Monteverde vs Arenal, is one enough?

Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Monteverde vs Arenal, is one enough?

Going to CR 9 days in May. Want to avoid tourist traps as much as possible (From Fla. land of mickey mouse and resorts, enough said). But would hate to miss the best point in a country. Were on limited time, and would love to explore as much as possible. Would spending 2 days in Arenal, skipping Moteverde, and exploring other areas be a total travesty? I know there's mixed opinions, but I'm torn and need to hear some pros and cons. Thanks
MBlong4travel is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 01:13 PM
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I was faced with a similar situation because I am going for my honeymoon and we didn't want to spend half of our already short trip in a car rushing to see all the must-sees.

From what I have read from other people, most would do Arenal over Monteverde because Arenal is so unique. Some of what you'll see in Monteverde is available in other ecological areas. Then again, I imagine more tourists are in Arenal. Someone recommended to me not to worry about seeing Arenal for a day trip because there is a fair chance you could bank your trip on seeing the volcano and the clouds may prevent you from seeing it. You may avoid this with two days there, but it's something to think about.
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Old Mar 4th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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Just don't decide to spend only one night at either location. Consider two nights stay a minimum for either. That gives you one complete day surrounded by two travel days of which some part of the travel day is available to enjoy the location.

We all have our comfort levels and desires to "let's unpack and stay here several days" -OR- "c'mon! wake up! let's go, lets get moving, we gotta see more of CR!"

Same goes for the bumpy road up to Mont. Some view this as "oh no, a long, bumpy, uncomfortable terrible road." Others consider the drive and enjoyable part of the adventure and excitement of this amazing day in CR.
Travel isn't a commute that takes away from your trip. It's a great part of your trip, with lots to see, stops to make, detours, etc.

I love both of these locations. If you have to skip one, I think that calls for a return trip!

>>"most would do Arenal over Monteverde because Arenal is so unique. Some of what you'll see in Monteverde is available in other ecological areas.">>

Just don't assume "a rainforest is a rainforest." You can see three very different kinds of rainforests in Mont., Arenal, Manuel Antonio, for example.
CR is full of wide bio-diversity just a short distance from each location (weather, wildlife, floral, fauna).

Go to Arenal with "hopes" of seeing the volcano, and the lava glow at night, but don't have "expectations." Many (majority?) visitors miss the view due to cloud cover, but it's a wonderful area, regardless.
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Old Mar 5th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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Having just done both locations on a one week trip I disagree with the common wisdom that doing both MV & Arenal for a night each is crazy. We spent a day in Tabacon, did a hike to the volcano (were very lucky with a crystal clear day) and actually saw the Volcano erupt a huge plume of sulphur with a loud bang!
The next morning we took the car/boat/car option to MV and it was an easy two and a quarter hour trip.
In MV we did zip lines, sky walks (saw a quetzal) and the hummingbird garden, plus a night hike in the reserve the first day. The second day we did a guided tour of the rainforest, had lunch, did a horseride and left at 4 pm to be driven back to a resort on the Pacific (took 3.5 hours).
Had I listened to advise to only go to one of these two I would have made a big mistake. We had two kids who were not tired by all the activities crammed into 3 days two nights as we had relaxed at our beach resort before and after the Arenal/MV trip.
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Old Aug 20th, 2005, 08:37 AM
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I am travelling with wife, 2 kids 9 and 4. I was wondering if its possible to stay at a hotel in Monteverde and just drive to a view of Arenal. Please advise.
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Old Aug 21st, 2005, 08:13 PM
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Although the distance does not look far on a map, it does take about 4 hours to travel from Monteverde to Arenal. Also, it is not an easy drive. Therefore, it would be a very long, tiring day to drive from Monteverde to Arenal, stay for a few hours near the volcano and drive back to Monteverde. It could also be disappointing for you if the only reason you are going is to view the volcano. The volcano is frequently hidden from view by clouds. Arenal is a great place to visit, as there are many activities in the area besides viewing the volcano. It would be better to try to plan a couple of days in Arenal in your travel arrangements. We visited Costa Rica for 10 days and spent 3 nights in Arenal, 2 in Monteverde, 3 in Manuel Antonio and the last night in San Jose. We never felt rushed.

Sara
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Old Aug 31st, 2005, 09:33 PM
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I am also travelling with children, ages 5 and 10, in CR for 3 weeks over xmas and new year, I think we are going to spend a few days at both MV and La Fortuna. Any recommendations on family oriented, moderately priced places to stay?
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Old Sep 14th, 2005, 05:56 PM
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We are traveling to CR at the end of Oct and are likely going to do Arenal and not Monteverde but here's the thing that will help us decide: transportation. We are traveling on a very small budget and plan to take buses whenever possible. are buses an option to either location?
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Old Sep 16th, 2005, 12:29 AM
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We saw both Monteverde and ARenal on our first family trip to Costa Rica in June 2005. We loved them both.

