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What am I missing? Makanda by the Sea and Bosque del Cabo

What am I missing? Makanda by the Sea and Bosque del Cabo

Jul 9th, 2001, 08:22 PM
  #1  
Connie
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What am I missing? Makanda by the Sea and Bosque del Cabo

We're taking a trip in Mid-November and chose to split our 8 day vacation between Osa Penninsula (for the rainforest experience) and Manuel Antonio (for the beach resort experience). After reading Fodor's guidebook, we chose Makanda by the Sea and Bosque del Cabo, because he gave them rave reviews. I have read through much of this site, and it seems that Makanda is not mentioned very much except to say that it wasn't chosen because of the lack of air conditioning (not exactly true-the smaller rooms have it). People seem to prefer Hotel Si Como No, which didn't get as good of a review.

In Osa Penninsula, the only place to go seems to be Lapa Rios, which is a little out of our price range. Has anyone tried Bosque del Cabo? It is in the same area, has similar grounds and activities, and is half the cost.

We're fairly athletic and like to stay active on our vacations (which is why we chose Costa Rica over Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary). Can someone who's been to these resorts give me some tips?
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 12:13 PM
  #2  
Ally
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Hi Connie,
Is this the same Connie that I had several conversations with via email about Costa Rica a few months ago?
Anyway, I've not stayed at Makanda By The Sea, but had dinner there. The property is really beautiful and the pool overlooks the ocean. It is a little futher up on a hill, A bit of a way from the main road, whereas Si Como No is also up on a hill with ocean views, but it is located ON the main road, right by a bus stop and closer to alot of other places to eat, etc. Perhaps that's why people prefer it. I've been to the Osa area too, but not at Bosque. Did you do a search for it? I have not seen any bad reports about it. All in all, I'd say you'll be very happy with both your choices. I've been to CR 7 times so let me know if you have questions. Have a great trip.
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 08:30 PM
  #3  
Connie
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We just started researching CR now, so different Connie. Now we're rethinking Osa and considering Monteverde instead. I hear that the Cloudforest is incredible, great hiking, the Skytrek is a blast and Monteverde is not as hot as the Osa Penninsula. Also, would you choose Punta Islita over Manuel Antonia and the Makanda? We just want to make sure we check out all the alternatives. Thanks for the help!
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 06:27 AM
  #4  
Ally
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Well, I would choose Punta Islita over Manuel Antonio, but let me explain why. I don't care for big tourist crowds. Punta Islita is much more isloated than Manuel Antonio. There will not be alot, if any other resorts or hotels nearby, so the area will be alot less crowded. On the downside, you will not have alot of choices of other places to eat/drink. Although I have not been to Punta Islita Resort, I have a friend who lives in CR who's stayed there and swears by the Punta Islita as being an excellent resort. I have explored the Nicoya area extensively and think it's absolutely beautiful, especially the area around Punta Islita. But, do keep in mind that Manuel Antonio also has the National Park, which you won't find in Punta. I think there would be a better chance of seeing Monkeys in the Manuel Antonio area. For some reason, as many time as I've been to the Nicoya Peninsula, I've not seen as many monkey's as the one time I went to Manuel Antonio. Go figure.
As for Monteverde, I've not been there so can't comment personally, but as you say, the area gets rave reviews, and as you say, it will be cooler. The only downside would be that you will not likely see the Scaret Macaws that you would see in the Osa area. So, I guess I've just made it harder for you to decide now, right? All I can say is that it's a tough decisions as all areas have their own special attactions and it just depends on what you're looking for!
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 03:15 PM
  #5  
Connie
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Dear Ally,
I'm not really into the crowds either, so Punta Islita is starting to sound intriguing. And the Skytrek at Monteverde seem like fun. Aren't there as many birds to see in the cloudforest as in Osa? Since you've been to Costa Rica 7 times, you've probably seen a lot. What two areas that you've been have been the most memorable. This is our first kidless vacation since our honeymoon and I want to make it unforgettable. (to last another 10 years, right?) We're very active, our getaways always include hiking and biking. We're not into lying on the beach, but like kayaking and snorkeling. We're going to start and end our trip at Vista del Valle (because everyone seems to love it on this site) I'm pretty open-what do you recommend??? Thanks!
 
