Help with November Itinerary

Old Jan 7th, 2007, 09:22 PM
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Help with November Itinerary

Hello All...

I am new to the site, but very impressed with all of the help you are providing each other. I am hoping you will be able to direct me as well.

My husband and I have a two week timeframe to travel with our kids (7 and 9) next November. (October is actually more convenient, but we have heard if we can push it to November, we should have better weather.) We have heard and read so many wonderful things about Costa Rica and in particular about a resort, Punta Islita. We would like to arrange our 13 nights so that 6 are spent at this resort. We will be flying from SF... and I would love some input on the ideal itinerary: Here is our very rough idea:

Fly into San Jose - 1 or 2 nights here or near here... Sights?

Then 4 nights somewhere: Manuel Antonio? Other?

Then 6 nights Punta Islita (Guanacaste, South of Carillo)

Leaving 1 night near airport before we fly out....

Rental car? I have also heard we may want to consider flying from each location.

We really have no idea about the logic of this order. We prefer more time in a location that a busy schedule of getting to and from places. We are not much for all inclusives. My girls love animals, the ocean and playing in the swimming pool.

I would really appreciate direction for our 13 nights: Locations and Hotels and how to get around. After that I will begin to research what to do and where to eat.

Thanks in advance for all of your help.

Julie



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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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Punta Islita is lovely, good choice!
Playa Carrillo is a lovely beach, you could drive there for lunch and go and watch the sunset before returning to PI or go out for dinner in Samara:

http://costa-rica.typepad.com/playa_...ome/index.html

http://costa-rica.typepad.com/playa_...ome/index.html

For the last- or first- night, maybe La Paz Waterfalls and Volcan Poas:

http://monteverde.typepad.com/photos...costarica.html

http://costa-rica.typepad.com/photos...osta_rica.html

which you can combine as a day trip from San Jose, or stay at the Paradise Lodge at the falls, which is convenient to SJ airport!

October is height of rainy season so try for November.
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Old Jan 8th, 2007, 07:58 PM
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You'll have a lot of beach time at Punta Islita. I think all of you would enjoy spending 2-3 nights in the Arenal area--so much to see and do there, and it's so beautiful in the interior of the country! Also, keep in mind that some of CR's nicest treasures are right there near the airport, or within an hour or so. Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Garden, Sarapiqui/La Selva area, Orosi Valley, Zoo Ave in Alajuela, pretty little colonial towns like Grecia, Sarchi, Zarcero with its topiary in front of the church. So much to see and do! You could put the airport area nights at the front end or back end of your trip depending on arrival/departure times. Two nights good for this area. 3 if you want a couple of full days to take it all in! Your kids are gonna love it, as will you!
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Old Jan 12th, 2007, 08:58 PM
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Wow! I was hoping to get a reply from guanacaste and/or shillmac and here you have both responded. Thank you!

In taking another look, we are now considering flying into Liberia and out of San Jose and dividing up our 13 nights this way:
Liberia / Arenal - 4 nights
Punta Islita - 4 nights
MA - 3 nights
San Jose - 2 nights
Our kids are crazy about the beach so we want max time there. Still the interior sounds fabulous AND, we will need a more mellow schedule than you go-getters!

Questions:
1. I am assuming we would get a driver from Arenal to PI. How would you rec getting from PI to MA. Would it be best to then rent a car in MA for the sites there and in SJ?
2. Can you recommend hotesl in Arenal and MA
3. I have the opportunity to book a great fare if I can get my schedule sorted out. Now would be the time for me to decide if it would be better to fly into SJ and out of Liberia or in and out of the same.
Bottom line: in 13 nights we would like to see Arenal, PI, MA. What is the dream itinerary order?

Thanks again you two! Your travel advice to so many is inspiring. I am trying to pass on my passion for seeing other countries to my young kids!
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Old Jan 12th, 2007, 10:25 PM
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I'm not convinced that flying into Liberia is your best option for starting out with Arenal. Seems to me this might work out better for you:

Arrive SJO, rent a car, head to Arenal
(might need one night near airport depending on arrival time)--2.5 to 3 hours SJO to Arenal. 3 night Arenal.

Drive to Manuel Antonio--3 nights Manuel Antonio, return to SJO. . .
overnight???

Early a.m. flight to Punta Islita. . .4 nights there.

Last night near airport.
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Old Jan 12th, 2007, 10:45 PM
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Oops, wasn't quite finished!

SO, even if you have to spend 1st night near airport, another night mid-trip, and another night at the end, you would have 3 nights Arenal, 3 nights MA, and 4 nights Punta Islita. . .moving around a bit more than you might have originally intended, but not bad. . .that middle night would be a great time to stay at Vista del Valle, enjoy their property, which is very lovely.

Your girls would also enjoy a trip to Zoo Ave (bird zoo and rehab facility--includes other animals as well) in Alajuela. You could work this in either the beginning, middle, or end.

Keep in mind that Arenal is closer to SJO than to LIR.

Arenal and Manuel Antonio are easy drives, but getting to PI will be very time consuming, and you already will have a long transfer between Arenal and MA--6 hours roughly with stops (although it is a nice drive--be sure and stop at the Rio Tarcoles to view the crocs in the river!). You don't want to spend TOO much time in the car.

The area in and around SJO is very nice, but you can't hang out there much extra time AND work in Manuel Antonio, and you've mentioned max beach time. So I wouldn't worry too much about extra activities near the airport. If you have to spend the first night near the airport, you can get an early start, visit Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens en route to Arenal the next a.m.

Near airport: Las Orquideas, Hotel Villa Bonita would be my choices.

