Need new itinerary Arenal/Manuel antnio Dec 8 nights

Old Nov 20th, 2006, 04:11 PM
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jkheigle
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Need new itinerary Arenal/Manuel antnio Dec 8 nights

This may be mistake, but I just can't get excited about Tamarindo for 2 full days (3 nights) with the added expense to fly there around 175 RT, leaving only one full day/2 nights in MA, and only 2 full days/3nights in Arenal

So, I'm wanting to drop Tamarindo but don't know where or how to spend the regained time:

Thurs arrive SJ (Orquidias)
Fri: Drive to Arenal Lost Iguana (What to see along the way????)
Sat: Night at Lost Iguana
Sun: Night at Lost Iguana
Mon: Night at ???? spend another night in Arenal?
Tues: Night at ????
Wed: Night at MA
Thurs: Night at MA
Fri: Night at MA
Sat: Depart MA by small plane, or drive. 3:00 US flight

I'm along the lines of staying near Puntareyenes, so we can make a Tortuga Island day? What's that like?

Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

 
Old Nov 20th, 2006, 06:15 PM
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In one trip to CR...we spent 1 night in Arenal...and would rather have stayed 2 nights...but probably no more than that.

During our recent trip...we spent 4 nights in MA and did not think we had enough time to enjoy everything that the area had to offer. We would have been happy spending 5-6 nights there...but some people would disagree with me on that.

During our recent trip we also stayed at the Peace Lodge for 2 nights...which is between SJ and Arenal...which we also loved.

If you click on my name...you can read our recent honeymoon trip report...which talks a bit about MA and Peace Lodge. Good luck!
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 06:42 PM
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Sorry...I may not have made my recommendation very clear...I am thinking...
2 nights at Peace Lodge(about 1 hour from SJO)...2 nights at Arenal...4 nights at Manuel Antonio
OR
1 night near SJO or Peace Lodge...2/3 nights at Arenal...4/5 nights at MA.

I don't know your budget...but the places I would return to in these areas are...
Vista Del Valle (Alajuela 15-20 mins from SJO)
Peace Lodge (Vara Blanca about 1 hr north of SJO)
Arenal Observatory Lodge (Arenal)
Buena Vista Villas and Casas (Manuel Antonio)

You can also check out a link to some pictures of Peace Lodge and Buena Vista/MA in my trip report post.
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 06:46 PM
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I agree with Mishi that except we are those who would probably opt for more time Arenal, less Manuel Antonio. Love both, however. Their idea to spend a couple of nights at Peace Lodge is a good one, I think. There are many, many lovely hotels in that area, all prices, and it would be a nice way to finish up your trip. Just a few to think about:

Peace Lodge, Finca Rosa Blanca, Vista del Valle, Poas Volcano Lodge, Xandari, Villablanca. . . . .all situated within short driving distances of some beautiful areas for day tripping. For less $$, you could return to Orquideas and let their tour desk show you around for a couple of days. I've read great reviews. . Wadi Tours.

You could also add a couple of nights at Domincal just south of Manuel Antonio since you'll already be in that area. The only thing is you'd have to brave that nasty road between MA and Dominical. Short distance, but almost 2 hours of rough driving. Pacific Edge would be an enjoyable place for you to stay a couple of nights--just for something a little different. Very unusual, but beautiful little hotel. There is a very good restaurant nearby--La Parcela (I think) is the name of it.

You mention overnight at Puntarenas. You might check into Fiesta (used to be called Fiesta Caribbean Resort), an all-inclusive near Puntarenas. We spent a weekend there once and it was okay. They probably offer day trips to Tortuga--not sure, though. It would add a few extra hours to your schedule, but the ferry across the Golfa de Nicoya is about 1.5 hour and you could stay a night or 2 at Tambor--all kinds of day trips to Tortuga from there. Check out Tambor Tropical (hotel).

Perhaps some of those options will appeal. Someone recently mentioned on this board how plans seem to evolve and change until something finally feels right--as good a description as any I've ever heard. That's exactly the way it always works for us! We never seem to end up with the same itinerary we originally plan. Kind of like working with play dough--LOL!
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Old Nov 20th, 2006, 06:49 PM
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Sorry, I meant to say Tango Mar in Tambor, not Tambor Tropical. Years ago, TT was popular, but haven't heard anything about it in a long time.
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 02:10 AM
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jkheigle
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Thank ya'll for your replies -- They look like good options, if I'll just make a plan. And time is out for me (Thanksgiving is about to take over...)

The extra night in Arenal was to accomodate Cano Negro day tour. What about the boat/jeep with overnight to Monteverde? -- The cloud forest looks so lovely.

I've been reading the posts obsessively. Occassionally, perhaps too often, I then check out another "hotel review" site, that throws everything out of whack, sending me into a state of panic. How can there be such grand reviews and recs for one "hotel" and then absolutely startling negatives with pictures for the same hotel? How does one avoid getting a bad room?

Price-wise, Villas Nicolas looked great-- the pictures on the web site, and several recs here had me all excited, and then I looked at that review site. Who to trust?

I'm beginning to feel like I need to turn this over to a travel agent. I would like to keep the the hotel rate at 150 - 200 per night. We'll have a car, not 4x4.
 
