Monteverde or Arenal Help

Old Sep 10th, 2006, 02:11 PM
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Monteverde or Arenal Help

I will be visiting Costa Rica for the first time in June 2007. I would like to visit Arenal or Monteverde the first half of my trip, Manuel Antonio the second half.

Is the drive (transfer) from San Jose easier/faster to Arenal vs Monteverde?

What are your opinions of Arenal in comparison to Monteverde?

Has anyone stayed at Finca Valverde in Monteverde?

wander1591 is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2006, 08:29 PM
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How many days do you have?
What's more important to you?
Possibly seeing an active volcano in a beautiful lake setting or a beautiful tropical oak forest? You can find birds, monkeys, ziplines, canopy walks at both if you look in the right places. I would think the drive is easier/faster to Arenal. I got more kick out of watching Arenal erupt than Monteverde trees growing. I did have an incredible evening of tangos and latin jazz while in Monteverde at the Hotel Belmar Galleria that was one of the highpoints of my trip that year though. We missed seeing much of the animals in Monteverde but did hear the incredible Three Wattled Bell Bird. I'm headed back to Arenal for the third time this winter and really haven't considered returning to Monteverde. We are also including 2 nights at Bosque De Paz which is a beautiful cloud forest reserve on the way to Arenal about 2 hrs from Alajuela. Deffinately an option along the way for some higher elevation cloud forest without the long trek to Moteverde. Arenal offers other activities like the waterfall hike, waterfall repelling, Cano Negro Tour, etc.
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Old Sep 11th, 2006, 04:51 AM
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The drive to Arenal is definitely easier than to Monteverde. That being said. I preferred Monteverde hands down to Arenal. I just liked the more laid back feel of Monteverde and prefer hiking and nature more than hot springs and volcano watching. I felt the food options were better in Monteverde as well. We went to both this past June and you really can't go wrong with either. (I have a trip report which you should be able to find through my screen name.)
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Old Sep 11th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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We have also recently booked our second trip to Monteverde. While we enjoyed Arenal, we are not going there a second time. There is just something special about Monteverde. I think of it almost every day. It does depend on your interests though.
connette is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2006, 02:34 PM
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Thanks for the posts.

I am considering Finca Valverde, which I believe is actually in Saint Elena? I was looking at Trapp Lodge however, and it seems like it would be alot handier to stay closer to the reserve.

Has anyone stayed at either?

What disadvantages are there to staying closer to Monteverde as opposed to Saint Elena? Is there anywhere to go eat, etc. around Trapp Lodge? I'm not looking for nightlife. I'm just wondering about the possible expense/necessity traveling to town?
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Old Sep 11th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Monteverde and St. Elena are so close that it really doesn't matter. I liked staying in Monteverde close to the reserve and all the green stuff. I stayed at Fonda Vela and liked it a lot. I have some friends who live in Monteverde and have complaints about the Trapp Lodge contaminating the environment by letting sewage spill onto the street and not cooperating with requests to clean up, etc., so I don't stay there on principal. Two years ago you could smell the sewage when you walked by. Maybe they've cleaned up their act by now though.

Personally, I think both Arenal and Monteverde are worth visiting, and it makes a real difference if you get a guide. I recommend Marcela Morales in Monteverde.

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Old Sep 13th, 2006, 11:09 AM
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i'd choose la fortuna, arenal over monteverde, more to see?do!
from monteverde get the jeep-boat-taxi to la fortuna across lake arenal.
if you're driving it might be better to skip monteverde as the road there sucks!
if you go to monteverde visit santa elena reserve next door, less crowded, more wildlife!
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Old Sep 16th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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I like Monteverde and have been there way more times than Arenal. I am more a woodsy kind of person. I don't have to be on the go with amusements keeping me occupied. I am just as happy sitting on a log listening to things (do check to make sure there isn't anything under that log though)or wandering quietly through the woods. I find the Santa Elena reserve nicer because there aren't as many tourists but there are trails that are less traveled in Monteverde as well.

I kind of like staying in the middle, ie just outside of town. My favorite was a little pension right on the corner of the main road and the road down to the butterly garden. It will mean a taxi to either of the reserves but it also means I can walk to restaurants, Finca Ecologica, the Butterfly garden, the orchid garden and more. If you stay in one of the outer areas near one or the other reserve you will have to get a taxi to do anything else. Those outer places are very peaceful so it is a matter of preference. I have been lucky enough to have done both ways.

That said, Arenal does have its strong points. A live volcano! Easy access to Cano Negro, the Sarapiqui river for rafting (a bit of a drive but very do-able from Arenal) or visiting the caribbean rainforest for a day. It is definitely an easier trip to drive. I never get tired of the rainbows and the views of the Gulf of Nicoya when going up to (or down from) Monteverde off of the Interamerican hwy.
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Old Sep 17th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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If you are going to Manuel Antonio I would definitely choose Arenal, because you will see animals and tress at MA.

We were in CR last month and stayed at a new hotel....Arenal Springs Resort..on lovely grounds with two swimming pools and a nice dining room. (It is still being built, but we didn't hear construction noise.

It consists of duplex units and every one has an unobstructed view of the volcano. Both nights we were there we saw glowing lava flowing down the mountain.

At Manuel Antonio we hired a guide for the park. He had a scope and was able to point out the wildlife and then put the scope on it so that we could see ib better, and even take pictures through the lens. We saw a whole crowd of monkeys playing in the trees, sloths, a boa constrictor, iguanas, a cayman, a racoon, and etc.
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Old Sep 21st, 2006, 04:39 PM
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Having been to all three of these locations dozens of times, it is interesting to read all of these posts. Everyone has a different viewpoint! I guess I will wade in too.

I much prefer Monteverde to Arenal. The Hot Springs at Arenal keep getting more crowded and more expensive. I was talking with one of the managers at the annual travel convention, and she told me that they were raising the entrance to $45.00 per person. There are nature oriented things to do around the volcano, but they pale compared to Monteverde.

Yes, the last 18 miles up the mountain to Monteverde are tough going. But really, they are just bumpy. I have never been worried about being stuck, and it is an amazingly beautiful drive. But the abundant nature in this area are worth the trip.

Plus, it is at least an hour shorter than driving from Manuel Antonio to Arenal.

Finca Valverde has an interesting location. While it is probably the closest hotel to Santa Elena, it backs up to the Santa Elena Reserve. They have left a lot of foilage on the grounds, and it is interesting to see the animals that wander close to your room.

If you don't have a car, you would probably do better to say near Santa Elena. If you do, I like the area near the reserve. But this means looong walks if you don't have wheels.

Hope this helps!

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
Costa Rica Travel Exchange
Costa Rica Concierge
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