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First trip to Costa Rica and so incredibly confused :)

First trip to Costa Rica and so incredibly confused :)

Old May 28th, 2012, 05:22 AM
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First trip to Costa Rica and so incredibly confused :)

My family of 4 (two young teens) are traveling to Costa Rica in July and I can't seem to visualize the country and its dimensions no matter how much I read. We have a choice of 2 rentals....both great...one is located in Manzanillo, Limon on the Caribbean side and the other is on the Pacific, 20 miles north of surfing town Jaco.

Here's what I get confused...I realize that we'll be there in the rainy season (which is why we have such a great deal but is it rainier on one coast vs. the other? Or should we plan on rain no matter where? Also, we only have 8 days for the trip and I'd like to spend less of it traveling....so, on paper, Jaco looks better because its 90 minute from the San Jose airport....but is the Caribbean side just as easy? (we must land in San Jose).

I'd truly appreciate anyone on this forum with a clearer mind than mine.
Hope_Garvin is offline  
Old May 28th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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Hi, I have been to both places countless times surfing. I own property in Hermosa, the next town up from Jaco. My advice would be to definitely choose Jaco. Limon is a little "sketchy" with more crime. Jaco has crime but simple common sense practices will ensure a successful trip. Basically, they break into your hotel room or rental on the carribean side and in Jaco will only steal from you if you leave your windows down or don't lock your hotel room door. There is a lot to do in Jaco for kids and not so much in Limon. My suggestion is to set up camp in Jaco then head south for breakfast at "Jumgle Toms" in Hermosa "american owned" go to the beaches in Hermosa then travel further south to the "National Park" for a wonderful family day where you will see i "zoo" of animals just walking through the park. And oh yeah go on the "chicles canopy tour" zipline in Jaco other than surfing the best experience of my life. Me and my wife and 11 year old son go 3-4 times a year to our place in Hermosa and go to Jaco for daily shopping and restaurants. It rains less on the Pacific also pretty much every day at 2:58pm! but it's not always torrential. Hope this helps and good luck be safe, I'm envious and use common sense...Chris
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 01:29 PM
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I would avoid Jaco and Tamarindo. Perfect for Spring Break! With teenagers I would do Monteverde or Arenal and enjoy the zip lines, rafting and wildlife and then hit either an AI resort on the Pacific Coast where you have everything right there for you or somewhere on the bottom part of the Nicoya Paninsula where you can get lost in an undeveloped little town and experience something more authentic and rustic.

You will get soaked on the Caribbean side and may not be able to do much but watch the flooding.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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Dont agree much with whats been said. Living in Jaco for 6 years my home was broken into 4 times, once in the morning in broad daylight while I was there sleeping. Living in the mountains now I have had no problems with crime in 5 years. Jaco is a very Americanized watered down version of Costa Rica. Prices there are more expensive than most areas of the country.

Manzanilla is not Limon proper, which should be avoided like the plague (Limon).

The reality is that there are problems with crime in both areas. No way to sugar coat that.

July will have a chance of good weather, we get whats called little summer then and this can be 2 or 3 weeks of dry weather. Even so rain will come in the late afternoon if it does and will not effect the trip.

If I were coming to Costa Rica for the first time I would not choose either location.

I would hit Arenal, the area is awesome in many ways from the hot springs to the tours you can do. I would then hit Manuel Antonio. This is a touristy area but has great beaches and wildlife viewing.

Both these areas have good infrastructure, lots of activites, and are very user friendly for first time visitors.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 05:08 PM
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I think Inca has some great advice. Arenal and Manuel Antonio is a great combo for a first trip. Jaco has a bit of a reputation for being seedy with drugs and prostitution, etc. so that probably wouldn't be my first choice.
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Old Jun 8th, 2012, 07:52 AM
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It sounds like you have two rental options and that's it? I think people are misreading what you wrote. If you're thinking of Manzanillo, the beach is amazing there, but the town is barely a town. However, Puerto Viejo is just down road and has tons of restaurant options. This is not near the port town of Limon, but in Limon province, which is completely different. it's an easy, but long drive from San Jose- with traffic about 5 hours. Your other rental is 20 miles north of Jaco correct? I'd double check on the map to see if there's a good road to get where you're going. 20 miles on bad roads in Costa Rica can take a very long time. I'd just make sure there's enough for your kids to do around there, other than go to Jaco. I'm really not sure about weather. I've been on the Pacific side in July and it rained like once a day. I have a feeling it's similar on the Caribbean side, but I'm guessing more humid over there (only been in winter and it was humid). Hope that's helpful!
mad is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2012, 08:26 AM
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Why do you only have a choice of two rentals? There's an entire country there.
RAC is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2012, 12:04 PM
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I Have been and lived in both places, Caribbean and Pacific Costa , First , please do not spend time in Jaco Downtown , yes it is so closed to SJ, but is awful, Caribbean Coast is really beautiful, it is amazing, people is friendly specially in Manzanillo and Puerto Viejo, I have never heard or seen rainy season during in July...
Pacific Coast is also beautiful, but distances between destination are bigger that Caribbean area.
An other advantage of Caribbean , there is cheaper than pacific.
well,in few words, you will enjoy your vacation in Costa Rica, wherever you visit
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Old Jun 11th, 2012, 05:18 AM
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I just did a lot of research and was in a similar boat as you deciding between the caribbean side or pacific side. The overwhelming consensus, unless you are looking for a more adult surfer away from it all experience, then go with Arenal and especially Manuel Antonio. there are good deals if you book now in both areas. Many more activities for kids in Manuel Antonio. Go to trip advisor and this site to find good ideas for hotels, i found the best prices at bookit.com.. great beaches, wildlife and activities...will report when i return, will be there july 12-20.
gimmerumi1 is offline  
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