Itinerary 2 weeks end April/early May with kids

Jan 8th, 2018, 04:21 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 8
Itinerary 2 weeks end April/early May with kids

Hi all,

I have been reading many travel reports and forums and we finally decided: we will go to Costa Rica, arriving on April 26th, leaving late May 10th. We are 40, traveling with 2 kids, age 8 & 6. We are looking for nature, wildlife, adventure and beach.

After a few iterations, I came to the following itinerary:


Thursday 26-Apr Travel to CR
Friday 27-Apr Manzanillo
Saturday 28-Apr Manzanillo
Sunday 29-Apr Manzanillo
Monday 30-Apr Manzanillo
Tuesday 1-May La Fortuna
Wednesday 2-May La Fortuna
Thursday 3-May La Fortuna
Friday 4-May Samara
Saturday 5-May Samara
Sunday 6-May Samara
Monday 7-May Manual Antonio
Tuesday 8-May Manual Antonio
Wednesday 9-May Manual Antonio
Thursday 10-May Fly home (8 PM flight)
Friday 11-May Home

A few questions:
- I know we are moving around a few times, but is 4 locations in 2 weeks ok?
- If we would stay 4 nights in Manzanillo, could we easily explore Cahuita NP from there? Or better to have 2 nights in Manzanillo and 2 in Cahuita?
- I have a hard time choosing between MA and Samara as I read great things about both (although some people are negative about MA because of the amount of tourists. I expect early May not to be high season). Is it really not advisable to do both?
- Any other suggestions to improve the itinerary?
- How will the weather be in general? I expect some rain, but not a LOT..
- Will mosquitos be a major concern around this time of the year?

Thanks a LOT in advance!
LordBonez is offline  
Jan 8th, 2018, 06:54 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,308
I think your plan sounds good. You can easily visit Cahuita from Manzanillo as a day trip. I wouldn’t move.

I haven’t been to Samara, but it is on my list. I would not drop it. MA is great, but idk if the long haul will be worth it. If you plan to fly home from San Jose, then yes. But if you can fly home from Liberia, perhaps finish up closer to Samara? Have you thought about finishing up a few days near San Jose? Like the Peace Lodge/La Paz waterfall gardens.

I can’t advise on the weather, but bring bug spray. There may not be a mosquito problem, but there are other smaller bugs that bite. I got eaten up by no-see-ums, but my husband was fine.
MichelleY is offline  
Jan 8th, 2018, 07:53 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
We love Manuel Antonio; the beach inside the national park is beautiful, and there's super easy access to wildlife, tons of monkeys and sloths. We love Tulemar Bungalows if you need a place to stay, and they have their own beach. You also get a concierge with your stay; they'll even stock your frig with groceries. We liked having the frig to keep drinks cold, store breakfast stuff, leftovers, etc. Manuel Antonio Expeditions is a good tour company. We used them for a guided tour of the national park and for the Damas mangrove tour. Other than that, we just spend time at the beach. Vacation Buggy gets rave reviews, but we haven't tried it yet. MA would be fine in May; the weather tends to be pretty warm there always so you'll want air conditioning. Have not been to Samara, but it is popular with young families. I think it's fine to do both. Agree with Michelle that should fly home from SJO if staying in MA.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 9th, 2018, 11:59 PM
  #4  
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 8
Hi,

After a lot of thinking and reading I once again updated the plan. Idea is now to fly in to San Jose and out of Liberia. This saves some travel time. I decided to skip Manuel Antonio because we will see wildlife on the southern caribbean coast and tortuguero or sarapique. Beach time we can have in southern caribbean as well as Samara.

Thursday 26-Apr Travel to CR
Friday 27-Apr Cahuita or Manzanillo
Saturday 28-Apr Cahuita or Manzanillo
Sunday 29-Apr Cahuita or Manzanillo
Monday 30-Apr Cahuita or Manzanillo
Tuesday 1-May Sarapiqui or Tortuguero
Wednesday 2-May Sarapiqui or Tortuguero
Thursday 3-May La Fortuna
Friday 4-May La Fortuna
Saturday 5-May La Fortuna
Sunday 6-May La Fortuna
Monday 7-May Samara
Tuesday 8-May Samara
Wednesday 9-May Samara
Thursday 10-May Fly home (8 PM flight)
Friday 11-May Home

Any thoughts here? Should we opt for Sarapique or Tortuguero in April/May?
And what is nicer, stay in Cahuita for 4 days or south of PV?

