Costa Rica trip with kids - some questions

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Jan 13th, 2019, 03:40 PM
  #1
sgd
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Join Date: Sep 2016
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Costa Rica trip with kids - some questions

Hello,
We are going to be in Costa Rica from basically Mar 21 to Mar 26. Have 3 kids aged 10, 7 and 3.
We arrive in San Jose on Mar 20 late at night so plan on staying at a hotel near airport and head out early next morning.

So far er are thinking:
Head to Mauel Antonio first and spend 2 days there.
3rd day head to Arenal.
Stay there 2 days
Head back to San Jose for our flight later in the afternoon.

In Manuel Antonio, it seems one day will be spent visiting the park and the beach.
It will be mid day by the time we get to MA from San Jose, and from reading around it seems like we wont be able to see many animals later in the afternoon and also the park gets busy as the day goes by and we may have to wait at the entrance ??
- Was thinking of doing the park and beach the next day
My older kids would love parasailing and may be taking surf lesson.
- Can we head somewhere the first day for the above 2 activities, possible in MA ?? I read Uvita but thats an additional hour drive which I would prefer not to do.
- Also read snorkeling is a hit or miss. Though I read good reviews of various snorkeling tours but not sure if we should try it. Besides we do not have enough time to do all the activities.
- Is it better to do a dolphin/catamaran tour ?

Drive from MA to Arenal appears to be a long one. Can it be split and we stop somewhere or should we stay in MA in the morning and leave in the afternoon and do one long drive. (We have done long drives in US with the kids so hoping it should be ok there as well. My toddler can nap during the drive)

We are thinking of renting a car since it seems easier with the kids to have own car to make stops if needed.

TIA
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Jan 13th, 2019, 04:22 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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With that little time i'd spend the entire time in one place, either Manuel Antonio or Arenal. Remember it gets dark at about 5:30 so getting somewhere in the afternoon means you've lost the day. You want entire days in places, not partial days. Given what you are saying, just spend the entire time in Manuel Antonio.
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Jan 14th, 2019, 08:11 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: May 2007
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I agree; you don't want to do different spots in such a short trip. Just pick one or the other, or you won't have time to enjoy it. Travel will eat up too much of your time. It's about five hours to go between the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio, and each one is about three hours from SJO but in opposite directions.
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Jan 14th, 2019, 08:41 AM
  #4
sgd
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Ok, thanks.
If we stay only in MA, what about the activities with the kids ?
Also better to rent a car or get shuttle ?

Any other area closer to MA within short driving distance that I should look into?
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Jan 14th, 2019, 08:51 AM
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If you're comfortable driving, a car will give you more freedom. If you do tours, they'll usually pick you up and drop you back off at your hotel. We did a guided tour of the park with Manuel Antonio Expeditions that was really fun. The animals are used to people so you can get fairly close. Lots of monkeys and sloths around. A guide will point out things you would walk right by and not notice. We also used them for the Damas mangrove tour - a fun boat tour; monkeys boarded our boat when we did it. We also enjoyed a sailing snorkeling excursion; the snorkeling wasn't great due to sediment in the water and poor visibility, but the sailing was fun. We like the Villa Vanilla spice tour too; you learn where cinnamon, chocolate, etc. come from and get to walk through their gardens and taste things. At the end, they serve little desserts and drinks made with the things you've seen on the property. I'd recommend doing a croc tour on the Rio Tarcoles if you have a car; Jose's Crocodile tour is a good company to use. If you don't do the tour, be sure to stop at the bridge and look down to see the big crocs down below. Don't ever leave anything in your car unattended since car breakins/petty theft can happen. Check with your hotel for other tours that might interest you.
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Jan 14th, 2019, 03:02 PM
  #6
sgd
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Thanks for mentioning the tours. Its very helpful.
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Jan 14th, 2019, 08:07 PM
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Of course, happy to help.
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