CR - best rainforest experience, best beach ?

Oct 6th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 91
CR - best rainforest experience, best beach ?

Fodors was so helpful with our European vacation this summer. Now we are planning a trip to CR spring 07. We are a family with two children 11 & 13.

I am in the very early stages of planning. I know this is not very far in advance but it will have to do.

I am thinking:

Night 1 - San Jose (arrive 7pm)
Night 2,3&4 Rainforest
Night 5&6 Volcano
Night 7,8,9 Beach
Night 10 San Jose (leave am )

Given this basic plan which rainforest and which beach would you choose?

Or, we can change the order of things if it makes more sense.

Also, is there any sea kayaking or just white water?

wego is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 06:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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I think you will be happier with your itinerary if you combine the rainforest with the beach. There are a couple ways to do this. The most spectacular way is to spend 4-5 nights down on the Osa Peninsula, either the Drake Bay side (Pacific) or the Golfo Dulce side (Cabo Matapalo). You can research these options on your own. I do know that some of the more popular places are filling up, but there are many, many excellent resorts from which to choose. If you have a travel book (Fodor's, Moon, Lonely Planet), you can pour over the possibilities.

Within driving distance, there is Manuel Antonio National Park, where the rainforest (moist forest) meets the sea. It is very nice there as well; you just won't have quite as intense a rainforest experience. You'll see plenty of wildlife, but probably not quite as much as on the Osa. Still, MA is an excellent option, and there are a plethora of hotels options available to you--all price ranges--as well as many many activities to choose from.

Volcan Arenal will satisfy the volcano portion of your proposed itinerary, of course. It is very common for people, on their first visit to CR, to select Arenal and Manuel Antonio. They are, as a matter of fact, the two most frequently visited parts of the country--for good reason. The two together would give you a very nice feel for the beauty of Costa Rica. Selecting the Osa rather than Manuel Antonio would add a slightly different, and extra, dimension.

You might need to spend the first and last nights near the airport (as you've already noted), depending on your flight times. I would recommend 3 nights Arenal and 5 nights Manuel Antonio or Osa.

Now 5 nights Manuel Antonio would be a bit much for me, so I would prefer to stay an extra night near the airport (because there are SO many things to see and do very near that airport/San Jose area). I'd probably stay the first night near SJO, do 3 nights Arenal, 4 nights MA, then 2 nights airport area, perhaps doing a day trip of whitewater rafting (or just spend a day exploring that area around Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Garden), something adventurous that your children might get a big kick out if.

Hope this gives you a little bit of assistance, and perhaps help you make the most of your time by eliminating the transfer time between multiple locations. Good Luck! You're right--it isn't a bit too early to start firming your trip up. Spring Break in March and Easter in April (or whenever it is this year) or both busy times. In fact, January-April is a busy time for tourism in Costa Rica! Enjoy!
shillmac is offline  
Oct 6th, 2006, 11:07 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 28

I recommend you read "not your typical trip report, arenal/ma". It was an accurate summary of our visit to CR. We could have used more time in the Arenal area.

