Playing it By Ear?

Old Jun 6th, 2002, 01:23 PM
  #1  
Terri
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Playing it By Ear?

Hi...

My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon in CR in early to mid Sept. (rainy season, I know!) I've been reading so many good things about CR on this site that I'm having a difficult time deciding what to do.

We are outdoor/explorer/hiker types. So I'm now thinking to book reservations at a Central Valley hotel for about 4 days in the beginning of trip (somewhere nice and cushy) and then playing it by ear the rest of the time depending on weather and what we feel like doing. We will be renting a 4x4 type vehicle and will have 14 days there.

Do you think it would be easy for us to get accommodations on short notice during Sept?
Or is this idea just nuts?

Also, anybody have insights as to what what we can expect with the weather (other than wet??)

Thanks in advance!
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 06:01 AM
  #2  
Robbie
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September is a good month to "play it by ear". First you have the option of watching the weather reports and figurng out where the weather s best and going where the weather is good. You defintely will be fne without advance reservatons in September, but should have a guide book or second option for lodging wherever you go only because on occasion one place will be booked with some special event that has nothing to do with September. For example we expect to be full for several days with a conference, but that is a fluke, normally rooms would be readily available here n September.
Weather is an art not a science but they are saying that the EL nino effect could make a far drier September and August than normal. So the chances are better than average that you will find some great weather somewhere n the country! Perhaps in much of the country!
I almost always do my vacations lke this, and did my frst trip to CR on September 17th 1999, trying to find a hotel to buy. was here for several months just drifting around wth no reservations or plans. It worked out fne and I only had one problem with one reservation due to a golf tournament at one hotel. Otherwise I just free floated and it was easy.
Enjoy your vacation!
Best wishes,
Robbie
[email protected]
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 06:07 AM
  #3  
Ally
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You should have no problems at all finding accomodations anywhere in Sept.
As for rain, the northern region will be dryer. I was in CR late Sept. 2 years ago. For the first part of the trip, I was in Cabo Matapalo (in the OSA region) and had downpours everynight, a couple of times it even stormed most of the night, but was always sunny in the mornings until around 3:00pm. The second part of that trip was in Manuel Antonio where there were also showers everyday starting around 3:00-4:00, but cleared up in time to go out to dinner. A friend of mine was in the Tamarindo area at the time, had had very little rain...and wished that he had had more as it's so refreshing! The central valley region is lovely, but will probably have more afternoon showers than the northern beach regions. You'll love it there, rain or shine!
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 07:28 AM
  #4  
Terri
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Thanks to you both, Robby & Ally...you've really alleviated some of my fears with regard to the weather...and not having to plan every piece of the trip ahead of time!

Cheers to you both!
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 02:19 PM
  #5  
Barbara
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Just got back June 5 from 10 nights in Costa Rica and we had no set reservations other than the first night (we were arriving around 10pm and wanted the hotel to pick us up at the airport, which they did nicely).

This was the first trip my husband and I have taken like this and we have traveled all over the world.

It was really nice to change our plans on the fly. The only problem we had was getting into the Tabacon Resort (they were booked). It actually turned out for the best, as we ended up staying at a place we liked much better in Arenal with a terrific view of both the volcano AND the lake!

PS: We visited in the rainy season and saw the cone of Arenal
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 05:56 PM
  #6  
Terri
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Barbara -- Thanks for responding...playing it by ear sure seems to work if you're there during the rainy season....

BTW, if anybody is still out there, how hot and humid should I expect it to be in Sept.? I don't mind hot weather, but would just like to be prepared if it's going to be *really* humid...

Thanks in advance,
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 07:04 PM
  #7  
David N Cook
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Regarding the weather, it will be most hot & humid near the ocean; inland at the higher elevations will be very pleasant! You don't really need the FWD unless you plan on going off-road a lot. "Rainy season" in not bad except perhaps on the East coast. Playing it by ear is a great idea after a nite or 2 in SJ. Good luck, you'll have fun!!
 
Old Jun 8th, 2002, 08:21 AM
  #8  
Barbara
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It was very humid while we were there May26 to June5. I was taking 2 showers a day--but that was just me.

As an aside, my husband really liked CR and starting talking about getting a place there. However the bugs and the humidity would be a problem for me for that type of commitment. It seemed that my hair was frizzy the whole trip.

