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alannna Feb 27th, 2007 09:02 PM

mal pais, the osa pennisula & puerto viejo?!?
Hi there! My boyfriend and I are visiting CR the first two weeks of April. We're in our late 20's, very physically active, and have narrowed down our places of interest to mal pais, the osa pennisula & puerto viejo (perhaps in that order?) We want to (learn to) surf, explore, and RELAX! I'm at a total loss for the best method to travel to each place and get the most out of the experience, our time & money. Are these destinations too far apart and difficult to get to from one another within a 2 week period? I definitely don't want to be rushed. We can afford to fly but I'm not sure if planes even go between these places... please help! Any recommendations for places to stay, eat, etc. also welcome and greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

locolowe Feb 28th, 2007 04:12 AM

There are essentially two regional airlines - and Here is how you can determine if you want to fly - realize that almost all are flights to/from San Jose. Figure that you loose a day when you do a transfer. With 2 weeks you can do 3 places. Realize that you might have troubles with reservations if you haven't made them by now. This might determine if you go to all 3.

We don't surf, but Cabo Matapalo on the Osa Peninsula is known for its surfing and an area that is also good for beginners. There is a company there that will teach you to surf (it was available through our resort - we happened to stay at Bosque del Cabo - which by the way you will love if you are active - stay in the Garden for a great adventure).

You could drive but that really depends on your level of comfort/experience driving on terrible roads in a foreign country. If you do rent, make sure it is a real 4-wheel drive.

Let us know what you finally decide

shillmac Feb 28th, 2007 04:21 PM

First 2 weeks in April will be really tough--to get domestic air reservations, to book hotels you might prefer, etc. Easter is April 8. Peak season. All of the Ticos are vacationing then as well as many, many tourists. Lots of people will have been booked for a year already.

If you do manage reservations (during a more "normal" time), your itin. would look like this:

Rent car, drive to Mal Pais, stay 3 nights, return to San Jose. This will take about 5 nights)

Fly to Osa, return 4 nights later.

Drive on that same return day to Puerto Viejo. Stay 3 nights. Return to San Jose for last night before departure.

You shouldn't have trouble finding some space somewhere in Malpais, Ste. Teresa, or Montezuma, but the Osa may be problematic for you, and getting a flight down there next to impossible. You'll just have to check it out--quickly.

Getting to Puerto Viejo won't be a problem either. Rent a car again. Lots of places to stay in that area.

Good car rental company:

Good luck!

guanacaste Mar 1st, 2007 12:54 PM

Osa will be a problem to get accom and flights this late!
Mal Pais is not really a place to learn to surf, waves can get big:

PV is a better place to learn:

alannna Mar 1st, 2007 11:39 PM

THANK YOU so much for the info thus far! would it be possible to do the trip the other way around, i.e. start in puerto viejo, then go to the osa, then lastly mal pais? nature air flies to these places without having to stop back in san jose (i think? their website is a bit confusing). also, is there an area on the caribbean side that is best for beginner surfers? is cabo matapalois on the osa good for beginners as mentioned? should we skip mal pais all together? whew. thanks in advance!

shillmac Mar 2nd, 2007 02:37 AM

Malpais is a very good place to relax, as you mentioned doing, because nothing much to do there but surf, perhaps hike Cabo Blanco, visit Montezuma, and watch sunsets! It's been a couple of years since I was there, so perhaps less laid back now. I know there has been some development.

Cabo Matopalo would be good for surf lessons, but still, finding someplace at this late date will be tricky. You might check Iguana Lodge and some of the other hotels in Puerto Jimenez. Also, did you happen to check availability on Nature Air during those weeks? I would think most flights would be full already.

Sure, you can do the trip in reverse--just finding availability in those areas and getting your domestic air ticketed might be tough.

It really doesn't matter the order, but you really should begin checking hotel availability and airlines as well right away.

wayfarer Mar 2nd, 2007 06:38 AM

We just got back from Manuel Antonio and Mal Pais. You can learn to surf in Mal Pais (or more correctly Playa Carmen or Playa Santa Teresa). Guanacaste is correct that there are some big waves, but you can also find places to learn. My 8 and 11 year old boys both learned to surf there (I am not a surfer). If you do go there, try Rich, he works out of the surf shop next to Playa Carmen Pizzaria (In a little yellow house). You can also try him by email, it is either [email protected] or [email protected]. He is a Canadian and has lived in Mal Pais for 16 years. He can also help you out with snorkling trips to Cabuya / Cabo Blanco and other sites in the area.

