Help with CR travel

Feb 16th, 2007, 03:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 3
Help with CR travel

I'm having major frustration with trying to plan a trip to CR. My husband and I are planning on being in CR (first time there for either of us) April 12. I have read so many reviews of so many hotels and places, it's ridiculous. I've been working with TravelWizard to come up with an itinerary, and everything through them seems so....expensive. We'd like to see Arenal, stay at Tabacon, but it's the second part of the trip that is getting crazy. I don't want to be spending half my time in CR traveling from place to place, would like to relax, have fun, do a zip-line tour, maybe another canopy tour (to actually see the plants and animals)...and so far, seems like Punta Islita is a nice place to stay for relaxation and still get some fun tours in, but...anywhere else? And would Poas be funner to see than Arenal? Or would it be too sulfury?

Help? TIA!
zjohnson is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 04:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 599
Arenal's activity will be more exciting IF you get to see and hear it.
The Sky Tram/Sky Trek zipline near Arenal is good for zipping and the Hanging Bridges would be good for a canopy walk also near Arenal.
Earthtraveler is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 5
I love to spend a few nights at Arenal Lodge. There are large grounds and you are close to many of the activities. The Jr. Suites offer awesome views of the volcano, which is often very active. Poas is pretty, but is mainly a crater with a lake. At the lodge you can easily walk and see monkeys and lots of birds. Zip lines, suspension bridges, Tabacon, La Fortuna, etc. are all close by. Rates are reasonable and rooms are large. Bedding is not the best, but will work. Food is okay. Staff is friendly. I have stayed there several times over the last 12 years. I think it just keeps getting better.

How many days do you have and what kind of budget? While Costa Rica is a small country, travel is time comsuming. However, in my opinion, the scenery is so beautiful I rarely get tired of road trips. Lived there for over 3 years and still didn't see any where near all I wanted to. Enjoy.
jaleha is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 10,211
How long will you have? That makes quite a difference. Arenal is, as you already know, a great area to visit. 3 nights is a good amount of time there. 4 wouldn't be too many.

Poas is nice to see, but not a destination in and of itself. Tours often combine an early morning visit to Poas with a couple of hours at La Paz
Waterfall Gardens. Arriving at Poas by 8:00 a.m. generally assures a nice view of the crater lake. Not much else to do there outside of perhaps a short hike through some secondary forest. An hour or so. . .La Paz is nearby and 1.5 hour there will get you some time in the butterfly observatory, enjoying the hummingbirds on the property, and a steep walk down lots of stairs as you view the many falls. You can shuttle back to the top. There is a lovely lodge there--expensive, but beautiful.

While Punta Islita looks like a wonderful location, know that it is a bit isolated from the rest of the country and is best reached by air (my opinion). It's probably 6 or more hours drive from San Jose. It would be nice for 3-4 nights of down time, just enjoying the relaxation of a few days at the beach.

Manuel Antonio is another national park area that is popular with first time visitors (many people split their first time between Arenal and Manuel Antonio). The park is right there along the beach and there is lots of wildlife to see in the park. Also a lot of activities in the area (mangrove tours, white water, horseback, etc).

Many people spend 5-6 nights combining Arenal and Monteverde (cloud forest). Both have excellent ziplines.

As far as Tabacon, it wouldn't be my pick at Arenal for the price. I think I'd rather stay at Lost Iguana or the newer Hotel Kioro. We usually opt for the moderate range and stay at Arenal Paraiso. We love the easy location and great lava views.
shillmac is offline  
Feb 16th, 2007, 08:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 3
Thanks for the help so far...we're looking at a 10-day stay, and trying to keep the budget at around $3K maximum for everything, and private transfers would be preferred, since we really won't know our way around anywhere.
zjohnson is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 04:53 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,541
You can always use Interbus for transfers, they are really cheap and very dependable. I would do a mix of Arenal & Manuel Antonio, 2 great places that give you a nice variety. In the Arenal area, I'd skip Tabacon and stay at Arenal Paraiso, as shillmac mentioned, good prices and all rooms have great views. Punta Islita, while beautiful, is too isolated for my taste, MA would be a better place to have some beach time and still get a nice idea of the area with the park and all the different tours offered. You can also fly between Arenal & MA (via SJO), albeit for more money than Interbus.
tully is offline  
Feb 27th, 2007, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1
I did my first trip to Costa Rica two years ago and wanted to see EVERYTHING...but with only ten days to do it, we quickly realized that wasn't going to happen. We ended up doing Arenal and then heading out to the beach and traveling down the Pacific coast. I'm going back this April to visit Monteverde since we missed it the first time around.

My advice would be to pick a couple of areas and spend a few days in each rather than trying to squeeze everything in on one trip. With the roads the way they are, it takes a lot longer to get from Point A to Point B than you might think from looking at a map. I feel like we spent half our last trip in the car!

If you do end up choosing a couple of spots to visit, I can tell you that I was pretty bummed afterwards that I didn't see the Cloud Forest--I don't think a trip to Costa Rica is complete without it. (We did the zipline tour near Arenal, but the friends I was with who had been to Monteverde said there was no comparison.) I've heard that a lot of people do Monteverde and Arenal together, so you might be able to get a lot in that way with less driving. I wouldn't recommend crisscrossing the country from coast to coast unless you want to spend all your time staring out a car window and wondering if the wheels on the semi in front of you are going to fall off. (That was only entertaining for the first few hours.)

I've had good luck finding budget accomodations if you don't mind staying at a hostel or B&B. Part of what makes Monteverde expensive is shelling out the $$ for a 4x4 vehicle. We're going to take a van from San Jose ($29 one-way) and explore by foot and taxi while we're there (taxis are supposedly cheap and some of the tours offer transportation from your hotel). Hope that helps!
letigre is offline  

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