Help for first timer to C R

Old Oct 17th, 2015, 11:08 PM
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Help for first timer to C R

Thinking of 2 weeks in C R in April.
Planning on staying in the Tamarindo area in a condo.
Is self drive advisable ? What are the roads like and the local drivers ?
We are vegetarians, so would that be a problem in finding a decent place to eat ?
Would like to visit the hanging bridges, do zip lining , hiking to water falls and volcanoes.
Would it be possible to do day tours from our base?
Any info on reputable day tour providers would be greatly appreciated.
Only speak English, would that be a problem ?

tadbuch is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2015, 06:00 AM
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I'd take a look at spending some time in the Arenal area. It has the Hanging Bridges, ziplining at Sky Trek, a gorgeous waterfall hike, and the volcano. Day trips don't work very well in CR since it takes a long time to travel between destinations. Take a look at Desaafio and Sunset Tours. CR has plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, rice, beans, salads, plantains, etc. so should not be a problem. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
volcanogirl is offline  
Old Oct 19th, 2015, 05:30 AM
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Paul, No advertising on Fodors.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2015, 09:54 AM
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Hi Tadbuch - I have had no problems renting cars in CR. There is some construction leaving Liberia and heading towards Arenal, but just exercise caution.

I used Vamos near the Liberia airport (and Tamarindo) twice and was very pleased with the cars (not beaters but not fancy tourist cars that stand out). The customer service is awesome too!

Alternatively, I would recommend hiring a tour guide and/or driver in advance, so you aren't scrambling to find reputable tours and drivers when you are there, losing valuable vacation time.

I agree with Volcanogirl about spending some time in Arenal. Arenal Observatory Lodge is a great place to stay that offers lots of tours through the lodge, so you wouldn't necessarily have to have a car to have access to daily activities.

lostworldadventures is offline  
Old Oct 26th, 2015, 06:37 PM
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I don't know if Tamarindo is right for you. This is probably the most commercial beach in Costa Rica. It is a great spot for surfers, and there is a huge North American expat community.

But you are mentioning mostly nature oriented activities that are better done in the interior, and Tamarindo is a long drive from any of these.

Also, most folks don't spend that much time in one location Costa Rica is a diverse location, and there are many micro climates and different ecological zones.

An issue that I personally have with Guancaste is that most of the tourism is centered around the beaches. Most of this region was stripped of its forests a very long time ago, to graze cattle. This was well before anyone was giving any thought to saving the rainforest. It is flat, hot, and agricultural. It is a little like driving through Oklahoma. Lots of pastures and cattle. There are some interesting cultural things to see. Gaucho's and CR style rodeos, and a visit to Guaitil for pottery is worth a day. But don't feel there is enough for a two week stay.

I agree completely with the other members who are recommending Arenal. I think that would be a good fit, along with Monteverde.

Then figure out your beach. If you are surfers and don't mind a more North American culture, head to Tamarindo. There is also good surfing and more of a European expat scene down in Santa Teresa / Mal Pais. We have grown to really love this area for the great food. Manuel Antonio gets a little slammed for all the recent growth. But they have protected the beach, and the park is still pretty awesome. There are others as well.

All in all. I would move around a little and see the country.

I also recommend a car, especially in Arenal. Most local tours offer door to door transportation. But the hotel zone is huge. If you are in a more remote hotel, a round trip cab ride to dinner could cost you forty bucks or more. Same thing with the hot springs. You end up just eating at the hotel restaurant, or blowing off some really good things because of this extra expense.

I also just enjoy driving. It gives you more flexibility and the opportunity to be more spontaneous.

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

Warm Regards,

Pat Hewitt
Travel Professional
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Old Oct 26th, 2015, 08:23 PM
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Agree. With 2 weeks, you should visit at least 3 different areas. Pat offers good advice.
MichelleY is offline  
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