If you do go to Mal Pais, our favorite places to eat were Marys (great fish dinners - best meal in CR), Las Piedras (Argentianian Grill - steaks, ribs, chicken cooked over an open fire), Pizzaria Playa Carmen (wood fired pizzas & on the beach - great for sunset)

We stayed at La Hacienda ($120 a night) and really liked it.

guanacaste Mar 2nd, 2007 09:48 AM

"Pizzaria Playa Carmen (wood fired pizzas & on the beach - great for sunset"

thats a great place to eat and watch the sunset!!

frenchbird Mar 2nd, 2007 11:36 AM

Ive just returned from a trip in Costa Rica with my boyfriend, we had 2 months there in total, it was a great trip and i wanted to post up about it, so heres my chance.
We spent time in Osa first then accros to Porto Viejo staying in San Jose for a night, Bocas Del Toro in Panama and back up to Tamarindo and worked our way down the Nicoya coast ending up in Mal Pais.
If you want to surf id suggest Santa Teresa, beautiful white sand beach and surfable and consistant waves. But id avoid satying there, we stayed in a place called Hotel Moana Lodge in Mal Pais about a kilometer from the beaches in Santa Teresa. It was much quieter and safer. The hotel was a dream its just been done up by new owners who were super friendly and helpful, all rooms come with ac, which youll definatley need at that time of year. Its very reasonably priced and it has a beautiful rooms and a pool, but no resturaunt, but theres plenty near by.
In Mal Pais, we tried surfing lessons, a canopy tour and quad biking, and a trip out to Isla Tortuga.
Getting around id suggest renting a car, you can find one for about $500 a week, but book ahead as i hear easter week is crazy. Or hire a quad when in Mal Pais. As for doing all 3 locations it will be crammed and youll waste a lot of time travelling. Osa is wonderfully tropical, beachs dont really exist though, and its a little isolated as all hotels are self contained, we splurged in Hotel Iguana, little over priced but nice. But Mal Pais has wonderful beaches and jungle ful of wildlife were werre blown away, we saw monkeys and igunas, ant eaters, coatis, incredable, want to go back!

alannna Mar 5th, 2007 09:51 AM

UPDATE! With all of these helpful suggestions we have finally begun to shape a plan (based around availability - good call, shillmac). Of course, now more questions abound.

ARRIVE April 2nd (6:30 am), fly Nature Air to Tambor (12:30 pm), get over to Mal Pais & spend 4 nights relaxing on the beach, learning to surf, cooking and playing, etc. [By the way, how does one get from SJO to Tobias airport?] Waiting to hear more reponses about lodging available for the nights of the 2nd-5th, departing the 6th (thus far Hotel Moana Lodge & a tree house vacation rental have availability); would anyone recommend one over the other?

April 6th fly back to SJO, then fly, same day, Nature Air down to Drake Bay.

We were thinking about splitting the rest of our time on the Osa: half of it on the Drake Bay side to take advantage of snokeling Cano Island, etc., and the other half at the most southern tip near Cabo Matapalo / Dolce side so that we can really see what the Osa is all about, explore it from different angles, and not waste too much time traveling.

We thinking of spending the nights of April 6, 7, 8 in Drake Bay and then the nights of April 9-12 near Cabo Matapalo.

On the Drake Bay side, we've been given lots of options of places to stay for those nights (Mirador, La Paloma, Jinetas de Osa, Marenco Lodge & Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge). For the southern side, we've ben offered El Remanso, The Pearl, & limited dates at the BdC. I know these are tremendously varied in terms of price, so perhaps I'm the only one that can decide which to book: just thought someone might be able to help steer just a little in terms of recommendation.

What is just NOT to be missed?

For the latter half, I am really leaning towards El Remanso. It seems really remote and beautiful to me - I mean, I'm sure it ALL is - and their dates work better for us with this itinerary than trying to work around being about to stay at the BdC and then switch over to the Pearl. I really like the idea of surfing in different locations, too.

Is this a good idea?
Mal Pais first, the 2 sides of the Osa?
Would this be redundant?

We would be departing from Puerto Jimennez on April 13th (already booked the Hotel Grano de Oro for our last night / depart SJO at 7 am on the 14th.)

Unfortunately, we will not get to see the Caribbean side this time around. Hopefully, this means we will come again!

Thanks so much (again) for reading! Best wishes and happy travels!

shillmac Mar 5th, 2007 04:52 PM

It's a good itinerary for those wanting maximum beach time. Bosque del Cabo is so lovely, just a remarkable place, but I'd not want to juggle dates either. El Remanso would probably be a good choice for you. And it is very close to BdC!

I think you've done an amazing job of figuring all of this out during a difficult scheduling time. Good for you!

To get to Tobias, just hire a taxi. Less than $20, don't remember exactly how much--probably $12 or $15.

Have a great trip!

locolowe Mar 6th, 2007 03:45 AM

Agreed - great job with the planning. I too would stay at El Remanso rather than splitting up my time with two places on the Matapalo side. Haven't stayed at El Remanso, so can't help with that. They are neighbors to BdC on the Pacific side. Your surfing is on the Gulf side which you can't walk from their property - not sure if they do a shuttle or what. Also find out if they have an agreement for using the hiking trails of BdC. Granted there are signs posted saying trail for BdC guest only, but BdC's Saino Trail hooks up with one of El Remanso's trails (Canyon I think).

Also, when you read about the waterfall experience off of the Pacific beach, this is easily accessible from El Remanso as well given the location I wouldn't be surprised if it is on El Remanso's property.

Finally, a thought about your transfer from Drake to Matapalo. I don't know if it is possible but it would be worth asking people at Drake - you might be able to hire a boat to take you from Drake to the south side of Corcodova like Carate and then El Remanso to pick you up there.

Good Luck!

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