Upcoming Costa Rica Honeymoon Trip!

Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 08:14 AM
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Upcoming Costa Rica Honeymoon Trip!

Hello CR experienced travelers (Especially Volcanogirl)!

The one responsibility I was given is to plan and book the honeymoon and I don't want to screw it up .

Here are the details:
-early August arrival: Fly into San Jose at night with ground transportation to Doubletree San Jose for one night.
-We have a car service for next morning to bring us to Hotel Nayara in Arenal. $170 transport fee for the 2 of us. Is this a fare rate?
-We will spend 4 nights at Hotel Nayara. Which activities and restaurants would you recommend here?
- Car service from Arenal to Hotel Tulemar in Manuel Antonio where we will spend 4 nights. $240 transport rate : Is this a fare rate?
- We are thinking about doing MA park tour, ATV rental, white water rafting and the spice tour. Are these good options here?
- Car service from Tulemar to San Jose Airport. $180 (Fare rate?)

Given our limited time of 4 nights at each destination what are your MUST VISIT activities and Restaurants for honeymooners (We are not seafood lovers)?

We prefer a car service over public transportation or rental car for our first trip there. Just curious if the rates we were quoted are fare of if we should look at other options.

Your help is greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge.
JupiterFla2012 is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 11:57 AM
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Well you've done a great job of picking your hotels; both are great spots for a honeymoon!

Nayara has good food; we also like Don Rufino, Soda la Parada (cheap), and La Choza de Laurel. Las Ventanas at the Springs Resort and Spa is romantic if you want something fancy. Tulemar has several restaurants you can walk to including Barba Roja, Kapi Kapi (expensive), Salsipuedes, and Cafe Milagro. We also like Ronny's, but it's further away, about $10 by taxi and more seafood focused. Barba Roja has great burgers; they even have two for one burger night one night of the week.

Some of our favorite activities in the Arenal area are the natural hot springs like Tabacon or Eco Termales, hiking the waterfall, hiking the Hanging Bridges, the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center, Penas Blancas river float, the Cano Negro tour, tubing at The Springs Resort and Spa, ziplining at Sky Trek, and waterfall rappelling La Roca. Both Sunset Tours and Desafio are good companies to use for tours.

In Manuel Antonio, a guided tour of the park with Juan Brenes/Manuel Antonio Expeditions, the Damas mangrove tour with the same company, and the Villa Vanilla spice tour. We did our rafting with Rios Tropicales in the Arenal area, but since there's so much to do there you can definitely leave it for MA. We haven't done ATV rental yet, but sounds fun! The Vacation Buggy tour is also popular.

I think we paid about $140 to go from SJO to Nayara last time. We booked our drivers through the hotels, and it's possible rates have gone up since then. Is your quote from Nayara?

Hope you have a fantastic honeymoon!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:56 PM
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Thank you Volcano Girl! The quotes were provided by the concierge at Tulemar. Do you know what the proper tipping etiquette is in CR for the car service and excursions?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 04:02 PM
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We usually tip our driver $20 for a three hour drive. I don't know if there's really a correct amount, but that's what we've always done, and the drivers have always been appreciative.

You might check with Nayara to get their price for a driver just to compare costs.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:19 PM
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Will do. Thanks again!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2013, 07:41 PM
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Hi there!

Congratulation on your upcoming Honeymoon,

Recommendations by Volcanogirl are just great..I second her on that..

Transportation rates seem not that bad..anyways check other options. A couple of friends got a private transfer (Arenal - Manuel Antonio) for $210.
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Old Jun 5th, 2013, 10:06 PM
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We just got back from our first trip to Costa Rica, and we went to Arenal and Manuel Antonio too. You will have a great time! We met many honeymooners while we were there.

I booked transportation through anywherecostarica.com (the website is super simple to navigate). From the SJO area to Arenal was $150 for a private transfer (door to door) which ended up being a nice shuttle van that could've held 14 people and there were just 3 of us. From Arenal to MA it was $240 for a private transfer and the same kind of shuttle van. To go from MA to SJO area, I still used that website but decided to try Interbus (still door to door) and it cost $117.50 instead of the $170 for private transfer. There were 7 passengers that filled up the seats but it was no big deal and we were at the end of our trip anyway.

The private transfer drivers spoke more English than the Interbus driver, but I don't know if that is generally true. The Interbus driver did make a point to stop and point out wildlife along the way: we saw a sloth, a Capuchin monkey, and a pair of Scarlet Macaws.

