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??'s Between Tamarindo & Manuel Antonio areas of Costa Rica

??'s Between Tamarindo & Manuel Antonio areas of Costa Rica

Oct 29th, 2002, 01:19 PM
  #1  
Lenore
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??'s Between Tamarindo & Manuel Antonio areas of Costa Rica

We will spend the first part of our late April 2003 vacation in the Arenal/Volcano area. We want to spend the rest of the trip in a beach area. We're thinking of either Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio. Which has sunnier and dryer weather that time of year? Which is less likely to attract families? Which is easier to get to from San Jose? And from Arenal? We aren't the lay on the beach and bake type....we like to stay active with snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, biking etc. We are in our 40's (no kids). Which area will better suite us?
 
Oct 29th, 2002, 02:03 PM
  #2  
Scott
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Lenore,

Both places are great, but I think you may enjoy Manuel Antonio more. With regards to the weather, I'm pretty sure it will be identical between the two places at that time. About families, I could be wrong, but I think most stay in the larger, isolated resorts on the Nicoya Peninsula, as I haven't seen many in Tamarindo or Manuel Antonio. I know many hotels do not allow children under a certain age. Manuel Antonio is easier to get to and in less time from San Jose than Tamarindo. There are tons of active things to do in Manuel Antonio, especially since it is bordered by the Manuel Antonio National Park which has great hiking and beaches and tours. Manuel Antonio is also nice because it is right next to Quepos, a fairly large town for Costa Rica beach town standards, where you can pretty much get anything you need and also has plenty of banks, shops, restaurants, a hospital, etc. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. Take care,

Scott
Hotel California
[email protected]
 
Oct 29th, 2002, 03:20 PM
  #3  
Tess
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Lenore,

Scott lives in CR and so I can't argue with his expertise. As a two-time visitor to CR (one trip included Tamarindo & other, MA) I'd agree that Manuel Antonio sounds like your kind of place.
 
Oct 30th, 2002, 05:35 AM
  #4  
Lenore
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Wow Scott, you are just a wealth of information! (I've been reading bits and pieces of your really long post from 2001.) I read a little more about each place last night and I agree that Manuel Antonio sounds better for us. We don't like wasting lots of time driving from one destination to another, so that's why we've narrowed it to two spots. Do you think we'll be missing a lot by seeing just Arenal and MA areas (plus one night in San Jose)? Thanks!
 
Nov 2nd, 2002, 03:58 PM
  #5  
Katie
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Lenore, I've been reading Scott's replies on Costa Rica also -- Scott Gauvin who lived in CR until recently seems to be a different person than the one who responded to your question.
 
Nov 3rd, 2002, 01:53 AM
  #6  
Ken
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Lenore, I think you have it right. My wife and I were in CR in 1999 for 2 weeks and we loved it. We sound similar to you (40s, no kids). Obviously, with 2 weeks, we could see more, but you've certainly picked the highlights. Manuel Antonio was great -- the town is on the edge of a national park, and the park itself is great.

If you can stretch your trip another day or so, I'd suggest trying to get from Arenal to Monteverde Cloud Forect. We stayed in a little town nearby called Santa Elena -- very simple, almost a frontier quality, but also very cool.

I think you'll like CR -- incredible natural beauty and wildlife, good (and cheap) public transportation, lots of outdoor sporting activities (whiteater, horseback riding, hiking, etc).

Have fun!!

 
Nov 4th, 2002, 12:51 PM
  #7  
Lenore
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Ken - Did you rent a car or take public transportation to get around?

We're thinking of flying into San Jose, renting a car and immediately driving to the Arenal area. We should get there in late afternoon or early evening. I think four nights there. Then drive to Manuel Antonio and spend four nights there...possibly making a detour to the cloud forest?? Then drive to San Jose for our last night so we can catch a noon-ish flight home. This is a total of 9 nights starting on a Friday and returning on a Sunday evening. What do you think? Am I missing too much?
 
Nov 4th, 2002, 01:27 PM
  #8  
Iza
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Lenore, I think your plan is fine, although if you are thinking about the cloud forest (Monteverde?), you should probably do 2 nights at Arenal, 2 nights at Monteverde and 4 nights at Manuel Antonio. It is not easy to just detour to Monteverde. I think it takes 4 hours to drive from Arenal to Monteverde.
The drive from San Jose to Arenal is 3-4 hours. You should not drive after dark in Costa Rica (because of poor signage, potholes and generally poor condition of the roads). It gets dark in CR around 6pm year round. Make sure that this timing will work for your first day. In the alternative, consider staying in the San Jose area for the first night and then driving to Arenal the next morning.
 
