Itinerary help, please!

Old Sep 12th, 2004, 03:29 PM
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Itinerary help, please!

This forum has provided lots of great suggestions and advice for planning my husband's and my first trip to Costa Rica. But I still have some uncertainties before we finallize our itinerary and would really appreciate some feedback. We are a very easy going and active couple in our late 40's. We LOVE the beach, mostly for swimming and snorkeling. We don't like crowds and we despise tours. We like towns with some character (but not too much character!). We only have 8 days and want to find an awesome beach and on-the-beach accomodations that are spacious, well-kept, and reasonably priced. We don't need any amenities like pool, golf, etc. But we do like good food! We want to interact with locals. AND we want to enjoy a wonderful rainforest for a couple of days without having to travel too far. So far, we've found a wonderful house at a great rate in Mal Pais; but there doesn't seem to be a good rainforest nearby, and we are undecided as to whether to just focus on Mal Pais (is that "too" much time there?)or to spend a lot of time driving to get somewhere else. We thought very seriously about Samara, thanks to so many great posts here, but it seems even more challenging to get to and from there. As for rainforests --- MA seems too crowded. Any other good options in the Guanacaste or Nicoya Peninsula areas? Thanks so much for your help!
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 04:41 PM
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When are you going? Manuel Antonio really is your best bet for a rainforest and beach combination. And only 3 hours from the airport. Other locations would take you anywhere from 5-6 hours. It is less crowded during the week than on the weekend.

MalPais is beautiful, but it is difficult to get to (worth it), but 8 days there would be too long, I think. Samara is actually much easier to get to than MalPais. Again, 8 days in this one place would be a little long as well.

Probably the best rainforest is found down on the Osa Peninsula, but traveling down there requires a domestic flight (because it takes an entire day to drive there). Lodging is expensive there--everything is all-inclusive because of the relative isolation of the entire peninsula. You could expect to pay around $120 per day per person. October wouldn't be a good month to go because of excessive rainfall. If you are planning a trip sometime between December and July, this would be an ideal location for the type of vacation you are looking for.

There are some nice beaches in the northern Guanacaste area, but no rainforest nearby. There is the Rincon de la Vieja area with tropical dry forest. Pretty area and lots of wildlife. Guanacaste gets less rain than other parts of the country; consequently during the dry season, it isn't as lush and green as during the rainy season--actually more brown and dusty!

Another option for you would be to try the Caribbean side. Here you would have less crowds, better snorkeling, and a forest/beach combination. It is less developed, with more of a Jamaican feel, but very beautiful. Cahuita Parque Nacional is very nice. Lots of people love that side, but most head for the Pacific. Any of the areas I've mentioned will offer some good hotel options that are nice, but not sky high. When you decide which area you'd like to visit, you can then check out hotels.

For 8 days, unless you are intent on spending all days on the beach, you could really enjoy a couple of days in the central valley (at Arenal, for example), then 5 on the beach. You could also get into some wonderful rainforest area by rafting the Pacuare River out of San Jose for one or two days (they offer an overnight trip--same amount of white water, more down time). As active as you are, this sounds like a good option for you, then head to whichever beach you choose!
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 03:05 PM
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Hi shillmac: Ooops -- I forgot to mention we are going to be in CR in mid-November. (Can't you read my mind? ). Thanks for your reply and the great suggestions. We've decided to go to Osa at a future date, when we hope we can be there in the dry season. We've gone ahead and reserved a house in MalPais (we'll fly into Tambor) and from there will visit Samara , Montezuma, and Cabo Blanco. I appreciate your recommendation regarding Rincon and will look into how to get there. The Pacuare River is definitely a must -- but more likely at a future date. Also, I would love to figure out how to get to Guaitil on this upcoming trip-- looks like an adventure waiting to be had! Thanks again for your thoughts!
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 06:17 PM
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Buen Viaje!
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 09:20 AM
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Montezuma and Cabo Blanco will be nice visits from Mal Pais, but not Samara, unless you spend at least a night there. It will take you 4 or more hours to get to Samara from Mal Pais, not good for a day trip. But I think you'll really be happy with Mal Pais and areas closer.
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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 03:15 PM
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Ally is correct. Perhaps you were thinking of staying a few days at MalPais and then moving up to Samara for a few days. Even so, it will be a long drive (I'd guess more than 4 hours). You won't be able to get to Samara along the Pacific Coast. Even though it looks like a short stretch along the coast on the map, it is considered impassable during the rainy, difficult during the dry! So you will need to drive back to Paquera, then work your way north and eventually back west to the coast.

How are you planning to get from place to place considering you are flying into Tambor? I didn't think you could fly from Tambor to Samara, but perhaps you can!
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