Extra day in Arenal or MA?

Jul 10th, 2007, 02:41 PM
  #1  
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Extra day in Arenal or MA?

We (with two kids: 4 & 6) will be going on an 8-9 day tour to Costa Rica in the spring. One of the tours we are looking at has us on the move a lot:

2 nights San Jose (day tours nearby)
2 nights Arenal area
1 night Monteverde
2 nights Manual Antonia
1 night San Jose

That seems like a lot of driving to me and I was thinking of nixing Monteverde in favor of an additional night in the Arenal or Manual Antonio area. Any thoughts on which place would be better for a third night?

Thank you,
Jenn
Kaz_Mom is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Kaz - Curious as to what day tours they have you going on from San Jose...I know there are plenty of them, but is this a flexible independent tour or fully escorted? Can you opt for 1 night on each end in San Jose and 3 nights each in Arenal and Manuel Antonio?
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 09:35 PM
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It's a fully escorted tour for the most part (with free mornings and afternoons here and there). However, it's a private tour so we can add days where we want.

Day 1 Arrival & overnight in SJ

Day 2 Poas Volcano La Paz Waterfalls Gardens (Combo Tour) and overnight in SJ

From there its 2 nights in Arenal, 1 in Monteverde, 2 in MA and then a final night once again in SJ. I want to skip the single night in Monteverde and spend it elsewhere (otherwise too much driving time, I think).

Any suggestions on where to add the extra day? Or do we really need 3 nights in Arenal and MA? Thank you.




Kaz_Mom is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 09:41 PM
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Hi Kaz_Mom,

That is quite a bit of moving around! I agree with hipvirgo that 3 nights each in Arenal and MA would be optimal if you can swing it. If I had to choose just one place to donate the extra night to, I would pick Arenal. There is a great deal to do there. MA also has some great options (including just vegging out the beach), but Arenal has the edge in the variety of options offered.
cmerrell is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 09:42 PM
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There's a lot to see at La Paz for both you and the kids so that will be a fun tour If you can add a 3rd night in Arenal, and skip Monteverde as you mentioned, that would be good. What are your choices for hotels?
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 04:53 AM
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Considering the drive to Monteverde, I would drop it for only 1 night and spread your time out between MA & Arenal, 3 nights at each is a good split. The highlights tour with Ecoscape is a nice option to see a lot in a short time if you have a full spare day.
tully is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Oh, yippee - you're going to La Paz? We are just back; your kids will love it. Be sure to check out the hummingbird garden, and if you get a chance, do the nocturnal frog tour. Not sure if you'll be there late enough, but it's really fun.

Given a choice between an extra day in MA and one in Arenal, I'd pick Arenal every time, just because there's more activites to do there. Can you fit Cano Negro into your schedule? It's a great boat ride down a river and full of animal sightings.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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Thankyou everyone for the replies! Super helpful! For sure I will drop Monteverde (there's always another trip) and I may just squeeze in another day in both places and just extend the trip by one day! With the kids, I don't want to spent too much time on the road! We are also going to be doing Cano Negro too. That's one of the tours. I'm used to travelling independently, but now with kids and a limited time, I feel like we would get the most out of a tour. The one we have tentatively selected is thru Costa Rican Trails and includes fairly luxurious accommodation (again, not my former style). Does anyone know any tours that stay in more moderate/mid-level places? Thanks, Jenn
Kaz_Mom is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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Kaz -- I'm gonna put my 2 cents in here since you said you are used to being an independent traveller. Another option to a tour, that would still be well laid out, give you more breathing room, and your choice of hotels, would be this. I think it would be significant cost savings and allow you more freedom.

SJO - Stay near airport and do the day tour to La Paz. Since you won't be in the hotel, no need for lux, unless you so desire. Hotel Villa Bonita is a nice colonial home with several rooms and common areas many Fodorites stay in for approx $55/night, 10 min from the airport. Also recommended a lot here is Las Orchidaes(sp?) and Grand del Oro.

x-fer to Arenal via Interbus (more like a van with a/c, very comfortable) or private driver. Interbus is convenient, reliable and economical, but private driver may cost around the same for a family of 4. Los Lagos gets great reviews, especially for families because of it's on site amnenities including water slides and pools.

x-fer to MA via Interbus (or driver). Consider La Posada Bungalows (have not stayed here, but after much research thinking we will next time) which also gets great family reviews. They bungalows, plus a larger accomodation for 5. It's right outside MA park, therefore close proximity to beach and has pizza/movie night for kids (and adults). Another mid-priced hotel recommended here a lot is Costa Verde.

x-fer to SJO via Interbus (or driver). Last night near airport.

Anyway, just a thought. If you decide to go that way you could save some cash and maybe even decide to stay a couple more days... I just took my 10 year old by myself and went all over. It's very doable!
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 11:11 AM
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It is just around the same price to hire a private driver. We hired a driver in Feb. and it was great being able to stop where you want to ect..We also had the same driver the whole time we were in Costa Rica so by the end of the trip we became very friendly. Have fun, it's a great place to visit with family.
ttraveler is offline  
Jul 11th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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I agree with hvc, it's so easy to plan & arrange your self, not sure if it's less or more, but wouldn't hurt to just run it up and see how they compare. Post what you're looking on average to spend a night, as our moderate may not be your idea of moderate or vice-versa
tully is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 02:02 PM
  #12  
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THANKS EVERYONE! Yeah, I decided to put together our trip independently to save money and to allow for greater flexibiity! I'm excited now! My main Q now is on private transfers between locations. We don't want to take a public bus. How easy is it to arrange a drive/avn to et us ebtween locations (just as needed, not for the whole week). e.g. SJ to La Fortuna, La Fortuna to Manual Antonio. Jenn
Kaz_Mom is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 02:21 PM
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If you want the really easy route, your hotels will arrange drivers for you. That's what we've always done.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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As volcanogirl mentions, it is easy to have your hotel coordinate private x-fer's for you. For a family of 4, private x-fer could be comparable to Interbus. i.e., Interbus x-fer from Arenal to MA will 2 adults and 2 children $90. I suggest requesting quotes from your hotel, and checking out the Interbus site for price comparisons.

Glad you decided to give yourself some flexibility

Happy travels!
hipvirgochick is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 03:55 PM
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Excellent idea to coordinate everything yourself; we found CR to be very user-friendly. Everything you need to know is on the boards.
volcanogirl is offline  
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