Thanks!
LordBonez is offline  
Jan 10th, 2018, 09:19 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
What are you wanting to do while you're in Tortuguero? I don't believe that's turtle season, so if that's your goal, I'd skip it. You can still see wildlife there. It's all canal based so you have to either boat or fly in. You would spend most of your time riding around in a boat looking at wildlife which is still fun as long as you don't have your heart set on turtle viewing. The season was July-October for the ones we saw. Also you can't swim at beaches in Tortuguero due to crocs and bull sharks and rough tides.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 10th, 2018, 10:13 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,308
We stayed with family between Cahuita and PV. We always went into PV for meals, shopping, etc. as it has much more to offer. I can’t give much info on Manzanillo. I spent some time on a beach near there but didn’t make it to Manzanillo proper. Our trip was about 10 years ago, so not sure if things have changed much, but road conditions were atrocious. Slow going in this part of CR.

Like I said, our trip was 10 years ago, but here is a link to my report:
https://www.fodors.com/community/mex...rip-report.cfm
MichelleY is offline  
Jan 10th, 2018, 01:28 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
Glad you're going to the Arenal area, tons to do there - hiking at the waterfall, the volcano, and the Hanging Bridges, beautiful natural hot springs like Tabacon or Eco Termales, the Penas Blancas safari float, Cano Negro tour to see wildlife, Proyecto Asis animal rescue center, and lots of nice adventure activities like ziplining and rafting. Desafio is a good company for tours if you need one.
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 21st, 2018, 02:13 AM
  #8  
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 8
Hi

Thanks all!
I have been reading and reading and I come to the following plan now. I skip the caribbean coast, as both coast will be too much travel. I want jungle and wildlife but also some quality beach time with the kids. Plan now is as follows:

26-Apr-18 arrival
27-Apr-18 Sarapiqui
28-Apr-18 Sarapiqui
29-Apr-18 Arenal
30-Apr-18 Arenal
01-Mei-18 Arenal
02-Mei-18 Arenal
03-Mei-18 samara
04-Mei-18 samara
05-Mei-18 samara
06-Mei-18 samara
07-Mei-18 manuel antonio
08-Mei-18 manuel antonio
09-Mei-18 manuel antonio
10-Mei-18 depart

We have 4 locations in 2 weeks, which should be feasible I think. Also the driving is not crazy.
2 things:
- is 4 days Samara too much? Would it be bette to split between Samara and Montezuma or so? Or move 1 day Samara to Manual Antonio to explore e.g. Dominical from there?
- I consider a stop between Arenal and Samara because of the long drive. However, not sure which place would be worthwhile. Any suggestions?

Any other feedback of course is more than welcome!
I have an 8 PM flight on the 10th, so morning leave from MA to SJO would be ok I guess.

Thanks!
LordBonez is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 09:05 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
Yes, MA to SJO is about three hours, so you'd be fine to leave that until your last day since you have such a late flight. Have not been to Samara, but there's more to do in MA, so you may want more time there unless you just want relaxing beach time. Have you decided on hotels yet?
volcanogirl is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 04:03 PM
  #10  
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 8
Hi,

no MA is definitely not for Beach only. I want to do wildlife tour at least and of course Some Beach!
any other recommendations for MA?

i still need to book all hotels, so any recommendations are welcome!

Thanks!
LordBonez is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 09:04 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 23,740
In the Sarapiqui area, we stayed at Selva Verde in a room back by the river. In MA, we like Tulemar Bungalows that I mentioned up above. In the Arenal area, we've stayed in quite a few places. The Arenal Observatory Lodge has great trails and lots of wildlife; it's off a long bumpy road, but we thought it was worth it. Have also stayed at Nayara, The Springs Resort, and the Lost Iguana, but they may be more than what you're looking for. Silencio del Campo is another popular spot, and Los Lagos is very popular with young families. I recommended a few MA activities up above - besides beach, the Damas mangrove tour, and a guided tour of the park, we also went on a snorkeling/sailing excursion and did the Villa Vanilla spice tour. The snorkeling isn't great due to all the sediment in the water, but sailing was fun. Tulemar has started doing a sloth walk too.
volcanogirl is offline  
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