Questions on Osa Peninsula & Caribbean Beaches

Old May 28th, 2012, 08:54 PM
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Questions on Osa Peninsula & Caribbean Beaches

Im planning my first trip to Costa Rica, Dec 2-Jan5; 14 days on the ground after overnight recovery.
1) We want to spend 3 days on Osa Peninsula and debating between Drake Bay (Aguila de Osa, Villas Alturas, Drake Bay Wilderness Lodge) and Puerto Jimmenez (Bosque del Cabo, Agua Dulce Lodge). We want beach time, animal viewing experiences/hikes, excellent food, peaceful setting. We don't necessarily need an all inclusive, we can pick up tours on our own.
Which area do you recommend and why? Which hotels?
2) We are considering staying at a southern beach on the Caribbean side after visiting
Tortuguera (any recommendations between Tortuga and Manatus Lodges). Are the beaches in Pto Viego and south clean? lodgings safe (heard about theft)? Humidity bearable in December? worth the effort to get there?
Its a hassle to rent a car in Guapilas,where the Tortuguera lodges can drop you, rent a car and then drive southwest to Cahuita and beaches). But it might be worth it???
Thank you in advance for your help.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 11:05 PM
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Robbie,

We don't find it difficult to arrange a car in Guapiles....we usually rent through Tricolor and have been able to arrange a drop off for $40. The exchange has always occurred at the Guapiles restaurant used by the lodge, Laguna Lodge in our case and we just turned over our keys to the staff.


It is probably easiest for most people to PICK UP the car in Guapiles AFTER Tortuguero - the car will be waiting at the restaurant where your bus stops for lunch on the way out, so you will not have to find the restaurant on your own.

We have always chosen to DROP the the car in the morning on the way IN to Tortuguero joining our tour group at the restaurant. We often feel rushed and sometimes the 1-2 hour drive from various lodgings, north or south has proven tricky, as there are delays due to school zones and once we nearly missed meeting the group. That said, it has worked better for our itinerary to do it this way, allowing us to FLY OUT of Tortuguero, saving time and getting us to our next destination of Manuel Antonio or the Osa etc on the same day as leaving Tortuguero. It wonderful to see the canals from the air.

You might keep in mind that one can not leave the Osa and arrive in Tortuguero on the same day. (expect by private plane?). Only the reverse is possible.

My understanding is that in December, the east coast of CR often gets better weather than the rest of the country so I think the effort spending time around Puerto Viejo worthwhile for your trip.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 02:36 AM
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I haven't been to all of your listed hotels on the Osa, but I have been to Bosque del Cabo, and to a different one near Drake Bay. There are reasons why BdC is so popular on this board. Here are mine:

Most important, while the price tag may seem steep, there is no need to book separate, expensive Corcovado tours, as the area borders the park. The amount of wildlife to be seen is staggering. They have a fantastic, well-marked, private trail system, though folks see almost as much at times from their decks or elsewhere on the immediate grounds. The place we stayed at near Drake Bay was excellent, but didn't have nearly the diversity of trails and wildlife.

There isn't a "resorty" feel to the place. I don't normally care for resorts, so the fact that environmental talks, night-hikes, and time spent sharing the days activities over drinks with the other guests is considered nightlife is fine by me.

The staff is super-friendly, and the atmosphere relaxed. Nobody at your elbow, but always willing to assist.

The cabinas! We have stayed in a basic cabina and garden cabina, and loved them both for different reasons, but not the least is the view overlooking the ocean or gardens and monkeys swinging through the trees and macaws flying overhead.

The outdoor shower!!!

The food, included in the price, is excellent. I think that you can opt out of meals if you don't need them, but we found it convenient to have lunches packed while we hiked or went on excursions. I will say that I wasn't always hungry enough to eat the amount of food offered, so I often asked for smaller portions at breakfast and lunch.

While the beach isn't right there, we enjoy the great trails leading to a very swimmable stretch, and another leading to wonderful tidepools and waterfalls.

We've never rented a car, but many others have.

Have a fabulous time,a dn be sure and report back!
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Old May 31st, 2012, 07:39 PM
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cattail, I find it so amazing how popular BoC is on this board given how expensive it is. I will be in the Osa during the christmas-new years week and if we were to stay here it would be just under $500 per night, not something I can afford. Their prices are so out of range with other properties in the region that I am surprised how little mention there is of the high cost.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 09:11 PM
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Thanks for your help rivet, Cattail and Juldie. Since my post and before your replies today, I have been in contact with at least ten lodges. I am trying, last minute, to work out a two week trip at Christmas time. Based on limited availabilities and having a fat budget for this trip, this is what I came up with and await final confirmation from each place. Critiques/recommendations greatly appreciated.
Dec 20 arrive in SJ around 8 pm night at Hotel La Rosa de America
Dec 21 hang out, tour San Jose
22 drive to Lost Iguana, Arenal
23 Lost Iguana
Dec 24 possibly Villa Blanca Cloud Forest resort or????suggestions
Dec 25 Villa Blanca
Dec 26 drive back to SJ and tour city
Dec 27 Tortuguero/ Manatus
Dec 28 Tortuguero/Manatur
Dec 29 fly back to SJ -city or central valley tour/ overnight city hotel
Dec 30 fly to Drake Bay around 8 am Aguila del Osa
Dec 31 Aguila
Jan1 Aguila
Jan2 fly Drake Bay to Pto Jimenez 8 am/ Bosque del Cabo
Jan 3 Bosque del Cabo
Jan 4 4:30 pmfly to SJ
Jan 3 PM flight back to LAX
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Old May 31st, 2012, 10:16 PM
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Robbie,

I'm sure the lodges are getting booked up.