Sorry to disagree with David, but I would strongly urge you to rent a 4wd vehicle. We drove from Arenal around the lake to Monteverde and used the 4wd on the way to Monteverde. I don't think we could have made it without it.

Have a GREAT trip!
 
Old Jun 8th, 2002, 08:44 AM
  #9  
Barbara
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One more thought...

Since it's your honeymoon, you might want to look into staying at the Villa Caletas in Jaco. It's located on a hill overlooking the beach and they have a 'green season' rate of $99 per night for one of their villas (usually $160 per night)--minimum 3 night stay. Ours was #10, not as far of a hike up/down the hill (hotel is built into the rock along the side of the hill) to hotel's amenities. Each villa has it's own entrance and large narrow balcony (with chairs and table) and spectacular views of the ocean. The bedroom and sitting rooms are on the small side but very charming and you can't beat the views. We saw tucans and other exotic birds from our balcony and enjoyed the sunsets. The dinner restaurant they have is pricey and mediocre, but their other restaurant was okay for breakfast, afternoon snacks, drinks, etc.

They also have suites with their own private swimming pool. However, we met a couple, who was also on their honeymoon, and they said the pool wasn't heated (which may or may not be an issue for you--just relaying info). They also said a coati (small animal somewhat like a racoon) would come up and drink out of their pool!

I'll try to find their web site address. You might try a search for 'distinctive hotels costa rica' which is the company that owns the Villa Caletas and about 5 other boutique hotels in Costa Rica. We ended up staying at 3 of their hotels. With the exception of the dining room at Villa Caletas, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience with this small hotel chain.

You can do several day trips from Villa Caletas including the Cararera Nat'l Park, a croc tour arranged by the hotel, and a drive to Manuel Antonio (bring your bathing suits).

Hope this helps you out. We got a lot of good advice while planning our trip from this forum and would be glad to assist in any way we can.
 
Old Jun 8th, 2002, 10:08 AM
  #10  
Karen
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Barbara, Could you tell me a little more about the drive from Arenal to Monteverde? Is the driving in Costa Rica as bad as it seems? Also were you pleased with the car rental agency?We are going in a month. Thanks
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 11:52 AM
  #11  
Barbara
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Message: Karen

We had a Hertz reservation and ended up using Hola Rental cars--they were willing to deliver our 4wd vehicle to our hotel, which was just outside of Alajuela AND it was about $20 less. So we ended up saving some time and money by using Hola.

We were very careful about not leaving anything in the car, as there were two very high deductibles ($1200 and $2400 for collission and a total loss, respectively). We were told that all the deductibles were the same for the US and Tico companies. We were concerned about them tacking on additional charges at the end for any type of scratch not listed on the rental sheet they checked off, at the time of rental. When we returned the car (at their location just outside of San Jose)there were no additional charges and overall, we had a very good experience with Hola.

We did return the car with a full tank. But the car was filthy, as we drove it all around and through quite a bit of mud in Monteverde.

A few things about TICO gas stations: They are wonderful! Full service! And, in the smaller towns they wash windows, check the hood & even the tire pressure--it was like a flashback to the 1950-60's!!

More on Monteverde to follow....
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 04:01 PM
  #12  
Barbara
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Message: Karen - - cont'd

We drove from Arenal around the lake to Monteverde which was a beautiful route. Okay, the roads in some places are bad, and this is one of those places. I guess it depends upon your perspective...We have two 4wd vehicles at home and while we don't do 'off-roading' per se, we are used to driving on gravel roads, wash-board, & around potholes. We needed the 4wd on the way to Monteverde, as it was very muddy. The mud in combination with the condition of this road made it necessary for 4wd, I don't care what anyone else says. Around the lake was okay, just go slow. I aksed my husband if he was aiming for all the potholes, which he wasn't, of course. And, I think all my internal organs are still in the same place--okay so it's bumpy. But just before Monteverde, we had to put it into 4wd and I think we used 4wd the whole time in Monteverde.

Driving: I'll admit, my husband did all of the driving, while I navigated. I think you'll do best with 2 people in this regard, as signage to Manuel Antonio was good, but from San Jose to Arenal, you may take a few wrong turns. You'll see a fork in the road and wonder which way to turn, as there are no signs. The good news is that Tico's are really nice and helpful about directions. It will help if you know some Spanish. I was able to commuicate fairly easily, and I'm my no means fluent. But their hand gestures will help and it will make for good stories?

more to follow as I've been having trouble posting my replies--too wordy I guess
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 04:05 PM
  #13  
Barbara
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Message: Karen - - cont'd

Tico drivers aren't really that bad compared to Asia (sorry if I've offended anyone). However, there are passing issues--Tico's will pass on blind curves, and despite double yellow lines! The joke between us is that the yellow line must mean to 'pass very fast'-HA! However, I always wore my seatbelt--not kidding. Ever play 'chicken'?

