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Drive from Arenal to Nosara: Questions for shillmac, volcanogirl, Pat_Hewitt, other CR travelers

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Drive from Arenal to Nosara: Questions for shillmac, volcanogirl, Pat_Hewitt, other CR travelers

Old Jun 15th, 2007, 06:18 PM
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Drive from Arenal to Nosara: Questions for shillmac, volcanogirl, Pat_Hewitt, other CR travelers

For those of you who have driven from Arenal (or anywhere else in Costa Rica) to Nosara, can you please describe the drive from Nicoya to Nosara:

1. How long does it take?
2. Are the roads as bad as some seem to describe?
3. How much chance the roads be impassable in July?
4. Would Nicoya be the last gas stop?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts/suggestions.
MRand is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2007, 10:35 PM
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I can't comment on the drive from Arenal, but we have driven from Lberia to Nosara many times.

From Nicoya to Nosara I would estimate 1 1/2 hours give or take. The road deteriorates after Nicoya, but not badly. It's like hard pack gravel until the 'T' intersection, right (north) to Nosara, left (south) to Samara.

From this right turn, beware of washouts on the right. One fraction of a tire tread in there and I imagine you'd be on your side in the bush. Oncomings in your lane can happen. The horses, cows etc., seem to wander more at night though, guess it's cooler.

It is so scenic it's hard not to let your eyes wander! We saw one serious wreck, an overturned nice Motero, which look like local fellows. That really slowed us down.

Overall, I enjoy the drive and it sure beats trying to navigate San Jose traffic; not my idea of a good way to wind down and start a vacation.

There is a large service station just outside Nicoya I think. It will be on your left. That's the last 'real' gas station. The one they built in Nosara (right on the river), is still not open, (well as of 12/06), many environmental issues...poor planning. So folks get gas there somewhere? dispensed from homemade jugs. We never needed to fill up again the week in Nosara, till we were almost back to Liberia.

Enjoy!
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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I will like to add the rest of the trip from Arenal to Liberia...since fitzpowell already described the first leg of the trip....it is very simple...drive to Arenal damm...and keep driving around the lake to Nuevo Arenal...then to Tilaran...to Canas...in Canas is the connection with the Pan Am hwy. heading North to Liberia...a good stop at Los Jaguares Sanctuary...next door to La Pacifica ...once in Liberia...take the road to Liberia International Airport...to Santa Cruz and then finally Nicoya!! ufff what a drive!

It is a good road almost the whole way...with some potholes along the way ...mostly around Nuevo Arenal...and Tilaran...


Hard to said if the roads are going to be impassable during any giving day in July...

Is another gas station at the "exit" to Nosara at the entrance of Samara!!
Have nice drive!!

Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in paradise!!

R.A Luis
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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MRand,

We returned from CR May 22 and the last "long" leg of our vacation was from Nosara to Arenal.

As Fitzpowell said - allow an hour and a half from Nicoya to Nosara. We made it in less, but the rains had only just begun and the road was in excellent condition. The "pavement" is smaller rock, about gravel-size, and so it tends to be smoother than the river rock roads down around Pavones. You can run a little faster on it. Also, you'll quickly learn to drive on whatever part of the road is the best as long as you can see well ahead and there's no oncoming traffic.

We made the drive from Nosara to Arenal in about 8 hours BUT it's not that long normally. We stopped for an hour in Nicoya to shop, detoured to Guaitil then back to Nicoya which took 2 to 2 1/2 hours. We stopped at a soda for lunch which took at least twice as long as usual because there were 6 of us. Last, we stopped at Toad Hall up near Arenal for their famous brownies and lingered to chat with the ex-pat owner longer than most people would. All we cared about was getting in before dark, which we did with time to spare.

Again, as Fitzpowell said, the gas station in Nosara is not open. We filled up in Nicoya and were fine. Didn't see the station in Samara RA mentioned but we weren't really looking as we still had plenty of gas.

The route we took was different from than the one RA gave you. In reverse of our direction it's the same as RA's until you reach Canas. Instead of heading northwest to Liberia, you'd go southeast on CA 1 until you reached CR 18 where you'd turn right (west) to cross the Friendship Bridge. Stay on this until you reach the turn-off to Nicoya, CR 21. You'll turn right and head northwest for about 10 km.

