More Costa Rica Itinerary Questions

Old Jan 16th, 2008, 06:06 AM
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More Costa Rica Itinerary Questions

My wife and I are planning a 9-night trip to Costa Rica for June/July.

Because of flight schedules (late arrival and early departure), it looks like our first and last nights will have to be near SJO, perhaps at the Peace Lodge if that works.

We are in our early 30's and our interests are primarily the rainforests, canopies, adventure trips, etc., with a secondary interest in the beaches.

We are interested in 4 general locations - Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio and Osa. Given our time constraints, I think we can only reasonably visit 2 of these 4 locations.

We know for sure that we want to spend a good amount of time in the Arenal/La Fortuna area, but aren't sure where to spend the rest of our time.

Which of the following itineraries would you recommend:

Option A: 1 night SJO, 4 nights Arenal, 3 nights Monteverde, 1 night Peace Lodge.

Option B: 1 night SJO, 4 nights Arenal, 2 nights Monteverde, 2 nights Peace Lodge

Option C: 1 night SJO, 4 nights Arenal, 3 nights Manuel Antonio, 1 night SJO/Peace Lodge.

Option D: 1 night SJO, 4 nights Arenal, 3 nights Osa (Bosque del Cabo or Lapa Rios), 1 night SJO.

Option E: None of the above.

Basically, we're wondering whether doing both Arenal and Monteverde would be repetitive. We plan on doing a ton of activities in the Arenal area (fishing, rafting, canopy tour or canyoning), and were wondering what Monteverde offers that Arenal/La Fortuna doesn't.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. Thanks for any comments.
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 09:27 AM
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Because of your early departure schedule, I'd amend all itineraries in this way:

Allow 1 night SJO
3 nights next location
3 nights next location
2 nights Peace Lodge

I think you would NOT regret having those last two nights at such a marvelous and relaxing place. One night would really take away a good part of your "enjoying Peace Lodge/La Paz" time given your early departure schedule. It is an extensive property. In fact, how early are you departing? Peace Lodge is an hour from the airport (maybe more if you are driving and should happen to make a wrong turn) and you need to be at the airport with a 2.5-3 hour cushion. Something to consider. . . .

Personally, I'd do the Arenal/Manuel Antonio combination.

Good luck--hope this helps a bit!
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 10:00 AM
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We haven't booked flights yet or anything, but I think the return flight is at 8:30AM, which might mean we couldn't/shouldn't stay at Peace Lodge at all.

Why in particular would you choose MA over Monteverde or Osa?

Thanks for the comments. Keep them coming!
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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Ok, I'll look at it from a different perspective as I would not give up Osa for Peace Lodge. Peace Lodge is very nice and beautiful, I just preferred the nature around BDC.

However, shillmac recommends a good balance in her suggestion in those places will offer the diversity and beaches you are looking for.

If you were do Arenal and Osa, then you'd have virtually no beach time (if you stayed at the ever-praised Bosque del Cabo). But if you stayed somewhere like Iguana Lodge or Black Turtle Lodge, you would have both Osa and beach time.

That said, I'm not much of a beach person, so I'd opt for option D, and after 4 nights in Arenal take an early flight to Puerto Jimenez, and after 3 nights in Osa take a later flight back to SJO.
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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Oh, also keep in mind you MAY experience more rain that time of year in Osa vs. MA.
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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I suggested MA because it is unique in that it offers beach and rainforest side by side with plenty of wildlife to view. Also you mentioned an interest in beaches. For a more intense rainforest experience, certainly the Osa stands out. Early July is actually our favorite time to be there because it rains primarily during the night and the days are much cooler than in the dry season.

If you choose Arenal/Osa combo, I'd suggest 3 nights Arenal, 4 Osa. With your less than favorable arrival/departure times, Peace Lodge doesn't, as you say, seem like a good option. It's just such an amazing place to chill for a day or so--maybe next time!

Whatever you decide, enjoy!
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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I think you've chosen great areas. We did a similar trip last May and really enjoyed ourselves. If you could somehow arrange for an early arrival and not have to stay in San Jose your first day, I think it would free you up a bit more. Having to stay in SJO both at the beginning and the end of your trip is ok, but it doesn't give you the time to enjoy a place like Peace Lodge when you split it up on both ends.

We had 9 nights also, and arrived around noon and went straight to Arenal for 3 nights. That seemed to be a perfect amount of time there. Although we certainly could have stayed longer and are returning there this year! Then we went to Peace Lodge for 2 nights, which actually only gave us one full day there. We arrived in the late afternoon, had one full day the next day. That day we went to Poas in the morning, then spent the day at the Peace Lodge doing everything there is to do there. It was the perfect amount of time. Then we left early the next morning for a flight to Puerto Jiminez to stayat BDC for 3 nights. Again this was a good amount of time for us. Of course another night would have been just fine! But 3 nights worked. We took an early flight in so were were at BDC right at lunch time. We spent our last night at the Marriott San Jose. It was nice to have the last night there and we also had an early flight out on our last morning so it worked out well for us.

I think if you could work out an early arrival in SJO or do 2 nights in Arenal you could fit Aenal, Osa an Peace Lodge. It gives such a nice balance of the country!

But if you want the beach or can't work Osa in, Manual Antonio might fit for you as well. An Arenal/MA combo with Peace Lodge as your last two nights as shillmac suggested also sounds perfect!

