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Planning trip to Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio or Monteverde?

Planning trip to Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio or Monteverde?

Old May 6th, 2010, 07:39 PM
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Planning trip to Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio or Monteverde?

Hi all. I'm planning a trip with a friend to Costa Rica next month. This is the first time to Costa Rica for both of us. We only have a week to work with. At first we thought about going to Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. But after reading some of the posts here, I'm concerned we'd be driving too much and not enjoying our vacation enough. So, we think we want to narrow it down to two spots.

We're flying into San Jose and have decided we definitely want to do Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna. For those who have been, where else would you recommend going-- Monteverde or Manual Antonio? We would like to go to the beach at some point there, but visiting a cloud forest sounds amazing as well. We also want to go ziplining and white water rafting--but from what I've read it looks like we can do that at Arenal.

I'm so excited about this trip and I'm sure either place would be wonderful. What does everyone think? I appreciate your posts!
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Old May 7th, 2010, 03:58 AM
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I think it really depends entirely upon your personality and what appeals most to you. Arenal is our favorite; that's a great choice. From there, you just have to decide if you want to be in a fairly hot beachy climate or a cool and potentially rainy cloud forest. We saw a lot of wildlife in each one, but in MA, it was much more tame, almost like the monkeys etc. had been in constant contact with people. They look at you and immediately eye your backpack to see if they can steal your potato chips. MA has a lot of great restaurants and beautiful sunset views, and the beach inside the park is gorgeous. It was quite cool and rainy for us in Monteverde. We had to wear sweatshirts at night, but we did enjoy seeing quetzals and doing the great night hike at Hidden Valley. Good ziplines as well. The two places are very different so I think one of them is going to appeal to you more than the other. You can definitely do ziplining and white water rafting at Arenal - check out Sky Trek and Rios Tropicales.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Thanks Volcanogirl! Are there any cloud forests closer to Arenal than Monteverde? I'd really like to experience that..but I know my friend is leaning more toward a beachy spot.
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Old May 8th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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Unless you are into botany, a cloud forest is just a forest with fog. As Volcanogirl said, it's really up to you. Does time in a cool, damp forest sound good to you or does time on a hot beach sound good to you? A lot depends on your interest in wildlife, birds, plants, etc. If you just want some excitement and some relaxing time, go to Arenal and then to Manuel Antonio.
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Old May 8th, 2010, 10:36 AM
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The Peace Lodge has that same type of cool climate with all the foggy mist, etc. but it won't have much in the way of wildlife. If your budget allows it, it's a fun place to spend a night or two and is only about an hour from San Jose.


Between MA and Monteverde, I personally would probably go with MA, but I would pick the Osa over both of them. Arenal and MA seems to be the most popular itinerary for first timers. It was the first trip we did.
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