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One week in Costa Rica

Old Feb 25th, 2004, 05:48 PM
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One week in Costa Rica

Thinking of going to Costa Rica next Feb. How is the weather there that time of year. Also, comments on what areas of the country to visit/hotels. How do I get from one section of the country to the other?
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 06:37 PM
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The best thing for you to do to assist you in planning is to pick up a travel book on Costa Rica. . .such as Moon Handbook or Fromm's--you can get one (or more) of these at most large book stores. It will tell you virtually everything. Hotel reviews, prices, methods of transportation, pros and cons of each, etc. This type of resource is your best bet. As for your immediate questions, the weather in February is great--it is the dry season. The most popular areas are the central valley (Arenal Volcano, Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, etc) and the Pacific Coast. It is almost impossible to make a mistake in choosing. You'll just have to visit several times to get the full benefit! There is a very good public transportation system (buses), a couple of domestic airlines, private transportation systems and drivers for hire, taxis, and, of course, my favorite. . .rent a car and drive yourself!
I don't know if you will be alone, with a partner or family, but it doesn't hurt for a first visit to purchase a package at a resort (such as the north Pacific beach area resorts)and venture out from there on day tours. The tour guides are very good at making you feel at home and giving a great deal of valuable information. This gives you a very safe-feeling way of experiencing the culture for the first time without much effort on your part other than just enjoying yourself. And, if you only have a week to begin with, you will want to concentrate on one area or else you will give up 2 vacation days just traveling from location to location! This is a mountainous country and travel is slow. This worked really well for us. Then, on our second trip, we were very comfortable with flying in, renting a car, and taking off all over the place on our own. It helped to feel somewhat already familiar with the country, the people, etc. Plus we educated ourselves as much as possible with several travel books on Costa Rica--and studied maps! Enjoy both the planning and the event!
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 12:32 PM
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Thanks so much for the help. If we would want to spend the entire week at one location, would you suggest the Central Valley or the Pacific Coast? We took a cruise through the Panama Canal durin Christmas and had a port call in Puntarenas Costa Rica and loved it. How safe is it to rent a car and drive around? I'm from NY so it can't be that bad.
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 12:41 PM
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The central valley is just great, but it is best combined with other components (at least that is my opinion--because I am landlocked and love the beach). Puntarenas is a dirty little town, but if you liked it, you are going to LOVE the coast either north or south of there. As I mentioned, get a travel guide and read up on the North Pacific resort areas as opposed to the Central Pacific areas. Both are delightful and would be perfect for a first time visitor. No, you will NOT have a problem renting and driving. . .particularly if you enjoy an adventure! Seriously, in the north province of Guanacaste, there are some great resorts and nice beaches (and wonderful offerings for tours during the day). Further south of Puntarenas, there is the Quepos, Manuel Antonio Park area. . .and it is also a sure winner with a huge amount of cool things to do each and every day. No way you are going to choose wrong here! If you do want to see the central valley (at least in part), this plan is a winner:

Day 1 (Sunday, for example): Overnight in San Jose
Day 2 (Monday): Highlights of Costa Rica Tour (it is simply wonderful) OVERNIGHT IN San Jose
Day 3 (Tuesday): Drive to your beach location (4-5 hours) overnight at beach
Day 4 (Wednesday): overnight at beach
Day 5 (Thursday): overnight at beach
Day 6 (Friday): overnight at beach
Day 7 (Saturday): return to San Jose
Day 8 (Sunday): Return home
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 02:49 PM
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Thanks again. If you aren't too busy do you want to join my wife and myself?!! You really seem to be a pro.
Couldn't agree with you more about the town of Punteranes. We took a river tour about 1 1/2 hours out of town. It was super.
Are you familiar with the Los Suenos Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort in Playa Herradura?
We travel a great deal and thought a week in Costa Rica would be an unique and fun experience.



