Trip Report - 8 days in CR

Old Mar 15th, 2004, 07:42 PM
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Trip Report - 8 days in CR

Just got back - this afternoon from Costa Rica with my husband and two children - ages 9 & 12. What an incredible time. 3 weeks ago I was looking at all inclusives but kept reading from this board, how much there was to see and do. We've always done AI's to the Caribbean and I felt we were at the stage where my kids could handle moving around (4 different hotels)and renting a car. I HIGHLY recommend it. With the incredible help of Neta from Finca Que Ama, this has got to be our most memorable trip. We all feel we've been gone for 2-3 weeks.
The itinery was as follows:
1st night - Hotel Buena Vista - simple, quiet, small pool. We needed to just rest after getting up at 3:00am for our flight. The scenery was spectacular from the hotel.
Drove to Paos the next day - saw nothing but mist, so continued to Arenal. 2nd & 3rd night - Stayed at Los Legas Hotel in Arenal- my kids were squealing with delight!! Waterslides that you'd have to pay to go to anywhere else, a crocodile farm, tilapia fishing. We loved the hot spring swim-up bar - met some great people. On our second night there, we just happened to see molten rock falling from the volcano from our rooms. The following day, we did the combo horseback riding and canopy tour. My daughters both got to canter on their horses. We had a great time.
Drove to Manuel Antonio for 4th,5th,6th night. Stayed at La Colina in a treehouse style room - huge room with 2 doubles, a twin, apt style. Beautiful hotel, great food, beautiful, bali style restaurant. The rooms were a bit noisy in the am.
Went to MA National Park at 7:00 am and saw sloths, monkeys, tons of iguanas. Went swimming on the beach - too hot, but enjoyed it. Also went galloping on the beach early day 6 - it was terrifying and exhilarating. If they think you know what your doing, they let you do your own thing. My youngest daughter didn't go horseback riding, but instead took a surfing lesson.
Our last night, drove to Tubarri National Park and stayed at Finca Que Ama - WHAT a beautiful place. It's brand new and was designed by the owners and a local architect. The rooms are actually super modern cottages - even more beautiful inside than any place I?ve stayed in in North America. My whole family all wished we stayed two nights at Finca Que Ama and only 2 nights (instead of the 3) at MA. The place is so peaceful. They made a delicious variety of food and they treated us like family. If you have any questions feel free to contact us or Neta herself ? she is very happy to help travelers to Costa Rica.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 05:53 AM
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Hello molyneux,
Thank you for your wonderful trip report. I hope you don't mind answering some questions I have. My family and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica in June or August. What was driving like in CR? I keep reading about the terrible road conditions, lack of signs, etc so am nervous about driving. My husband drove in Poland last fall,which was easy with good roads, even in the mountains, and good signs. But it sounds like it will be more difficult driving in CR. Also, we will be there during the rainy season. What car rental agency did you use and how much did it cost?

Is the HOtel Buena Vista in San Jose? What did you do in San Jose?

How long of a drive is it from San Jose to Arenal and from Arenal to MA? We are thinking of a similar itinerary plus maybe Poas and La Paz waterfall.

What type of canopy tour did you take in Arenal? Zip line, bridge or cable car?

What is the cost for the Los Legas Hotel in Arenal?

Thanks for any help you can give.


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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 06:06 AM
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I may be wrong, but judging from her description of the waterslides and crocodile farm, I think she meant the Los Lagos Hotel. Here's a link:
http://www.1-costaricalink.com/hotel...costa_rica.htm
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 08:59 AM
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Hi Kwoo;

Regarding driving. We rented a small Nissan Sentra for 300/week. Driving was fine for us because we were going to major tourist areas which are well posted. When we went to San Pablo - to Finca Que Ama, we phoned the owner to get exact directions. We would just stop and ask - people are very helpful. Having said this, it's windy and can be dangerous. We didn't overtake alot of big trucks, especially when it was foggy driving from Arenal to Manual Antonio. We also managed to get a flat tire driving to the airport yesterday. We were late to begin with, so were abit frantic putting the replacement on, but my husband managed to do a good, quick job. In retrospect, I would have gotten a bigger car 4x4. But, we absolutely loved the freedom of having our own car. Regarding the rainy season I understand that it usually only rains a certain period in the day.

We took the zip line (10 lines) in Arenal. The cost of Los Lagos was 115/night, includes breakfast - this is their high season I believe.
We didn't stop for La Paz and glad we didn't because taking the longer route - towards Poas would have had us in Arenal much later. I loved the hotel so much, the long drive and stopping was something I wouldn't recommend if you have less time. Although I understand that Poas is worth the visit.