Jul 12th, 2001, 06:29 AM
  #6  
Ally
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Dear Connie,
I think Vista Del Valle is a good decision, based on all the reports on this site. My husband and I always stay at a little place in Alajuela called The Orquideas Inn. It was reccommended on our first trip by our friend who lives in Costa Rica.
So we went there and have been going back ever since. We 'bonded' with the owner, Fred, on our first trip so by now we consider him a very good friend and would not think of staying anywhere else. They have a little bar that is quite nice for meeting other travelers and they have a FANTASTIC breakfast buffet included in the price of the room. But, I don't think it's as nice as Vista Del Valle looks, so if you have the $$ I'd go for Vista.
As for most memorable? I guess I'd have to say Osa, because of all the Scarlet Macaws, Blue Morpho Butterfly and other wildlife. Plus, it's close to the ocean, which we love.
(My 45 year old husband still surfs!)
It's my understanding that yes, you can see lots of birds at Monteverde, but I'd suggest hiring a guide to insure you'll see them. In Cabo Matapalo (Osa), we just walked down the little dirt roads or even on the beach and could find lot's of Scarlets. No guide necessary!
FYI-We stayed at a little place called Rancho Almendros, which is very close to the beach, whereas Bosque is up on a hill, with ocean views, but a hike to get to the beach.
Arenal Volcano was also memorable because we were lucky enough to actually see the top of the cone (most of the time it's covered in clouds)and see the eruptions all day. Tobacon hot springs are beautiful. We got lounge chairs by the bar and sat there all day watching the volcano erupt. It's also a big tourist destination so it can get crowded.
If you're not into crowds, I would go to Punta Isliat instead of Manuel Antonio...It's a toss up between Osa and Monteverde....but, you'll get 'beach' time if you go to Punta Islita, so based on that, Monteverde is probably better for you..also, it's alot closer to Punta Islita and San Jose so that would be another reason to go there instead of Osa. Just MHO.
 
Jul 12th, 2001, 07:07 AM
  #7  
Shannon
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Hi Connie,
We just visited CR for the first time for 11 days in June. We spent 2 nights at Villa Caletas, 3 nights at Makanda, 4 nights at Lapa Rios, and 1 night at Finca Rosa Blanca. We hired drivers & took small planes, so we had to limit our destinations to convenience. We originally wanted to plan our trip around Punta Islita & Monteverde/Arenal but decided that without our own transportation it would be too stressful & time-consuming.
Makanda was a nice place, but after staying at Villa Caletas, it paled in comparison. The view was beautiful, but it was not really a beach resort experience. We went to Manuel Antonio one day & white water rafting the next. White water rafting was definitely a highlight experience in CR, but other than that, I think we could have done without Manuel Antonio & stuck with just the Osa. It was good to visit Quepos & get a taste of the "city life" but after visiting Lapa Rios, we realized how commercialized & over run Manuel Antonio is. On our hike into the park we had to search for animals with very little luck, while at Lapa Rios, we had everything passing by our bungalow morning, noon & night. The rainforest experience was most definitely better in the Osa. As far as a little more about Makanda itself, we felt a little like we had been taken for a ride. While the accomodations were nice (we stayed in studio 3 with A/C), they squeezed every dime they could out of us. $3 to rent beach towels for the day! The pool was pretty, but we took it for granted after staying at Villa Caletas (which was much more exotic). The food was good, but very pricey, so we limited our meals there to lunch only. In fact, we each had a mango daiquiri with an extra shot of rum one day & the bill came to $30 (no kidding). We walked to dinner 2 nights to an AMAZING restaurant called Karolas. We wanted privacy, so the location of Makanda was perfect. Also, keep in mind that it's adults only & very few rooms, so its relaxing. I heard from other couples that Si Como No has more of a family atmosphere but very nice. Honestly, if you are looking for a beach resort experience in that area, I would recommend Villa Caletas over Makanda. It's still close enough (about 1-1.5 hours from Quepos) to make a day trip & they offer many of the same tours. The food & service were excellent & the grounds were beautiful. They have a private beach with lounge chairs that they shuttle you to & from. It was pretty & we were the only ones there. We were advised to avoid Jaco, which we gladly did, but that meant that we were limited to eating at Villa Caletas...palette-wise this was not an issue (probably the best meals of our trip) but expense-wise, it got pricey.
I have also heard good things about Melia Conchal if you are looking for a more resorty feel, which we were avoiding. As far as Monteverde, we didn't visit or hear too much about it. Another couple staying at Finca Rosa Blanca (outside of San Jose) drove to Los Angeles Cloud Forest for the day & said that both the drive & the forest were magical. That may be a more convient alternative to Monteverde since you will likely be staying in that area part of your trip for travel purposes. Finca Rosa Blanca was also incredible.
Keep in mind that traveling from point to point may take up much time, so you may want to try to keep your stops within the same vicinity (between Monteverde & the Osa is quite a trek). I honestly feel that the Osa is an experience not to be missed. I cannot speak for Bosque del Cabo, but we would not have traded visiting the Osa Peninsula for any other CR spot. And, after staying at Lapa Rios, we could have done without Manuel Antonio & Makanda. If its just relaxation your looking for on the central Pacific coast, go with Villa Caletas.
 
