time rapelling but the guide talked him through it, and after 1/2 hr of freaking out, he finally went-and hes so glad he did! The food they prepared for our meals was delicious and natural. The next morning we hiked up to 1500 feet and dove off cliffs & swam & swung on vines. I can't even begin to describe the beauty we saw, how challenged we were & how good it felt. We hiked down that day and felt sure nothing on the rest of the trip would top the cave (which I have to say is still my favorite part of the trip).

We went to nearby Hacienda Baru where we were staying the next couple nights & immediately went to the beach on the property which ended up being perfect timing- we swam & enjoyed water that was so so warm while the sun went down. The cabins were nice 3 bdrm places. No AC but we didnt need it, there were fans in all the rooms & we never felt hot. The tequila was dirt cheap at the on site restaurant so you know the rest of the night
The next day we spent ziplining again & climbing up a giant tree which was pretty tough but I'm glad I did it. We saw sloths, toucans, bats and a lot of other animals..our guide was excellent. The best part is all that stuff was located within Hacienda Baru's property bc we didn't have to drive at all, so as soon as we were done we hit the beach for some surfing!

That night we went to a local club Rockabar? Rock-something--ppl of all ages were there but I recommend for younger tourists that are looking for a clublike kind of place in the area. It was a good mix of locals & tourists, which I like in a bar when I travel.

We had lots of beach time, and then took a puddle jumper up to San Jose to Liberia. We spent the next few days at a gorgeous rented house in Playa Hermosa (Justin at the travel company told me where to look to see Michael Jordans house across the water!!) The house came equipped with a really nice telescope so we got to check out the stars that night. It also had an infinite pool which was nice to float around on. This house had a fully equipped kitchen, and AC but we only used the AC at night. We got massages on the beach, and spent the rest of our time relaxing & sipping margarites.

At the end of the trip on the way back to San Jose we went to Arenol. On the road up to Arenol is a small cafe called Cafe Macademia which Gretchen had the driver take us to. Definitely stop there when on the way. Great food, great view--and their back outside area the ground is covered in Macadenia nuts, it was cute.
Spent the day in the Tabacon hot springs, which was incredible--worth the price. Gretchen also said this was something not to be missed and she was right. After we left it felt like we had had facials bc of all that hot steam opening up our pores. It was a great way to end the trip. Most of the ppl we met there were honeymooning or on their anniversary.
We continued on to San Jose & stayed at a bed and breakfast just outside San Jose, but only a few minutes to the airport. It was beautiful & very comfortable. Most of the ppl we talked to there were returning custs. I dont remember the name but you could ask Gretchen or Justin that booked my trip.
I have to highly recommend them. I have never used a travel company before but they gave us such personal attention & accomodated us when we made last minute changes. I met them & got the chance to spend some time w/ them bc they came on the hike tour w/ us--I'm sooo jealous of their jobs! they get to try out all these fun tours & stuff so they can recommend them to ppl like me. Anyway they are wonderful ppl & I will certainly be keeping in touch with them.
megsm is offline  
Feb 12th, 2008, 03:55 PM
  #2  
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Yikes sorry my post was so long! I enjoyed reliving the trip tho!

But question- when I previewed it I added a couple things & for some reason those changes didnt appear---anybody know why? probably bc it was too long

Also, I didn't include Justin's & Gretchen's website www.costaricavacationpac.com

Our trip was the perfect combination of adventure followed by relaxation!
megsm is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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megsm, thanks for posting! Very cool sounding tour, with the rappelling and caves. This was outside Dominical? Did that tour company book it for you? That sounds right up my alley Do you know if that was also through Hacienda Baru? I'm looking to possibly do a quickie weekend trip down to CR and that sounds like a pretty fun couple of days!
CarolM is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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Carol- it wasn't part of Haciendu Baru but it was just a short drive away (like 15 minutes maybe) the tour company booked it for me- if you can't find it on their site I bet you could ask them about the cave adventure they sent me on- my name is Meghan & I just went a couple wks ago. I'm sure they'll remember as I've emailed them since to thank them, etc..
You dont have to be in great shape -I have asthma & a metal ankle & while I got winded at times I was fine. The challenge felt so good! Our guide moved at our pace & educated us about plants during the hike..and we stopped to eat sugar cane etc. She said they have hikers that do it very quickly & others who take hours. We were probably right in the middle time-wise.

But its definately worth it--swimming in the springs, jumping off cliffs, the rapelling was SO fun---have you done that before? I think I'm hooked! I've always been scared of heights--I actually burst into tears before I went bc I was so nervous, but I guess the tears got my nervousness out so I was fine after that. Sleeping in the cave was so peaceful, and waking up w/ the sun & the falls. I went out and stretched on the rocks.
The story behind the cave is really amazing & inspiring--be sure to ask them how it all came about.

I've always been more of a beach vacationer. But I will definately now try to incorporate some adventure activities in my trips from now on.

