First trip to Costa Rica

Old Apr 12th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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First trip to Costa Rica

Hi!
We are planning a week long trip to Costa Rica from May 16 to May 24. My family (husband and 19-year old daughter) wants to spend more time on the beach and I would prefer to do more sightseeing. We agreed on a compromise:
* Fly to Liberia
* Spend 2 nights on the beach not very far from the airport
* Spend 2 nights in Arenal area
* Spend 3 nights on the beach in Tamarindo area
* Fly back to US from Liberia

Questions:
1. Flights are much cheaper to/from San Jose - not the last thing to think about in the midst of economic crisis. Does it worth extra time driving?
2. Half-day trip suggestions from Tamarindo.
3. Hotel/restaurant suggestions

Thank you!!
-Lizzy44
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Old Apr 12th, 2009, 09:43 AM
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If flights are cheaper into San Jose, why don't you do an Arenal/Manuel Antonio combo? I suggest choosing one beach area plus Arenal, eliminate the 2 night stays. Sorry you can push for another night in Arenal, I'd argue for 4 and 4, that seems like a compromise to me!
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Old Apr 12th, 2009, 11:21 AM
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I like Hip's suggestion. Aim for a fairly even split between Arenal and a beach location. 2 nights in each location means a lot of driving from point A to point B and not much time to enjoy what each locale has to offer. Arenal is definitely worth 3 to 4 nights; lots to see and do there. Manuel Antonio is a good beachy choice if you decide to fly into San Jose.

Your trip is coming fast!
cmerrell is offline  
Old Apr 13th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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Definitely do the 4 Arenal and 4 Manuel Antonio. That itinerary seems to fit your needs perfectly. Tamarindo is a bit of a party town, and while that appeals to a lot of people (especially the younger set), it isn't a safe thing to do outside of a group. Would she mind doing the nightlife with the two of you? Even so, as far as daytime activites, wildlife (the animal sighting type), pretty beaches, and restaurants, Manuel Antonio has it all over most places--at least for the 1st time visitor. And logistically, you don't have enough time for 3 destinations; with 2 night stays, you're talking only 1 full day at each location.

BTW, Arenal is awesome. 3/4 split could go either way--with 3 nights being "adequate" for either location. 4 better for both.
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Old Apr 13th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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I have to agree that flying in and out of SJO is a better option. Flights are cheaper, and there are more options. Also, I think that the drive between Arenal and San Jose is one of the most scenic in the country.

I also agree that a combination of Arenal / Manuel Antonio is a better choice. Tamarindo is the most commercial beach in the country, and (IMHO) is has lost a lot of it's charm. The area around Manuel Antonio is a little busier these days than it used to be. But the commercial activity is spread out more, not concentrated on the beach like at Tamarindo.

There are lots of nature oriented tours available from MA. Plus, the park is still unspoiled and beautiful. You are also traveling during a slower period, so crowds won't be a problem.

You can drive or be transferred to Arenal, and stop along the way to see the churches, shop in Sarchi, etc. It is a four hour drive to Manuel Antonio from Arenal, without stops. You can also fly between the two.

You can also fly back to San Jose from Manuel Antonio. Just be aware of the strict weight limits when flying within the country. Your daughter will have to pack less shoes!

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer any more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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