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Linzy428 Jun 10th, 2012 09:30 AM

Help with Costa Rica Itinerary
Hello and thanks for all your posts on the Costa Rica forum!

I am planning a 10 day/9 night trip to CR with my girlfriend (gay couple) in the beginning of November and could use some help/suggestions on our itinerary. I will give as much background info as possible to help everyone make changes/additions as needed.

I have a huge passion for adventure and wildlife so national parks are a priority. We also like some adventure like ziplining (or even scuba diving for me but I don't think where we are going has great scuba). I love vacations where you can explore a little and get onto the paths less traveled. So, we are debating whether or not to rent a 4x4. It looks like the cost won't be a great deal more so will we be able to see more of the country this way? We also love the beach. We are Floridians so midday heat is not an issue. We are very used to rain as well although we are hoping to have some dry days for hiking and photos.

We are on a budget so we plan to stay at some hostels which I have done often, suggestions welcome. We have reservations at Lost Iguana for 3 nights in Arenal, however. I am vegan so any good advice on food or markets etc. would be appreciated.

Probably the most important thing to know is that I am a quick traveler!! I have been to 15 counties and typically only spend 1 or 2 nights in each city. When I have posted here in the past everyone encourages me to not pack in so much but I always do and have always been quite happy with my trips. (ie: I'm happy with just 2 nights in Paris).

Where we could use your help:
1. Suggestions on hostels or less expensive places to stay
2. Suggestions on places to stop on our drives, even if a little out of the way
3. Gay friendly places
4. Regular car or 4x4? (remember, I like a little adventure : )
5. Suggestions for hikes/rainforests/national parks/wildlife viewing
6. Suggestions for beaches or adventure

Day 1 (Friday): Fly into San Jose at about 11 am and drive to Arenal, Lost Iguana Resort
Day 2: Zipline, rainforests
Day 3: River boat cruise etc.
Day 4: Drive to Santa Rosa National Park, explore, drive to a hostel a little south of Santa Rosa along the coast.
Day 5: Drive along the Guanacaste coast and stay the night in Curu area
Day 6: Drive to Monteverde and stay the night (should we go here before Arenal?)
Day 7: Drive to Manuel Antonio for day trips to Los Quetzales, Baru and Playa Bellena
Day 8: Same as day 7
Day 9 (Saturday): Drive to San Jose and hit the town for a night out. :)
Day 10: Fly out around 1pm

Thank you thank you in advance for any help! I don't particularly want the entire trip planned to the minute but I also don't want to get home and realize we missed something amazing.


Linzy428 Jun 10th, 2012 10:58 AM

Also, we love to kayak!

RAC Jun 10th, 2012 12:05 PM

That itinerary makes no sense for Costa Rica. The time for activities and enjoyment generally ends around 5:30 pm. You will literally spend most of your trip driving and sleeping. You're talking 4+ hours driving plus meals plus checking in/out of lodging, showering. Close to a complete waste of time.

You cann

RAC Jun 10th, 2012 12:13 PM

Oops, got cut off.

You cannot see every amazing sight in 2 months, let alone two weeks. Worse though, is traveling to places and not getting to appreciate why they are amazing. Each destination requires AT LEAST one full day to be appreciated-that means two nights stay. Otherwise, it's just an exercise in checking items on a list, not appreciating the place.

We've done whirlwind yours in Europe--two nights in Rome, one in Barcelona--but that travel style just doesn't work in CR.

Linzy428 Jun 10th, 2012 12:34 PM

I did wonder if we need more time in Monteverde but I haven't really read that there's a GREAT deal of things to see from Santa Rosa Park south (day 4 and 5) until we head over to Montverde. I know it's beautiful but we will drive a lot of the coast for several hours and get out to enjoy it as we please. Have I been mislead in this?

Thanks for you advice!

RAC Jun 10th, 2012 01:10 PM

Santa Rosa really isn't an overnight stop. You should budget two nights for it (at least) or I'd cut it.

Also, makes more sense to do Arenal and Monteverde back to back.

You could do Arenal, then Monteverde, then hit a beach location in Nicoya/Curu area--we did 2 nights Arenal 2 nights Monteverde and 3 nights Montezuma one trip.

volcanogirl Jun 10th, 2012 07:12 PM

The Lost Iguana is one of our favorite places to stay. Good pick. For your day 2 zipline, go with Sky Trek - highest, longest lines and beautiful views of the lake and volcano. For your hiking, do a Hanging Bridges hike or hike at the waterfall and swim in the beautiful river at the base. For the river boat cruise, do the Cano Negro tour with Sunset Tours. Desafio is another good tour company in the area. I'd also spend an evening at the natural hot springs - Eco Termales or Tabacon. One night in Monteverde is nothing I would personally ever do. It's a pain to get there on a long and bumpy road. I'd stay at least two nights or skip it. I'm a go go go traveler, but no way one night in Monteverde is worth it.

colibri Jun 11th, 2012 04:32 AM

Agree w/ RAC and VG - it would be a total waste of time to keep your itinerary as Arenal/Santa Rosa/Monteverde. From Arenal go to MV, then to Santa Rosa. The road to MV is fairly rough.

You can't look at a map and estimate drive times since travel takes much longer in CR than anywhere else I've been - but so worth it! I do think you are going to spend an incredible amount of time in the car versus enjoying the destinations.....

Linzy428 Jun 12th, 2012 11:35 AM

Thanks everyone! The drive for me is part of the adventure and part of truly seeing the country instead of just going from one tourist stop to the next. But, we might skip Monteverde and just drive along the coast until we make our way to Manuel Antonio.

We did book a 4x4 so we can get off the beaten path a bit. Any good kayaking or snorkeling along our route?

volcanogirl Jun 12th, 2012 12:03 PM

You can kayak at Lake Arenal, and it's very close to the Lost Iguana. The lake is very pretty. If you wanted to, you could also do kayaking at Cano Negro. Lots of wildlife in that area. CR isn't known for good snorkeling. When we've done it, it wasn't good.

carrom Jun 12th, 2012 02:33 PM

We really enjoyed staying at La Posada Jungle Lodge a few years back in Manuel Antonio. Plenty of wildlife in the lodge! Very close to the park. Good treks. Owner was very. very nice. If it hasn't changed would strongly reccommend. We only stayed 2 nights in MA and that was fine for us.
Enjoy your trip!

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