Help with Costa Rica family trip

Old Jan 6th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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Help with Costa Rica family trip

Hi all! This place is a wealth of knowledge and it has been fun to read everyones input and suggestions. We are a family of 5 heading to Costa Rica in middle of April (the week prior to Easter) and although I have been able to get many great ideas from this forum I need some help finalizing some plans. My husband and I are bringing our three daughters (ages 15, 13 and 12) and we are flying in and out of San Jose. Here is what we have planned and some questions I have:

Manuel Antonio:
-We plan to hire a car to take us from the airport to Tulemar where we will stay for 4 nights. I see suggestions for Tucan Limo Services - any other suggestions? While we are there we are looking into doing the following - any input is appreciated:
-Surfing
-Seeing the Manual Antonio park
-Seeing and jumping into waterfalls (possibly doing a day at ADR Adventure Park or Nauyaca Waterfalls?)
-Snorkeling with dolphins (not sure if this is actually possible)
-Going out in ATV's?
-Horseback riding (or should we do this in Arenal)
-What else should we do as first timers to this area?

Arenal:
We currently can't decide between The Springs and Nayara Hotel Spa & Gardens. We are thinking about doing 2 nights at Nayara and 1 night at The Springs. Is this crazy?
We are also thinking of flying to Arena if possible or if we hire a driver is there something we can do on the way?

In Arenal we are hoping to do the following and again would appreciate any ideas/insight:
-Ziplining
-Hanging Bridges
-Horseback riding
-Hot Springs
-What else should we do as first timers to this area?

Thank you for your time and suggestions!
jsgoodma is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2014, 04:43 PM
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We stayed at the Nayara Hotel three years ago and loved it. Our casita was very private and the view from our room was amazing. The staff was delightful and helped us plan all our outings. Don't know the other hotel. My husband and I got around Costa Rica by using Interbus. You and your family are going to love Costa Rica.
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Old Jan 7th, 2014, 02:39 AM
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We stayed at Tulemar earlier this year and loved it. They will provide a private driver for you if you want one. We had them pick us up and drop us back off at the airport. It's a great place to stay.

We've stayed at both Nayara and The Springs. Nayara is nice and has a smaller, romantic feel to it. We actually prefer The Springs because it has so much to offer in terms of activities - all the natural hot springs on site, the beautiful river that runs through the property, several restaurants on site, kayaking, tubing, horseback riding, etc. If I were going with kids, I would spend the entire time at The Springs, but both properties are really nice.

It took us about five hours to go between Arenal and Manuel Antonio and each is about three hours drive from San Jose. We like to stop at the Rio Tarcoles to see the big crocs down below. Most drivers will stop there if you ask.
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Old Jan 7th, 2014, 04:23 AM
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Manuel Antonio Expeditions is a great company for touring Manuel Antonio National Park and doing the Damas mangrove tour. Juan Brenes is an excellent guide and spotted lots of things we would have missed. We also enjoyed doing the Villa Vanilla spice tour. In Arenal, Sky Trek has some fantastic ziplines. We've done the Hanging Bridges both with a guide and on our own and saw a lot more with a guide, including howler monkeys and a toucan. Both Desafio and Sunset Tours offer good guides that you can use if you're interested. The two most popular hot springs are Tabacon and Eco Termales; Tabacon is more elaborate and Eco Termales is smaller, charming, locally owned, and serves a good chicken dinner. If you stay at The Springs, then you may be happy to just stay there and use their springs. The waterfall hike is another nice outing, and the Cano Negro tour and Penas Blancas river float. We also enjoyed waterfall rappelling with Sunset Tours La Roca and touring the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center.
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Old Jan 12th, 2014, 06:31 PM
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Thank you so much for your help! I think I will change our reservations to just stay at The Springs. Volcano girl- I have read so many of your posts and love learning about CR through your adventures. My oldest wants to do a river float to see wildlife (alligators too) - I see that you have done that in MA and in Arenal - which would you recommend? Also it sounds like activities should be done early in the morning in Arenal- are there certain ones we should book earlier in the morning than others (Sky trek, hanging bridges, waterfall repelling, river float)? Lastly do you recommend doing more than one activity on a day we head out from The Springs? For example do sky trek in the morning and then head over to the hanging bridges? Appreciate any insight you have!
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Old Jan 12th, 2014, 07:17 PM
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Hi, j - I'd do the Penas Blancas river float in the Arenal/La Fortuna area. We used Desafio on our last trip, and our guide was great. We did see a croc when we did it. It was sunning itself on the banks of the river. We also saw howler and capuchin monkeys, basilisk lizards, and some other neat things. We usually book all of our activities for the morning. That's when most of the tours go out, and it seems like there's a better chance for good weather earlier in the day, and wildlife spotting is easier before the heat of the day sets in. Your oldest might also like the Cano Negro tour; we've seen lots of caimans and monkeys when we've done it. It's an all day adventure. We usually just do one big activity a day, but you could easily do Sky Trek in the morning and the Hanging Bridges hike in the afternoon. It gets dark around 5:30ish so you just have to keep that in mind when you're planning. Both Desafio and Sunset Tours have really good websites that can give you details on the tours they offer.
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