Have fun planning - to me that's half the fun!
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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And I haven't been to MA yet, so I can't comment really, except that I know Arenal and MA are popular combos for a good variety with that amount of days. Agree with shillmac that if you do decide Osa, 3n Arenal, 4n in Osa would be a good choice. Not less than 3n in Arenal though, too much to see and do up there.
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Old Jan 16th, 2008, 02:27 PM
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I usually recommend Manuel Antonio for people who have children or for people who like things to be really easy and developed, but it was our least favorite spot of all the places we've been in CR. There were a lot of people in the park when we were there, snorkeling was pretty bad, and we felt more like we were in the states than in CR. If the beach isn't a huge draw for you, I'd go Arenal, Osa, Peace Lodge. I haven't been to Monteverde yet, but it's on my to-do list. If you're really into birding and plant life, I'd go Arenal, Monteverde, and Peace Lodge. Peace Lodge is a wonderful way to end your trip.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 09:27 AM
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Hola, Buenas Trades

To answer a few of your questions. Yes Monteverde is nice, but you are right, there is not to many different activities to do there than there is in Arenal.

Do you really need to see the Arenal Volcano. I would say go for Manuel Antonio and the OSA, if bio-diversity, and wildlife are your interests.

http://www.anywherecostarica.com/sou...ica/travel.htm

You really could spend your whole vacation here. MA first, then Dominical, then on to Puerto Jimenez.

If you want Arenal for sure I suggest you stay at Peace lodge first on your way to Arenal. Stay in Arenal for 2-3 nights, it does not need much more, then head south to the OSA. Lapa Rios is excellent.

Here is a good site to view Arenal and all it has to offer.

http://www.arenal.net/
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 10:02 AM
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We appreciate everyone's input.

I was wrong about the flights.

Inbound flight arrives around 1PM, so we shouldn't have to stay overnight in San Jose.

Outbound flight is around noon.

Arenal is a must for us. We've never seen an erupting volcano and we're also interested in the excursions in the area, including rafting and fishing.

I think we're persuaded to save Monteverde for another time, and to spend the second half of the trip in either MA or Osa. Still not sure which one.

What is the beach situation in Osa?
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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We stayed at Bosque del Cabo on the Osa; it's located on a cliff overlooking the water; the views are gorgeous, but to get to the beach you're going to have to hike. If you like easier beach access and a more developed area, go to MA. If you want wild and beautifully undeveloped, go Osa. For comparison, we saw monkeys in the park in MA - really easy to spot, and they don't even seem afraid of people, but there may be 20 people crowded around a monkey to take a picture. In the Osa, you can hike trails for hours without seeing anyone else and an entire troop of monkeys may swing right past your cabin. One afternoon, I had a troop of howlers, then capuchins, then spider monkeys all go by the cabin and then wild scarlet macaws flew overhead. It was amazing. Osa seems a lot more natural, but MA will give you a lot of variety for restaurants, etc. Really just depends upon what you're looking for. Most of the restaurants in MA greeted us with, "Hey guys, what's up?" and we felt like we were still in the states. Tons of Americans have settled in that area.
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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 05:27 PM
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Couple of things to think about.

Day 1--drive to Arenal. With a 1:00 arrival, that won't be a problem. Overnight

Day 2--Arenal, overnight

Day 3--Arenal, overnight

Day 4--Arenal, overnight

Day 5--Manuel Antonio (5-6 hours on road), overnight

Day 6--MA, overnight

Day 7--MA, overnight

Day 8--Drive to Peace Lodge, overnight

Day 9--Peace Lodge, overnight

Day 10--leave PL 7:00 or 8:00 for 12:00 flight

The problem, to me, with putting Bosque del Cabo after Arenal is getting that early a.m. flight that you need without spending the night before in the airport area.

Another option?

Day 1--arrive, straight to Peace L.
overnight

Day 2--Peace Lodge, overnight

Day 3--drive to Arenal--overnight

Day 5--Arenal--overnight

Day 6--Arenal until early p.m., then drive to airport area, overnight

Day 7--early a.m. to Bosque del Cabo, overnight

Day 8--overnight

Day 9--overnight

Day 10--early a.m. Sansa flight back to airport, arriving 8:30 or so??

Peace Lodge is a wonderfully relaxing and beautiful place, but staying there seems to throw a kind into the Arenal/Bosque del Cabo combination timewise. I think that, should you settle on Arenal/Osa you should probably give up the stay at Peace Lodge--this time! It seems to work better with the Arenal/MA plan when you don't have to work around early a.m. flight times.

If you forego PL, I'd consider staying first night near the airport and catching early a.m. flight to the Osa for 4 nights. Fly back, drive to Arenal on Day 6, stay 3 nights, last night near airport again. You could select someplace like Finca Rosa Blanca or Xandari for an afternoon, evening of relaxation, spa, etc. before departure the next day.

Lots of ways to do it, we all like playing with your itinerary! These may not be the better options for you, just a few ideas that COULD work. Enjoy the planning--it's half the fun!

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Old Jan 17th, 2008, 05:30 PM
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Meant to say "staying there throws a KINK into the Arenal/Bosque combination".
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 06:27 AM
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Thanks again for the suggestions.

We keep going back and forth between Osa and MA. I take solace in the fact that people are saying we can't go wrong either way.

At least we've eliminated Monteverde for this trip.

That first itinerary looks spot on for Arenal/MA/PL if we can add the 9th night (we may only have 8 nights). If we only have 8-nights then we'd probably forgo the PL and stay at Finca Rosa for the last night.
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