Las Orquideas has a fun bar, but is about a 15 min. drive from the airport. It is a property on the edge of Alajuela, RIGHT on the road that leads to Poas/La Paz, making it very convenient once you get there. I'd arrange my rental car to be delivered there, though, and not try to worry about finding it yourself right off the bat--very tricky.

HVB is our choice lately if we are just wanting an overnight stay. It is on a side street right in Alajuela about 5 min. from the airport, and owned by a fun and very hospitable young Tico couple named Humberto and Carmen. They will take good care of you and give you lots of good advice. For an evening arrival, this would be my pick. About $50. Great little Peruvian restaurant down the street--Inti Raymi--for seabass and ceviche!

If you have a little more time (daylight hours) either your first night, middle night, or last night, you might enjoy trying out Vista del Valle. .more expensive, but a lovely property away from the airport about 20 min. Simply gorgeous, great food.

Arenal: Arenal Paraiso (moderate, good view of the lava flow)

Los Lagos, (moderate)--gets good reviews for being kid friendly

Lost Iguana (more $$, gets great reviews)

Lots of other choices as well--I would not choose Tabacon, though.

Manuel Antonio: Tulemar Bungalows (deluxe) gets good reviews

Costa Verde--excellent value, great views, ask for studio plus for best value

Si Como No--more pricey, but a great place to stay--very kid friendly

Lots of other choices here as well. . .

Good luck in shaping up your trip. There are a lot of ways to do it, obviously. What makes sense to one doesn't to another, and what I've suggested to you is the way that appeals to me--not necessarily the BEST way!
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 04:28 AM
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Punta Islita is a lovely resort, but I'm not sure if I'd take my kids there. It is beautiful and romantic with beautiful rooms and gorgeous pool, restaurant and spa, but it is a bit isolated. If you're looking for luxury and nature activities your kids would enjoy, you might consider Lapa Rios. Bosque de Cabos gets good reviews, too.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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So, to throw another twist into this developing plan... would you trade Punta Islita for the Oso area (I think that is what the southern Pacifice Peninsula is called)? Does one make more sense than the other in terms of getting there, late November weather, beaches, sites?
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 08:24 AM
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The Osa would be a nice alternative, well suited to family adventure. If you save that for last and fly, it would be easy to choose Osa over Punta Islita. I agree that PI is better for couples--haven't been there, but the reviews would indicate that. Bosque del Cabo would be an excellent choice hands down. LOTS of wildlife to see--much more than your children would have the op to see at PI, for sure.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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Can't say thank you enough. I am truly amazed at all of the sincere help.

Current plan
Fly to SJ: 1 night
Drive to Arenal: 3 nights
Drive to MA: 4 nights
Fly to Oso Area: 4 nights - Bosque del Cabo!!
Fly to SJ: 1 night

Would we drive from MA to SJ to fly to Oso area?
Would you trade 1 night in MA for another in BdelC?

Btw, when discussing options with my husband, he asked, "What did Shillmac Fodor rec?"
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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Don't forget that you'll need to get back to SJO from Manuel Antonio, spend the night, and catch an early a.m. flight to Puerto Jimenez. So that's an extra night. . . Pretty sure you can't fly from Quepos to BdC--but do check!

And yes, I'd trade a night at MA for another one at BdC! I'd trade a night just about anywhere for a night at BdC.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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Shillmac is actually a bit on the "ditzy" side! Better beware of my recs!
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 02:12 PM
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I think your plans work out much better now, PI indeed looks beautiful but looks very much adult/couple oriented.

They don't have schedules out yet but the Quepos - PJ flights are becoming more & more common I've noticed in the past year. If you're already in MA, night as well fly straight down to PJ if possible, Leonardo & rest at BdC will be more than willing to work all that out for you.

Having been to both, I'd definitely take an extra day at BdC vs. MA. The wildlife/hiking opportunities are literally at your doorstep at BdC, so much more IMO to keep you and the kids busy (or not) as you want to be.

Orquideas is a great place to spend the first or last night.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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Your trip itinerary sounds really nice. When we went to Osa with our 2 kids, we went to Osa direct from a Pacuare rafting trip. Our travel provider at the time - Costa Rican Expeditions - arranged a charter flight. With 4 people, it cost about the same as flying on scheduled flights, and saved lots of time - better than going back to San Jose to make connections.
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Old Jan 14th, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Punta Islita is lovely but not a kids place really!
youll love Osa!!!!!
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Old Jan 15th, 2007, 09:41 PM
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Oso it is... I have been looking online and it certainly seems to make more sense for kids than PI.

So my new questions are:
1. If we rent a car in SJ - Drive to Arenal then to MA, can we return the car there (in MA) if we want to catch a flight to Puerto Jimenez and then back to SJ before going home?

2. Seems like Bosque del Cabo and Lapa Rios get great reviews... strong opinions anyone - one over the other?

3. What about airline preferences from CA?

Thanks!

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Old Jan 16th, 2007, 05:09 PM
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For your 4 nites close to Manuel Antonio please consider Rafiki Safari Lodge. Rafikisafari.com. we just got back from there. Your kids would love the very safe rafting trips. We loved it.
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Old Jan 16th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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Your rental company should be willing to let you drop your car at MA--for a fee. Used to be about $50, not sure now. They are used to doing all kinds of arrangements and will most likely be happy to work with you.

Haven't stayed at Lapas Rios, but know it must be very nice. I can't, however, imagine, enjoying anything more than Bosque del Cabo.
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Old Jan 16th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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Got a little comma happy back there.
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Old Jan 16th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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Which, rental, car, company, do, you, prefer

Airline?
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