Highlights of fabulous trip to CR

Old Sep 11th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Highlights of fabulous trip to CR

Hi all:
My family of 4, including a 12 year old and 16 year old, returned on Labor Day from a fabulous 9 day trip to Costa Rica. I definetly have some recommendations for all you Fodorites planning trips to CR.

1. If you are going to be doing some moving around, like traveling from Arenal to Manuel Antonio or Monteverde, hire a driver. Driving through the mountains can be a bit difficult and you'll want to be taking in the beauty and not worrying about the turns and the roads. (Plus, it really is not that much more expensive than renting.) We hired the incredible, Juan Carlos Castillo. Juan Carlos's driving skills, sweet nature, and sheer love of his country helped make our trip so enjoyable. Juan Carlos can be reached at [email protected] (Let me know if you have difficulty contacting him and I'll figure out another way to reach him.)

2. We spent three nights in Arenal. I recommend the Arenal Paraiso Resort. The casitas are tasteful and simple with wonderful views of the volcano. (Howler monkeys behind our casita at 4:30 AM were an experience - hey, this is Costa Rica!) The following activities were a lot of fun:
a. soaking in the hot spring pools and regular pool.
b. Zip line canopy tour over the trees. We spotted toucans and monkeys.
(not for the faint-hearted).
c. Hanging bridges tour with guide. Saw howler monkeys, fantastic birds, insects, etc.
d. Hike down to fabulous waterfall and a swim under the falls.

3. To break up the trip to Manuel Antonio from Arenal, we stayed one night at Hotel La Finca Que Ama in the small mountain town of San Pablo de Turrubares. I cannot recommend this wonderful hotel and its owners, Neta and Arbel, enough.
The Hotel with its 10 casitas feels as intimate as a bed & breakfast. It's in the middle of this rural mountainous region which is incredibly beautiful. Neta is one of the nicest people you could ever meet in CR. Throughout the summer, before my trip, she answered my questions and helped me with details. The meals she and her staff served at the Hotel were absolutely 4 star quality. Email Neta about her place and Costa Rica and I guarantee you will receive a wonderfully warm response within 24 hours (unless her computer is down). Neta's email address is [email protected] and the website for the hotel is www.costaricafinca.com

4. On our way from Neta's to Manuel Antonio, we received a tour of Carrera National Park by an extremely knowlegeable and personable tour guide named Roy Arroyo. Roy knew so much about the history of CR as well as its incredible biodiversity. WE saw crocodiles, frogs, and more with Roy.
Roy can be reached at [email protected] He's available to do nature tours at Manuel Antonio Park, as well.

5. Finally, in Manuel Antonio we stayed at Hotel Si Como No for 3 nights. The accomodations were nice although it was a bit expensive. The park and beach in Manuel Antonio are fantastic.
Here we saw white-faced monkeys, sloths in trees, iguanas, coatis and more. Our absolutely favorite activity was a horseback riding tour with Finca Valmy Tours (506-779-1118)
We rode through a beautiful farming village and then into the rainforest. We sloshed through a stream on our horses and took a break by swimming under a waterfall. We saw squirrel monkeys on this ride. The owners of the ranch met us at the end and we feasted together on a terrific lunch of tipica Costa Rican cuisine. A friendly toucan flew down out of a tree and perched on my 12 year old's plate which was the ultimate experience of this fabulous day!

6. Upon our arrival and departure from San Jose, we stayed overnight at the Orquideas Inn just outside the airport. Nice, clean, relatively inexpensive hotel on pretty grounds. Request a room away from the main road.

Just to sum up the highlights of our trip:
1. Our fabulous driver Juan Carlos.
2. Neta, the friendly and extremely helpful owner of Hotel La Finca Que Ama.
3. Roy Arroyo, our favorite guide.
4. Hanging bridges in Arenal
5. Swimming under waterfall in Arenal
6. Hotel La Finca Que Ama
7. Manuel Antonio Park and its animals
8. Horseback ride with Finca Valmy Tours.

Please feel free to email me questions. I'd be happy to help.
Pura Vida
Lisalawyer is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Thanks so much for a great trip report! Any restaurant recommendations in MA? My husband and I will be staying at Si Como No in November on our first trip to CR. Is there anything in walking distance from the hotel? Thanks also for info on a driver as we will be needing one as well.
Lauralis is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2005, 11:07 PM
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Thank you Lisalawyer, for a *fantastic* trip report--a definite keeper for "future CR trip" file.
My son and his wife went last yr to CR and went to Finca Valmy on thier tour (while, like you, staying at SCN) and LOVED it. It was just the two of them, with the owner as a guide, having a never-to-be-forgotten adventure.
I've been in touch with Neta , so for others reading this--yes, she is so helpful, and absolutely no pressure. I've learned much from her.
Thanks again for your informative account and recommendations!!
CaliNurse is offline  
Old Sep 16th, 2005, 07:48 PM
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Great trip review, Lisa. Thank you so much for sharing your family's experience in Costa Rica on the board. It has been our pleasure to know Neta for a couple of years now, and yes, she and Arbel are both a delightful to know. Don't they run a great hotel? Best food we've had in the country! I'll bet she thought you guys were very nice as well--Neta sees the best in everyone!
shillmac is offline  
Old Sep 17th, 2005, 05:57 PM
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To Lauralis,
By the end of our trip, we were not as adventurous about going out to eat because we were tired from all of our activities. We ate at the two restaurants at Si Como No, and they were both good. I don't believe you would be able to walk to many restaurants from Si Como No. However, there are many places to eat which are only a short cab ride away and taxis are fairly inexpensive in CR.
Lisalawyer is offline  
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