Mal Pais or Puerto Viejo de Talamanca?

Old Apr 10th, 2005, 06:49 PM
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Mal Pais or Puerto Viejo de Talamanca?

Okay, I'm a Libra and am having a terrible time finalizing our two week trip. We are starting in Tamarindo (6 days), going to Arenal for 2 days and them from there?...I thought it might be fun to visit the Atlantic side, but this past week I was in a cafe in Berkeley, CA and met a woman there who had lived in CR for two years. She informed me that the Limon/Cahuita, etc. area was dangerous and that I should not go out alone, etc. This was cause for alarm for me... I also heard that Mal Pais/St.Theresa was lovely and relaxing. Any advice or info about which route to take would be great. We have 6 days to spend and want to make the most of our relaxing adventure. Thanks!
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Old Apr 11th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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The woman in Berkeley was half-right. Limon can be unsafe if you are fairly spacey. It is a port town, and port towns around the world are a bit rough around the edges. Puerto Limon is no exception.

Cahuita is not dangerous at all. It is very small, with not really too much to offer, but then again, your post is titled "Mal Pais or Puerto Viejo de Talamanca?"

Puerto Viejo is not Limon and is not Cahuita. It is a terrific place - a bit like night for day compared to Mal Pais, which is on the other coast. I or no one else can really tell which of these great destinations - Puerto Viejo or Mal Pais - you would enjoy most. I can assure you, however, that safety should not enter into your decision-making process.
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Old Apr 11th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Thanks for your response. This is our first trip to CR and we want to have adventures but be able to relax as well. It's too bad we don't have more time. I'm leaning towards Mal Pais, as it seems like it may be more convenient to San Jose. We will be renting a car. Am I wrong? Is it more hassle to take the ferry from Puntarenas than to drive to the south Atlantic? Thanks again for any help.
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Old Apr 11th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Spend NO time in Limon--as Lair said, very typical port city. Cahuita has a few charms--most notably the national park. You'll want to check that out. Very pretty black and mixed sand beach. Puerto Viejo interesting and fun--lots of hotels south of there between PV and Manzanillo, where you might enjoy a private tour of the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. There is a place on the Sixaola River where you can have a boatman take you across to Chase, Panama for a minimal fee--if you are interested in saying you've been to Panama! We thought that was kind of cool. . .

Yes, the two are like night and day. It would be great to see both! The southern Caribbean has more of a Jamaican influence and the attitude reflects that. Hard to explain. Some folks may seem rude (especially compared to the rest of the country--the Ticos are very warm and friendly), but I'm not sure that is the intention? You just need to experience it. VERY laid back! My daughter and I spent a few days here in October of last year and had a great time. Didn't feel concerned about safety ever--but we colored inside the lines if you know what I mean. No partying, just enjoying nature.

MalPais is Costa Rican--definitely a difference. Also very laid back little surfer area, near Montezuma, which is not unlike Puerto Viejo in many ways. Attracts the younger set--and the young-at-heart! Hopefully you'll do both eventually. Right now, though, you can choose whichever you wish (or whichever seems to fit with the rest of your itinerary best)--you'll have a fabulous experience either place!

You didn't mention time of year for your travel, but the S. Caribe will likely be rainier--unless you travel in September/October when it rains less there (even though Sept. is more rainy on the Pacific side). The southern Caribbean doesn't follow the dry season/wet season rules: it can rain anytime, any day!

If you select the Caribbean, look for Abel Bustamante in Manzanillo to be your guide for a day. Great fellow! He can take you birding or just wildlife viewing in general. It would be time well spent.

Looking back at your original post, 6 days is a LONG time for Tamarindo. Could you do 4 nights Tamarindo (or even 3), 3 nights MalPais, 3 nights Arenal, 3 nights Puerto Viejo? Depending on your arrival and departure times, you could actually do the 4 locations very easily. You'd spend 24 hours total on the road probably, but Arenal would be a good midway point between MalPais and Puerto Viejo, breaking up what would be close to 10 hours of driving. Something to think about!
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Old Apr 11th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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Wow, wonderful response. Thank you. We are traveling from May 10-24. From what I understand now that it's too late, Tamarindo is very un-Costa Rican and becoming quite commercial. We have planned our wedding there and have a lot of friends and family coming from all over to be there with us. It's way too late to change that part of the itinerary. We will try to plan some day/fishing trips with the whole group in mind.

However, I wonder if you could tell me if it will rain more on the Caribbean side in May? I have read a couple of books about CR and my understanding is that May could be okay in both places.

Thanks again. You are always so nice and helpful.
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Old Apr 13th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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If you decide on the Mal Pais area (which I highly recommend for a first trip and honeymoon)check out costarica-beachrentals.com
They have the best accomodations in the area and are helpful with car rental and flights also.
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Old Apr 13th, 2005, 07:18 PM
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http://costa-rica-guide.com/Weather/...rMap.html#rain

Someone found this site many months ago and posted it on Fodor's and I think it is fairly reliable--although not foolproof, of course! It might give you a general idea of rainfall amounts.

Tamarindo is okay--don't worry about having planned too much time there. If there is a wedding involved, you probably haven't. Everyone will want time to visit, hang out as well as be involved in activities. They should have plenty of time to enjoy one another's company! Actually, the general area is an excellent part of Costa Rica to explore.
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Old Apr 14th, 2005, 02:05 PM
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Is Tamarindo close enough to Rincon de la vieja for a day trrip?
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Old Apr 14th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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A long day--it's a couple of hrs. drive.
People do it all the time--it's a good choice for a day!
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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Shillmac,
You are a lovely person and I thank you for your shared experience. I can't wait to see Costa Rica! Maybe someday we will meet there. We decided to spend our last days there in Montezuma at El Sano. From what I understand this was a wise choice for our honeymoon...

Thanks for all your help. Just counting the days!!!
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Que bueno! You are going to have a fabulous time! And, I don't think it's been said, Congratulations on your marriage and honeymoon! El Sano sounds wonderful--haven't stayed there, but if and when we return to Montezuma, we will! Everyone raves about it. You are in for a treat-- enjoy and best wishes!
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