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family trip what do you think?

Old May 20th, 2008, 11:41 AM
  #1  
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family trip what do you think?

Day1 arrive from US .driver Willy to Arenal
Stay los lagos I was unsure about this hotel but,I have a fifteen year old daughter and it sounds nice for kids
Day2 possible volcano hike?night hie? and la fortuna falls on our own.I have heard about taking supplies to an orphange in fortuna to children am looking into this any info?
Day 3 zip line tour unsure which one would like to have nice views of volcano??? I thought about hot springs am wondering since we have hot springs at hotel should we save the money?
Day 4 fly from arenal via san jose to Osa natureir renting beach house yellow coco lodge
Day 5 horse back ride forest and beach private chef coming and giving daughter cooking lesson
Day6 dolphin boat ride and animal sancury tour. Beach BBQ at iguana lodge
Day7 relax by beach possible visit local school .or hike
Day8 fly to San jose staying at pura vida hotel doing their market and dinner/tour has anyone tried this? This hotel also allows us to bring books to a costa rican school I think this will be great to do.
Day9 fly home
I am wondering in arenal if we should do cano negro wondering if I will see similar wildlife in Osa?

open to any suggestions or thoughts we like adventure with some relaxation time and local culture.
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Old May 20th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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Hi cmazza,

Your itinerary sounds nice!

For ziplines, SkyTrek offers terrific views of both the volcano and Lake Arenal. It's a very professionally run organization and was very fun!

Regarding hot springs, it sort of depends on what type of experience you're after. The main hot spring areas are going to offer lots of pools with different temps and manmade waterfalls, lush landscaping, meal buffet, swim up bar, etc... I would suspect the hot spring area at Los Lagos is considerably smaller and more simple with fewer amenities, although I haven't personally visited that hotel.

Regarding Cano Negro vs. Osa wildlife viewing; you have the possibility to see many of the same animals in both places. Some of the bird species will definitely differ. The Cano Negro tour is really a lot of fun, and since you go with a guide, you learn a lot about the animals and eco-system in the area. Cano Negro does take up most of a day, so you would need to cut something else out of your itinerary in order to fit it in.

For a possible night hike option, I know that you can do guided hikes at the Hanging Bridges in Arenal. I think that would be a lot of fun, and once again, you would learn a lot from a guide.

Arenal and the Osa is a great combo for your trip. Sounds wonderful!
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Old May 20th, 2008, 02:01 PM
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We really loved Cano Negro; we saw some different wildlife than we saw in the Osa - sloths, caimans, and a wide variety of birds, but really we just loved it because doing a ride down the river in a boat was such a fun and different experience. If you decide to do it, Sunset Tours is a great group to go with. Like cm said, a hot springs like Tabacon is going to be a lot swankier than one offered by Los Lagos - the grounds are really pretty with a lot more options, but it's also pricey, so you have to decide what's important to you. Maybe check out their website and see if it interest you.
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Old May 20th, 2008, 02:37 PM
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cmerrell and volcano girl, can you do a night tour at the hanging bridge? where do I get a guide for this? or can I get one at the hanging bridge park?
do you think a teen would enjoy the hot springs or is it a laid back have a drink type of place?
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Old May 20th, 2008, 05:12 PM
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I think a teen would love Tabacon; it's got a water slide that I couldn't get my thirty-something year old husband off of! They also have a swim-up bar area where you can buy hot dogs, popcorn, etc. Also neat waterfall that you can walk through and sit behind, etc. It's a bit Disneyish with colored lights and things like that. It's quite big, so lots of exploring to do. As far as the Hanging Bridges, they do have guides available at the entry where you pay your admittance. I'm not sure what time they close. We ate lunch there, and the food was much higher quality than the snack bar food we were expecting.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 08:34 AM
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I would have loved Tabacon at age 15! It's really quite opulent and dramatic, with lots to explore at VG has said.

I distinctly remember seeing guided night hikes listed on the Hanging Bridges website when I was researching Arenal for our 2006 trip. I don't see any listed there now, but it probably wouldn't hurt to enquire.