Jul 12th, 2001, 07:51 AM
  #8  
Sherrie
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Shannone tell us who was your driver? How did you find him. More details please. Thanks
We are going to Costa Rica in January
 
Jul 12th, 2001, 08:14 AM
  #9  
Shannon
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Sherrie,
We set-up our drivers through the hotels we stayed at. Villa Caletas arranged for a driver to pick us up from SJ airport & take us to Villa Caletas (~ $100 for 2).Then someone took us to Makanda by the Sea (~$100 for 2). Lapa Rios has drivers for the transfer to & from Puerto Jimenez airport (? the cost). Finca Rosa Blanca had their own driver who picked us up from Pavas airport to Finca Rosa & then to SJ airport (~$20-30 for 2). Lapa Rios also offered to arrange these transfers for us. All of the drivers were waiting for us with air-conditioned vans (except Lapa Rios has more of a "safari"-type truck), were very friendly, spoke some English, & carried our luggage for us. They would also point out interesting sights along the drive. Each transfer went off without a hitch....the only problem being that we actually had 2 people waiting for us at Pavas instead of one (Finca Rosa & Lapa Rios both sent someone). I think that tells you something about the reliablity & punctuality of the drivers. Many people rented 4x4's but since it was the rainy season, and our honeymoon, we didn't want the stress. Driving in CR is absolutely CRAZY but probably fun & adventurous. We were glad that we weren't doing it, but in Quepos we felt a little limited. We called for taxi's to take into town (taxis are cheap), but we probably would have explored more had we had our own car. We took Travelair from Quepos to Puerto Jimenez & then to Pavas. We've never had such smooth travels.....everything was VERY easy.
 
Jul 12th, 2001, 09:43 AM
  #10  
Connie
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Dear Shannon,
Thanks so much for your message. Makanda is definitely out. It seems a bit pricey after researching the area, and after your experience, it doesn't seem worth it. Is Villa Calletas still under construction? I read that someone had problems because she was in a room right next to the construction. I know Osa Penninsula is supposed to be THE highlight for most, but what was the temp and bug level. (I know you went at a completely different time) We plan to spend the majority of our time hiking, but we're used to temperate California hiking and I'm picturing myself wilting from heat exhaustion amidst clouds of mosquitos. (I'm almost embarrassed to write this it sounds so wimpy!) I read Jeannette's report and though she sounds like a completely different traveler than I, it did raise some concerns.
Did you do any canopy tours in any of the places you went? Should I incorporate rafting into the trip (probably from the Vista del Valle leg) Thanks!
 
