Driving from SJO to Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste?

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Mar 8th, 2010, 01:43 PM
  #1
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Driving from SJO to Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste?

So we have a week semi planned in Playa Hermosa Guanacaste. We are thinking about renting a car and driving from SJO to the area, is this nuts?

I know it will be about 5.5 hr drive, but is it going to be an extremely frustrating 5.5hr drive is what I need to know? This will be in July, so I will get a 4X4 for the trip, I will also either rent a GPS or buy the maps for my GPS.

At the end of the week we will be flying back out of SJO, I do realize Liberia direct from the states would have been a better choice, but when I booked the Air we had very different plans that would have had us ending in San Jose on a guided tour. We have dropped that and have decided to stay in Playa Hermosa the whole time other then some day trips by car.
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Mar 8th, 2010, 04:19 PM
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Hey, you'll be fine and I don't think you're nuts. We've done this drive for years. Our two daughters did it alone 9 years ago. Piece of cake! Some people swear by a GPS, but you really don't need it to get to Playa Hermosa--very easy.
Good signage. I'm thinking you'll want to make a left (headed west) at the huge bull (you'll know it when you see it!) onto Highway 18, takes you across the Rio Tempisque on the Friendship Bridge. Once you turn back to the north (again signage is good--moving toward Liberia).

OR instead of making a left turn on H. 18, continue north on the PanAmerican highway to Liberia. Playa Hermosa is a only 30 minutes from Liberia. I'm honestly not sure which would be quicker, probably not much difference.

I think you might be interested in taking the newly opened highway south of the airport as far as Puntarenas. It could save you some time, perhaps an hour.

Do you have a map? Berndston & Berndston makes a good laminated one.
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Mar 8th, 2010, 04:21 PM
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Sorry, I wasn't so clear. I should leave the directions to Jeff!

That "left on highway 18" I was referring to is about 2-3 hours into your drive toward the Pacific.
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Mar 9th, 2010, 03:54 AM
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What are you going to do at P. Hermosa for a week? I know the area well, it is nice, but not very exciting. If you like beaches and have the car, it's worth to travel around a little bit.
P. Hermosa has gray, dirty sand, rocks on both end, very good snorkeling !!!

P. Panama is 2 km N. from P.Hermosa, big, lots of trees, gray sand, shallow, calm water, good for children too. There is a resort and a restaurant on the beach.

P. Papagayo is at the Four Season Hotel, 35 km from P.Hermosa on an excellent road. You have to leave your car at the "P.Papagayo Visitors" parking lot with security ( I tip them 1-2 $ usually), they take you down to the beach by bus (free). White sand full with shells, shallow water, very calm, no waves, almost like a lake. Monkeys! Fish are around your feet and nibble on it> Do not go on the weekend, it is full!

P. Grande and N. of it is P.Ventanas. Both have white sand, P.V. is very quiet, no surfers, almost it is your private beach. You go on excellent road, via Philadelphia and turn off at Belen. follow the posted signs. Approx.75 km from P.Hermosa.

Enjoy it!
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Mar 9th, 2010, 04:27 AM
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We plan on staying at the Playa Hermosa Bosque del Mar. I have not read anything about the beaches being gray and dirty in the area. That comes as a bit of a surprise to me.

Since we will have a car we thought we would go to Hacienda Guachipelin one day, venture to the closest Volcano another, and of course find some type of Zip lining too. A bonus would be to see turtles laying eggs at night, but I am not sure if this is the right time of year for this area.
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Mar 9th, 2010, 10:02 AM
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We've spent a few days at Playa Hermosa before. The sand isn't pretty, but I didn't think of it as being dirty. It's a nice calm, horseshoe beach. We also liked Playa Panama nearby.

Drive the Monkey Trail (45 min) down to Playa Portrero/Playa Penca/ Playa Flamingo/Playa Conchal one day. Flamingo is as white as the beaches in CR come; Conchal is a beautiful shell beach, gorgeous water, nice snorkeling. You reach it by driving up the beach from Brasilito. Catch a beautiful sunset while dining at Camaron Dorado in Brasilito!

Good idea a day trip into the Rincon de la Vieja and Hacienda Guachipelin. Volcans Miravalles and Tenorio worth a visit also.
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Mar 9th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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I don't recommend the Monkey Trail at all, especially in July. You have to cross a river with no bridge, very rough road even for 4WD. The road from Belen is excellent, easy to go to Potrero and P.Azucar(nice white beach). P.Chonchal is overrated, crowded, stript from the shells.

When you go anywhere from P.Hermosa, go toward Panama, stay on the main road and go to Comunidad (the little village you went through to get to P.H.) There is an other road, this is on the older maps, through Salinas, longer and in bad shape.