Their site is:

http://www.hangingbridges.com/

You could also check with your hotel tour desk or with one of the tour companies in town (such as Sunset Tours) to see what night hiking opportunities might exist in the area.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 02:47 PM
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I emailed hanging bridges they replied they no longer offer night tour
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Old May 21st, 2008, 03:00 PM
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I think Sunset Tours offers a night time volcano hike if that interests you.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:42 PM
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Volcano girl I will check sunset tours. I see you highly recommend cano negro do you know how it compares to osa wild life? If you could do only one hike either volcano hike , la fortuna falls or hanging bridges what would it be?I only have 2 full days and 3 nights. I want to do zip line and I think cano negro which leeaves me a 1/2 tour left to many choices thanks
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Let's see - we loved both Cano Negro and the Osa. There are some overlaps like the monkeys, but we really enjoyed Cano Negro just because being out on the river was so much fun, and we saw howlers, capuchins, sloths, caimains, and a huge variety of water birds. On the Osa, we saw all 4 kinds of monkeys, an anteater, toucans, and scarlet macaws. Honestly we loved both, and I would do both again. The Cano Negro tour was just a fun day because our guide was excellent, giving us great details about all the wildlife, and we all got up and walked around the boat to help with the spotting. Also got to see huge iguanas on the bridge and enjoy a great Tico lunch.

Honestly, I liked the Hanging Bridges, but we did not see any wildlife there at all, and I really love to see the wildlife, so I didn't love it. If we had hired a guide we might have had better luck, but a lot of people don't see anything there. Also the volcano was completely fogged in that day, so we didn't even get the big volcano view. We're doing the volcano night hike in July, but have not done it yet. Same with the falls. We had seen so many falls on our last trip that we decided to skip it. I think the Peace Lodge is hard to beat on that.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 03:49 PM
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Re the hot springs in Arenal. We stayed at Los Lagos, and visited the hot springs at Tabacon one night. Frankly, I wished we would have saved my money, because we enjoyed the hot springs at Los Lagos every bit as much. At Los Lagos, there are two large pools, one with a swim-up bar, two water slides (better than the one at Tabacon, per my family), and several smaller hot springs. Maybe we would have enjoyed Tabacon more if we had gone in the daytime (we went at night), because we couldn't really see much of the landscaping, etc. because it was so dark.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 06:11 AM
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This thread is helping me because we will have only 2 nights in Arenal next March, so will have to pick and choose our activities wisely. I am wondering if Tabacon is a little bit like LaPaz (the lush green plants, mossy rocks, flowing water) except with warm water that you can relax in and smaller falls. We thought LaPaz was beautiful. Good to know about the hanging bridges, volcanogirl. Will be anxious to hear about your volcano night hike since we will be staying at AOL.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 07:20 AM
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Everyone has given you great advice but I'll jump in because I was there in February with 4 teenagers, including a 15 year old girl.

The teens *loved* Tabacon. We didn't want to spend an entire day there so we bought an evening pass and that worked well for us - plus the air was a bit cool, almost chilly, so the warm water felt great. Anyone who says Tabacon is a tourist trap is 100% correct. It is crowded, pricey, loaded with tours etc... but it was still a very worthwhile experience for the kids because it was so out of the ordinary for them. The main pool with the water slide is almost like a night club in the water so I think the teens felt like they were getting an "adult" experience. Nothing like their life back home! They really had a great time. Many Fodors posters advised against purchasing the Tabacon dinner package and it was GREAT advice!!! I am so glad we didn't have dinner there!

We also did Cano Negro with mixed reviews. Sunset Tours did a great job but it felt like a very long day - the bus ride just to get there was over 2 hours. Also, I think the kids thought they were going to see huge crocs - like at Tarcoles Bridge - but you see caiman, which are small so they were a little disappointed. The tour was not misrepresented, it was our own incorrect assumption. There was also a lot of bird watching, which got a bit monotonous for some of the kids and many of the adults. My 7 year old son enjoyed it the most and now he is really interested in learning more about birds so for him it was absolutely worth it! It was by no means a wasted day but I probably would have chosen a different tour if I were to do it again. If it had been a 4-hour tour, instead of 8-9 hours, it would have been much better for our group.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 08:10 AM
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Hi janenicole,

I would say that the Tabacon grounds are a bit more 'formal' and indicative of a swanky resort hotel, whereas La Paz has a little more of a botanical garden feel, if that makes any sense at all!

