First Trip to Costa Rica

Dec 4th, 2005, 04:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
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First Trip to Costa Rica

My wife and I are planning our first trip to Costa Rica in June 2006. We are looking to spend 7 - 8 nights and have initally decided to spend 2 nights in Arenal, 2 nights in Monteverde and 2 nights in Manuel Antonio. We would consider a beach area for another night if it was in the vicinity of these other stops. I saw a website LATINAMERICA4LESS.COM which has a very reasonable tour called "The Best of Costa Rica" which includes all transfers and hotels. If anyone knows anything about this website please let me know. Since I've read many negative things about renting a car, I am looking at tours which includes all transfers. Finally, is it worthwhile staying in San Jose since many people I've spoken to say that you should skip it and move on to other areas. Any comments will be greatly appreciated.
rich99 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2005, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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You can stay in San jose to visit the museums or cultural places like that in San Jose capital or even a nearby Volcano! (Volcan Poas, Volcan Irazu). You can also go visit the EARTH University in Heredia (about 15 mins from SJ) which has a very nice tour inside the park. Those would be my recommendations if you decide to stay in San Jose.
costaricandotws is offline  
Dec 4th, 2005, 11:37 PM
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We stayed in both Monteverde and Arenal (and Manuel Antonio). I suggest since your time is short, that you choose either Arenal or Monteverde. Unless you have a biologist in the family, I think for the average visitor, one or the other is sufficient for one trip, there is plenty to do and see, one has a cloud forest, the other a rainforest. Of course Arenal also has the volcano.

Also I think Monteverde needs a minimum of 3 nights, due to the rough drive up there (even if someone else is driving you, you will still be on the rough road.) Monteverde was my favorite of the 3, and I plan to return someday with hubby, but I wouldn't go to Monteverde for less than 3 nights.

Arenal for 2 nights would be all right, but 3 is better, more chance to do activities.

You probably know this, but the beaches within the Manuel Antonio national park are quite nice. But many of the nicer Manuel Antonio hotels are outside the park, set onto the hillside.

sorry don't know about your package. I prefer to choose my own hotels and book them directly. You can also book the transfers if you don't want to drive. We rented a car.
Melissa5 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2005, 04:16 AM
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Typically a good split of time for a week long trip, would include 2 destinations. IMHO 2 nights at 3 destinations does not give you enough time to get your bearings and certainly not enough to fully enjoy your surroundings.

However it can be done if you don't mind rushing around. And there are some areas in CR that have only 1 or 2 high interest areas, which would only need a 1 or 2 night stay. However, the 3 you have chosen offer much to keep you busy. Typically, I prefer to allot 3 nights each destination.

You may have looked at a map and think that these 3 areas look relatively close. However Arenal is 3-4 hours from SJ, Monteverde is 4-5 hours from Arenal, Manuel Antonio probably 6 hours from Monteverde and then you have 3-4 hours back to SJ. So as you can see, you will spend much of 4 days just getting from point A to point B.

As for driving, yes there are some negative post about driving, but I believe if you continue to read this forum, you will find more positive than negative. With that said if I were going to travel this much in this few days, then a driver would probably be a wise investment.

Much of your intinerary will depend also on the time of your international flight arrival and departure. Upon arrival it will take you between 30 mins and 2 hours to get through the airport. Upon departure you will need to be at the airport 2-3 hours prior to departure. It gets dark around 6PM in CR. Driving after dark is certainly not advisable, however with a driver this should not be a problem.

Many of the prearranged travel packages will move you along at this pace and are more designed to give you a taste of the country.

If you are more comfortable with booking a tour package, then I am of the belief that that is what you personally need to do. However keep in mind that you can also create your own persoanl experience, and choose your destinations and hotels and still hire a driver for the transfers - then book tours for your daily excursions.

Lastly for SJ, there is a city tour that is offered from most of the outlying hotels. This may be a good alternative, so that you can stay just outside the city but also see a bit of the culture of the city.

Hope some of this helped, next question!?
dfarmer is offline  
Dec 5th, 2005, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6
I believe most of the "tour" packages you're traveling with others hence not going at YOUR OWN pace & HOPEFULLY you'll like the people. Is that ok with you??
VallartaVicki is offline  
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