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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 03:35 PM
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Dear rogfam,
As usual, Shillmac has great advice! Her suggested itinerary is a sure winner. I only want to add one thing, since you asked about Marriott Los Suenos - Costa Rica has, but is not known for, huge resorts, but rather for its smaller unique hotels. I would recommend, if you are already in the mood for a change from your usual trips, to go for these kind of hotels, and not for the big ones (although, I have heard only great things about Los Suenos). Wherever you choose to spend your beach time (I vote for Manuel Antonio!), you will find these special hotels, and I am sure people in the forum will gladly tell you about some of their experiences in such hotels.
Oh, one other thing - if you don't feel comfortable renting a car, you can always use private transfers, and since you are not planning to move around too much, this can also be your cheapest option (when you get to your destinations, you will use taxis to get around).
Feel free to write me directly for any more information.
Pura Vida,
Neta Talmor
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 04:34 PM
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Neta took the words right out of my mouth! These larger resorts can be fun for a night or two if you are looking for "the royal treatment", but we much prefer the smaller, more intimate places. . .famous for wonderful hospitality, good food, and interaction with the good folks of Costa Rica! These places provide the unique experience most of us are looking for! Yes, we'd be delighted to join you. . .Neta knows my husband likes to save a few bucks whenever he can. . . .are you footing the bill? LOL
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 09:03 PM
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Feb is a good time to go. The weather is usually pretty warm and dry. Temps don't vary much year round.
I vote for the more central Pacific area for first timers because of its rainforest and the many many options for things to see and do. It is easy to get to. Lots and lots of monkeys and other wildlife. When possible, use local guides at the parks. You will see much more.
Many options for transportation. Local Bus, Private Bus (Interbus, Fantasy Bus). Lots of private transfer companies. Or, for real ease, you can fly directly there on Sansa or Nature Air and save a lot of time. A lot would depend on how much time you have to spend there. If you have time, Arenal would be a unique place to visit. Flying is not an option to get there.
Costa Rica is slightly road challenged for driving but it is doable if you take your time. Signs are not always the best and pot holes are a constant source of excitement. The drivers down there pass at odd places. The accident rate is pretty high for locals.
I also like the Moon guide but Chris Baker didn't have a new one this year. He should have it out next fall. He also writes for the National Geographic Costa Rica guide.
I rarely spend time in the city but this year after my husband left I stayed at the Orquideas Inn for a day and a half. A colorful place just outside Alajuela (where the airport is). Not terribly fancy but clean and the food was good. There is a tour desk there that you can take a couple of day tours out of as well as get transportation with. I did a custom day with them and the guide/driver I had was a lot of fun. There are other options in that area for nicer hotels that also have many day trip options. A few day trips and then some time on the coast would be good for just a quick one week visit. You will find that most hotels have some type of tour/travel desk that can help you.
Vista del Valle is another nicer option for that area and they have private drivers you can hire for the day to take you out.
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Old Feb 27th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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Suzie thanks for all the insight in your posting. Not familiar with the Blue Moon Guide, is it like a Fodor's/Frommer travel book? With all the advice I have been getting, it is going to a great trip to CR. Shillmac you and your husband are more than welcomed to join us; money doesn't matter. Last country we went to my wife shopped so much that they put her picture on a stamp!!
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Old Feb 27th, 2004, 03:07 PM
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The Moon guide has books for many countries just like Fodors and Frommers.
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Old Feb 28th, 2004, 02:36 PM
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we stayed at Mariott Los Suenos for three days prior to a cruise. Big Mistake. We should have stayed longer. We are going again next year and will spend more time. We were with two other coupled and they also raved about it.

Yes - it is a resort and that is what we liked. Some people may want smaller, more quaint inns. Not us. We like the amenities. Los Suenos is very American oriented - even has US network stations including ESPN2 - so I was able to watch my favorite basketball team. The staff is very friendly and plesant. The pool is fabulous. There is a great beachfront restaurant a short hop away -Pelicanos.

just a really great place to stay
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Old Feb 28th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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Billyjeff,thanks for the comments on the Marriott. Where is it in relationship to the sightseeing on CR? Do they have tours from the hotel to see the sights?
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Old Feb 29th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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did someone really travel to Costa Rica and watch ESPN2? Oh my.........
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Old Feb 29th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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LOL. . .my thoughts exactly! But, to each his own. . .
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Old Feb 29th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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Maybe it was one of those fishing shows that they have that feature Costa Rican fishing LOL!
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Old Feb 29th, 2004, 03:52 PM
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Rough crowd......
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Old Feb 29th, 2004, 06:01 PM
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Nah, just teasing! It was that "oh my" comment that was so amusing! I thought I could hear trrtrix gasping! I'll bet that's what it was. . .a fishing show. . .or the cocodrilos at Tarcoles. . . .
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Old Mar 1st, 2004, 05:09 AM
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What should I say? My idea of roughing it is not having turn down servive.
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