Jul 15th, 2001, 02:06 PM
  #11  
shannon
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Hi Connie,
Sorry for the delay in response, I've been away for a long weekend. Although Villa Caletas was building a new section to the hotel, it was not near the villas. We did not hear any construction while we were there. I saw that post, too, & was worried about it, so I emailed Villa Caletas who assured me that the construction near the rooms would be completed by my visit. If you are concerned, email them, but it was not a problem for us.
As far as the temp/bugs in the Osa, both seemed to have their ups & downs...some days & times of day (depending on the rains) were better than others. We definitely needed lots of Deep Woods Off while hiking, but there were no mosquitos in our bungalows or in the dining room. There were a lot of flies when sweet foods (like jams or syrups) were at the table (we eventually caught on & requested not to have any) & moths came out at night while we slept in the bungalow (but we were safe under the netting). The temps seem to oscillate, but I think that it's the humidity that is difficult to stand more than the temps. We both grew up in Florida, so we tolerate it better than most people, but there were times when it was a little overwhelming. At night the temp did drop to a more comfortable level, but there was still a dampness in the air. One night I actually wore a light sweater to dinner. During the day, though, it was tank tops & shorts. Laying out by the pool requires frequent dips. In the forest, it is slightly cooler because of the canopy, but very, very humid. Bottled water is a must. The temp never stopped us from hiking. If you are worried, then Monteverde may be a better choice for you, but the wildlife won't likely be the same (which was important to us).
I HIGHLY recommend rafting while at Vista del Valle. It is incredibly fun & really takes you through spots you couldn't see otherwise. From Quepos we did a full day on the Savegre river, which was pristine. However, the Pacure is said by many to be the most beautiful.
Unfortunately, my husband is afraid of heights. I almost had him convinced to go on a canopy tour until he asked around to find out if anyone has ever died on a canopy tour. Everyone he asked seemed to have a story, so that was enough discouragement to keep us from going. However, I have heard that the Original Canopy Tour is excellent with a perfect track record...definitely the most reputable. Also, while there, we asked the locals which one was best, and the consensus seems to be the one around Monteverde in which you are hoisted up through a Ficus tree (also recommended in Fodors).
Please feel free to ask me more questions!
 
Jul 16th, 2001, 07:20 AM
  #12  
Connie
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Dear Shannon,
We now have it set, Start at Vista del Valle, 3 nights at Bosque del Cabo, 3 nights at Villa Caletas, (Punta Islita was booked already), 2 nights at Vista del Valle. I also didn't want to deal with driving, and Osa seems to be the highlight of everyone's vacation, so we're going for it.

We're now looking into activities. River Rafting from Vista del Valle sounds like the way to go, since the Pacuare is accessible from there. According to the Adventure Naturales website the drive with a breakfast stop is 3 hours, making it an all day trip. This would limit us: no La Paz Waterfalls, Los Angeles Cloud Forest, or Lankester Gardens. On our travel day from Villa Caletas to Vista del Valle we may be able to see Butterfly Farm, Zoo Ave, or Cafe Britt. Did you go to any of those?

Do you know if the Canopy Tour through Villa Caletas is the 'Original Canopy Tour' or one of the generic? I think Craig may know since he did the tour.

They offer a sunset Sea Kayaking trip at Bosque del Cabo. Do you know anything about Sea Kayaking in Osa Penninsula? How is the water, do you need to be experienced to be able to handle it? Is it better from Villa Caletas?

I have e-mailed Villa Caletas about the construction and they have not responded, though they answered my reservation questions. I don't know if this is a bad sign, or if they did not understand the question. They do not appear to be be as fluent in English as Vista del Valle. I booked anyway, and will take my chances.

How far in advance did you arrange your car travel and tours?

Thanks for the input!
 
Jul 17th, 2001, 12:23 PM
  #13  
Ally
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Can't help with your 'tour' questions because my husband and I don't do alot of 'tours' other than horseback riding, but I just wanted to get your mesage back 'to the top'.
P.S. Sorry Punta Islita was full but you WILL love Osa!
 
