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Family trip to Costa Rica in December.

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Mar 21st, 2017, 11:54 AM
  #1
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Family trip to Costa Rica in December.

Dear Friends

I'm planning to have a family vacation to Costa Rica in the middle of Decemebr ( 17-25 ). Need your advice with my planning. Where we should go, which airport, transportation and meals etc. Is it better to book all inclusive resort through any site or book them separately like airfare, lodging, car etc. I don't have any idea about this country.
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Mar 21st, 2017, 04:00 PM
  #2
 
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It depends on what you'd like to see and do. A lot of people like to do a combination of the Arenal area with Manuel Antonio for their first trip - good infrastructure, beach, volcano, adventure activities, wildlife, waterfall, etc. We always fly in and out of SJO; if you decided to go to the Guanacaste area, you'd be looking at Liberia. All inclusives aren't all that popular in CR. We always book everything separately. Be aware that prices can skyrocket around Christmas.
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Mar 22nd, 2017, 10:17 AM
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I agree with Volcano girl. Do a little research on what you would like to do and where you would like to go. Then come back with more specific questions. With one week, I would limit the trip to 1 or 2 locations.
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Mar 22nd, 2017, 12:44 PM
  #4
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Thanks for your responses. I agree with your suggestions. As we are a group of four with two girls of 18 and 8, we love to do volcano, adventure activities, beach etc. As you mentioned, we will keep Arenal and Manual Antonio on our list. I think it will cover most of the activities...My intial plan is...rent a car at the airport, driving to Arsenal, stay there for 4 nights - driving to Manual Antonio, staying there for 3 N, driving to SJO airport, stay one night close to the airport and fly back to USA....Any suggestions..
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Mar 22nd, 2017, 04:15 PM
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That sounds like a good plan. There's a place called the Peace Lodge that you may want to go to for a night. It has the La Paz Waterfall Gardens - very popular with families. For your last night, you might think about the Toucan Rescue Ranch. It's about 40 minutes from the airport or so; you get to have breakfast with baby sloths, and you get your own little casita there. If you want a city hotel, Grano de Oro is a neat historic place. Xandari has amazing views and some trails you can hike with a few small waterfalls. If you want an American chain, the Marriott is really nice, built on a coffee plantation and has a nice pool area with a great little dessert and coffee shop.
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Mar 23rd, 2017, 06:14 AM
  #6
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Thank you so much volcanogirl. We really appreciate your suggestions.
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Mar 23rd, 2017, 10:11 AM
  #7
 
