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Costa Rica Trip Report - Malpais, Nosara, Tamarindo and Arenal

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Sep 3rd, 2003, 05:12 PM
  #21
Iza
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Next morning we hiked to 2 of Xandari?s waterfalls (beautiful) and then had to leave to make our flight. We paid our departure tax ($26 per person, US dollars, colones and Visa accepted) and went through check-in in no time at all so we had plenty of time to explore the expensive gift shops at the airport. Our flights were again on time and we had no problem with our connection in Miami.
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Sep 3rd, 2003, 05:14 PM
  #22
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Some practical tips: I took trail type sneakers this time and really regretted not taking my hiking boots instead. The sneakers don?t offer enough support and are not waterproof. So take your hiking boots, teva sandals and flip flops (which everybody wears everywhere). Laundries are available in most towns and tourist areas, and are inexpensive (you drop the clothes off in the morning and they are clean and nicely folded by the afternoon). Don?t bother with travelers checks as they are a pain in the neck to exchange (very long procedure at the banks). ATMs work fine as long as you plan ahead. Take a little dictionary and a phrase book if you don?t speak Spanish - I forgot mine and felt awkward. Bottled water is available everywhere but regular water is mostly safe to drink. I got sick one day in Tamarindo but it was a combination of something I ate and a drink I had.

Sorry this report has been so chunked up, the system wouldn't let me post any longer pieces.

Feel free to ask questions and I will try to provide more details.
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Sep 3rd, 2003, 07:29 PM
  #23
 
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Iza: What a great trip report! I, along with many other Fodorites, have been anxiously awaiting your return so we could read about your trip, and it sounds like you had a wonderful adventure.

Glad to hear I wasn't the only person to get lost in La Tigra. When our nice paved road suddenly became a one-lane dirt road, I knew I'd missed a turn!

I really appreciate the feedback on Nosara. I'm planning my next (third) trip for next May/June and was considering Nosara as one of our destinations. I think we may try Samara instead, although my son (age 20) really wants to visit the Carribean side. I may have to save the Guanacaste beaches for another trip.

Welcome back!

Terri

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Sep 3rd, 2003, 07:46 PM
  #24
 
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Hi Iza, it's Barb. Just wanted to say what a great trip report. Full of such practical info. You've inspired me to start planning for our second trip but we're off to the land down under this year. Maybe CR in 04! Glad your trip went well. Where to next?
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Sep 3rd, 2003, 07:55 PM
  #25
 
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Iza,

Many thanks for your answers to my questions.

Have you stayed in the Osa Peninsula? I am having a terrible time deciding between Lapa Rios and Bosque del Cabo. Seems like the reports on Lapa Rios vary tremedously.

Kathy
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Sep 3rd, 2003, 09:58 PM
  #26
 
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Thanks Iza for sharing your trip and all the details. I'm trying desparately to finalize an itinerary. I had Florblanca on there but spoke with an agent today who is not very keen on the Tambor area and advised against that leg of our trip. Do you have any feelings on this: the hotel, the area...? I was debating between Hotel Punta Islita and Florblanca but now may skip that part of my itinerary. Yikes - what to do!! Thanks again for your post.
Leslee
P.S. Kathy- when are you going to CR?
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Sep 4th, 2003, 05:12 AM
  #27
Iza
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Kathy, we stayed at Lapa Rios in 2001 for a few days and liked it (although the humid and stormy weather made me feel somewhat uncomfortable). The only other thing that bothered us about Lapa Rios was the fact that we were in the very last bungalow and it was a trek to get to the restaurant and the pool. I heard great things about Bosque so if I ever decide to go back to Osa I would probably stay there.

