First Time To Costa Rica - HELP!!!

Old Apr 27th, 2002, 09:33 PM
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First Time To Costa Rica - HELP!!!

Hi Everyone,
It's my first time here and I need some help please! My husband and I only have one week in Costa Rica and we were planning the following by car. Please let me know if you think this itinerary is doable. If not, what do you suggest?

We'd like to go white water rafting, Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall, the tree canopy tour in Monteverde and a little beach and kayaking at Manuel Antonio. My only concern is that Manuel Antonio might be too crowded. We live in Miami Beach which is touristy and although we don't mind some tourism, we don't want a mini Miami Beach.

Our plan is:
One day white water rafting on Pacuare river
One day in Arenal / La Fortuna
One day in Monteverde
Two days in Manuel Antonio

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Old Apr 28th, 2002, 08:59 AM
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It looks like you may be trying to do too much in too little time. Remember that the distance from Arenal to Monteverde is at least 4 hours if not more.
If I were you I would skip either Arenal or Monteverde (ie do 2 days at one of those destinations).
Crowded and touristy in Costa Rica are relative terms. Manuel Antonio is definitely more commercialised than a lot of other places in CR but it is still just a small town with a bunch of small hotels spread out in the forest and on the beach. I think you'll like it.
An alternative would be Guanacaste and some of the less touristy places like Samara or Nosara.
Enjoy your trip.
Old Apr 28th, 2002, 06:08 PM
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Thank you for responding! We won't be able to pick either Arenal or Monteverde because I want to visit one of the national parks (rainforest/cloudforest)and my husband wants to go to Arenal. We both want to go White Water Rafting, so maybe we need to leave out Manuel Antonio.

Personally, I'd rather fly to Corcovado than drive to Monteverde but it doesn't seem that two days in Corcovado in enough.

We're meeting my brother in-law and his wife in San Jose. Although I didn't want to stay in SJ I don't think we have a choice. Can you recommend a clean, safe and resonably priced place to stay in SJ?
Thanks again.
Old May 2nd, 2002, 10:18 AM
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In my opinion Arenal is a MUST SEE!! We didn't have time for Monteverde, but will make it a must do on our next trip. I think that Arenal was one of the coolest things I've seen in my life. I can picture it in my mind right now. It was so cool!!!

Old May 2nd, 2002, 11:20 AM
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A lot of tourists seem to think that Monteverde is the only place to experience a Costa Rica cloud forest. This is not at all the case. The Los Angeles Cloud Forest is more easily accessible to travelers going between San Jose and Arenal. Also, you could drive south of San Jose, only about 1.5 hours before you are at 8,000 feet in the Talamanca Mountains and in a very impressive cloud forest that (in my opinion) is better than Monteverde. We stayed at the Genesis II Nature Reserve, and received private guided tours of the trail system with an incredibly experienced guide. Accommodations are a bit rustic, but this was still a highlight of our trip.
Old May 2nd, 2002, 12:55 PM
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Manuel Antonio is about as "UN" Miami Beach as you can get. As Iza explained it is more commercialized than other places in Costa Rica, but all things are relative. If you still want to include a beach experience in your itinerary, consider going to Tamarindo (still on Pacific side, but further north and closer to Arenal / Monteverde than is Manuel Antonio). Another choice that I've read about (not gotten there yet) is Jaco Beach.

Agree with Tia on Arenal --- COOL ! How many times do you have opportunity to see an active volcano?
Old May 2nd, 2002, 01:40 PM
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We just got back from Costa Rica and it was great! We chose to get out of the city of San Jose right away. We stayed at which had an Internet special of $69-/person for one night and 2 meals.We got there and had a drink with a plate of fresh fruit and mellowed right out. The food there was amazing! We went to which is 40 minutes from Arenal Volcano and went on a tour to the volcano with a stop at Tobacan hot mineral springs one eve.Next day we river rafted.Hotel was OK, grounds were pretty, food was real local, tours available from hotel were amazing! Ask for the guide Roger if you go. Travel is slow, so Monteverde is tough. We chose to skip the 4 hour bouncing ride and went to other rain forests. We ended at in Alejuelo for the last 3 days and it was heaven! Check out their web-site.It's even better than it looks. We had dinners on our private veranda with a phenomenal view each night.
Enjoy your trip!
Old May 2nd, 2002, 02:55 PM
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Have a recommendation for a hotel in SJ. Were there about 6 weeks ago and stayed at the Gran de Oro based on recommendations from others who had stayed there. It's an old house converted to a hotel.........absolutely terrific. It is small though and we couldn't get reservations for all our days there.

