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judilie Jan 15th, 2018 10:08 AM

What should two old guys do in 4 days in Costa Rica in April?
My husband and a friend are going to spend a week (April 7-15) in El Salvador working with Habitat for Humanity and are considering going to Costa Rica afterward for around 4 days. I am helping them with their planning. What would you recommend for them to do and see (and where to stay)? They are in their early 70s, but are in good shape. I've read that this is a good time to see turtles, and they might like to spend some time in the mountains, since it should be cooler there. We live near the beach in California, so hanging out at the beach per se is not an attraction.

Thanks in advance for your help.

volcanogirl Jan 16th, 2018 10:47 AM

I'd go to the Arenal/La Fortuna area; that's one of our favorites. It's lush and jungly and has a volcano that towers over the landscape (no current lava flow). You can do some easy hiking at the waterfall, the volcano, and the Hanging Bridges, do the Cano Negro tour to see wildlife, do the Penas Blancas safari float, and visit beautiful natural hot springs like Tabacon and Eco Termales. You can also visit the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center. The are is about three hours away from SJO. Roads are in good shape. Desafio is a good company for tours if you need one. We saw turtles in Tortuguero; the season there is July through October for the ones that we saw.

volcanogirl Jan 16th, 2018 10:49 AM

That should say "The area".

judilie Jan 19th, 2018 10:45 AM

Thanks, volcanogirl. I am thinking of a day in San Jose to see the jade and gold museums and the national theater, all of which they can do on their own, and then going to the Arenal/La Fortuna area for a couple days. And then either back to San Jose or on to Liberia to fly home. In the Arenal/La Fortuna area they are interested in seeing nature — flora and fauna, waterfalls — and doing some hiking but not in more extreme sports such as ziplining, canyoning, etc., that seem to be the main features of many tours.

The question is how they should get around. I presume they can get from the airport to a hotel in San Jose and visit the museum on their own. But what about after that? Is renting a car a reasonable option? That would give them the most flexibility. If a tour, I'd appreciate recommendations. I see the Monteverde is nearby. is that worth a visit also? What about flying home from Liberia rather than San Jose?

volcanogirl Jan 19th, 2018 01:30 PM

Yes, they can definitely rent a car. It's about a three hour drive from San Jose to La Fortuna. That's a good option if they're comfortable driving. If they decided they didn't want to drive, they could hire a private driver. Monteverde looks nearby, but it takes a long time to get there because the road is long and bumpy, not in good shape. I would save it for another trip since they don't have that much time. We usually stay four nights in the Arenal area when we go. Monteverde is worth another two or three nights, well known for birding and the cloud forest, good if you'd like to see quetzals.

judilie Jan 22nd, 2018 01:05 PM

Plan are starting to clarify (and thanks, volcanogirl for helping with that). They are going to arrive in San Jose (on a Volaris flight from San Salvador) at 9:54 am on Sunday, April 15, and will spend that day in San Jose seeing the Jade and Gold Museums and getting a tour at the National Theater. The next morning they will pick up a rental car near the hotel, drive to the La Fortuna area, and spend two nights there. Then drive to SJO the afternoon of Wed., Apr. 18, drop off rental car, and fly home to LAX on the nonstop Alaska Airlines flight that leaves at 4:45 pm.

Issues on which I'd like advice:
Recommendation of a hotel in a safe area near the museums and the rental car agency
How to get from SJO to that hotel
Restaurants in museum/hotel area for lunch and dinner
Reputable rental car agency near the hotel
OK to rent car in city and drop off at airport?
The lodgings I'm considering for the La Fortuna area are Hotel Brisas Arenal and Hotel Secreto La Fortuna. Any experience with either of these?

This is a short trip to Costa Rica for the guys following their week in El Salvador for Habitat Humanity. I hope to go back to Costa Rica with my husband in the near future for a much longer stay

judilie Jan 22nd, 2018 01:42 PM

For the hotel in San Jose, I am considering Hotel Presidente, Central Ave Blvd, 7th Street. It's near the museums, has a shuttle from the airport, and has a restaurant, and, apparently, some of the car-rental agencies will deliver there. Comments?

volcanogirl Jan 22nd, 2018 03:40 PM

Just a heads up - for the most part San Jose is not a very attractive city - think lots of razor wire, traffic, etc. I was surprised the first time we saw it. The real beauty is outside the city, but I understand if they want to see museums and the theater. We usually stay at the hotel Grano de Oro. Have not stayed at Hotel Presidente, but it sounds like it has everything you're looking for. Be careful walking anywhere in San Jose at night. I'm not familiar with the La Fortuna hotels you mentioned. The Arenal Observatory Lodge is great if you want to hike trails and see wildlife. They have a free guided hike every morning. It's off a long bumpy road but worth it to us. Silencio del Campo is another popular one.

MichelleY Jan 23rd, 2018 11:22 AM

I think they should forget the day in San Jose and head straight to Arenal. Well worth it for their short time frame.

volcanogirl Jan 23rd, 2018 01:09 PM

I think that's a good suggestion; if it were me, I wouldn't waste time in San Jose unless I really just had my heart set on seeing those museums. We usually only stay a last night to be closer to the airport.

judilie Jan 24th, 2018 06:07 PM

Thanks, Volcanogirl and Michelle Y. If they skip San Jose, do you think they should try to go to Monteverde in addition to the Arenal area, or is there enough to do in the Arenal area to keep them plenty busy there?

volcanogirl Jan 25th, 2018 10:29 AM

There's plenty to do in the Arenal area. See my post up above. I wouldn't go to Monteverde unless they can add a couple of days to their trip.

sunbum1944 Jan 25th, 2018 11:39 PM

We went river rafting as a day trip from SanJose. Thought it was fun!

charlesmitchell47 Jan 28th, 2018 05:05 PM

Arenal is a great area to spend some time. There is a lot to do. You won't be bored there.

judilie Jan 28th, 2018 08:14 PM

For Arenal, what are the things easily done on one's own (with a rental car), and which would be better with a guided tour?

volcanogirl Jan 29th, 2018 07:35 AM

You can do the hiking things on your own - go to the Hanging Bridges, hike the waterfall. You can drive to Proyecto Asis and the natural hot springs as well. For things like Penas Blancas or Cano Negro, you need a boat, so a company like Desafio would work for that, plus the guide will help you spot wildlife.

MichelleY Jan 29th, 2018 10:11 AM

We went zip lining with Sky Trek then relaxed at the springs at Eco Termales.

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