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eabrooks715 Jul 26th, 2017 05:32 AM

Help with Costa Rica Itinerary- 9 days
Hi everyone! My fiancé and I have decided on Costa Rica for our honeymoon in May 2018 and we're starting the process of making plans with a travel agent (I know, I know it's 2017 but my 60 hour/week job makes planning difficult!). I initially thought that I wanted to split our time between the Arenal area and either Manuel Antonio or Guanacaste. My TA sent me an itinerary today and I wanted some feedback. She has us at 4 different hotels which I think might be a little much for 9 days.... We also want to spend no more than 6k with food, airfare, a good bit of excursions, etc. Here is what it is:

Day 1- Arrive in at 730 PM at San Jose- Costa Rica Marriott
Day 2- Tabacon (I'm going to see about switching to Nayara)
Day 3- Tabacon, white water rafting excursion
Day 4- Tabacon, hanging bridges excursion (I want to add zip lines with Costa Rica Sky Adventure)
Day 5- Travel 5 hours to Manuel Antonio- Parador Resort and Spa (anyone know is this is AI?)
Day 6- Parador Resort, Damas Island Bangrove Boat Tour (she wrote this is in Liberia, isn't that really far from Manuel Antonio?)
Day 7- Travel 5 hours to Guanacaste- Secrets Papagayo
Day 8- Secrets, snorkeling excursion
Day 9- Fly out of liberia 1230 PM

Couple of questions-
1- I think this might be too much, is it? If you had to pick between Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste what would you pick? I really wanted to do one place AI to keep costs down
2- Is Parador Resort AI?
3- Would you pick the Westin or Secrets in papagayo? The beaches at the Westin seemed nicer.

So in other words... I might be changing the whole itinerary. Haha. Any and all advice is much appreciated!!

volcanogirl Jul 26th, 2017 09:00 AM

I don't see why they would send you to both Manuel Antonio and Guanacaste. I agree with you; that's too much traveling. It takes a long time to get from place to place. I'd just do a split between the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio and drop the Guanacaste portion. If you do that, you'll want to fly out of San Jose. I've seen Parador but haven't stayed there. We love Tulemar Bungalows if you want to check it out. Yes, Damas Island tour is Manuel Antonio; Manuel Antonio Expeditions is a great company to go with if you need one. You can also use them for a guided tour of the national park, tons of wildlife there. If I were you, I'd stay at Nayara and just visit the hot springs at Tabacon. Nayara has a very honeymoonish vibe. Rios Tropicales is nice for rafting, and Sky Trek for ziplining. Desafio is another great tour company in the area if you want to do any other activities.

eabrooks715 Jul 26th, 2017 12:58 PM

Volcanogirl- thank you for your always helpful responses! My TA is suggesting if we want to nix Manuel Antiono in order to stick with Guanacaste, we could maybe squeeze in a couple of nights at El Silencio Lodge in Bajos del toro before heading to Guanacaste (we were hoping to do 1 AI to save some money). Do you have any input on that area/if that would be worth it? Otherwise we might just split our time between Nayara and either Secrets or The Westin in guanacaste. Still considering Manuel antonio though! That areas seems to have more to offer.

volcanogirl Jul 26th, 2017 05:12 PM

For just me personally, I wouldn't add another location, too much moving around to relax and enjoy it. I'm not a big fan of AIs; I like to get out and explore local restaurants. Manuel Antonio has lots of nice open air casual spots where you can enjoy the sunset and views of the water. We haven't been to Guanacaste because it's drier and more arid, and we like the jungly feeling of MA. I've heard El Silencio Lodge has a very pretty waterfall though. Maybe read the reviews on tripadvisor and see what you think.

gtravelcr Jul 31st, 2017 09:24 AM

The Hotel Parador Resort and Spa isn't ALL INCLUSIVE. This is a nice property on the hillside, offering partial ocean views from the hotel grounds and some of their rooms.
If you seek for all inclusive properties then it might be best for you to fly into LIR Airport.

However, if you already bought tickets from/to SJO Airport it is best for you to stick to Arenal and a beach in the Central Pacific Coast like Manuel Antonio. You'll have a relaxing honeymoon trip.

There is plenty to do at Arenal and Manuel Antonio. While in Arenal area you can visit the La Fortuna Waterfall so traveling to Bajos del Toro is not a must.

If you were to pick between Tabacon and Arenal Nayara, the second property is highly recommended to honeymooners.

Average travel time is:

SJO Airport to Arenal 3h 30 min approx
Arenal to Manuel Antonio 5 hours approx
Manuel Antonio to SJO Airport 3 hours approx

To avoid the long drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio, you can also book a domestic flight (30-35 min approx).

spreadinglove Aug 30th, 2017 12:11 PM

1.We stayed at the springs Resort and love it.
2. We did the Pedal Board Costa Rica tour on Lake Arenal. Notice is different from Stand Up paddle board. Check this with . it was really cool!
3. I will suggest you the itinerary I did and i dont regret a thing, 1 night at San Jose + 3 nights at Arenal (Rain Forest) + 2 nights at Monteverde (Cloud Forest ) and finally 2 nights at Tamarindo beach.
4.From Tamarindo to the Liberia Airport is about 1 hours away.

dlongan Feb 19th, 2018 05:36 PM

Does anyone have an opinion of spreadinglove itinerary? It sounds good to me, but I am just planning first trip hopefully in late June if I can get my act together.

volcanogirl Feb 19th, 2018 07:45 PM

We've stayed at the Springs Resort and Spa too and loved it. We stayed on a Groupon deal, otherwise it's pretty pricey. We love the Arenal area. Monteverde is nice if you like cooler temperatures and birding. It was really chilly when we were there. I'd pick Manuel Antonio over Tamarindo, just our own personal preference.

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