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Monica May 19th, 2002 05:22 PM

Itinerary suggestions for Costa Rica?
My husband, 18 mos old daughter and I will be going to Costa Rica from June 27 to July 9th. I went ten years ago on a rather rugged trip with an ex, but my husband hasn't ever been before. We'll be renting a car because of the whole carseat issue (don't want to have to carry it around between taxi rides) and we're looking for suggestions on where to go where the driving is easy. It will be rainy season so places like Monteverde and probably Arenal are out (I didn't make it to Arenal but Monterverde will be too much with the baby). We definitely want to go to Manuel Antonio and over to the Montezuma area (I believe that road is now nicely paved, no?). Does anyone have any suggestions for a third locale? Does Tamarindo make sense? Any help is much appreciated.

Iza May 20th, 2002 06:43 AM

Monica, I think Tamarindo would be nice to stay at with a small child, but it is quite a distance from your other destinations. The driving time from SJ is around 5 hours, roads are good and paved all the way (except the last couple of miles leading into the town - not a big deal).

Ally May 20th, 2002 07:26 AM

I agree that Tamarindo would be a good choice, but I'm not so sure you want three locations in the time you have. Depending on the time you arrive, you'll probably want to stay in the San Jose/Alejuela area your first night, and last night as well. If you arrive on Thursday 6/27, Friday the 28th would be a travel day and getting settled in your first location. Then, Mon 7/8 would be a travel day back to somewhere near the airport for the last night. That only leaves 9 days.. which may be a bit much to try and go to three locations. Just something to think about. Have fun!

Monica May 20th, 2002 10:16 AM

Iza and Ally, thanks for the feedback. If I go to just Tambor and Manuel Antonio, am I missing anything by not going to a third destination? We're really interested in seeing lots of wildlife and maybe doing a bit of snorkeling. Any lodging suggestions for Tambor? I know I'm missing a lot by not being more adventurous but it's the compromise I made with my husband in order to get him to agree to make the trip at all.

Iza May 20th, 2002 10:32 AM

We like Tamarindo very much but I think that less is more in your situation. With a little child, the less time you spend driving, the better. I think that 2 places in 9 days will give you a better chance to relax. If you feel that you would like to see more, consider staying in the San Jose area for an additional night or two (I am assuming you are staying in that area anyway for your first and last night in CR) and taking a short day trip from there (e.g. Poas Volcano, coffee plantations in the area, shopping in Sarchi, Los Angeles cloud forest etc.).<BR>

Monica May 20th, 2002 02:13 PM

Iza: I think we will take your advice and stay in San Jose for another night and take that four-in-one tour. I know it will be tough on my daughter but I think it will be a good Costa Rican overview and help us to spot wildlife later in the trip. Any suggestions on where to stay? I saw some really great looking restored villas in the historic area of Costa Rica that intrigue me, are they nice or is that a bad area? Then we'll go to Manuel Antonio (stay at Si Como No) and then to Tambor. My husband wants to be pampered so I found the Barcelo Playa Tambor all-inclusive on the web--is that a good place?

Iza May 20th, 2002 02:51 PM

Monica, I am not sure if you can actually do it all in one day. I was thinking maybe one or two combined: Poas and Sarchi, for example. I think Los Angeles would be a destination on its own.<BR>We liked Si Como No when we stayed there last year, but I would really hesitate to stay there with a small child. The hotel is built on a side of a hill, with plenty of stairs, suspended walkways, overhanging terraces. Not a place I would feel comfortable at with an active toddler. Unfortunately, I cannot help you with Barcelo Playa Tambor - we did not stay there.<BR>As to where to stay in SJ, I would suggest you stay outside of the city. San Jose was really crowded and busy with a lot of smog. We stayed at two places outside of San Jose that we really liked: Xandari ( and Vista del Valle (

Monica May 20th, 2002 08:23 PM

Good tip on Si Como No, I certainly don't want to be holding onto my daughter with a death grip for four solid days. Any other suggestions for Quepos?

Iza May 21st, 2002 05:00 AM

Monica, we have not stayed there but another place we considered in Manuel Antonio is Tulemar Bungalows. It seems like it is located on flatter ground so should not have the same issues as Si Como No. Sorry if I have disrupted your plans with Si Como No, but look closer at the pictures on their website - none of the railings are child proof. <BR>If you change your mind about Manuel Antonio and decide to go to Tamarindo instead, I would recommend that you stay at Capitan Suizo. It is very family friendly and should accommodate a young child easily.

Monica May 21st, 2002 08:14 AM

I actually had noticed in the pictures the child unsafe railings, and now that I know they are prevalent I'll steer clear of Si Como No. We knew going into it we'd have to make compromises on this trip, and knowing problems ahead of time is great. I'll check out those bungalows. Also, you said earlier that the four-in-one tours would be a bit much for one day, and I agree. But what I'd really be interested in is the Sarapiqu&iacute; River tour and I can't find a place that offers just that. Is it the kind of thing where we could drive to a boat dock and just take an individual tour, or do you have to do it through a touring company as a package deal?

Iza May 21st, 2002 09:43 AM

We actually took the Costa Rica Highlights tour that included a boat ride on Rio Sarapiqui. It was a very nice tour but may be a bit much for your daughter. If you just want to do the river, I think you should have a tour company arrange that for you. You probably could drive over to Puerto Viejo (that is a town on Rio Sarapiqui, there is also a town of the same name on the Carib coast) and see if you can get someone to take you in a boat. But I think the better way of doing it may be with a tour company. You could try this one:<BR><BR>I don't know anything about this company, but the tours sound interesting.

Monica May 21st, 2002 11:06 AM

Thanks, that looks great. You've been a big help, you must have young kids too?

Iza May 21st, 2002 12:14 PM

Monica, I have an 8 year old and we took her to Costa Rica twice, when she was 6 and 7. A bit older than your daughter but I can still remember the days when she was a curious toddler and we had to keep a close eye on her. <BR>We really loved Costa Rica and she enjoyed it tremendously too. I have done a lot of research before our trips, especially the first one, because I had concerns about travelling there with a child. I am glad I could be of help to you. Please post here if you have any other questions.

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