Leslee, Florblanca is in Santa Teresa which is quite different from the Tambor area. I don't think I would enjoy Tambor either (we stopped at Tango Mar to check it and were not terribly impressed), but I found the area around Malpais and Santa Teresa beautiful and the beach was really pretty.
Barb, good to hear from you again! Australia, lucky you! We are thinking about a few days in Paris over Thanksgiving but have not finalized our plans yet.
Terri, thanks for the welcome. I enjoyed reading your trip reports as well. Don't write off Nosara completely, I think it would be good for someone looking for a lot of peace and quiet and Ally likes it a lot. Maybe we should have stayed at a different hotel there? Who knows.
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Sep 4th, 2003, 09:30 AM
  #28
 
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Leslee, we are going to CR from January 23 until February 4 and will be at Makanda by the Sea, Lapa Rios and FlorBlanca. I also debated about Punta Islita but finally decided I wanted to be ON a beach and not viewing it from afar. If you do like Punta Islita, check out Luxurylink.com to see if the package that is being auctioned suits you. Big savings.

Iza, thanks for the details on your Lapa Rios stay. The agency we are working with has said they will insure us that we will get a unit near the pool and restaurant, so we may stick with Lapa Rios. Seems like some people really love it.

Kathy
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Sep 4th, 2003, 10:23 AM
  #29
 
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Thanks, Iza for the great report! I'll be on my belated honeymoon from Sept. 21-Oct 4...staying where we could get timeshares! (Except one night in Tabacon) 5 nights in Playa Samara and 7 nights in Costa Blanca (or somewhere up above Tamarindo). Any other good restaurants near Playa Samara? (I got the La Dolce Vita). Thanks! Sarah
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Sep 4th, 2003, 10:29 AM
  #30
 
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Iza, would you know anthing about Casa El Nido in Tamarindo? It is a villa we are thinking of staying at a few minutes from the beach, not far from Capitan Suizo. I'm trying to get some feedback from someone who has heard about it. Thanks for any help, the web site is: http://www.tamarindo.com/nido/
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Sep 4th, 2003, 03:57 PM
  #31
Iza
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Sorry, Jean, but I don't know anything about it. I checked the link you posted and noticed, however, that Susan Money and Greg Mullins are listed as the CR contacts for it. They are the former owners of Sueno del Mar and the brains behind and current owners of Florblanca. If they oversee the management of it, I would have trust in them.
Based on the description, the house may actually be in Playa Langosta, not Tamarindo itself. If you have a car that may be a good thing but if you don't, find out how far from the center of Tamarindo it is.
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Sep 8th, 2003, 12:43 PM
  #32
 
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Welcome back Iza! Fabulous report! I'm so sorry you didn't care for Nosara...did I fail to mention it's very quiet and not much to do? So sorry! My husband, being a surfer, always wants to spend a few days there and if it weren't for the fact that I can sit by a pool and read for days, I'd be bored silly too! So Casa Romantica didn't work for you, okay, I'll stick with Villa Taype...thanks for the tip!
Glad you liked La Dolce Vida. One of my favorites in all of CR!
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Sep 8th, 2003, 02:25 PM
  #33
 
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Iza
I'm taking my family to Costa Rica for the first time this December 30 to Jan 9. We already have Capitan Suizo in Tamarindo booked for the four days from Jan 2-5 (only nights they had available) and so I have 3 days before and 2 days after this stay. I was thinking of staying in Alajuela the first night, then Arenal for two nights, four nights in Tamarindo, two nights in Samara and then the last night in Alajuela.
My wife thinks since we get in early the first day we should rent the car and drive to Arenal but that sounds like it might be a gutbust. And on the return trip is Samara to Alajuela a reasonable drive for one day? We're spending most of the time on the beach for my surfer son.
Thanx much
Frank
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Sep 9th, 2003, 04:07 PM
  #34
 
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Iza, Thanks for the trip report. We also were in Nosara and stayed at Casa Romantica. We were in the building that had apartments and thought that the studio apartment we had was very nice. Also, the small pool that was there was very private. When we arrived we were only one of two families in that building and the pool felt like our private pool. Also I have been to Tamarindo, and while the town was more convenient to restaurants, the beach at Nosara was wide, beautiful, and so much nicer than Tamarindo. It is not very built up and that is what makes it so nice. We did check out other hotels because we went without reservations. Casa Romantica was much nicer than anything we saw. Glad to hear you thought it was confusing. For such a small place it was confusing. We wanted to walk to a restaurant on night and ended up going back for the car because we couldn't find it. Also loved La Dolce Vita. Ate there twice. Also loved La mariposa for lunch. From Nosara we drove to the Osa and stayed at Bosque del Cabo. This was the best part of the trip. So Relaxing and so many animals. We are returning there next year. Thnaks for the great report.
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Sep 10th, 2003, 09:27 AM
  #35
 