But just ask Justin or Gretchen what tour it was--price was extremely reasonable (in my opinion downright cheap for what it was- I would've paid twice that) and if you stay at Hacienda Baru those prices were great too. Tell them it was east of Dominical.
megsm is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 08:49 PM
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Hey Megsm! We just got back and we stayed at the Hotel Arbolita also! We loved it too. We stayed in the cabins even though they were smaller but they were down closer to the beach. Wasn't too impressed with the rooms, a bit musty and older...but the location more than made up for it!
maureencol is offline  
Feb 14th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Meghan, thanks for the info on the cave and rappelling hike. Sounds amazing! I will look into this for sure. I did find a reference to it on that site for the tour company. I love rappelling and I've done it in several places (also, I just did the waterfall rappelling near Arenal). Do you HAVE to jump off the cliffs, though? I have zero fear of heights, but I don't love being submerged in water (we all have our weird stuff!) Also, what do you sleep on in the caves? Just sleeping bags? Do they have cots or anything? Also, how many rappels are there? Sorry for all the questions!

I'm like you in that I used to be pretty laid back in my travel, but once I did a little bit of adventure stuff, I got hooked! It sounds like you really "took" to rappelling -- you should check out some of the amazing rappelling tours near Zion in Utah... that was one of the best days of my life, literally
CarolM is offline  
Feb 19th, 2008, 08:47 PM
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maureencol-- actually we were booked at the cabins bc originally we said we wanted whatever was closest to the beach. we weren't too impressed initially but happy we were so close to the beach. it was late so we ran down there for a while, went to that bar to the left up the beach towards the park- did you go there? anyway, we had two rooms & when we came back the electricity in one of the rooms wasnt working so they switched us to the other rooms. much better and i have no idea what the price difference was but i wouldve paid double for those rooms- much better space, a fridge, ac, and a big veranda where we could sit outside & see the water from there.

CarolM- ok this is funny, you asked if we had to jump off the cliffs. that part was our second day & its great, i really need to post pics ill try to do that soon- but everyone else just kept jumping & jumping. my brother went like 17 times. i got down to my bathing suit & just couldnt do it- everyone was like cheering me on, and saying i didnt have to if i didnt want to yadda yadda..it was jsut all this pressure..so like after an HOUR i had been trying to convince myself to jump the whole time while everyone else was. see, a couple yrs ago in greece i climbed up this cliff & when i got up there i didnt jump & it still bugs me that i didnt--so i knew i had to do this. if i didnt it would be one more thing hanging on me forever. so when everyone was talking & looking at some animal in the woods, i was fully clothed & i just ran and jumped!!! everyone said they turned, saw my hair flying & me screaming!!! haha--so i jumped once more so they could get a pic of my boyfriend & i jumping together.

but anyway- my point is- you dont have to jump. BUT YOU SHOULD!

and rapelling, we only went twice down- prob bc we took so long hiking up & it was starting to get dark! but they customized it all for us, so if you let them know you want to do a lot of rapelling im sure theyll accomodate that. apparently they have one set up thats like 600 feet, but they havent done that one recently. maybe you could find out when they'll be doing that one again?

and as for your question about sleeping arrangements- i actually have a good pic to show that so ill get it posted--but its like platforms that are a couple feet up off the ground, and they have those mats (you know the ones that are used in like middle school in gym), and then they provide sleeping bags, pillows, sheets, etc. we were very comfortable. it was magical going to sleep to the sound of the falls & waking up to sunlight, birds & the waterfalls. im a late rise & i woke up--i thought i was the first up & was really happy about that--but no, my early rising mom beat me to it!

anyway, let me know if any other questions. i cant recommend that part more, i think its really influenced how i will vacation in the future!
have a wonderful trip!
megsm is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 09:27 AM
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thanks for all the info meghan! sounds great!
CarolM is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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have fun!
and thanks for suggesting Utah. I'll see what I can find online.
megsm is offline  
Feb 20th, 2008, 08:04 PM
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Meg, I think the rooms are the same price as the cabins because they originally gave us the rooms and we looked at them and asked if we could switch. The girl said the cabins were smaller but we could check them out and switch if we wanted. I didn't think they were all that much smaller and I loved how close they were to the beach. We did walk down the beach the first night and had drinks at that bar. We had lunch at the restaurant with the airplane...it's
El Avion. Very good food and a beautiful view!
maureencol is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 11:00 AM
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meghan:

zionadventurecompany.com

click on "canyoneering" -- i did a half day and full day tour... the BEST!!!!!
CarolM is offline  
Feb 26th, 2008, 02:35 PM
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Thanks Carol! I'll definately check it out..my boyfriend isn't too keen to go rapelling again, so I'll have to take that trip w/ my family. They are pretty adventurous

He's glad he did it..but doesnt plan on going again!

maureencol- I agree, like I said the rooms were simple but we were perfectly fine there. We only moved bc of the power going out. I would definately stay there again though- in either the rooms or cabin. The rooms were nice for us bc we had several ppl w/ us so multiple rooms so we could all hang out on the veranda.
megsm is offline  
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