Where Should We Stay in Costa Rica?

Old Dec 15th, 2006, 01:40 PM
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Where Should We Stay in Costa Rica?

My boyfriend and I are going to Costa Rica for a week in February next year. Originally, we were thinking of staying in San Jose for the whole week for the sole purpose of room & board, and then book tours via our hotel that would pick us up from our San Jose hotel and take us to Arenal Volcano, the Monteverde Rainforest, etc during the day. So basically we would just be returning to San Jose to sleep/clean up.

Is this the best way to see Costa Rica?? I've heard that visitors have stayed in one tourist attraction, then picked up their bags and stayed at another. If this is the best way to see Costa Rica, then where should we stay and what hotels should we book?

What is the best approach?? Thanks!
rampup82 is offline  
Old Dec 15th, 2006, 04:41 PM
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You could have a good time either way. But there's a lot to be said for getting out of the city and staying in a couple of areas where you'll have songbirds and howler monkeys waking you about 5:00 or 5:30 instead of traffic noise! It's nice to get up, walk out of your room and look at an active volcano across the way, or hear a river or waterfall nearby, or feast your eyes on a bazillion beautiful flowers, birds, butterflies everywhere you look.

The Arenal area would be a great place for 3-4 days as would Manuel Antonio or any of the beaches further north or on the southern Nicoya Peninsula.

A week will give you time for 2 locations, 3 nights each. Try very hard to arrange an early (before 2:00) arrival into San Jose and a late (after 2:00 P.M.) departure. You can get straight to your first destination instead of having to stay in a hotel near the airport your first night.

The best reason for staying in San Jose is if you are between long distance locations (such as the Pacific and Caribbean coasts) OR want to spend a morning or so touring some of the offerings of the city (museums, etc) OR if you are there for an early a.m. pickup for white water rafting on the Rio Pacuare, something you both might enjoy.

Get yourself a good guidebook (Lonely Planet or something similar) and start looking. This is high season and you'll be surprised how many hotels are already booked for February. Good luck!
shillmac is offline  
Old Dec 16th, 2006, 05:33 AM
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If you only have one week then it is probably best if you stay at one place. Lots of other options aside from downtown San Jose that would be easier, quieter and cheaper. Check Alajuela and surrounding areas. Get a guide book. Lots of good ones out there and book soon. All hotels can set up tours. Next trip you can decide to move around and stay in different parts.
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Old Dec 16th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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well it usually costs a little more, but youd be better to fly into liberia airport in the north west of CR.
only 30 mins to the beach.


san jose is not a nice city. dirty, lot of crime, not a lot to see.
and from liberia i would go to arenal, its really the must see in costa rica maybe 3 nights there rest on a beach in guanacaste like playa hermosa:


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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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If I understand you Rampup you want to stay in San Jose the whole time and do day trips from there?

Not a good idea. Arenal is about 3 1/2 hours away and Monteverde 4 hours away. Even though Costa Rica looks small it takes a long time to drive to different locations. I would only stay in SJO for a night in the beginning of your trip and at the end of your trip. Unless you wanted to do an additional side trip closer to San Jose then add another night or so. But the best way to see the country it to get out of the capital.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 02:29 PM
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I q=would get out of San Jose and head to Arenal or Monteverde or Manuel Antonio. Doing day trips from SJO would put you in a car for the majority of the day.
tully is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2006, 04:01 PM
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My wife and I did just what you were planning. We wanted to stay in San Jose (that's where most of the tours originate) and see the sights with day trips. I read some reviews about guides in the area and Leo Rodriguez was highly recomended by several former clients. I contacted Leo by email and asked for his advice on trips to suit our needs. He replied and we worked out a schedule for three days of trips. In some cases he suggested areas I hadn't considered, and it worked out well. It was private travel and we could change destinations and make stops at will. Needless to say, the tours were great for us. We saw the Poas and Irazu volcanos from the top and river tours, coffee plantations, many tropical gardens, and had typical local food.

I am a retired citizen of South Carolina and have no connection to Leo except for my admiration of his professionalism and knowledge of his country.

San Jose has plenty of attractions, especially if you stay downtown.

Leo's email is [email protected]

crede is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2006, 04:31 PM
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Most people would rather get out away from San Jose, and most do--us included. However, day trips from there appeal to many people. Especially those who are primarily interested in everything available in the immediate area around San Jose--within a couple of hours away, at least. And there is a LOT! We had friends who tried this for 4 days in September before their trip to Tortuguero/Puerto Viejo, and they enjoyed the day trips out of San Jose.

If you choose this option, I'd suggest you select the overnight option to Arenal because of distance, although our friends thoroughly enjoyed their day, albeit it a long one! They saw the volcano during the day and also at night before their return to SJO.

In that immediate area, you'll find the following within a couple of hours:

1. Arenal (closer to 3 hours)

2. Rio Pacuare white water rafting--a
great choice--can be done as a day trip OR with a one or 2 night
option at the river lodge

3. Volcan Irazu, Orosi Valley,
Lankester Gardens, Cachi Dam,
CATIE, old church ruins at Ujarras
(this is one of my favorite sites)

4. Volcan Poas/La Paz Waterfall
Gardens, Doka Coffee Estate tour

5. Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui/La Selva
Biological Staion

6. Monumento Guayabo---Pre-Columbian

7. Colonial towns of Grecia, Sarchi,
Zarcero, Naranjo, etc

8. Parque Nacional Braulio Carillo

9. San Lorenzo Zipline Canopy Tour

Just to name a few. . .! Besides that, the city is interesting for a day or so. Check out the Mercado Central, Jade Museum, Gold Museum, Plaza de la Cultura, Teatro Nacioanl (simply gorgeous)--it would be fun to catch a performance here.

If you do wind up in San Jose, I'd recommend the Hotel Don Carlos (they have a very helpful tour coordinator, Juan Carlos). AND their location is very handy to the main attractions. Also, be sure to check out the Highlights Tour if you stay in town. It is one of the best, IMHO.


shillmac is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Crede - I am so pleased that you felt the way we did when we used Leo Roderiguez over a yr. and 1/2 ago. He is so knowledgeable, such a good driver, so responsible. A college grad with experience in living in several Costa Rican locations. My family (now will all be going separate times and separate locations) will always wait until Leo is personally available to drive us to our destinations. I loved not having to drive but being able to appreciate the scenery during our drives. Also, he comes along on the adventures that he plans for you also.
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Old Dec 20th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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I just came back from CR. I did one week travelling by car and stayed two nights at each of Rincon de la Vieja the Mountain Lodge, two nights at Monteverde Cloud Forest, the Swiss Hotel and two nights at Mount Arenal in Nuevo arenal at Chalet Nicholas. all were wonderful experiences. The second week I stayed at the Occidental Allegro Hotel in Santa Rosa National Park. It was good but you could have a similar holiday in Mexico or the Caribbean. I'd highly recommend renting a car to pick up at the airport in San Jose and booking accommodation using your Fodor's book in the areas you want to visit. Accommodation was very reasonable and quite clean and satisfactory. Day treks from San Jose are expensive and require too much travel time to visit the sights. The roads to Rincon and Monteverde were bad but quite manageable if I went slowly in the small car I rented. Arenal and Palo Verde had good roads.You don't need a 4WD unless you want to rip around. Enjoy!
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