In Arenal, we did an ATV tour with Original Arenal ATV and had such a fun time! I've only ATV'd once before, and this one was much more challenging than I would've guessed. My arms were sore the next day because I was cranking on those handlebars to make some tight turns, and there were several steep hills and mud to deal with. We also did the Sky Tram/Sky Trek/Sky Walk combo while we were there, and the ziplining part was quite thrilling. And we loved our experience at Proyecto Asis (we did on the way to Arenal, paid an extra $10/hr for the driver to wait for us).

In MA, we did a guided MA Park tour and the spice tour, both of which were great. But the highlight of our trip had to be the 10-in-1 adventure with ADR Adventure. That was insanely fabulous if you are an adventurous sort. My DD8 said it was the best thing she's ever done in her life (course, she is only 8) but actually both her parents agree with her on this.

Sounds like you've picked some nice places to stay!
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Old Jun 9th, 2013, 08:13 AM
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Fantastic feedback everyone! Platamama I appreciate your response and I will be making a few adjustments thanks to you. The 10 in 1 adventure is now on the activity list!

I noticed there are a ton of activity options at Arenal. We will arrive there around 11am and will only have 4 days (including arrival day) for activities. The last question I have is if you only had 4 days in Arenal and it's your first time there what would your itinerary look like?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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Jupiter, I think it really depends on what you're looking for personally. Did you take a look at the activities I posted above? They're all great, just depends on if you want natural beauty, adventure, wildlife, etc. I would not miss ziplining at Sky Trek, the waterfall hike, or the natural hot springs. I also really love the Cano Negro tour.
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Old Jun 10th, 2013, 10:24 PM
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A lot of people enjoy the hot springs in the Arenal area, especially after doing an excursion for the day. There weren't any in Manuel Antonio so I'm glad we had it in Arenal at our hotel. The places I've seen mentioned the most are Tabacon, Eco Termales, Baldi, and The Springs. Does Nayara have them?

I'm glad we did Sky Trek (you have to do Sky Tram to do Sky Trek)but would skip Sky Walk (their set of hanging bridges) next time. We had a guide for that part, and she was informative but it just took a long time (3.5 hours of hiking after we'd been there 3 hours already doing the tram/trek and having lunch at the restaurant there) and we didn't see much wildlife besides leafcutter ants and an eyelash viper.

Have to say, I really did love the Original Arenal ATV tour we did. It would be fun either riding single, or double and taking turns being the driver or hapless passenger wrapping your arms around the person in front of you holding on for dear life (a fun bonding experience). One great thing about that activity is the more it rains the muddier it is (if you equate more mud with more fun), so being there in the rainy season is not a problem. One couple we met told us their hotel wouldn't book any ATV tours for them due to concerns about liability, but you can find the company online easily enough.

I would've liked to do the Cano Negro boat trip if we'd had more time...and didn't have to worry about holding an 8 yr old's interest.

If you or fiancée are soft-hearted toward animals, Proyecto Asis is great - make sure you do the volunteer part and not just the tour. We did this on the way from San Jose to Arenal: left at 9:30am and had lunch at a place along the road and got to Proyecto Asis in time for the 1:00pm start. Got to our hotel by 5:30pm, reeking of peccary.

Horseback riding and whitewater rafting are easy to arrange where I live, so for us those weren't high on our list, but they might be for you.

I'd like to have seen the Fortuna Waterfall, but we'd seen waterfalls at La Paz Waterfalls & Garden near Poas, and on the Sky Walk, and then more still on the 10-in-1 adventure tour (very up close and personal!) so it was ok that I missed that one on this trip.

I also would've liked to do the rainforest chocolate tour in La Fortuna. Maybe next time.
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 03:27 AM
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No, no hot springs at Nayara unfortunately and Baldi doesn't have the greatest reputation. Go for Tabacon if you want fancy and Eco Termales if you want quaint and locally owned. Good chicken dinner at Eco Termales if you're there in the evening. It's nice to go at night so you can do other activities during the day.
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Old Jun 11th, 2013, 01:45 PM
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Congrats on your upcoming wedding...I read your post due to your name, we must b neighbors! I'm in Tequesta and have had a couple of great trips to CR, but not to these specific hotels. We drove ourselves. Visited Manuel Antonio, arsenal, Poas area & guanacaste mostly. Enjoy!
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 12:27 PM
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Nice! Thank you all for the great advice. I feel good about the destinations, hotels and activities we've selected and I owe it all to this community. You guys (and gals) rock!
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 08:07 PM
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On your stay at MA take a trip to Ballena , a bit south just to see th ewhale tail
for private transportation anywherecostarica.com is a very good company and shared transportation, http://graylinecostarica.com/ is another option
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