My husband and I plan to return to Monteverde for a second trip someday because biologically it is unique and magnificent...ancient and relatively undisturbed (comparatively speaking!) Although we loved Arenal we don't plan to return to Arenal because for us, one 3-night trip to Arenal was perfect...in fact we saw the lava flow all 3 nights we were at the Lost Iguana resort in Arenal.

I do think it is pefectly reasonable to choose either Arenal or Monteverde. the reason we included both is that my young adult son and daughters wanted to see the Arenal volcano, but hubby wanted to visited the Monteverde cloud forest preserve. therefore we did both.

We also did Manuel Antonio, which was our least favorite. Although we really enjoyed Hotel Si Como No as a fun splurge, the forest at Manuel Antonio park reserve is very disturbed by man...Once was enough here for us...Next time we hope to visit somewherre else, maybe the Osa...

Oh, as for Monteverde, I strongly advise you DON'T GO TO MONTEVERDE unless you plan to spen at least 3 nights there. That's because the drive to Monteverde is very rough, so rough that my daughter actually banged her head against the glass window due to the roughness of the ride, and I personally felt like my insides were all becoming detached from my body! Also there aren't any guard rails going round those mountain curves. But don't let that stop you...I felt Monteverde was a very special place...the misty spirit of Monteverde cloud forest lingered in my eyes and heart for weeks afterwards, as I went through cloud forest withdrawal symptoms upon returning home! You haven't seen green until you walk though Monteverde in the early early morning...and when the mist decides to descend, it absolutely brings with it a presence...you could really believe in a rainforest goddess... (Okay, my older daugher and I are romantic poets, I admit...)

Arenal would be okay for 2 or 3 nights, but as I mentioned I personally would never return to Monteverde without having a minimum 3-night stay there.
This is not to say that AKR1 is wrong, I am just giving you a personal opinion based upon our personal reactions.

I see that your question was posted way back in March, but maybe this discussion will help others with their choices...
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Old Sep 17th, 2005, 04:05 AM
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I went to Costa Rica by myself in '96 or '97 and had a fantastic time! I had a reservation at the Hostel in San Jose for the first night and then just played it by ear. The first day out, I rode for an hour then hiked an hour to get to Rara Avis. After 2 wonderful days there I took the tractor-wagon back down to civilization, then shared a cab into town. The next day a bus ride got me to Arenal. As I wandered the town looking for a budget hotel, the clouds cleared and there was the volcano! I should have dropped my pack and grabbed my camera, but I figured I photograph it later. Two days later I left without seeing the mountain again! (I did a volcano tour with a visit to the hot springs and that Sunday was the feast of St. Bosco, patron saint of Arenal -- the parade through town after Mass was something!) I took the boat across Lake Arenal (small boat, large lake) and was picked up on the other side by an SUV for the trip into Monte Verde. All of the guide books said that MV would be crowded with tourists, but it wasn't. I stayed at a pensione (sp?) run by one of the original Quakers who settled in MV after leaving the U.S. and did the forest hikes including the night hike (quetzals slumbering, tarantulas hunting, hummingbirds snoozing and fungus glowing -- cool!) After 3 nights I took the bus to Manual Antonio and spent three sunsets on the beach with a couple from California watching for green flashes -- 2 out of 3 ain't bad! Coatis raiding coolers, iguanas moving in on my lunch, a gator body-surfing at the beach, plus monkeys, a sloth and tons of hermit crabs at MA. Then back to San Jose for a night and out to Tortugera (sp?) by plane for one night (poison arrow frogs, spectacled caimens, and really, really big beetles) and the boat ride back. Then I got bumped off my flight out (didn't call 72 hours in advance to confirm my tickets -- don't fly on Mondays), but that was okay -- I was going to Belize next and I wasn't sure where I was going once I got there! I guess that was about 15 nights in Costa Rica including the extra. It's a wonderful place, just keep an eye on your valuables!
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Old Sep 19th, 2005, 05:00 AM
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Monteverde and Arenal are very different--both in atmosphere/ambiance and in the nature of the forest areas.

We enjoyed both (including two very clear nights at Arenal during which the volcano put on a fantastic show), but we preferred Monteverde overall.

Chacun à son goût. Different strokes for different folks.
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