Need help with Itinerary

Old Sep 5th, 2007, 06:13 PM
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Need help with Itinerary

This is my husband and I first trip to CR, travelling Jan 14 thru 22 . We are not planning to rent a car. Our preliminary plan is:
- 2 nights at Arenal. We like to see the volcano, do some hiking, and do the Tabcon hot spring. Where would be a good palce to stay for about $100?
- 2 nights at Monteverde. How far is it from Arenal? Where to stay for about $100?
- 4 nights at Manual Antonio National Park.
- Fly to San Jose and catch the return flight the next day.

I would appreciate any suggestions?
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Old Sep 5th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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We like Arenal Paraiso because they have a large property with their own ziplines and trail system--also a spa and swim up bar in thermal water. Food is so-so. You might also check out La Pradera for lower rates--looked like a very decent place, and close to the town of La Fortuna.

Manuel Antonio, check out Hotel California, Costa Verde, Villas Nicolas for decent rates.
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Old Sep 5th, 2007, 08:01 PM
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You can try also Arenal Volcano Lodge, good hotel nice pools and good breakfast included, Cabinas El Sesteo located downtown La Fortuna. Hotel Don Bosco also at downtown. For Hot Springs some alternatives I like Eco Termales.

Monteverde is about 3 hours by car from Arenal, many good hotel options, Fonda Vela, Poco a Poco, El Establo.

Most of the hotels I mentioned are in the $100.00 range.

In Manuel Antonio, Hotel Cabinas Espadillas, La Posada, Inn On the Park. Located very close to Manuel Antonio public beaches and restaurants.

Rocio
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Old Sep 5th, 2007, 08:10 PM
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We LOVED El Campo del Silencio. A really beautiful place with individual bungalows ran by a Tico family. Pretty decent restaurant and nice small pool and jacuzzi. The grounds were immaculate and really pretty. Around $90/night depending on season.
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Old Sep 7th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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We LOVED Arenal Observatory Lodge because it had a fantastic view of the Volcano (and the lava was flowing down our side of the volcano) and the rooms were very comfortable. It also had a great pool and lots of hiking trails within the Arenal Reserve. Cost for us was $90 a night including taxes an fees in one of their standard rooms but it might be a little more during the high season.
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Old Sep 8th, 2007, 06:01 AM
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Some many great suggestions.Thanks a lot.
Let me ask one more question. We arrive at San Jose airport at 6:30 a.m. What are some of the options to go from the airport to Arenal/La fortuna? I checked the Sansa Air and they have an 8:08 flight to Arenal for $65. Has anyone taken that flight?
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Old Sep 8th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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If you're not planning to rent a car, I would either hire a private driver or see if you can take Interbus. It's a nice drive and doesn't take that long - maybe 3 hours - I wouldn't bother with flying.
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Old Sep 8th, 2007, 08:09 AM
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If you choose to take Interbus you'd have to grab a quick cab (less than 5 min) to Garden Court Hotel for pick-up as they don't pick up at the airport (there's a also pick up at Green Turtle Souvenier Shop next door to it when you look at Interbus selections you will see those two). Pick up time is probably around the same as Sansa departure and drop off would be at your hotel in Fortuna. You may get a van or a bus, but both are comfortable and with a/c and easy way to get from place to place. About $35 to Arenal from SJO.
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Old Sep 8th, 2007, 10:18 AM
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We really enjoyed our stay at Arenal Paraiso for all of the reasons that Shillmac mentioned and I believe we paid about 100.00 a night. However, it is not currently on the same side as the lava flow. I believe the observatory lodge is and Linda Vista.
In MA, we really really liked Villas Nicolas. The staff are so pleasant. We loved our security guard that was there every night. He was a hoot! The location is really nice too. If you stay there make sure you get a room with an ocean view. We had room 7 Up and really loved our view. We paid around 120.00 a night for this room.

I also recommend a private driver. We had one (Leo) take us to Arenal and again to MA. It was a really good buy b/c they act as a tour guide also. We used Leonardo Rodriquez
[email protected]
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Old Sep 8th, 2007, 10:56 AM
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Private drivers are easy to book through your hotels if you decided to do that; we thought that was the easiest route, but it costs a bit more. We paid $120 to go SJO to Arenal.
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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Thanks a bunch again for the great suggestions.
Wouldn't flying from SJO to Arenal be quicker and more convenient than bus?
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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Re: flying, if you take into account the taxi from hotel to airport, needing to be there 1 hour in advance, taxi from airport to hotel, flying from SJO to Arenal isn't worth it IMO when you can get door to door service via private driver or interbus AND get to see some of the land on your way. If you really want to fly though, go for it! It's just not going to be a huge time savings, and certainly not cost savings.
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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oops -- Forgot you were wanting to fly out directly after arriving through Int'l. I would be nervous about booking that Sansa flight with such a tight connection. You never know how long it's going to take you to get through customs, let alone flight delays.
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Old Sep 9th, 2007, 03:42 PM
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HH, we were in CR this past July - it took us 2 hours to clear customs and immigration in SJO; the line was horrible. This is really unpredictable, but I agree with hip that you could end up missing your Sansa flight. Once you clear everything, you'll still have to walk over to the Sansa building and go through the check in process there.

Also, Sansa severely limits the luggage weight you can bring on - they sent us a list of restrictions - bag can weigh only 22 pounds. We flew Sansa down to the Osa and they told the girl in front of me that she couldn't bring her bag because it was "the heaviest" on the plane; her bag weighed 19 pounds. I found it all a little stressful, but really it's a personal choice. Both my husband's bag and mine weighed more than this girl's, but they just kept insisting she couldn't bring her bag. Personally, a private driver is so much more relaxing, and the ride is beautiful. For me if it were really far or a place that is difficult to drive to, I would fly, but otherwise driving is the way to go.
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Old Sep 11th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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You have picked the three most popular destinations in the country. We probably get more requests for these three areas than anywhere else in the country. But there is good reason for this, as these are all beautiful areas. You get to see three completely different ecosystems, and they are located in such away that you can route yourself in such a way that you can keep the long drives to a half day. It is a great introduction to Costa Rica.

My only change would be that I would trade out one of the nights at Manuel Antonio for an extra night in Monteverde. The drive to Monteverde can be a little difficult, and you will appreciate the longer break. Plus, the area is really worth the extra time. If you only spend two nights here, you only have one full day. Not nearly enough time to fully appreciate the area.

Most of the hotels in Monteverde are in the $100.00 range. So there are lots of choices. Our favorites would probably have to be El Sapo Dorado or Trapp Family Lodge.

In Arenal, we like the Arenal Lodge ($131.00 for a Jr. Suite) or El Silencio del Campo ($96.00). However, we have had recent guests complain about construction noise for a spa that is being built next door el Silencio. Hopefully that will be over soon.

In Manuel Antonio, your dollar does not go as far. But there are still some deals out there. Hotel Karahe has simple a/c rooms near the beach in your price range. Hotel Tres Banderas is a very clean and friendly hotel with lots of amenities for less than $100.00, but it is not as close to the beach. We have always also liked Hotel Villabosque too. But I hear there is a sale pending there. So I am waiting to see who the new owners are.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)
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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 07:48 PM
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Pat, thanks for the suggestions. I did took your advice and took a day from Manuel Antonio and added it to Monteverde. I also booked at El Sapo Dorado.
What is your unbiased opinion on flying vs. private drive?
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