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Please help focus 8 night Costa Rica Itinerary with 11 year old

Please help focus 8 night Costa Rica Itinerary with 11 year old

Old Nov 15th, 2007, 03:42 PM
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Please help focus 8 night Costa Rica Itinerary with 11 year old

Hi,
I am reposting this with "Costa Rica" in the title. Sorry.

Hi Everyone,

I have a friend who would like to go to Costa Rica for 8 nights in March (yes, I know she'd better get moving since it is a popular time). She and her husband will be going with their 11 year old son.

It seems that with 8 nights, they should probably choose 2-3 places. How to prioritize/choose from Arenal/La Fortuna, Tortuguero, Manuel Antonio, Corcovado, and Monteverde?

Although they know they won't have time for every single one of the following activities, this is what they are interested in:

1.Waterfalls/butterflies

2.Volcanoes - want to see lava flow and get "upclose"

3.Rafting or kayaking. She especially likes the idea of being able to see wildlife from the water.

4. Wildlife viewing in general. Want to see lots of animals and nature.

5. Canopy tour/hanging bridges

6. Zipline - perhaps tandem for the 11 year old?

7. Good food important to her.

8. Beach not a huge priority, but if possible, the 11 year old loves to snorkel and the father/son are accomplished fishermen who would value a private fishing excursion if it could work with the trip. Perhaps a half day.

They are moderate to upper range in their budget (not deluxe Four Seasons, but willing to pay for great experiences).

The only other limitation is that she has a history of back trouble ... so, while she can walk long distances and downhill walking is fine, real hiking is not for them, especially going uphill.

The choices in Costa Rica are amazing - it is hard to choose. It seems like the Arenal/La Fortuna area is a must and maybe a night at Peace Lodge on the way. Then, should they fly down to Corcovado or over to Toruguero? Or, even without high priority on the beach, should they go to MA for really good wildlife?? Or, is Monteverde the way to go?

Thanks in advance for any advice, input or suggestions!!
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 04:02 PM
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Eight days, 2 locations, would be my suggestion, keeping in mind that they MIGHT need to spend the first and last nights (one, the other, or both) near the airport--depending on arrival/departure times.

My recommendation would be Arenal and Manuel Antonio--3 or 4 nights each. Everything you've mentioned can be accomplished from those 2 locations, easily, without a lot of moving around.

Tortuguero is better when the turtles are nesting July-October. Corcovado would work better if they had about 10 days. That isn't someplace you want to go for just a quick look-see; once you take the trouble to get someplace that remote, it seems a shame not to stay for at least 4-5 days.

Manuel Antonio: kayaking, mangrove tours (in kayaks), horseback (Finca Valmy tours); national park with lots of wildlife and easy (flat, level) walking trails; ziplines, waterfalls (along with the horseback ride); river rafting

Arenal: ziplines, volcano, river rafting, waterfalls, Hanging Bridges, Cano Negro tour (which would be ideal for this group--full day), and those fabulous hot springs!

Hope this helps. . .and yes, they need to get right on the reservations. Many places will already be booked up.

Arenal: Lost Iguana, Hotel Kioro, Arenal Observatory Lodge, El Silencio de Campo, Arenal Paraiso, lots of good choices. .

Manuel Antonio: Costa Verde, Tulemar Bungalows, Buena Vista (affiliated with Tulemar), Mango Moon, Si Como No, Villas Nicolas, Hotel California

Both areas have very decent restaurants--Manuel Antonio probably more choices for food variety.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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I completely agree - here's another vote for a combo of Arenal and Manuel Antonio. I'd say that's probably the most common first trip itinerary. If they have time, a night at the Peace Lodge would be perfect for seeing waterfalls and butterflies.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 06:58 PM
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Well I have to disagree...


no, no just kidding. I think you've received excellent advide - MA & Arenal are always excellent choices, both are lovely and have tons of activities to choose from. Squeezing in a night at Peace Lodge if they have time would be great too.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 03:45 AM
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Thanks for such prompt and informative responses!

My only concern/question is: Given that these are the most common first trip locations .... are they likely to be super crowded during March spring break? When I think spring break for Costa Rica, I think Disney World at Christmas or Venice in the summer .... are busy times manageable and is it still possible to relax and enjoy the nature experience OR will it be really mobbed? I guess that is where my thought for Corcovado/Osa came in .... that it might be a little different or special or less crowded.

Other than that, I think the Arenal/MA combo sounds perfect in terms of activities and convenience. Thanks for the accommodations recs as well!

By the way, the more I read, the more I want to take my own family to Costa Rica as soon as possible. We have been to Belize, but not Costa Rica. Wow.

Have a great day!

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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 04:29 AM
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When I think of busy times for CR, I think more of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then maybe Easter. I think holidays are the peak times more than Spring Break, but never too early to book; things are booking up so fast now even if not a holiday. And yes, you should go too!
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 05:28 AM
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Thanks volcanogirl - unfortunately, Easter is in March this year so it is that time.

But, with kids, you go when you can go .... so, you make the best of it. Given that it is the week leading up to Easter, does that change your recommendations on WHERE to go OR still go with MA/Arenal and book asap?
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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Oh, wow - Easter is coming early this year. I would think it would still be fine - just get your reservations - now is not too soon. Arenal/MA is a great combo for first timers. It's easy and accessible and also tons of activities. I think it's a great choice.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 10:27 AM
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Easter week is going to be crazy, but a good way. You will have a great time. I agree to go with Arenal and MA and a night at PL, but it's a huge holiday in Costa Rica the entire week leading up to Easter. Families there vacation in many of the same places you will be (which is good, you will have experiences with locals), but you may find many accommodations full so I would start sending out requests now to find out availability. I'm traveling around the same time next year and found this out in my planning.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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I agree to start sending out for reservations now, I know a place down in the Osa that was booked solid and crazy full this year around that time, so it definitely is a popular time to travel. You may be better off picking smaller hotels/lodges so you won't get that crowded feeling.
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Old Nov 16th, 2007, 02:02 PM
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Great, thanks. It sounds like the MA/Arenal combo with a possible night at Peace Lodge is the way to go. Of course, I am so obsessive-compulsive, I would have reserved this long ago, but she is a little more casual - definitely key to get this booked asap.

Again, thanks for all the prompt, helpful and succinct replies and suggestions. Fodorites always come through!
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