But there is a rhythm or method to their technique. Bridges are usually one lane and Tico's politely allow whichever car arrives first to pass, while pulling over to the side. San Jose was a bit more challenging, but you probably won't have much driving to do there (just to/from the airport).

On that note, I think rental companies charge you an addidtional 12% or so to rent the car from the airport, or so I was told. We used Hola, just outside of San Jose and about 15-17 kilometers from the airport. BTW, Hola will take you to the airport if you drop your car off.

Just avoid 'hay no paso' -- for one way streets (I think that was what the sign said)

Also, watch your speed. Several couples we met got pulled over by police (we were very lucky as we did not) for speeding. You need to slow down at school zones and they have a lot of schools in CR! Just watch the signs and be careful and you shouldn't have any problems.

Hope this helps you out. We felt the freedom of having our own car outweighed getting lost a few times and a handful of harrowing passes.

PS: We stopped for pizza (not bad) at Mystica near Nueva Arenal.
 
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 06:02 AM
  #14  
Karen
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Barbara, Thanks so much for the information about driving. I feel much better.We will check into using Hola for the rental. Karen
 
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 09:46 AM
  #15  
Terr
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Hi there --

One other question about driving....does anyone know if it's possible to drive with 4x4 vehicle to the Corcovado National Park area? Weather permitting, we will try to get there, but flying on small planes is not an option for me!

Thanks,
 
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 10:13 AM
  #16  
Iza
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Terri, I think it is possible to drive to Osa Penninsula/Corcovado. We were at Lapa Rios last year in August and met a couple who drove there all the way from Nicoya Penninsula.
I would strongly suggest you get a 4x4. We used Dollar Rent-a-Car and were very happy with their service and the car we had last year (Nissan Pathfinder).
As to weather, we visited CR twice in August and had some rain but nothing that would spoil our vacation. It generally didn't interfere with what we wanted to do during the day except that some of the hiking trails we wanted to take were too muddy and slippery.
In Osa the weather was extremely humid and very warm, with storms mostly at night. At Manuel Antonio, we had a mix of overcast days with cooler tempertures and some rain and clear sunny weather. At Arenal, it was cool and rainy most of the time we were there (we were not able to see the volcano at all in two days). In Tamarindo, it was hot and sunny. In San Jose area it was pleasant with cool evenings and mornings and storms at night.
I think that's the type of wheather you can expect in September. It generally is humid wherever you go in CR, with Osa Penninsula being the most humid from our experience.
If you are looking for recommendations of places to stay in Central Valley: we really enjoyed Xandari in Alajuela which would be a great "nice and cushy" place for a honeymoon. We also liked Vista del Valle in Grecia.
I think that you should have no problem finding places to stay in September without reservations.
If you do a search on this site by my name you should find a detailed trip report I posted last year.
Enjoy your trip.
 
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 01:12 PM
  #17  
Terri
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Iza,
Thanks for the reply...sounds like everyone on this board flies in to Osa...it's good to know that driving is an option for us....I will look up your trip report!

Terri
 
Old Jun 12th, 2002, 05:50 AM
  #18  
Robbie
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Just a note: I was n the airport the other day waiting for a flight back to Quepos on Sansa and met a guy who owns a farm in the Osa penninsula. He had arranged to rent a car that was driven to Puerto Jiminez for him at no extra charge. SO he flew out to Puerto Jiminez and pcked up the car there. He was kind of surprised that he could get the car driven to meet hm at the airport for no extra charge. He was renting the car for a week, so imagine there is a minimum, but seems to me the perfect option and will be considerng doing the same myslef next time go that way!
Best wishes!
Robbie
 
Old Jun 12th, 2002, 06:13 AM
  #19  
Iza
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Actually the couple I mentioned earlier we met at Lapa Rios drove there from Nicoya Penninsula but flew back to SJ. The car rental company sent someone from SJ to pick up their car there (I believe at no extra charge). So Robbie is right, flying one way and driving the other way is definitely an option.
 
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