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Help with Costa Rica itinerary: Rincon De La Vieja, Arenal, Manual Antonio

Help with Costa Rica itinerary: Rincon De La Vieja, Arenal, Manual Antonio

Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 04:19 PM
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Help with Costa Rica itinerary: Rincon De La Vieja, Arenal, Manual Antonio

We plan on coming into Costa Rica from Nicaragua - stopping for 2 or 3 nights at Rincon De La Vieja staying at Borinquen Mountain Resort and Spa or Hacienda Guachipelin Hotel. Then thinking of traveling to Arenal for 2 nights and on to Manuel Antonio for 2 or 3 nights. I want to end the vacation at the beach before flying home from San Jose. Does this seem like a good plan - should I plan for Monteverde? Should we stop at both Arenal and Rincon de la Vieja? We will have visited volcanoes in Nicaragua as well. We are an active family with two teens and two adults. Thanks!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 07:22 AM
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If you go to Arenal, it will not be for the volcano (quite still right now), but for other activities in the area; that is, if you want to raft, visit hot springs, zip line, hanging bridges walk (there's certainly more than that to do; however, it will cost you!), then go to Arenal. But if you have only one full day in Arenal, I frankly would skip it.
If you just want to be in the cloud forest and do nature hiking and hanging bridges, there's Selvatura and the National Park in Monteverde (also a zip line at Selvatura).
However, if your heart is not set on bridge hikes (and spending 10 minutes total flying through the air on a zip) and cloud forest, you might be better off (and more relaxed) if you go to MA from Rincon and stay there to do some activities from the area other than the park and the beach (horseback to waterfalls with Don Lulo, near Dominical, etc.; lots of tours and activities). There are wonderful stretches of virtually deserted beaches just south, in the Dominical/Uvita area, also.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 06:37 AM
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I don't think of going to Arenal as "not for the volcano", active or not. It's an amazing sight if the clouds clear, active or not. And there is SO much to do in the area, volcano-oriented (hiking, hot-springs), and non-volcano-oriented (Cano Negro tour is my favorite). And I'm not sure that I'd phrase things ("just" wanting to be in the cloud forest, as it's a unique and IMO, very special experience. That said, traveling distances between spots is time-consuming in Costa Rica, so you'll want to allow plenty of time.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 07:58 AM
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The poster mentioned specifically "We will have visited volcanoes"; that's why I stated that the attraction is not an active volcano (yes, quite scenic; note that I mentioned all the activities). "Just want to be in the cloud forest" was not meant as "merely" but as "if you really want the cloud forest" (as opposed to the Arenal area, which is not a cloud forest and will not offer the same experience).
So, please refrain from misinterpreting other folks' comments and advice, and stick to helping the one asking the questions.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 12:39 PM
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To me, that's a lot of moving around. You could easily stay three or four nights in the Arenal area and three or four nights in the Manuel Antonio area. Two nights in a spot isn't going to give you much time to explore the area or do a lot of activities. With such a short time frame, I'd pass on Monteverde; the other areas offer warmer weather and more activities. The cloud forest is very pretty though. Going from Arenal to MA took us about five hours if that gives you an idea of travel times.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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I agree with both sylvia and vc in that you are going to have to decide whether you want to visit another (albeit different) volcanic area, and that the time to cover distances on a map can be deceptive, so you might want to visit fewer spots. Also, traveling with teens can be a lot different than traveling as a couple, lol!
I hope that you'll do a trip report; the Rincon area is a bit under-reported - have fun!
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 01:38 PM
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Oh, and sylvia, not one of my more sensitive posts - I apologize!
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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Thanks, Cattail! Climbing down off my very high horse now...

p.s. KMS, if you decide on Monteverde after all, we really like Cabinas Pinos: http://www.lospinos.net/activities.htm. Very reasonable, very well run, good location on outskirts of town.
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Old Apr 25th, 2012, 07:12 PM
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Old Apr 26th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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The roads in Costa Rica are very bumpy and sometimes likes a while to travel so be sure to factor in extra time. Arenal is beautiful as is Manuel Antonio. In Manuel Antonio, we did ziplining and it was awesome! In Arenal we did a hike and the views were amazing. And do not miss the hot springs..so relaxing. I loved the Costa Rican culture - it was so much fun being there. Have a great trip!
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Old Apr 28th, 2012, 07:49 AM
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Thanks everyone! I plan on booking hotels this weekend and will let you know what I decide. If we could only move twice in CR my family would be thrilled. I do have my heart set on the Rincon area but hate to miss Arenal if it is a must see. Have any of you been to San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua? Should I skip that stop if we are ending in Manual Antonio for the beach and surfing and travel straight from Ometempe to Rincon?
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Old May 1st, 2012, 09:13 PM
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We have lived here for three years and are about to take our first trip to Arenal tomorrow. Since we live here, we have taken our time to see the country but it's finally time to see what the fuss is about. We have visited Rincon a few times. It is a nice area with lots of hiking, canopy tours, horses, mud baths, etc. You could stay in Tamarindo or Playa Grande or Avellanas for the surfing, sailing, sport fishing, and beaches and be to Rincon in just over an hour. I would say that if the activities are the key for your vacation, then skip Arenal and go with your preference of Rincon. Besides, Arenal is infamous for being cloud covered so that "must see" could be a no-show. San Juan del Sur could be skipped if you end up in a beach town in Guanacaste. Ometepe is a great spot. Have a great time! You can't really go wrong here--it's all beautiful.
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