I would almost recommend doing the skytrek ziplines twice. We still relive that experience. Make sure you bring a Camcorder and a backpack to put it in. While it will be etched in your memory, you'll want it recorded. I only wish I had figured a way to film while I was zipping...
queue is offline  
Oct 7th, 2006, 11:58 AM
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osa is definitely the 'real' forest/jungle experience in costa rica, but the kids MAY get bored!
another option would be Manuel Antonio followed by the cloud forest at Monteverde then take the jeep-boat-jeep accross lake arenal to la fortuna, arenal:
guanacaste is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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My husband, myself and our son, 12 years old at the time, visited CR in March 2005. We had a van with driver and headed right to Arenal. Our stay at Los Lagos was lovely. It had nice pools with slides, nice eating area and a walk (long) up toward the mountain. The room was great with a lovely view of the volcano. We then went by boat across Arenal Lake and took horses through the mountain to Monteverde. That journey was awesome. Our son went by van but probably could have endured the trip too. In Monteverde we went on a night tour of the forest, and the next morning went to the cloud forest early. We went on the guided tour and this was a fabulous time also. It prepared us to visit the rainforest in Manuel Antonio without hiring a guide. Our son didn't join us at the cloud forest but instead went with others to the hanging bridges. However I think he was a little disappointed with that and had wished he had gotten up at 6:00am with us and come on the tour. After our tour around noon we went up to the zip lines in Monteverde (I think it's at the same place as the bridges) and went on the zip line. We all loved that - although I am petrified of heights I did enjoy it. We spent a week in Flamingo and did day trips to Conchal, Tamarindo and hung out and relaxed. Then we headed to MA. The beach/rainforest there was really nice. There seems to be lots to do there. One afternoon we enjoyed a cruise on a boat - saw dolphins and snorkled. Our next stop was Dominical and I loved our little hotel there. We daytripped from there to Ballena Park and enjoyed the beach there. It was deserted basically. I was hoping to see whales migrating but never did. We spent 14 days in CR and had a driver the whole time which took some pressure off of us. I couldn't imagine not visiting Monteverde Cloudforest if visiting CR and the horse trip was an interesting way to get there. It is a long ways up, twisty and bumpy whether you go by road or horse. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we did.
singingpilot is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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There is sea kayaking and great white water rafting or kayaking in various locations on the rivers.
We got thrilled on the Pacuare River while rafting. Very scenic also with waterfalls into the river. Some companies will pick up from your hotel in San Jose and return you there and some will forward you on to the next location depending where you are headed.
Sea Kayaking can be done in Drake Bay and up various rivers near there. Cano Island is also an option for a snokeling adventure/tour when near Drake Bay. Manuel Antonio is a beautiful area but the forest is not as awesome as the more southern forests of the Osa. The most beautiful primary lowland rainforest I have seen in my visits to CR was the trails out from San Pedrillo entrance of Corcovado National Park on a day trip from the Drake Bay area.
Monteverde has highland tropical oak forests covered with moss ,epiphites and bromiliads. Be prepared for colder,wetter weather if you head there, just in case.
Earthtraveler is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 599
My pick for the best beach is Punta Uva
on the southern Caribe coast.
If you care-- take a look at some of the places mentioned here in my Costa Rica albums
Earthtraveler is offline  
Oct 20th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Thank you all for your responses. We are now leaning toward this itinerary. I am waiting to hear back from some hotels.
Night 1 San Jose
Nights 2,3,4& 5 Osa - La Paloma
day trip to Cano
day trip to Corcovado
one day relaxing on the beach
Night 6 Peace Lodge
Nights 7 & 8 Arenal area
Nights 9 & 10 Monteverde area
Night 11 San Jose (we added a day)

I don't think our children will be bored at Osa since we are doing the day trips.

I am wondering if we would have time to do a "coffee tour" on the day we travel from Monteverde to San Jose?

The two bigger ones have their last tour at 2:30 and 3:00 pm.

How is the Monteverde coffee tour? It sounded like it took up a lot of our time there.

wego is offline  
Oct 20th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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i wouldn't bother with the coffee tour, go to the reserve!
guanacaste is offline  
Oct 21st, 2006, 07:27 PM
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Posts: 10,212
IMO, the Doka Estate tour would be hard to beat. It's about 30 min. from the airport. I think there is one about 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. What time is your departure? Don't think you can do it the same day you return to SJO. Surely you won't want to leave Monteverde too early in the day. I'm guessing you'll get into the airport area about 4:00. . . .
shillmac is offline  
Oct 29th, 2006, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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singingpilot- do you have the detail of your horseback trip? I'm in the very early stages of planning a CR trip, and we LOVE horsetrekking!
lcuy is offline  
Oct 30th, 2006, 05:24 PM
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This website has a lot of good information regarding horseback at Monteverde, particularly between Monteverde and Arenal. Hope you will find it helpful. Sounds like a great time to me!

One of these times, I'd like to spend about a week in Monteverde. Felt like we barely scratched the surface during our 2 night stay a couple of years ago.
shillmac is offline  
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