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Hi Iza,
Thank you for all the great information in your trip report. I have just started to plan a trip to Costa Rica and would very much like to stay in the Mal Pais area. Do you know anything about Tropico Latino? Could you give me more information about getting to that area- how long it takes, good places to stop and visit or stay on the way and if we should fly or drive?

Also, how long would you suggest to stay? We will be traveling with our daughter who will be seven. We would like to booggie board, take surf lessons, swim in the pool, explore the area, etc (?).

Thank You in Advance!
Gem
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Sep 10th, 2003, 09:34 AM
  #36
 
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Pluto,
Not Iza here but maybe I can help a little...
Depending on what time your flight arrives and how tired you are, driving to Arenal the first day is doable. Drive times run on average 3- 3-1/2 hours depending on route, how many buses you get stuck behind, how brave you are at trying to pass them, how many times you get lost, etc. Just keep in mind that it gets dark at 6:00pm and you want to be where you are going before that.
Samara to Alajuela is about a 5 hour drive. When we stay in Nosara, we usually hit the road for Alajuela about 11:00am and are in Alajuela by 5:00pm or no later than 6:00pm.
Good thing you're going to Tamarindo for your son because there is good surf there. There is no surf in Samara, but it's a pretty beach.
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Sep 10th, 2003, 11:41 AM
  #37
Iza
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Pluto, as always, Ally's information is correct and I don't have much to add. I think you could easily drive to Arenal your first day if your flight arrives around noon time. If it is later than that, you should stay near the airport for your first night. The route through San Ramon and La Tigra is the fastest, I think. It should take you about 3 hours if you have good weather.

You should have no problem driving from Samara to San Jose in one day, especially now that the new bridge over the Tempisque River is open (there was a ferry before and sometimes it took a while to get on it).

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Sep 10th, 2003, 11:43 AM
  #38
Iza
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Gem, we stopped at Tropico Latino to check it out and it seemed like a very nice place on a good stretch of beach. We did not see the inside of the rooms but the pool, restaurant and the grounds looked very inviting. I think your daughter will enjoy it. Our daughter is 9 and she loved that area. The drive from SJ to Malpais takes a good part of the day even though the roads are fine (except for the last hour). Malpais is not developed and is a surfer's paradise with a beautiful beach. Except for the bad roads, we enjoyed it very much. You can fly to Tambor and then have someone do the driving to the hotel. While there, you can rent motor scooters or walk (there are a few restaurants and stores within walking distance (2 miles or so) of Tropico Latino. I would say stay at least for 4 nights (5 or 6 would be even better).
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Sep 10th, 2003, 11:44 AM
  #39
Iza
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Karenf, glad to hear you liked Nosara and Casa Romantica. We thought Casa Romantica was fine (we had a 2 bedroom apartment which was adequately furnished and very clean)and I think we would have liked it much more had we been not comparing it with luxurious Florblanca (which was in a totally different class). One thing I missed at Casa Romantica, however, was the view of the ocean and the sound of the waves. I thought the beach in Nosara was very pretty and great to walk on but the lack of shade bothered me because that meant I would not be able to sit there and enjoy the views and the sounds in the shade (I burn easily even with sunblock on).
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Sep 10th, 2003, 12:38 PM
  #40
 
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Iza!
Thank you for the great advice!

Was the drive enjoyable (except for the last hour) and how many hour do you think that it took?

I think that we will have about ten days. Could you suggest another area that I might look into? I was even thinking of staying the whole time in Mal Pais. Do you think that that would be too long?

Thanks Again!!
Gem

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