First Time in Costa Rica for 3-4 Weeks

Old Oct 5th, 2013, 12:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19
First Time in Costa Rica for 3-4 Weeks

We are in the planning stage for this trip for February/ March; our dates are totally flexible. We were originally going to do a home exchange, but changed our minds. We are a retired couple who likes the beach, hiking, food, some adventure. We are thinking of flying to San Juan, and from there spending a week or so in the Monteverde (actually have a friend living there) Arsenal region. We want to see/hike the volcano, very much into coffee, so will do a fair # of coffee tours. Also want to see/hike cloud forests, rain forests, suspended bridges.
We would go from there (renting a 4 wheel drive) to a house rental for a week in Samsara for yoga and beach. Thought of renting a house right on Jaco Beach, but am wondering about 'vibe'. We are not into partying.
Would like to run itinerary by this forum, when all is said and done.
Any input greatly appreciated.
Rosalie is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2013, 02:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,951
Some time in the Central Valley would be a good idea--that's where the coffee farms are, as well as two volcanoes.

P. S. It's San Jose--don't book tickets to San Juan!
RAC is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2013, 02:37 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,187
Monteverde and Arenal are two separate areas, so if you want to spend time in each, you need to book them separately. We stayed at Fonda Vela in Monteverde and thought it was really nice. Nice grounds, and we had a frig and a tub. They have a good restaurant on site and a pool. It's one of the hotels closest to the reserve, and we saw toucans on the property. You can see the cloud forest there. The Arenal area is one of our favorites. You can do the Hanging Bridges there. I'd hire a guide to increase your chances of seeing wildlife since it can be hard to spot. Desafio and Sunset Tours are both good tour companies. We did the Doka Coffee Estate tour in the Central Valley and really liked it. We paired it with going to Poas and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Jaco has a reputation for being a party spot. We really like Manuel Antonio - Tulemar Bungalows is very nice, and there are lots of other choices. The national park is full of wildlife. Have not been to Samara, but it gets good reviews. You can use Desafio's Jeep Boat Jeep service to go between the Arenal and Monteverde area if you don't want to drive. If you want to get away from it all, the Osa Peninsula is pretty amazing.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2013, 10:57 AM
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 20
I can add, about coffee, one of my favourite one in San Rafael Norte (near San Isidro del General). The name: Madre Tierra.
Organic coffee, the best I had in Costa Rica.

Tarrazu is the popular region for coffee, certainly worth to be known, not only for coffee but also for the beauty and people living here.

Manuel Antonio is great! I prefer it to Jaco.

Up North, why not go off the beaten path, somewhere around Playa San Miguel, Guanacaste? Nice place!

And yes, OSA is amazing...Corcovado National Park with a stay at La Leona Ecolodge is my favourite.
Don't miss the small villages like Ojochal, Uvita and Dominical.

Hope this helps!
Cris004 is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 09:16 AM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 10
This could be a possible itinerary:

DAY 1:
- Arrival at SJO Airport.
- Overnight in San Jose.

- Combo Tour (3 in 1) to Doka Coffee Estate, Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
- Overnight in San Jose.

- Transfer to La Fortuna (Arenal Volcano area).
- En route you could make a stop at Sarchi (if you have a rental car); a town known for its arts and crafts as well as Ox Cart factories.
-Overnight in La Fortuna.

- Tour to La Fortuna Waterfall and Hanging Bridges (could include a visit to the Hot Springs, such as Baldi, Tabacon, The Springs, etc.)
- Overnight in La Fortuna.

- Since you mentioned you like adventure, this day you could take a zip-lining tour with Sky Adventures or maybe a white water rafting tour on the Balsa River. If you prefer hiking you can tour the Arenal Volcano National Park or do the strenuous but well worth hike to the breathtaking Rio Celeste.
- Overnight in La Fortuna.

- Transfer to Monteverde. If you are not driving then you could take the van-boat-van transfer which is becoming very popular as it’s very scenic, faster and cheaper than the regular shuttle transfers.
- In the evening you could take a Night Walk Tour in the area to see the nocturnal wildlife.
- Overnight in Monteverde.

- Hiking tour to one of the Cloud Forest Reserves. Personally I’d choose the Santa Elena Reserve as it’s less visited giving you better chances to spot more animals.
- Overnight in Monteverde.

- Tour to El Trapiche (Coffee and Sugar Mill). I added a coffee tour because you said you wanted to a number of coffee tours.
- In the afternoon you could take a tour with the Monteverde Trainforest, you travel on a cute train through the Cloud Forest, there’s also some hiking and finally and look-out point where you can see the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal from the distance, the views are incredible.
- Overnight in Monteverde.

- Transfer to Samara where you’ll spend 1 Week.

While staying in Samara you could enjoy the following activities: Stand-up Paddling, Ocean Kayaking to Isla Chora, Snorkeling, Boat tour to Palo Verde National Park with a visit to Guatil, Mountain Biking, Turtle Nesting (seasonal), Hiking Tour in the Tropical Dry Forest of “Werner Sauter Refuge” Wildlife Refuge, horseback riding and many more.

At the end of the trip you can return to San José one day before your flight or you can also flight out of LIR Airport, the distance from Samara to this Airport in Liberia is around 2 hours.

Since you enjoy hiking I’d stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge while visiting La Fortuna, they have a big property with different hiking trails and also include a free guided walk with your stay.

I hope this helps you plan your trip.

P.S: Stay away from Jaco if you are not into partying. Samara is a far better choice, it's more quiet and the beaches are really nice.

Best wishes,
CostaRicaDW is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2013, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 10
That was a suggestion for a 2-week trip. Since you have more flexibility you could also consider the following destinations: Osa Peninsula (unspoiled and beautiful), you could stay in Drake Bay. Uvita is great too. San Gerardo de Dota with more cloud forests and even the Southern Caribbean where there are different hiking opportunities and heavenly beaches.
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Old Oct 8th, 2013, 09:36 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 24,187
If you end up going to Monteverde, we really enjoyed hiking in the reserve there and doing the night hike at Hidden Valley. It's fun trooping around in the dark with flashlights.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2013, 05:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19
Thanks for all the feedback. I barely managed to get airline tickets on Jetblue. Our travel dates are now from Jan 21st thru Feb 18th. I've listed our itinerary below (as far as I've gotten) & again, appreciate any feedback anyone might have.

Day 1
Arrive in San Jose late afternoon, be picked up and stay at Casa Bella Rita Boutique B&B. Rental car will be there.

Day 2
Explore area, coffee plantations, possibly stay overnight at B&B

Day 3
Drive to El Castillo for house rental for 5 days.

Day 8
Drive to Monteverde, for 4 days. Need place to stay.

Day 12
Drive to Montezuma for house rental for 6 days.

Day 18-22

Day 23
Drive to Dominical for 5 day house rental on the beach

Day 28
Drive back to Casa Rita B&B for last evening, and airport delivery next morning.

Rosalie is offline  
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