Help with First Costa Rica Trip

Old Oct 31st, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Help with First Costa Rica Trip

Hi! Our family of four is planning a 9 day trip to Costa Rica next April. We have two boys ages 8 and 11. We arrive at 11:30 AM in San Jose and we were planning on driving straight to Arenal. On this trip we want to do the hot springs, ziplining, white water rafting (if possible with our youngest), deep sea fishing, visit Manuel Antonio Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Quepo Canyoning tour.

We wanted to get advice on whether to stay two nights in Arenal or one night Arenal and one night Monteverde. Our next stay will be at a timeshare in Quepos. We were wondering if we stayed two nights in Arenal if it's at all possible to go to Monteverde on one of the days that we are in Quepos. I know it will be a lot of driving. Or is it better to just stay one night in Arenal and then head to Monteverde stay the night then drive to Quepos after visiting the cloud forest. Any advice you can give is highly appreciated. Advice on tour operators, other activities, and restaurants are also welcome. Thanks in advance
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 09:56 AM
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With that short of a trip, I wouldn't try to do three locations. For me, that's too much time on the road, and Monteverde is kind of a pain to get to. The road is long and bumpy. You definitely don't want to go to Monteverde for just one night. I'd save it for another trip and do a split between the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio. For hot springs, we like Tabacon and Eco Termales, Rios Tropicales or Desafio for rafting, and good hiking at the waterfall and Hanging Bridges. Sky Trek has amazing ziplines; there were 8 year olds doing it when we went. I believe that's the youngest age that they allow; the lines are high, long, and fast. If your kids aren't that brave, there are other zip companies in the area. Check out Sunset Tours and Desafio for more cool tours. You want to spend at least two nights in the Arenal area. Most people stay at least three.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 10:57 AM
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Volcanogirl hit the nail on the head as usual. I agree with her 100%. For me Arenal is like a 3 night location, Monteverde at least 2 nights but as she mentioned it is a pain in the butt to get too. If your an avid birder then the trip is worth it, otherwise I would skip it. Manuel Antonio has some awesome beaches and quite a bit of activities. Some of the best fishing in the country too.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 03:02 PM
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Thanks volcanogirl and incabod. I will definitely scrap the Monteverde trip and just enjoy Arenal and MA.

I checked out the website for Desafio and their rafting is from 10 and up. I found canoa-aventura.com here on fodor's and their rafting is from 7 and up. Do you think I should contact Desafio to see if they take 8 year olds on their rafting trip?

I'll check out Sunset Tours and Rios Tropicales. Any recommendations on a place to stay? eat? We have a midway budget, not too cheap but not too expensive either.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 06:09 PM
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I agree with inca 100% too!

Maybe check out Silencio del Campo or Los Lagos for places to stay.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Age probably depends upon the class of river. I'm sure all ages can go on the Safari Floats offered on the Penas Blancas. This is a great trip, with good wildlife. I'd also ask specifically about yr children for a Class II-III option.

Desafio and Wave are my two favorite rafting operators in Arenal.

Desafio and Pure Trek for the canyoning.

And yes, Sky Trek for a "traditional" zip-line canopy tour.

Silencio de Campo is a good mid-range option.

Also look into the "day pass" at The Springs. They have a sort've adventure playground going on down by the river, w/ tubing, hot tubs and more.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 08:23 AM
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Thanks volcanogirl and Eliot_Greenspan for the tips.

Last question, since we're no longer going to Monteverde do we still need a 4x4 SUV on our trip or would a non 4x4 work. San Jose-Arenal-Quepos-San Jose.

Thanks again.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 08:24 AM
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We did tubing at the Springs Resort and Spa, and it was a lot of fun. Sunset's La Roca tour is great for canyoning as well.
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Old Nov 5th, 2012, 05:37 AM
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You should be fine with a non-4X4...
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Old Nov 13th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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Thank you both so much for all the advice
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