Dominical Itinerary and Questions

Old Nov 3rd, 2014, 09:59 AM
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Dominical Itinerary and Questions

ok, after reading a ton here and looking at TA and Fodors and posting some initial queries here--I have an itinerary and some questions! This is a trip for a family of 4--kids will be almost 10 and 12.5. Here is the itinerary for April 2-11, 2014:

Day One (Holy Thursday): fly 8 hours to San Jose. Stay near airport
Day Two: (Good Friday): drive SJO to Dominical
Day Three: Zipline and Jungle Hike at Hacienda Baru
Day Four (Easter Sunday): Beach Day
Day 5: (Monday) Nayuca (sp?) Falls Horseback Tour--Don Lulu
Day 6: MANP with MA Expeditions, then snorkel at the beach there
Day 7: Beach day and/or Mangrove Kayaking (not sure)
Day 8: (Thurs) Snorkel Boat trip to Cano Island
Day 9: Back to SJO, stay near airport
Day 10: Fly home

Lodging: We have a 2 BR villa at Villas Alturas with kitchen.
Car Rental: We will probably go with Solid and rent from SJO airport
Lodging near airport: We are looking for clean and safe and reasonable and close to the airport. We just need one room with 2 beds (sleep 4). Recommendations?

Is there something to see on the drive from SJO to Dominical that is close (e.g. within 30 mins of the road)? What about the crocs at the T (sp??) River? Anything else?

For the Snorkel Boat to Cano Island--there is an operator in Dominical--Costa Rica Dive and Surf--that does the trip. It will be a long boat ride from there to the island--but it looks like all of the tours leave at 6:30 am and it will be easier if we have to drive as little as possible to make that time. But--are we closer to Uvita?? Would you recommend another operator?

For snorkeling at MANP--I assume we can just rent gear from the place in Dominical for the day??? Anybody tried that? Also--I assume that our tour guide walks us through the park and to the exit. We would then need to say goodbye and hike back to the snorkel beach. Is that a long haul? Or maybe he could do the tour in a way that we end at the beach and he could leave us there to snorkel. We certainly could find our way to the exit--I just want to minimize backtracking if we are talking a 2 mile walk from the beach to the exit.

Beaches: We realize that Easter Sunday will be crowded but I figured that most places will not run tours on that day and we will have fun on the beach. I am looking at going to Playa: Uvita, Ballena or Ventanas. We do not surf. I would like something that is safe for my kids to be in the water--without the scary rip tides etc. What would be our best bet on that holiday?

I am considering doing a kayaking tour of the mangroves. We like kayaking vs. a boat. I saw 2 operators--MA Expeditions does one at Domas Island. Pineapple Kayak Tours does the Hatillo Mangroves. Is one really better than the other? (or are they the same place and I am clueless?) I would rather do the one that is closer to Playa Domincalita so we could do half day kayak and half day beach. I probably will want to book this just a few days in advance--or maybe that is not possible given the time of year we are going ???

More questions:
1. where is the best place to get groceries for the week? Manuel Antonio? or is there a decent sized place in Dominical?

2. As for leaving SJO on Saturday--I am assuming there isn't a high traffic time like rush hour? I know it will be crowded due to the holiday weekend. And then with going back to SJO on Friday--what time frame should we avoid for arriving--like 3-6 pm? I would rather avoid the worst of rush hour.

3. With the car---is it just easier to take a taxi to the hotel Friday night and have the car delivered to the hotel on Saturday? Or should we pick it up Friday night? I assume if deliver it to our hotel, they would pick up from there as well? We often find it easier to return a car the night before and just taxi to the airport on the last day.

4. Restaurant Recommendations: This is difficult. Nothing fancy is needed. But the kids won't do beans and rice either! DH and I will eat anything. There is a restaurant at Villas Alturas but I like having options in Dominical--don't want to eat at the same place every night.

Phew--that's it! Thank you for all of your advice. If you think I should move around days on the itinerary, let me know!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Groceries (staples) are probably better bought before you head toward Dominical, maybe there is something in Quepos? The nearest grocery store was farther south on the way toward Uvita.

There was a fruit stand right past the bridge as you head south toward Dominical. Assuming he is still there, the coatis hang out so it's worth stopping even if his fruit looks a bit grotty. There may be better stalls elsewhere so stop if you see one.

There is a seafood stand on the left (La Mancha) which is a good place to buy fresh fish or takeout meals.

I think the fancier restaurants are farther south.

Food at Hacienda Baru isn't bad, either.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2014, 10:40 AM
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I'm going to bookmark because I'm interested in the area. The crocs are worth seeing at the Rio Tarcoles. We got some nice pics there and had delicious fresh fruit smoothies.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2014, 11:09 AM
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I didn't try it but the restaurant Por Que No in the Costa Paraiso hotel gets recommended by Shelter From the Storm.

BTW I wasn't all that happy with the conditions on the Don Lulo horse trek. Some of the horses look very skinny and not all of them are well-behaved.

But the breakfast was good!
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Old Nov 5th, 2014, 05:43 AM
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Your itinerary looks great! I'm confused as to which day you are driving to Dominical, but either way, the earlier you get started, the better. I would have Solid deliver your car on Friday night if you don't fly in too late. Your Friday return will have plenty of traffic even early in the day, but definitely avoid rush hour.

There is a large grocery store in Quepos, but there are two grocery stores in Uvita that should have everything you will need. Villa Alturas is south of Dominical anyway, so you won't be going that much further. Dominical has a very small and expensive market on the left side of the road.

The amount of waves each beach experiences seems to depend upon the tide, but Ventanas wasn't too wicked, and Uvita wasn't too bad. We didn't swim at Ballena, but that looked fairly calm. Dominicalito might be okay, too. Hermosa had the strongest waves.

For basic restaurants, we enjoyed lunch at Tortilla Flats in Dominical - my daughter said they had the best chicken strips she's ever eaten. Our friends ate dinner at Jolly Roger and said their wings were awesome.

We thought the horses looked fine at Don Lulu's. It's a great tour. There was a woman on the tour whose horse kept stopping to graze, so she just had to get tough with it. My horse wanted to go fast on the way back, and I didn't, so I had to keep pulling it back. They have minds of their own, for sure! Our youngest was 9 at the time and had never been on a horse, and she handled hers just fine.

I suppose you could look into tours for Cano Island out of Sierpe - they start out on the river. But, you will have to drive quite a ways, so it's either time in the boat, or time in the car.
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Old Nov 5th, 2014, 11:20 AM
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janenicole-thanks for all of your info. Yes, I did look into Sierpe but that was a lengthy drive. I think I prefer time in the boat plus I would be nervous about making it to Sierpe on time with the kids. (who have no problem getting up at the crack of dawn on the weekends but can barely be pried from their beds on a school day!)
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Old Nov 6th, 2014, 10:12 AM
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I'd rather be in a boat than a car, too!
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