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You're welcome, s - glad to help. Desafio is a good company for tours in the Arenal area if you need one and Manuel Antonio Expeditions in MA.
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Mar 24th, 2017, 02:17 PM
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I, too, am heading to Costa Rica with my adult children next Christmas. Likely the last true family vaca with just my husband and three kids. Soon it will be more complicated with a fiancé, wife, etc!). Anyway, any suggestions for a really cool boutique hotel in Manuel Antonio. We enjoy beautiful vistas, cozy bars, good food, beautiful grounds, a fairly quiet and unique setting. I want this to be special- we love hanging together, having some cocktails and enjoying the setting. We intend on being active during the day at the park, but like the idea of a sanctuary at night. Thoughts?
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Mar 24th, 2017, 03:52 PM
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Our favorite beach spot is Tulemar Bungalows in Manuel Antonio. Lots of good open air restaurants nearby that you can walk to.
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Apr 10th, 2017, 05:58 AM
  #10
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Hi Volcano girl, just want to ask for a suggestion. After spending 3N in Arenal and 2N in manual Antonio, want to come back to San Jose on Dec 26 to catch our flight on Dec 27 at 10:15 am. Can you give me some suggestion in terms of where to stay at San Jose for a night to get a chance to go around and see some historic places.
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Apr 10th, 2017, 07:35 AM
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Hi, S - there aren't a lot of historic places to see. For the most part, San Jose isn't a very pretty city - crowded, traffic, lots of razor wire, etc. There are some museums - gold, jade, etc. I mentioned a few hotels above that you could take a look at. If you go anywhere at night, I'd probably take a taxi.
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Apr 10th, 2017, 09:49 AM
  #12
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Thanks Volcanogirl for your valuable advice. We will arrive at 9:15 am in San Jose ( SJO ) airport. Renting a taxi to go to La Fortuna for 3N. Then drive to Manuel Antonio for 2N and 1 N in San Jose before our departure on the 27th. Will not be able to see Monteverde this time with two girls of 8 and 18. So, should I book hotel room at La Fortuna or Arenal. While I was searching Arenal , it was showing Nuevo Arenal. Learned from other posts that there are not much to do at that area and better to stay at La Fortuna...Your opinion on this, please ?
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Apr 10th, 2017, 10:33 AM
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La Fortuna and Arenal are the same place. The town is called La Fortuna, and the volcano is called Arenal, but people refer to them interchangeably. Nuevo Arenal is far from things, so better to book La Fortuna/Arenal. We've stayed at Nayara, the Arenal Observatory Lodge, the Lost Iguana, and The Springs Resort and Spa (Groupon) and have enjoyed all of those. Silencio del Campo is another popular spot, and Tabacon.
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Apr 10th, 2017, 12:49 PM
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Hi, I have another question for you as you know a lot about this beautiful country. As I'm planning for Arenal and Manuel Antonio, I found that it is a long drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio. Is there any other touristic spot near Arenal which I can visit for two days and come back to San Jose for return. Otherwise, I've to spend few hours on the road from Arenal - Manuel Antonio - San Jose. Thanks !
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Apr 10th, 2017, 02:22 PM
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That's really just part of going to Costa Rica; you have to spend a lot of time getting from place to place. Arenal to Manuel Antonio is about five hours or so. You can stop at the Rio Tarcoles bridge and see huge crocs down below; it's a neat spot. You can also buy a fresh fruit smoothie/batido there. You could take a look at flying on Sansa or Nature Air to shorten your trip, but it's not really a bad drive as long as you go in daylight.



If you don't want to go to Manuel Antonio, you could stay somewhere like the Peace Lodge if it's in your budget - do the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, the Doka Coffee Estate tour, Poas Volcano, etc.
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Apr 11th, 2017, 05:10 AM
  #16
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Beautiful ! Thanks for such a great advice. I was a little bit scared of driving after reading all these posts about bad roads, no signs etc. I will plan driving at daylight - no question about that. As I'm renting a car, prefer to drive from place to place. Thank you again for such a good advice. By the way, I don't have any problem with my budget, but while I was checking the availability of rooms from your suggested hotels/resort , nothing is available during this Christmas time.
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Apr 11th, 2017, 07:33 AM
  #17
 
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You're welcome, glad it helped! Also if you drive a car, never leave anything in it unattended. We've always felt safe everywhere we've gone, but car break-ins do happen. Wow, people really do book early for Christmas - that's a bummer. I hope you can find some spots you like.
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Apr 11th, 2017, 08:33 AM
  #18
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Just curious, is it possible to cover Monteverde with this trip. I was thinking 2N in Arenal instead of 3N and spend 1N in Monteverde. From there, driving for 2 N to Manuel Antonio and back to San Jose for 1N before departure. What do you think, please ! Also, read other posts that you are the Expert on CR...Thanks !
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Apr 11th, 2017, 10:03 AM
  #19
 
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No, I'd pick either Manuel Antonio or Monteverde and pair it with Arenal. You don't really have time to do all these different spots in such a short time frame. It's a long bumpy road to get to Monteverde; you definitely don't want to go for just one night and leave. Arenal is worth at least three nights.
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Apr 11th, 2017, 10:12 AM
  #20
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Thanks you so much. You really helped me a lot. Bought my air tkts, now planning to book our accommodations as it is getting difficult to find a hotel I want to book as per your advice.
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