At Arenal, stay at Tobacon Resort. Not the cheapest but would highly recommend.

If you need to cut a stop, I'd cut Manuel Antonio. we loved it but it is not as unique as the other places you have planned.

Have fun!
Old May 2nd, 2002, 03:13 PM
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I second the recommendation for Xandari. We stayed there 2 years ago and loved it. An added bonus is that it is only 10 or 15 minutes from the international airport so is very convenient for 1st or last night in CR and a wonderful alternative to staying in San Jose.
Old May 2nd, 2002, 03:18 PM
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One more comment regarding Arenal. We were there last year in August for 2 days and were not able to see the volcano at all because of rain, clouds and fog. Be prepared for that. From what I read your chances of actually seeing it are rather slim (even in the dry season it is often clouded in). Despite the fact that we did not see the volcano we still liked that area of Costa Rica a lot and particularly enjoyed the Tabacon hot springs.
Old May 7th, 2002, 06:34 PM
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There's agreat new place called Neo tropico. Rain Forest, Archeological gardens, botanical gardens and the sarapiqui river. very cool and unique!! I would Skip Monteverde and go there> Phyllis
Old May 8th, 2002, 03:06 AM
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I wouldn't consider going south to the place that RALF recommends. Below is somebody's statement on that place

Date: 02/02/2002, 08:02 am
Message: We checked out Genesis II and it is, like Alf said, very rustic place and not funcy. However, for what you get there it is a very expensive place. For the same price in the same area you can easily find a place where you will have your private bathroom with hot water showers.


Old May 8th, 2002, 08:24 AM
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I agree with the above posters that Arenal is a must. We took a day trip there and went to the Tabacan Resort and enjoyed the hot springs. We also lucked out becuase while we were enjoying happy hour at the pool bar the volcano errupted and there were no clouds at first. After about 10 minutes the clouds rolled in but you could still see the lava run down the side. I guess we were one of the lucky ones, but did throughly enjoy the experience. One word on Jaco Beach. The beach has black sand, and the ocean is more for surfers than to swim in, at least it was when we were there.
Old May 9th, 2002, 12:15 PM
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My husband and I went to SJ, Arenal and Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, etc. SJ is not a place I would stay in longer than you must however, there are some good restaurants if you travel to the suburbs.

Arenal is WONDERFUL! We stayed at Tabacon and had a clear view of the erupting from our hotel room at night. We also went to a small restaurant down the street from Tabacon, it looks like an old gas station but let me tell you, we sat outside and had a delicious meal (for $20) and watched the erupting volcano during dinner. It was my favorite night of the entire trip. As for Monteverde, I was not in love, there are far better places in Costa Rice to see in my opinion. I'd say skip it - the tree canopy tours are pretty short and most of the time is not spent in the trees.

If you do end up going to Monteverde from Arenal, look into sending your bags by car and horseback riding there yourselves. The distance between the two is quite short however as the roads are so bad, by car it takes 4 hours.

We really enjoyed Manuel Antonio, it was very relaxing and it was fun to go hiking and to the beaches and see monkeys everywhere but again, if you're only there one week, you may find more culturally enriching places.

Enjoy your trip!!!

Old May 10th, 2002, 01:38 PM
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Sorry I hadn't responded to your comments earlier, but I really do thank you for all the input & suggestions. I'll look into all the suggestions and if I have additional questions I will post them and I hope you'll be kind enough to respond again.
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