Believe me, the beach is dirty, noisy, gray-brown.
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Mar 9th, 2010, 05:58 PM
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First of all the new highway from San Jose to Hermosa takes 3.5 hours maybe 4. A lot easier. You can get good directions as your trip gets closer. Second the Monkey trail is fine in July. The seasonal creek does not flow until Sept-Oct. plus a bridge does go over the creek if you go thru the canopy tour property easy to do. Playa Conchal is one of the best beaches still, sorry Swim... Conchal beach 1/2 crushed shells the other half pure fluffy white... Go to Rio Celeste for a day trip from Hermosa, Mirravalles Volcano also. Some great places to eat in Hermosa check trip adviser..
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Mar 10th, 2010, 12:49 AM
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Bfish,you have your opinion, I have mine. I just spent 6 weeks in Hermosa, like every year since 1998. When I can, I help people with my experience and observation. We drive around and discover unique, pristine beaches or visit our favorites. For me it is important the sand, the water and the waves, how safe is it for swimming or for non swimmers and children. How can we get there, by car or by boat, etc.

Yes, the Monkey Trail is driveble, but still not the best choice. BTW, the creak flows in January and February too.
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Mar 10th, 2010, 05:20 AM
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Sorry Swim I have lived in Flamingo since 2002 year yound. I drive the Monkey Trail 3-4 times a week for work... Yes everyone has an opinion but your advise is not 100% correct...
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Mar 10th, 2010, 09:26 AM
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Many say the snorkeling is not good in CR. Our only trip there, we used www.mandingosail.com to take us. We may have been lucky, but we had a clear water day. The boat picked us up at Tamarindo, but will pick people up in several different towns, and took us near Conchal Beach (guide,in 2005, was Margie, and two young men handeled the boat and diving to let us hold a blow fish) She explained what was unique about Conchal shoreline in the distance. We kept busy in Tamarindo and the area for 6 days. Have fun.
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Mar 10th, 2010, 05:58 PM
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I was hoping the new Highway would make this drive a good bit shorter. Does anyone know if the GPS software for the area is including the new Highway yet?

Also, we are not dead locked on an area at all. We like what we have seen about Playa Hermosa Bosque del Mar. It has some very nice reviews, good rates and we really would like our Hotel to mix forest and beach like this does.
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Mar 10th, 2010, 08:49 PM
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I think Playa Hermosa will be a good base for you and Bosque del Mar is the your best choice. As Shillmac says, the sand is not 'pretty' but it is NOT dirty...maybe just some seaweed that has come ashore. With a car you will have the freedom to check out many of the beaches on the coast....some great and some interesting in their own way. It's a great area to explore!
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Mar 12th, 2010, 04:27 PM
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great, thanks everyone
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Mar 23rd, 2010, 08:26 AM
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For bfish: I am planning on moving to the area in 2013 and would like to pick your brain. Could you contact me at [email protected] or through ARCR using my screen name?

California Dreamer
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Mar 23rd, 2010, 10:14 AM
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Thanks bfish, for your opinion. We have traveled the Monkey Trail so many times in July and it has always been perfectly fine. And we also think Playa Conchal is a fabulous beach! Playa Hermosa never seemed "dirty". I was wondering how I could be wrong on so many counts (as in everything!).

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course. That's what makes this forum work. I do think most people would agree that the Monkey Trail is not only driveable, but interesting and an incredible shortcut. We drive it day and night, nearly always in July or August. Likewise, I believe most people would think Conchal and its water quite attractive. It is popular with the locals, as is Playa Panama, but I always considered that a good thing! The shell beach is unique, yet not difficult to walk on; and the water is calm and a beautiful clear blue.
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Mar 23rd, 2010, 11:29 AM
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FWIW Our first time driving in Costa Rica we took the Monkey Trail from Liberia to Potrero and got hopelessy lost. I was secretly bad-mouthing Shillmac . But it was our fault for not noticing the road that went off to the left by the soda(we thought it was just a driveway for the soda)

Anyway getting lost was the best thing for us as we discovered Playa Coco and another deserted beautiful beach that the only other person we saw was a very tanned, fit, man riding a white horse on the beach. I swear it was just like a commercial....Then I was singing Shillmac's praises.
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Mar 23rd, 2010, 04:49 PM
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LOL! I remember that. And I'll bet you weren't bad mouthing me so secretly, either!

The differences in opinion can probably be explained by recognizing the different perceptions people have. You know, like when someone talks about how the roads are so bad in Costa Rica. To us, they don't seem bad (except for a very few), and most of them seem quite good. So one opinion doesn't mean much. A group of similar opinions is way more reliable!
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