Itinerary help

Old Jan 1st, 2008, 03:59 PM
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Itinerary help

We're planning our first trip to CR in mid-April, for 10 nights, 9 days. We have two girls, ages 14 and 5. Trying not to drive TOO much.

We are considering three possible itineraries:

1. SJ (1 night) to Arenal (2 nights) to Monteverde (2-3 nights). Then we'd like to go to the beach. But I'm concerned that Manuel Antonio is too far from MV. Are there good/ interesting beach destinations closer to Monteverde, that won't leave too long a drive back to San Jose?

2. SJ (1 night) to Manuel Antonio (3 nights) to Arenal (3 nights) to either Villablanca or Peace Lodge (2 nights). This seems to be shorter, but we miss Monteverde. Is the Los Angeles cloud forest a good substitute for MV? Will we be missing too much by skipping MV? Will the teenager be able to do ziplines and the like either in the Los Angeles cloud forest or in Arenal?

3. Some combination of MA and Monteverde. Does anybody know how long a drive it is from MA to Monteverde? We could start by spending 3 nights in MA, then drive to Monteverde. But where to go from there?

Many thanks.
Marco13 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2008, 04:13 PM
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I'd go with #2. The kids will LOVE Peace Lodge (and hopefully you'll enjoy it too)! There are several choices of ziplines in Arenal that will be perfect for your teen. I wouldn't stress too much on not seeing Monteverde, not because it's not worth seeing, but because it's just not possible to hit all the great destinations in CR in one trip. Save it for next time!
hipvirgochick is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2008, 04:18 PM
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I like #2 too. The driving isn't long distance but takes a long time as you never go much more than 40 mph (sometimes 50 on the way to Manual Antonio, but also often 25 all the way up a mountain side back to Peace Lodge area).
Sajego is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2008, 11:04 PM
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I say #2 as well. My girls loved Arenal. The older one (9) did the Sky Trek zip lines with my husband while the younger one and I did the Tram portion. It was a great experience. We combined Arenal, Manuel Antonio and the Osa for our 14 night trip. We stopped over at Peace Lodge for the afternoon to hike and tour and really enjoyed the grounds.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 04:34 AM
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I'd definitely say option #2 is your best bet. We did a combo of Arenal and Manuel Antonio for our first trip and skipped Monteverde just because there wasn't enough time to see and do it all. If you're like most of us, you will be going back again.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 05:05 AM
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#2 is exactly our itineray for our upcoming trip in March. I'll let you know how it goes!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 08:35 AM
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Thanks so much!

Has anybody been to the Los Angeles cloud forest / Villablanca?

Wondering if that's an easier-to-reach alternative to Monteverde, providing a somewhat similar experience.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 09:07 AM
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One more suggestion, I would do MA for 4 nights and PL for 1 night, especially if you're coming from Arenal, it's only about a two hour drive.

Don't worry about missing Monteverde, we included it in our first trip (12 days) and did not think it was worth the drive there. I found Arenal much more interesting with more to do.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 10:28 AM
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We did a similar trip with our kids. I would consider skipping SJ and going directly north of the airport for a fantastic stay in a beautiful free standing buildings with wrap around porches, hammock swings and the sounds of the rain forest. Beautiful grounds, pool and restaurant. Small hotel and just beautiful. It is called the Vista del plantation inn. It is about 15 minutes from the airport (if my memory of time is right), and you cut off the drive into SJ and the drive back out the next day. YOu have already cut 2 hours off of your vacation!
I would skip Monteverde and go to Arenal. My kids loved zip lining there. It was amazing.
Also pay the money and don't miss the Tabacon Hot Springs. It is a wonderful (sitting under waterfalls etc. experience).
We rented a car from Toyota rentals and had absolute NO trouble. THey checked the car with a fine tooth comb.
We were almost mugged in SJ, so if you go there, try not to look like a tourist and keep your eyes open. My daughter and I had just come out of the tourist bureau. I think that if a thief wants to find a tourist...a tourist bureau is a good place to wait for people. Luckily, I was very aware of my surrounds due to the fact we have travelled a lot. It did scare my daughter and I and we decided that we would stay with the guys next time!
I am open to more quesstions if you have them, as it seems you are planning a trip similar to the one we went on.
Oh, one more thing...if you are interested in the rainforest, there is a lodge called Selva Verde which is stilted house above the rainforest, they do eco tourism...walks in the rainforest etc. It is really a good deal, includes all food and a lot of informational stuff. We also took a boat ride down a river from there, which was laced with monkeys, crocodiles, toucans etc.
Enjoy. CR is a wonderful place to take your kids!
travelqueenca is offline  
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