Old Nov 21st, 2006, 04:34 AM
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You know, honestly, unless you are really particular about hotel details, you probably won't be disappointed in your choices--particularly those recommended on this site. I would trust these opinions more than I would hotel reviews.

We have traveled to CR so many times for a few years now and honestly have never been displeased overall. Perhaps some little this or that, but never stayed someplace where we have said, "We'll never stay there again!". At least that I can recall!
We've stayed budget, moderate, and deluxe, and have found something to enjoy about all of them.

I can't imagine that you will be spending a lot of time in a hotel, anyway. Villas Nicolas has gotten excellent reviews for a long time on this board. I do remember someone recommending particular rooms that offered better views than others. I always contact the hotel itself and tell them what I want in the way of a view. We've never been shortchanged.

I also know that there are people who are very particular about hotel rooms and would never consider staying anyplace "less" than what they are accustomed to. But based on information shared on this board, it seems that most visitors to Costa Rica have favorable hotel experiences.

You are going to have a great time!

And the Monteverde tie-on to Arenal is, of course, a good option for you to consider as well. So much to choose, so little time! What a perpetual dilemma for Costa Rican Fodorites!
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 06:05 AM
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jkheigle
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Just about to do a "no no" by almost duplicating my response to "$265 is it worth it?" Here's the dilemma regarding so many choices!

Nite at Orquideas. Morning drive to Arenal to include what? Would like to get to L.I. by about 3 p.m. or earlier.

Two full days (3 nites at Lost Iguana) in Arenal.

then drive on Monday, staying nite somewhere with a full day on Tuesday, staying Tuesday nite somewhere, then a drive to MA for Wed, Thurs and Fri nites before drive back to SJ on Sat (3:00 flight) (We may actually fly back but I think that is going to be a crazy day Sat December 23 for local air travel???.

For Mon and Tues nites, it seems to me Monteverde is best choice, though Peace Lodge area could be good too. Hmmm... what to do? Shillimac -- this is the "in between" part of trip -- Arenal and MA at both ends. I think Dominical is "out" because I don't want to drive past MA then come back... Tortuga Island doesn't sound like a popular choice. The tour out of Orquideas sounds good but better for another trip.

Hmmmm. I don't blame ya'll if there's no response to this confusion... I just have to do more homework...

Budget: a splurge if really worth it would be 265 tops, but more comfortable with 185-225 tax included. Adventure, the real Costa Rica, romance are the priorities. We like to cycle, hope to III/IV raft, gonna do the Cano Negro tour out of Arenal. I'm hoping for some lazying on a beach at least a couple of times. Hope to see lots of wildlife, lush vegetation, birds, sunsets, and good food, drink, happy people.

OH, the 2 nites are for Dec 18 and 19, so there are some availability issues but not as bad as a week later!

Thanks all!
 
Old Nov 28th, 2006, 07:26 PM
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Why don't you just go ahead and stop by Tamarindo on the way down to Manuel Antonio? You could be there by 1:00, if you leave Arenal by 8:00, give you a day and a half. Then a 3-4 hour drive (or so) to Manuel Antonio.

Another option would be (and you might really want to consider this one) driving back toward San Jose from Arenal, then continuing south of the airport and then west past Puriscal to Ama Tierra. Check out their website. We used to stay there when it was owned by a different couple and always found it it be relaxing. Great little hotel in a seldom traveled part of the country. It has some lovely amenities and you could take advantage of the spa services it offers. AND, you will probably be served the best food you'll have anywhere! It would put you nice and close to Manuel Antonio. You could spend your full day with an excursion to Turu-Bari park. I haven't been there (TB park), but have heard very good things about it. I think this option might be a real winner for you! At least it would be something a little different than the ordinary touristy places.
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 07:29 PM
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Forgot to mention, on your drive to Arenal, if you get an early start on the day, why not stop by Poas to view the crater, take a short hike, then over to La Paz for a tour of the Waterfall Garden? We did both of these activities one morning on our way to Selva Verde and it was a great way to spend the morning en route. We were at Poas about an hour and La Paz 1.5-2 hours. Sure, you could spend more time, but you can see both in that amount of time and be at LI by 3:00, no problem.
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 07:54 PM
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Shillmac--can I ask if you had any problems leaving your luggage in the car while visiting Poas & La Paz? We'll have an SUV with no trunk so everything will be out in full view.
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 08:00 PM
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Not a good idea anywhere in Costa Rica...or most other places. At Poas you will be at least a 10 minute hike away from your SUV. In the mountain areas near Poas there is not as much crime, as evidenced by more houses without bars on the windows, but that doesn't mean you should not take precautions.

I wouldn't leave my luggage unattended in my car, but I guess if you absolutely decide you want to leave your luggage in your car, I'd at least cover it up.

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Old Nov 29th, 2006, 03:46 AM
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Well, I'd definitely agree with airwayvz and as a rule, we don't stop off to see stuff while en route for that very reason. Sometimes, though, you just can't avoid it. We left our things in our vehicle both places and oddly enough, felt fairly comfortable doing it. We parked near to the guard--or guardhouse--both times (sometimes the guard is the problem, or his friends, but not at these locations) and everything was fine. I'd still agree that there is some risk, but at these places it seems fairly minimal.

Most places where there have been problems there will have a sign saying "do not leave valuables".
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