Best advice I received on this board about driving was to know the names of the little towns along your route. It's not uncommon for the larger towns to not be listed on the road signs until you get closer to them. Also, don't drive after dark, at least not until you've driven it in the daylight and know how things look. Then, if you do drive at night, just go a bit slower, use high beams as much as possible, and have someone helping you keep alert for people and animals in the road. Street lights aren't as prevalent as here in the U.S.

Nosara is a lovely place. We really enjoyed the slower pace there. Where are you staying?

Have a great trip.

Fran
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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I have been to both destinations, but have never done a direct drive between the two. Everyone else has offered some very good advice.

The only hint that I will add, is that you should stop at the German Bakery in Nuevo Arenal for lunch.

They have authentic pastry, breads, and sausages. They even offer real German beer! We make this stop every time we travel through this area. Check out the apple strudel. It is nothing like the strudel we get in the States. It is heavier and delicious. You can take something to go as well.

I hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel Professional)
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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fitzpowell, roadadvisor, Floridafran, Pat_Hewitt - thank you for your great information and suggestions.

Floridafran - we have reservations at the Harmony Hotel.

Do any of you have recommendations for restaurants or activites around Nosara other than the obvious beach/surfing?

Thanks again.
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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From Nicoya to Nosara are 50 km and it takes around 1.5 hours.
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Nosara is a good place to walk around and explore, they have some good trails around the beach. You can also check out this really wierd castle-like hotel that has been abandonded. There are some great yoga centers as well. The internet cafe also rents board games for $2/2 days.

As far as restaurants I would suggest the pizza at Giordano Tropicale and Blew Dog's (they have a varied menu).
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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We ate a lot of our meals at Harbor Reef because we'd rented a house near there. Among the things the 6 of us tried and liked were: dinner - the fish tacos, the spicy shrimp, the arroz con pollo Guancaste, the vegetarian pasta, and the seafood burrito. Also several of the appetizers. The flammbed banana dessert was so good I had it every night we ate there. We ate breakfast there on the mornings we didn't cook-in. I don't eat eggs, so I can only comment on what I had - the Reef Potatoes, very good and enough for 2 people.

One night we went to the Gilded Iguana. As I recall we had most of the fish dishes on the specials menu and only the whole snapper was less than great. I had a steak and it was wonderful. Dessert was the caramel flan and it was excellent.

Four of us ate lunch one day at Casa Toucan and found it to be only "okay." May have been what we ordered. Only tried 2 different things among us.

Had drinks one night at Luna, just to watch the sunset. I had a Lunatica, a fruity concoction, which this infrequent imbiber loved. They have a lot of unusual, interesting, and according to all in our party, tasty drinks.

I have to admit that we were pretty much lazy bums if we ladies weren't beach combing while the guys surfed. By the time we reached Nosara I had lost track of what day it was. First time I've ever done that on a vacation.

There are some great tide pools along the beach at low tide. And the birds and howlers make for a nice diversion, as well.

I really liked the feeling at Nosara. We left our sandals near a log by the beach trail each day (Tevas, Reefs, etc, not cheapo flip flops) and no one touched them. One of the guys had a rash guard that had gotten stretched out so he left it draped on that log for anybody who wanted it, to take it. The next morning we found it hanging from a low branch along the beach path where someone had put it so the person who'd lost it could find it. I sure hope that doesn't change as Nosara continues to grow and become more highly visited.

Have a great trip.

Fran
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Old Jun 30th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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roadadvisor and Floridafran - Thank you both for those specific directions. Roadadvisor, taking CR 18 and the Friendship Bridge from Arenal to Nicoya looks much shorter on the map than taking CR 21 via Liberia. Are there reasons to take the longer route, such as the road quality, good, and gas opportunities are substantially better? Thanks again for all the detail.
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 05:54 PM
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MRand,

Having taken just the one route I can only comment on it. The road was fine, no problem getting gas (or diesel), and plenty of places to eat, especially if you're interested in sodas with comida tipica.

I bet you're counting down the days now that July is finally here.

Have a great trip.

Fran
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