The Tabacon grounds are definitely gorgeous and even though the waterfalls, streams and pools are manmade, it's still a fairly breathtaking sight. Definitely a tourist trap as Cathy notes, but as long as you know that going in, it's all good!

Cmazza,

I already threw my 2 cents in regarding Cano Negro. I know its hard to narrow down the itinerary when there's so much available to do in the Arenal area!

I think it comes down to how important wildlife viewing is to your family. I'm a bona fide wildlife junkie, so I'm always going to choose activities that increase my chances of seeing animals, birds, etc over most other options offered. Cano Negro is really wonderful if you have an interest in wildlife (as is the Osa peninsula).

For your other half day excursion, I really don't think you'll be disappointed with anything you choose. The volcano hike, waterfall, and hanging bridges all get high marks from lots of people. We chose the Hanging Bridges on our trip. Like VG, we didn't see much wildlife (a few spider monkeys and some cool birds), but we enjoyed being up in the tree canopy and thought the park was really beautiful. It was easy logistically to fit the bridges in with a trip to SkyTrek, which was another reason we chose it. Next time around, I would probably choose La Fortuna Waterfall as I have not seen that yet.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 08:23 AM
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I previously stayed at Los Lagos and loved the resort. The hot pool, which is a large pool, is really nice after a long day of hiking, and then to be able to swim up to the bar for a frozen drink just did the trick. My only suggestion, if the weather/sky is clear, and you have the time, is to go up the hill, which turns into a dirt road, and go to the observatory. You get an incredible view of the Volcano from there. It is awesome. Hope you have a great trip.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 08:59 AM
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janie, for us Tabacon and La Paz did not have the same vibe. La Paz seems like a big, beautiful river and falls, more natural; Tabacon felt like a combo of Disneyland and resort hotel and club. It has loads of people, colored lights, and the kind of landscaping that you'd find at a theme park - did not have a very natural vibe for us, but we did enjoy it. It sort of reminded me of a water park.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 10:05 AM
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Thanks, vg and cmerrel - those are great descriptions. I wonder if Eco Thermales has a more "natural" feel to it? Have either of you been there?
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 11:34 AM
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janenicole -- Eco-Thermales is a fairly natural and lush setting. Very well laid out and we enjoyed the night there immensely.

I would recommend Los Lagos to anyone with children of any age who are swimmers and like waterslides. Our second time to Arenal we didn't even visit the hot springs because as mentioned before, the hot pool is wonderful and the slides are pretty exciting! (Just be careful on the big one, it's windy and extremely fast)! There are a few cold pools, hot pool and jacuzzis laid out on a hill so once you get there it's hard to justify paying more money to go to another hot spring.

The swim up bar is a nice hang out for the adults (and is in the warm pool) and on the other side you can order food to take to the poolside or have at the bar area (the food was ok, but not spectacular).
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 01:24 PM
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CathyF what tours did you do and what were the kids favorites If I take out cano negro I can probably do canopy,volcano hike, falls and bridge but would be busy none of these have wild life viewing. just when I think I know I get another option this will be my second trip amd I still will need to go on a third
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 01:35 PM
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It's been a few years since I stayed at Los Lagos, but I loved it. The pools are great, and the slides were pretty zippy, but the thing I enjoyed most was being so close to the volcano - we could hear the rocks and boulders as they rolled down. As someone else mentioned, the walk up to the observation point is definitely worth doing. When I was there they also had horses on the property and extensive gardens with fish, ducks, lizards, and an alligator (crocodile?)or two.

As for the falls, I can honestly say that the pictures I have from my visit there are some of my favorites from my time in Costa Rica. I've visited plenty of waterfalls, but the size, force, and beauty of these cannot be overstated. I'd say they're a don't miss.
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