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So confused! Please help with itinerary for Costa Rica

So confused! Please help with itinerary for Costa Rica

Old Mar 12th, 2011, 04:46 PM
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So confused! Please help with itinerary for Costa Rica

We (2 moms & 2 teenagers) are traveling in early April into San Jose. We are not planning on renting a car. We would like some beach time but also activities. Two options I am looking at are:

1. Head to Monteverde area for 2 nights for rainforest/volcano activities, then to Playa Flamingo (Flamingo Beach Resort) for 4 nights for beach time. Last night in San Jose due to early flight.

2. Head to Manuel Antonio (La Mariposa?) and stay there for all 6 nights with some beach time and some park time.

My struggle is partly because of transportation. I know the beaches are nicer in Flamingo area, but time spent on bus is much more. I've looked into Interbus schedule and it seems limited and takes a long time. Is there a better way to get from San Jose to MonteVerde to Playa Flamingo and back to San Jose? Is this schedule crazy?

Thank you so much for your help.
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 04:55 PM
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We spent Manuel Antonio for 6 days and had a blast. Cabs are plenty and cheap in the area. Not sure of your budget, but I highly recommend Buena Vista Villas (a one bdrm is big enough for the four of you)
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 05:55 PM
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If you want a rainforest experience w/o going all the way to Monteverde, you can look into the Los Angeles Cloud forest. We stayed there enroute to Fortuna and absolutely loved it. It's about 1.5hrs from San Jose. We stayed at the Villablanca Cloud Forest Hotel...what an ethereal experience. We did a phenomenal horseback ride, explored the Cloud forest and had the added benefit of hearing Arenal volcano venting. If you don't want to rent a car, you could hire a driver to get there. MUCH less crowded than Monteverde, but not nearly as large.

From there, it should not be too difficult to get to Manuel Antonio.

Have fun...CR is gorgeous and the people are lovely..warm and welcoming!!
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 07:53 PM
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We are staying at Buena Vista Villas (tulemar bungalows) in the beginning of April. They have a private beach and it sounds beautiful. It's been awhile but we have been to both Playa Flamingo and Manuel Antonio (although never Buena Vista Villas) and I like the beach/jungle better at Manuel Antonio.

Is this your first time to CR? It really depends what you want to experience. It's been many years since I went to Playa Flamingo but even then I felt like it was very similar to the US. Manuel Antonio with the rain forest feels like you are in another country.

I'm not sure about the local bus schedule from Manuel Antonio but you should look into that and see what towns you can get to. I just found this for day trips:
http://www.ticotravel.com/tours/mantoniotours.htm

You'll have a great time no matter what you decide!
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 08:07 PM
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I just found this for a water taxi from Jaco to Montezuma.
http://zumatours.net/taxi_boat_montezuma.html

. You could spend 1/2 the time in Manuel Antonio, take a Taxi or maybe bus to Jaco and then the water taxi to Montezuma.

Montezuma is a very different feel than Manuel Antonio and I think the teens would really love it!
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 08:23 PM
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The beach inside the park in Manuel Antonio is actually very nice, beautiful in fact, and there's lots of wildlife around. What do you think is better about the one in Flamingo? If you want volcano activities, I'd include Arenal; you can't really get volcano in Monteverde. It's more cool cloud forest than volcanic rain forest, and it's kind of a pain to get to due to the long bumpy road.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 05:52 AM
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volcanogirl: A question: When people write about Manuel Antonio, they always say things like "lots of wildlife around." What wildlife is this? I am curious. What did you see there? Thanks....
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 07:00 AM
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To hsmithcr:

Wildlife sighted from our balcony at Si Como No:
Howlers, squirrel monkeys, squirrels, squirrel cuckoos, capuchins, large iguanas, tucans, sloth, agouti, kinkajou, aricari, mot-mot, hawks, doves, and many other birds, including the baltimore oriole. I would never claim that all this is available at every point outside (or even inside) the park, but we saw it, usually daily. The key may be to stay in one comfortable location near a feeding place and let the critters come to you, rather than attempting to chase them down in the forest (while yakking and stomping). Alas, probably a lot of the wildlife outside the park has come out to eat food scraps at SOME of the hotels which make a practice of feeding birds and monkeys. Not so for Si Como No, as far as I know.

The beach in side the MA park is lovely, but you have to pay to get to it, and it isn't all that easy to get to. Now there are toilets and changing facilities, but no other services. La Mariposa is quite nice, but not at all convenient to the park beach or the "public" beach. A minor point, but the beach inside the Tulemar/Buena Vista complex is not a private beach. (All beaches are public in Costa Rica.) Because Tulemar properties essentially control the land concession (rights) adjacent to and surrounding the little beach, no one can get to the beach by land except by crossing the Tulemar property, which is gated. Tulemar has exclusive land access to the beach, but anyone with a kayak or larger can get to and use the beach (legally). The great thing about this little beach is that hotel guests can use beach equipment and chairs for free, and eat breakfast and lunch right on the beach.

If the OP really wants nice beach time, Tulemar and Buena Vista Villas would be great, and is located where there are lots of activities. The cloud forest is interesting and sounds as exotic as it is, but it IS a pain (or a series of them) to get to, and will eat up a chunk of your time. (And it can be cold.)

The concept of *The Rainforest* is almost a holy one to modern popular nature lovers, but not all rainforests are created equal. The tropical forest of Manuel Antonio technically qualifies as a rain forest (at about 150 inches of rain a year--100 inches qualifies), but like so many "rainforests" doesn't hold a candle to the huge tracts of primary forest in the south of the country. It's good enough to attract lots of people, and we still like it even though it is becoming way too built up.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 08:38 AM
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h, when we hiked inside the park, it was one wildlife sighting after another. Immediately saw a sloth, then an iguana, then loads of crabs, then a raccoon, then many, many capuchin monkeys - more than we've seen anywhere else, then long-nose bats, and the day sort of went on like that. Also many monkey sightings at our hotel where mangoes attracted them. Other than the Osa, this was the most prevalent that we've seen anywhere. Wildlife in this area seems a lot less afraid of humans, and due to the way things have developed, a lot of the animals are concentrated inside the park. I think it's the reason the area is so popular - it's easy, it's pretty, and there's easy wildlife spotting. They even have wires strung over the roads so the monkeys can get around easily.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 04:12 PM
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Thanks for all your input and help. What is the best way to get from the Manuel Antonio area to Arenal? If we are set on seeing Arenal, is it better to stay in Flamingo? Still struggling with how to see volcano, rainforest, and beach and get around without having a car.
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Old Mar 13th, 2011, 06:39 PM
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We flew into SJO, then had a private driver take us to Arenal, which is about 3 hours. Stayed there a few days and then had a driver take us to MA, which was about 5 hours. At the end of the trip, a driver took us from MA back to SJO, about 3 hours. You can book drivers through your hotels when you make reservations.
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