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Trip Report: Arenal, MV, MA

Old Jul 15th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Trip Report: Arenal, MV, MA

Hello!
We just got back from a great time in CR! We arrived July 1 and took the Grayline bus to Arenal Paraiso. This was nice because we got there fairly quickly and easily. We sat on the porch a lot and watched the volcano. It was great. We spent 2 nights there. We ate at El Novillo one night which I would highly recommend. They have yummy steak with low prices. The restaurant is just an outside covered porch with plastic chairs, and it was raining like crazy but we stayed dry. The next day we took a taxi to the Nat'l Park and our driver was excited to talk to us (in Spanish) about the animals in the area and spotted howler monkeys up in trees on the side of the road and stopped so we could see them! We walked on the trail in the Nat'l Park for about 4 hours and then went back to the hotel to enjoy their pools, both hot and cold. The breakfast at Arenal Paraiso was really good, but we didn't eat there for dinner because of the neg. reviews I had read on this site. The next morning we took the jeep-boat-jeep to Monteverde. This was a pretty fun way to get there. Other people we met later were complaining about their necks hurting from the bumpy rides, but it really wasn't too bad for us, probably because with the jeep-boat-jeep trip you're only on the bad roads for 1.5 hours or so. In MV we stayed at the Sapo Dorado. The cabin did smell kind of smokey and was dim but it was very clean. We were warm enough at night without a fire. The weather there was pretty comfortable, actually, and it didn't rain much, so we felt fortunate about that. We went to the MV reserve early the next morning and took a guided hike, which was great. Then we walked around the park until it closed. We took the bus back to Santa Elena and ate at Morphos which was ok. The next day we did the Original Canopy Tour, and we had a good time. I think we might have liked a hanging bridge tour more, because we might have seen more wildlife up in the trees but the zip lines were fun and the guides were friendly. I kind of think it might have been fun to stay closer to the reserve, but Sapo was fine. We ate dinner there once and it was really good. We also took a night hike in the MV reserve which was interesting. The next day, we took a cab to Santa Elena at 5:30AM!!! to catch the public bus to Puntarenas and then on to Manuel Antonio. I was a little nervous about the public bus but I thought it would be a neat way to see "real" costa ricans and it turned out to be fine, except when the bus broke down and we all had to get squish onto another bus that was already full, that was a little rough, probably not a great time if you had kids, but we were ok in the end. Arriving at the Mango Moon in Manual Antonio was a huge relief. Mango Moon was my favorite place to stay. The staff is great. It's kind of like a big house so you run into other guests and can ask them what they've seen and done. The pool is nice with a great view. The breakfast was great! We stayed there 5 nights. We orginally were supposed to go back to San Jose the night before we left but we changed our minds and stayed one more night at Mango Moon. We went to the Nat'l Park almost every day to hike, swim, read at the beach. It's beautiful. We also took a kayak tour in the mangroves with Iguana Tours and the guide was really good. His name is Andre. It was only my husband and I and another man on the tour so we were able to see a lot of animals and learn alot. We ate at Salsipuedes for dinner twice because it was great, it's right next to Barba Roja! The staff is friendly and the prices reasonable. The service at Barba Roja wasn't great but the food was fine. Mar Luna was good for dinner too. Feel free to ask any questions.
Thanks for all the help I got on this site before we left! I'm looking forward to going back to CR sometime soon!
dinopa is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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Dinopa, I'm glad you enjoyed Costa Rica. Thanks for sharing.

Our cabin at El Sapo dorado smelled smoky too...the classic mountain cabin. I think I would have preferred a cabin without a fireplace (sunset suites cabin or fountain suites cabin.)

Do you mind a suggestion? If you type your trip report with spaces between paragraphs, it is easier for people to read, or skim...some people may be skimming your trip report, for example, for info only on Arenal Paraiso.

Also when you are finished writing it, just before you post it, go back and add some sub-titles in all caps, like this:

ARENAL PARAISO:
We stayed here and enjoyed it, etc........

Anyway, dinopa, if you do this, people can easily skim your trip report and find the info they need.

Thanks for taking the time to share. Monteverde is beatiful, we were there for 3 nights, loved the Monteverde Cloud forest in the morning, ancient and mysterious, dense and so green!
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Old Jul 25th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Catching up on my reading this morning. Sounds like you had a very enjoyable time.

Have fun planning your next trip!!
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Old Jul 25th, 2005, 05:39 PM
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Dear Dinopa,
Thanks for the detailed report of your trip. I noticed you decided to stay in MA instead of San Jose the last day your were in CR. I assume your drove (or were driven) from MA to San Jose. Did you have a flight out that day? We are trying to decide if we should spend a night in San Jose the day before we fly home or drive directly from MA to the airport for departure. Not sure if we would make our flight on time, it leaves at 12:45pm.
Thnks for any info you can provide.
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Old Jul 26th, 2005, 05:13 PM
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Madtravelers,
You need to be at the airport 2 hours ahead. It was a mad scene when we where there for an 8:30 AM flight. Also, you really need to assume the drive will be 4 hours, and if you are returning a rental car....so you will need to be on the road at say 6:30 or so.
We hated spending the night in San Jose prior to our return home, but no way could we have made it otherwise. Maybe you want to look at a destination such a peace lodge or Xandari (SP?) for the last night. Both are within an hour to the airport, and i think both have something to offer rather than just a place to sleep?
I run for flights all the time, and don't think I would want the extra travel on fly day, but enjoy your trip regardless!
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Old Jul 27th, 2005, 07:16 PM
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Thanks marleyzoemom for your speedy reply! We are still deciding what to do but I think since we are only in CR for 4 nights that we will probably hit the road at 6:00am the last day and go for it!
Thanks again.
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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Hi,
Sorry, I haven't replied in SO long. Not sure if this is too late to help you madtravlers, but maybe it will help someone else. We left Manuel Antonio on the public bus at about 6 am. It picked us up right on the main road near our hotel and dropped us off at the airport a few hours later. We had gone into Quepos the day before and bought our bus tickets at that time for the next day. It was really easy. We were pretty early for our 1:20pm flight back to DC so we got in a cab and asked him to take us someplace we could eat. He took us to the mall in Alejuela which was just 5 minutes away. It wasn't the coolest place maybe but we got to people watch a little while longer. It was easy to catch another cab back to the airport.
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 03:32 PM
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Is it possible to travel to Monteverde and back to Arenal in one day via the jeep-boat-jeep? Is this enough time to go into the cloud forest and then come back to Arenal in the late afternoon?
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 06:10 PM
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It's do-able, yes, but I wouldn't consider it worthwhile. They leave Arenal around 8:30 and it's 3 hours to Monteverde. Then to return in the same day, you'd have to leave at 2pm for the 3 hour return. So 6 hours of traveling for only 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
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Old Aug 16th, 2005, 06:29 AM
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Hi Dinopa,
Glad you enjoyed CR so much!! We are going to be staying at Arenal Paraiso in
December. Would you stay there again?

I just noticed there is a similiar resort that just opened up called Arenal Springs Resort. Did you happen to see it? I was wondering if it would be better to stay in something brand new?
Thanks,
Jayne
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