help with Itenerary/lodging

Aug 4th, 2000, 07:39 AM
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help with Itenerary/lodging

planning an 8 day trip. first and last night in San Jose due to flights. Any suggestions on shouldn't miss places tours? Here is our tenative schedule...we will have a jeep (is there much to see on the drive? -places to stop -little villages?)and speak Spanish so feel comfortable traveling via car:
Day one - sanjose
Day two - drive to Tamarindo - how is the Capitan Suizo hotel? We plan on being there 3 days - is it easy to do tours from here? suggestions?
Drive to Arenal/Monteverde area? this is where we get sketchy - differing views on the volcano/hot springs/Tabacon stay - plan on being here two days. Should we head to another part of CR instead?

Also - is the Guanacaste better than the Jaco area for beaches/views/tours?
Aug 4th, 2000, 07:50 AM
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Do the trip the easy way. go to:
and let Arturo plan your trip for you. Tell him where you want to go, how long you have to stay, and how much you desire to spend, and he will plan our itinerary for you. Remember that this is a free service. There is no comparison between Jaco and Guanacaste. Guanacaste has Jaco beat hands down, but I wouldn't miss Manuel Antonio while you are in Costa Rica. Go to my website:, for some more good ideas of what to see and do in Costa Rica. Have a great trip - Pura Vida - Dennis
Aug 6th, 2000, 07:30 AM
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We just got back from our first trip to
Costa Rica. Had a great time. Are you
going soon? It is now the rainy season-
so that effects what places I would recommend.

We were in Tamarindo for three days - stayed near the Capitain Siuzo & it looked very nice. Right on the beach with a nice pool & restaurant. However, it is about a 15-20 min walk to the edge
of town. Tamarindo was our last stop so
we mostly laid on the beach (not very crowded & the water is so warm!). Saw lots of iguanas, crabs and a couple howler monkeys right near the beach. This time of year it is mostly sunny in the morning, but rains most afternoons.

We also went to Tortuguero, Arenal and Monteverde.

If you like wildlife, I highly recommend Tortuguero. Now is the season when green sea turtles (3 feet long) come to nest on the beach and you can go with a guide and watch one lay her eggs. awesome! You can also take boat rides through the rain forest- we saw monkeys, quatomundis and a sloth. We stayed at the Tortuguero Lodge ( It was pricey, but very nice with excellent food.

Monteverde was very disappointing. It seems to be on everyone's itinerary, but I don't know why. We took several walks in various woods, often during the rain, and didn't see much. Also, the roads are a real pain -4-5 hr of bumpiness in or out.

Arenal was OK. We didn't see the volcano because it was too cloudy both nites we were there. I understand that's typical during the rainy season. Maybe worth a try anyway - definitely if you're going in the dry season. While there we did see a nice waterfall with a swimming pool at the bottom. Also took some hikes and saw the lava rocks from previous explosions.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck.

Aug 8th, 2000, 10:57 AM
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If you need a place to stay in San Jose, I HIGHLY recommend Cinco Hormigas Rojas. The owner, Mayra, is an artist and the entire place is handpainted all sorts of bright colors (even the doorknobs and the toilet seat!). She is very nice and knows many good restaurants and places to see.

It is inexpensive and centrally located so it's easy to get everywhere in the city. The best part is that her front yard is like a mini-jungle - it's not even like you are in a city. I ended up staying there 4 individual nights during one trip because I had to return to SJ for various reasons, and I'm so glad I did that instead of staying out by the airport.

I found her information in the gold Fodor's book, but I believe she also has a website. You should be able to find it in a search engine.
Aug 10th, 2000, 08:30 AM
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We went on a 9 day trip to Costa Rica early July, and loved it! Like you, it was bookended by nights in San Jose. We spent time in Arenal, Monteverde and Tamarindo. Monteverde was our favorite - we lucked out weather-wise (not much rain). The drive is indeed tough, but we took roads hugging mountains and the vistas are incredible. This are coffee fields, dairy farms, etc. and the people were very friendly. We took a tour of Monteverde Cloud Forest (saw three quetzals, monkeys, etc.) and Sky Trek -- where you individually zip along steel cables up to 400 feet above and through the forest. Quite a rush! and the highlight of our trip. The food in Monteverde was great -- must try Johnny's Pizza -- and there is a local cheese factory. Also, right next to the Cloud Forest is the Hummingbird Gallery -- dozens of hummingbirds zip around the feeders outside it.

Arenal is neat if visibility holds up and you can see the volcano, but can't imagine staying more than a day in that area. Tamarindo was a nice end of our trip -- relax in the sun, etc., but it wasn't turtle season when we were there, so other than the surfer culture/night life (which we weren't really into) there isn't too much to do. Stella's restaurant - best restaurant in Tamarindo.

We ran into a Canadian couple who told us Manuel Antonio is incredible - monkeys come up to you -- and they also recommended white-water rafting.
Aug 10th, 2000, 11:11 AM
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Hi Holly.
If you need a place to stay near San Jose but don't necessarily have to stay in the city, a really nice place is Vista del Valle -- it is in a gorgeous canyon location with incredible views and is really special. We stayed there last November for only one night (our last night in CR) and wished we could have stayed there longer. The staff is great. Check out If you have to stay in San Jose for some reason then I've heard good things about Grano de Oro, but to be honest I don't know anyone who's raved about the city of San Jose itself. Vista del Valle is more convenient to the airport anyway -- traffic in San Jose itself is bad.
Haven't been to Tamarindo but have heard good things about the Capitan Suizo. Guidebooks seemed to be positive about it.
We thought Arenal was OK but it paled in comparison to the other areas of CR that we went to on the central and southern Pacific coasts (particularly Manuel Antonio, and the Osa Peninsula). Didn't get to Monteverde. You don't say when you're going, but in late November, Arenal was damp and cool and the cone of the volcano was fogged in most of the time (which I understand is generally the case). Was it neat to see the lava flow at night? Sure, but it was only for a minute or two at most. Was that worth the 4-hour drive to Arenal and back (from San Jose) and the nights we spent there? Probably not, to me -- I would rather have spent more time in another part of the country.
We stayed in a wonderful hotel near Jaco (Villa Caletas, which I highly recommend) that was absolutely incredible, but Jaco itself is nothing special to be honest with you and I was glad we weren't staying there -- we went into town for dinner one night and that was enough.
If you're looking for another area to go to besides Tamarindo I would recommend Manuel Antonio rather than Jaco. We stayed at Hotel Si Como No which we liked (
Remember: Distances in CR are short but driving times are LONG. Maybe look into flights within CR rather than driving long distances just for 2 days! We used TravelAir and they were cheap and it worked out well. If you have 8 days and have to spend the first and last in or near San Jose, and want to spend 3 in Tamarindo, then look into flying to Quepos to spend your other 3 days at Manuel Antonio. That's my recommendation.
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