Monteverde or Arenal?

Old Jan 19th, 2004, 08:36 PM
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Monteverde or Arenal?

I am planning a first time trip to Costa Rica. We will be there for 7 nights and are trying to decide between spending 2 nights in Monteverde and Arenal before heading to the beach at Tamarindo.

Does anyone have any advice? We're interested in doing a canopy tour but are pretty open otherwise. The hot springs at Tabacon sound amazing but wondering which destination is more recommended to first time visitors overall.

Also, how long does it take from San Jose to Monteverde? We arrive in San Jose at 12:30 so is it feasible to make the trip the same day that we land?

Thanks!
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 11:34 PM
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Monteverde. Arenal is nice, but the volcano hides behind clouds about 90% of the time and the trip can be a disappointment if you don't see the volcano. When I was there recently, the tour guide said that the volcano had been visible for a significant amount of time (in other words, long enough to view eruptions) for only two days of the last 3 months.

Monteverde has an incredible canopy tour, in addition to everything else the area has to offer, so if a canopy tour is a priority for you, choose Monteverde.

The only thing you will be missing is Tabacon, which is a definite trip highlight, but overall, Monteverde is my vote.

The road to Monteverde is an adventure. I drove from Arenal, so I'm not sure on the time, but it will probably take about 4 or 5 hours. If someone is driving you, you could go the day you arrive. If you are driving, wait until the next day.
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Old Jan 20th, 2004, 10:09 AM
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Let me know what you decide. Im deciding the same thing and just when I thought Arenal I hear awesome things about Monteverde. Arenal does have a canopy as well, but it sounds like Monteverde has a better one. The springs sound really nice though!
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Old Jan 20th, 2004, 03:48 PM
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My vote is for Monteverde!
Although we were fortunate to have great visibility while at Arenal.
Monteverde is on my must do again list!

The Cloud Forest is awesome, and the town is so cool. Lots of treasures here. There is really much more to do here than it probably seems.

Sure could use a cup of Monteverde coffee!

If you choose Monteverde try to plan a minumum 2 nights, 3 would be better.

You asked about time to Monteverde, Are you planning to rent a vehicle. If so, you may not get out of the airport in time to head up there. We drove and had no problems (accept for being lost a few times), but headed out in the morning.

You may want to consider doing your beach first, then Monteverde, and then a night closer to SJ for your last night, depending on departure time. There are some really great places within an hour of the airport.

I only suggest this because the road can be a bit nail biting at times, and would personally not want to be on it after dark.

Just my thoughts,
Donna




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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 10:27 AM
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I am picking Monteverde! On the last day our flight leaves from SJ at 6:25pm. If we drive early in AM to SJ from MA is there a place we could store luggage while we looked around the town?
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Old Jan 21st, 2004, 02:00 PM
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Pat told me the other day of new luggage storage just across the highway from the airport, somewhere near the Hampton Inn. Maybe someone else knows something about this.
Donna
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 09:10 AM
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Hello,
I have to disagree, go to Arenal and stay at Tabacon. It is as good as it sounds,we loved it there. Monteverde could be a day trip from there, adn I am sure the hotel could arrange your transfer. But if you do get to see the volcano at night, you will never forget it. We loved it and will return over and over again. We stayed at Monteverde, and for us it was nothing special, it is, but not for a few days. manuel Antonio is also very, very nice. I think nicer than Tamarindo. Hope that helps, Walt
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 09:42 AM
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We just returned from Monteverde and Arenal yesterday. Tough to choose--depends a lot on your particular interests. We actually saw the most wildlife on a day tour from Arenal--to Cano Negro. The amount of wildlife was astounding on the Cano Negro boat tour. We saw more animals on that 3 hour boat tour than 3 days of treks, hikes, and canopy tours in Monteverde and the Arenal area.

That's not to say that Monteverde and Arenal aren't worth it--just that Cano Negro is a great place for animals. I would be hard put to decide between Monteverde and Arnal--the volcano was fantastic and put on a great show the 2 nights we were there; it was clear both nights and the sight is unbelievable. We stayed at the Arenal Paraiso Resort and Spa and had a great time--no hotel has a better direct view of the current lava flow lines than the Arenal Paraiso. We also took a 4 PM guided walk through the forest to the closest volcano view point--saw a lot of animals, had a great guide who knew every inch of the place.

Monteverde is unique--we loved it. Even though the dirt roads were nightmarish--boulders sticking up a good foot out of the roadbed. No repairs made since the winter rains. Fortunately we didn't drive. Definitely do not drive the dirt road to Monteverde at night--it took forever on the dirt road with a professional driver who knows the road well, a total of about 3-1/4 hours from the airport in San Jose to the Hotel Fonda Vela.

From Monteverde to Arenal, we took the car-boat-car route. I recommend it if you don't drive. You see a lot of countryside and the lake as well. Got a great shot of Volcan Arenal from the lake. Only $25 per person for the trip. Taxis are dirt cheap in both Monteverde and the Arenal areas--$5 or $10 takes you just about anywhere you'd want to go in either place.

Monteverde would be a long and difficult day trip. Mostly traveling back and forth.
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