Planning first trip to Costa Rica

Old Oct 13th, 2011, 10:17 AM
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Planning first trip to Costa Rica

We are planning a trip to Costa Rica in December this year. We are celebrating our 10th Anniversary, so want the trip to be special. We have two small children , ages 7 and 2.

We are planning on the following itinerary.
) Day 1: SJO- Stay 1 night
2).Day 2: Leave for Poas volcano, La Paz waterfall La Fortuna. Arrive at Arenal - Stay 3 nights at Arenal
3) Day 5 - Leave for Manuel Antonio
4) Day 9 - Leave for San Jose.
5) Day 10 - fly back home

I had question about transportation within Costar Rica. I have read many positive reviews about hiring a private driver for the entire duration of the trip. While I love the idea of someone local introducing us to the country and the convenience of stopping wherever we want, I am wondering if we need a private driver for the entire duration. There seem to be quite a few day tours we would be interested in taking (Cano Negro, Canopy tour, Canyoning (maybe), day hike to Arenal, catamaran tour in Manuel Antonio etc). I am wondering if we will just end up paying double (driver + the tour company)?

Can you please provide some advice if we should hire the private driver to take us from Destination A - B only? How easy is transportation within the Arenal area and Manuel Antonio? Can we aim for similar flexibility via taxis?

Appreciate your responses.
CostaRicatraveller is offline  
Old Oct 13th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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I wouldn't think you would want or need a full time driver standing by (or driving) for 10 days or so. (You might be expected to feed and house such a driver.) Point A to B should do the job. Purchased "tours" or day trips usually provide the transportation from and to most hotels and lodges. Taxis are all over the place in MA (although no longer cheap) and for many or most of the hotels in the Arenal area. It is a huge area and some of the places to stay are off the beaten path. Also remember that SJO is in Alajuela, which has hotels, meaning that you do not need to make the trip into and out of San Jose--if you just want beds for overnight.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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We're doing almost the exact same trip in January! If you haven't already booked, Lost Iguana in Arenal has a great Groupon offer (which I discovered in this forum). It gets excellent reviews both here and on tripadvisor.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 11:15 AM
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We used the shuttle bus service to get from A to B. In Arenal and Manuel Antonio we used taxis to get around. The tours you mentioned will pick you up. (Canyoning with a 7 and 2 year old is kind of iffy.) Your itinerary looks great.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 01:25 PM
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We use a private driver just to travel between cities. We use taxis in town. We book our drivers through our hotels when we book them. Hiring a driver for the entire trip would be pretty pricey, and unnecessary. You don't need it.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 01:42 PM
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I agree, a private driver from A to B will be enough and local tours and taxis for shorter rides, check out grayline costa rica and interbus costa rica, they offer shuttle services from certain locations, also you could get a quote from [email protected] as they have comfortable SUV´s and private drivers and might be cheaper as you are travelling with the whole family than paying the per person rate with the shuttle company.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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First Congrats!

Second No clue about your budget with 4

servicecarrental.com saves a tonne over drive

for me from $200/wk all in.. mapache.com wild-rider.com also

Driver can charge that in 1 day... do car a lot

very safe if careful and you can save on tours if you

DIY... desafiocostarica.com for Arenal.net adventures

skytrek.com best zip tabacon.com with 4 staying there

will save you a tonne on best hot springs admission

FREE if you stay there...

arenasdelmar.com or costaverde.com the 727 Jet Suite

would totally amaze your kids...

tripadvisore.com/members/natureguide best MA guide.

Have Fun!
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 02:27 PM
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I don't know your budget, but you might want to stay at the Peace Lodge your first night since you're wanting to go to the waterfall gardens which are located right there on the property. It's about an hour from the SJO airport. We've done that, and it's nice to tour the gardens and falls before it's open to the public.

Do you have someone who will be able to watch your kids? Not sure how you can zip line and go canyoning with ones that little. Also Cano Negro would be a very long day for a two year old. It's a great tour, but you'll be traveling to get there and then on a boat for a long time. Not saying you can't do it, but just that it would be a long day for them and no bathroom on board, etc.

Interbus and other shuttles usually charge per person, so with that many, a private driver is usually comparable in cost. A driver usually just charges a flat rate for the whole group.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 04:02 PM
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Thank you all for your detailed responses. Can someone let me know approximate taxi fares within Manuel Antonio/Arenal area.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 06:05 PM
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We walked to a lot of places in MA. For our tour of the park, our guide picked us up and dropped us back off. Our most expensive taxi fare was about five bucks. We paid more in Arenal, about $12-17 depending on where we went. Things are more spread out there.
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