Let me know if you have any other questions - good luck with planning. Would love to hear how your trip goes as were planning going back.
Molyneux
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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Hello molyneux,
Thanks for all your helpful info.

How long did it take you to drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio?

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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 06:17 PM
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Kwoo;

It took us approx. 6-7 hours to get to Manuel Antonia. We left around 10:00 am, requested some extra fruit from the hotel and drove till we could take in no longer in a place called Atenas. We were desperate for a stop in a decent restaurant and couldnt see anything there. I did see this Pizzaria sign a few streets away from the town area. My husband was very wary about the look of the place and the sign, but I pursued. It turned out to be the best pizza place in this beautiful open concept restaurant. I'll try to look up the name. We walked down a driveway to get there. Turns out there are two American woman who live in Villa Atenas and come there all the time. Anyways, we stopped there for 1.5 hours and then stopped again at the bridge, where the crocodiles are (sorry, I need to review my children's journals for the exact name of this place). We ended up in MA around 4:00. It wasn't too bad, because of the longer stop in the middle.
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Old Mar 16th, 2004, 06:55 PM
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We just got back from a wonderful trip in Costa Rica. After reading great things about CR here and in other travelogues we decided to take it easy on ourselves and plan another trip in the near future to monterverde, guancaste, and other places. We planned this trip through www.vacationscostarica.com and I believe they did a great job for us, especially arranging private transfers rather than renting a car. "Bad" would be a step up for most of the roads we were on in CR.

Private transfers - A tico picks you up in a comfortable van and drives you to your destination. CR is a country with no street signs & few directional signs. I read several accounts here about 3 hour trips turning into 6 hour marathons. It was cheaper than renting a car and a terrific way discover the country through it's people. We met and talked for hours with our native-born drivers and got great insights into CR history, current events, and the CR way of life. La gente de Costa Rica esta muy amable.


1st night-We spent our first night and our last night in San Jose. I'll say right now that we shouldn't have spent the last night in SJ (El Chepe to the locals.) We could have made it to the airport in plenty of time from Manual Antonio. However, we did go to a great asian restaurant(Tin Jo.)
2nd&3rd Night- Arenal Paraiso. Nice hotel. Great spa. Had a couples massage. Hot mineral water swim-up bar with a view of the Volcano...which was clouded over...que sera! We knew the odds when we booked. Took the horse ride and canopy tour with zip lines...must do the zips if at all able. Very exciting and very beautiful
4th-7th Night-Manual Antonio. Hotel Parador. My wife liked a lot. Quite comfortable, even luxurious with infinity pool and, of course, a very nice swim-up bar. Cerveza recommendation-Pilsen in the bottle, Imperial on tap. Park is beautiful with many types of wild life including monkeys. Took a personalized kayak tour down the river to the ocean..just our swiss CR immigrant guide and the two of us. Saw a crocodile and much other wild life. Restaurants- La Cantina for Grilled Lobster and rocking chairs. MarLuna for fish and shrimp.
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Old Mar 21st, 2004, 02:25 PM
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Molyneux, you told me the drive from Arenal to MA was about 6 - 7 hours (including a stop for lunch). How would you describe the drive? Is it really terrifying? My husband wants to drive & that is what I am leaning towards but I admit I am nervous after what some posters have said about driving in CR. We would be driving from MA to Arenal. Appreciate any comments. Thanks.
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Old Mar 21st, 2004, 06:18 PM
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Hi Kwoo;
It depends on your tolerence for windy roads. We were driving a small Nissan Sentra and I didn't feel scared. The only time I was concerned was when it was misty an hour after La Fortuna towards Ramon(?). This was because we were stuck behind a slow moving truck and were really wanting to pass it because we felt like we'd end up in MA way past dark at the rate we were driving. We knew this was a bad idea given that the roads were so windy. Eventually, the truck almost stopped and waved us to pass safely.
My husband is a good driver and looked out for potholes, slowing down when the road wasnt that great. We saw lots of tourists like us driving. I guess it all depends on what you consider risk. For us, driving with some potholes and lack of clear signage was part of the adventure. And believe me, I'm an over protective, think of the worst case scenario type of person. My husband has more faith in the world around him.
This is just our personal experience. We would rent a car again if we go next year - it gave us flexibility and freedom.
Hope this helps.
Good luck.
Molyneux
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Old Mar 21st, 2004, 08:23 PM
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Hello molyneux,
Thank you so much for your quick & helpful response. I feel much better about renting a car now. Thanks!
Karen
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Old Nov 4th, 2004, 02:01 PM
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Molyneux,
My family and I are considering a trip to Costa Rice in February, and I found your trip summary really inspiring. Could you provide a ballpark $figure of the cost of your trip? Maybe airfare/hotels/rental car?
Thank you,
joangk
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