While we usually enjoy the aspects of getting place to place in CR, if possible, you might consider staying longer in some of the destinations. Even Arenal - there's a lot to do in that area. I would change out Villa Blanca, this trip. It looks lovely, but you'll be driving through a cloud forest on the way to Tortuguero. So at least you would get the experience, tho brief.

On Dec 29, could you carry on from Tortuguero to Drake Bay since you will be in the airport anyway? If so, make sure you book both flights on the same airline, as the Sansa terminal and the Nature AIr terminal are miles apart. I think I was only able to arrange domestic flights about 2 months out. Perhaps Christmas is different and they publish the flight details early?

It's not so easy to get to BDC. Could you back up your days and get an extra night there? If not, it will still be enjoyable.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 01:21 AM
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We've stayed at Lost Iguana, Bosque del Cabo, and Tortuga Lodge - they're all excellent. Personally I wouldn't spend a lot of time touring San Jose - big city with traffic, bars on the windows, etc. unless you have your heart set on seeing some of the museums. If you like a city hotel Grano de Oro is nice, and Xandari is great if you want a place with grounds and great views.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 06:02 AM
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Agree w/ VG and would drop those two days that you have set aside for San Jose. People come for nature, not the city. There are a few nice museums, but add'l time on the Osa or Arenal would be a better choice.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 06:11 AM
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Juldie, was that per couple? We (my husband and I) split the time between basic and garden cabinas, which cost us at the time between $125 and $165 pp a night a year or two ago. Yes, I know that it seems exorbitant - it did to us as well until we actually stayed there.

Sometimes we like a night to unwind before actively touring,vc. That may be Robbie's thinking.?
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 06:44 AM
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Cattail - sounds like you went to BdC in green season like we just did when rates are much more reasonable.

Their holiday rates from 12/19/11 - 1/4/12 ranged from $375 pp for a single in a classic to $235 pp for double classic; $395 pp for a single in a deluxe cabina and $255 pp for doubles.

The garden cabinas are much less expensive, but many people don't want that walk through the forest after dinner or the fact that there is no ocean view.

Many lodges raise their rates for the holidays since it's the busiest time of year. Those who choose to travel at that time need deep pockets!
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 08:15 AM
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Maybe so, cat. I am not a good unwinder - lol. I'm more of a go-go-go vacationer, but I'd rather unwind someplace with a great view, a great beach, or some wildlife.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 08:19 AM
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colobri, no, we didn't go in green season; we went in January and February. Wow - that's crazy-expensive for holiday season! We couldn't afford that either.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 08:27 AM
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Yeah, me too, v.c., but then, I'm not a city-person in general. Unfortunately, not the most organized either, lol, so I suppose "regroup" is a better term for what I do than "unwind"! I like the Orchideous Inn to before exploring, probably other good spots as well.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 09:06 AM
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Cattail - how did you like the garden cabinas at BdC? Much wildlife from your porch? I went up to the tropical garden twice and never saw much of anything, even birds. I don't know about walking back there in the dark every night!
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 09:28 AM
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We liked them a lot, colibri,and actually looked forward to our walk back at night, looking for creatures along the way. We didn't see much in the way of wildlife either, other than frogs. That, and the fact that it was hotter than an ocean-view cabina,made us prefer our classic cabina. Still, we were able to afford a longer stay for the same price by dividing up our time, so we were happy.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Thx, Cattail - we loved Casa Blanca and found it reasonable since we split costs five ways. Next time I'll get a cabina since I hope to bring my hubby back.
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 09:51 AM
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colibri, were you part of the Fodor's group, along with Jill and hip that got together at BdC?
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 10:09 AM
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No, I was just there May 9-13 with a group of friends from all over the SE. Tully's trying to talk me into the GTG next June, thinking about it, plus I will be all over the Caribbean side Feb. 9 - March 1. Can't wait!
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 04:30 PM
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We're thinking of going for a fourth trip to CR around the same time!
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Old Jun 1st, 2012, 06:44 PM
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Dear Rivit and others:
I'd be happy to stay an extra day on Osa. I'll see if I can add a day. Would you add it at Drake Bay - Aguila de Osa or Bosque del Campo.at the bottom of the peninsula...if I even have a choice. No, I do not care about city touring. I can check if Lost Iguana has an extra night on the 24th. If so I have a free day on the 25th. Where do you suggest? We'll have a car but not a 4WD. I have to be back the night of the 26th for the 6 am pick-up to Tortuguera the next morning.
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