Nov 6th, 2002, 04:50 PM
  #9  
Marilynn
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I would not advise driving after dark up to the volcano either - spend the nite at Orchadia Hotel in Aleweila (spelling)or another nearby place. We left at 8:30 in the morn and was there by noon with stops. You can't see the pot holes or road drop offs. We had a four wheel drive vehicle and it was a game driving from Arenal to Monteverde Cloud forest in second geer. Road is a haven of pot holes. We stayed in St Elena at the Monteverde Hotel for 2 nites (only spent one at Arenal which was enough; left after trek up to the volcano with guide.)
In Monteverde make sure you do the "zip trek trip" as it was the highlight of our trip. What fun! Then we headed for the ferry to hit Tambor and Mal Pais for a couple of days to watch my son surf, then to Manuel Antonio for 4 days of relaxation on the beach, etc. Recently I've been back with my husband and spent time in Osa Peninsula with is mind boggling and Tamarindo. We truly enjoyed both and am buying property in Tamarindo now. So enjoy the good life - I grew up in Hawaii and compare it to tbe 50's and sixties there. Marilynn from connecticut
 
Nov 7th, 2002, 06:06 AM
  #10  
Lenore
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Okay, I agree....don't drive after dark in Costa Rica! However, if we book the flight we want, it arrives SJO at 11:45AM. Even if it took 2 hours to get through customs and rent a car, we should still be able to get to Arenal before dark. Or is this pushing it?
 
Nov 7th, 2002, 06:26 AM
  #11  
Iza
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Lenore, you should be fine with that arrival time. I think you should be able to leave the airport around 2pm which should give you enough time to get to Arenal before dark.
I would suggest you go through San Ramon and La Tigra (instead of San Carlos). I understand that that route is less travelled and faster than the San Carlos route, and when we used it in August of 2001 it was in fairly good shape. It took us 3 hours from SJ.
Signage is always an issue. I found that the easiest way to navigate is to go by town and hotel signs (roads are not numbered or named in any way). A lot of hotels post signs along the way and on various intersections telling you which way to turn and the distance. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with hotel names along the way you are taking and in the area where you are staying so that even if your particular hotel does not have signs you can still go by familiar names. For example, we stayed at Arenal Paraiso which was not big on signs but from our reading and research we knew that Montana de Fuego and Tabacon Resort were located in the same vicinity so we went by their signs.
Have a great trip.
 
Nov 7th, 2002, 05:44 PM
  #12  
Ken
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Lenore, sorry it took me a few days to reply.

I think 4 days is too much at Arenal. There's so much to see elsewhere. The cloud forest in Monteverde is definitely worth the trip.

We did not drive at all, for 2 reasons:

1. the roads are lousy, day or night. Mostly paved, but not always. Also you're climbing and descending along curvy mountain roads.
2. the public transportation (that is, buses) is GREAT. It's very very cheap (I recall the trip from San Jose to La Fortuna (Arenal) cost us about $5 US for a 4 hour trip; I also remember that the bus ride from San Jose to the airport was 25 cents). Perhaps more importantly, it's the best way to meet the people, who are very friendly and welcoming. The bus will stop frequently to let vendors on, who have snacks, water, toys, etc., to sell you. Truly a special trip.

Be aware, though, that they're not very luxurious buses -- mostly converted school buses from the US. Bench type seats and no air conditioning.

Another down side is all roads lead to and from San Jose, so you'll have to go thru San Jose to catch a bus to somewhere else. You'll end up spending more time there than you'd like. But the country's very small so it's not a huge problem.

Hope this helps.

Ken
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 09:11 AM
  #13  
Tess
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Agree with other posters that night time driving in CR is to be avoided; driving during daylight is challenging enough! Your arrival time at midday will allow you sufficient time to drive to Arenal safely and get to your hotel before dark. I'd suggest you look on the Tabacon Resort website & check their directions on how to get from San Jose to Tabacon --- we stayed at Tabacon, however even if you're staying elsewhere you can use them to get you to Arenal area.
 
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