Jul 17th, 2001, 12:36 PM
  #14  
Shannon
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Hi Connie,
I think that you have planned an excellent itinerary! As far as activities, try not to totally limit your choices, yet. Most tours require only a day's notice, so you can choose what you (and the weather) is up for on a more of a whim. Most people decide upon arrival what they will do the following day.
I would recommend river rafting the Pacuare over the other activities. Although I heard wonderful things about the Los Angeles Cloud Forest, you'll have already spent a few days in the rainforest (in the Osa). Also,it is my understanding that the Pacuare River runs entirely through the rainforest, so it'll at least be a new perspective. The drive to the river is likely to be fun, as well.
I do not know about the canopy tour from Villa Caletas. As far as sea kayaking in the Osa, we were thinking about doing it, BUT the day we were deciding, the group that went out got caught in a very ugly storm that came on very suddenly & 2 of the kayaks tipped over. Otherwise, it's said to be doable for all levels of experience. We decided not to chance it during the rainy season...but, more than likely, that was the exception rather than the rule. If there was one thing I would have liked to do in the Osa that we skipped, it was horseback riding. We heard great things about it from a couple of different tourists because the guide took the tour through a variety of landscapes...forest, beach & farmland. Plus it gives your legs a day off! We were skeptical because we have horsebacked a lot in the states (my husband grew up with horses & I've been several times on both coasts), so we didn't think it'd be that special...but, in retrospect,I think that we were wrong.
We only had one night at Finca Rosa Blanca (to fly home), so we did not have the chance to do any of the tours near San Jose that you mentioned. I do remember reading that the butterfly farm & the Lankester gardens were disappointing. Check into it a bit more. A couple that we met in CR said that the Cafe Brit tour was interesting & only 1/2 day, so it might be a good, quick stop.
I arranged for all ground & air transfers at the time of my reservations. That way, for those hotels in which I paid in advance (including Villa Caletas), it was totally taken care of & confirmed. It definitely made life just a tad easier.

Lots of luck with the planning & keep the questions coming as needed.

take care,
shannon
 
Jul 17th, 2001, 05:28 PM
  #15  
Connie
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Thanks for the info, Shannon. We'll play it by ear when we get there, but plan on rafting at some point. Ally, as the veteran Costa Rica traveller, what do you suggest as an alternative to tours. We've never been, and only have our high school Spanish background. We'll spend a lot of time hiking, but in the areas we're going to what have you done that has been memorable.
 
Jul 18th, 2001, 06:55 AM
  #16  
Ally
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Connie,
Sorry, I can't help you with tours! In all of our 7 trips to CR, the ONLY tours we've ever done were horseback riding tours! My favorite so far was the tour that Villas Nicolas out of Manuel Antonio set up for us. Alot of the riding was done in a shallow river with lot's of shade trees so the ride was not as hot as some, and they had the best lunch afterwards, but from Villa Caletas, I don't know if you could do that particular tour as Maneul Antonio is 1 1/2 hours away. I would GUESS they would set up a tour out of Jaco. Check with your hotel when you get there, if you like horseback riding, try to find out which tour Villas Nicolas offers. Sorry I can't remember the name of the operation, as I found out when we got back to Villa Nicholas that my mom had died. Everything went blank after that.
We like to 'do our own thing' at our own pace, so generally avoid the tours. Of course, if you want to 'canopy' or 'raft', or even fish, you'd HAVE to do a tour! (Oh, we did do a fishing tour once out of Playa Samara which was GREAT but that's WAY too far from where you'll be)Most people will tell you you'd see more wildlife hiking with a guide, but we've never hired one and see alot on our own. ALL we did in Cabo Matapalo (Osa) was hike and swim for 4 days! There is alot to see on the hikes, and we saw different things everyday, even without a guide! Just the hike from Rancho Almendros to Lapa Rios was a treat in itself! Though Lapa Rios was too expensive for our taste, it was nice to 'tour the property' and have an ice cold beer after our hike up! (Going back down was of course much eaiser!) Hopefully, others here on the board can help you more with tour ideas. Good luck!
 

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