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Where to spend and stay the first day in Costa Rica around San Jose?

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Jan 12th, 2011, 06:56 PM
  #1
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Where to spend and stay the first day in Costa Rica around San Jose?

We have almost finished planning our 2 weeks vacation in Costa Rica. The last hotel left to book is around San Jose. We will be arriving to San Jose at 9:30am and have the wholle day to spend. Next day we will be picked up in the morning for the 2 days rafting tour and wil arrive to Arenal after the rafting.
I was reading that there is not much to do in San Jose so I was looking to stay somewhere around where we can see/do something and stay in the nice place.
I was thinking about Poas volcano but read that we would not see much in the afternoon there.
Look forward to any suggestions.
I was reading about Peace Lodge but it is pretty expensive. We will be staying in their Spring and Spa resort in Arenal and not sure if it is worth to spend this much for one nigh. Does anybody know if guests have to pay for an entrance to La Paz waterfalls and for the tours?
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Jan 12th, 2011, 07:33 PM
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Check out Alegria B&B and Casa Bella Rita for your time in the San Jose area. A little different price points, but both great! Google them both on TripAdvisor!
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Jan 12th, 2011, 11:10 PM
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Orquideas Inn would be perfect. It is about 10 minutes from the airport and on the road to Poas and Arenal. Rooms run around $100/night. Good views, great restaurant, with a pool. You could do trips to Sarchi or Grecia in the afternoon.
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Jan 13th, 2011, 06:07 AM
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We stayed in Casa 69, downtown. It was cheap ($55) and great! We did see Poas at 1:30pm.
You will not regret the rafting trip! We did the 1 day trip with Exploradores Outdoors on Sunday Jan 9 and it was AWESOME. Next time we would definitely do a 2 day.
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Jan 13th, 2011, 06:25 AM
  #5
 
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Escazu area best for shopping walking where the embassies are

www.mybeaconescazu.com www.thealtahotel.com specials from $90

SJO pickup...

www.xandari.com if you want to do Poas www.dokaestate.com

www.waterfallgardens.com Peace Lodge is nice more $ remote

Escazu for me probaly do nice city tours from there

without staying in dodgy downtown.

Grano D'Oro is best for downtown though...

Happy Hunting,
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Jan 13th, 2011, 10:10 AM
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We stayed at Finca Rosa Blanca in the central valley in Dec., beautiful place and they offer great day trips from there. The guides are fabulous, we did the San Jose city tour: gold museum, opera house, parks etc. We did Poas on our own, it was too cloudy to see anything which was the case at Irazu and Arenal as well,so that is always the chance factor. We also did the Cafe Britte coffee plantation tour which was fun (not associated w/ Finca R-B)
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Jan 13th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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Before you book a hotel, find out if the rafting tour picks up from your lodging. I found that many tours will only pickup free from downtown San Jose hotels.

I enjoyed Hotel Pura Vida in Alajuela (Tuetal, actually), the first night's rate includes the taxi to hotel transfer. It's convenient to the Doka Estates coffee tour, as well as Poas Volcano (where I also saw nothing). The best thing about this hotel is the dinner that you can book in advance, based on your dining preferences.

http://www.puravidahotel.com/
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Jan 14th, 2011, 11:48 AM
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Many thanks for all your suggestions. I am checking them all now Did not really planned to pay top dollars for this night since we are already splurging on The Spring Spa resort in Arenal and Ylang Ylang in Montezuma. I am mostly trying to find a nice place/location where we can see/do something interesting that day since we are arriving pretty early and will have almost the whole day.
Would we know if it is cloudy and there is no point going to Poas Volcano when we arrive for ex. to Pura Vida hotel or we can only determine it when we are in Poas NP?
Are La Paz waterfall gardens close to Poas volcano so we can do them if it is too cloudy?
How long is the hike to see Poas volcano?

Is it true that you can alwasy see Irazu, even on a cloudy day?

If we stay in San Jose, what can we do there? Costa Rica mostly famous for its natural beauty so do not really want to spend a day wandering around not much exciting city...

mlgb, I will definitely doube check with the rafting tour. we asked them and they said they do some pick up outside of San Jose but it depends on a place.

Andrea, we also go rafting with Exploradores and we are very excited!
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Jan 14th, 2011, 01:29 PM
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If you want a city hotel, we liked Grano de Oro; their rooms vary in price range and amenities - some are really elaborate and some very simple. They have a great restaurant on site. I like the architecture of the place since it's built in an old mansion. If you did want to spend $, Xandari is wonderful, and they offer a lot of tours and also have a nice spa and restaurant on site, as well as waterfalls you can hike to. If you stay at the Peace Lodge, the entrance fee to everything is included. We got up early and hiked the falls and had the whole place to ourselves before it opened to the public for the day. It is pricey though.

You can't really tell how cloudy Poas will be until you get there, and even then the clouds come and go. Early morning gives you the best chance of viewing. Even though we went early, it was very cloudy and we couldn't see anything, but we lingered around and the clouds parted to reveal a great view. We felt like we got lucky. Poas has a big parking lot and a small museum, and the access is pretty easy; you just have to walk a little bit. If it's cloudy, you could go to the Waterfall Gardens - it's not that far away. The Doka Coffee Estate is another nice tour. It's a pretty property, and our tour took us out into the field and into all the other areas like drying and packaging; we even got to taste samples, and they also have a small gift shop.
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Jan 14th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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VG,
Based on Irina's comment about not wanting to pay top dollar, I doubt she would want to pay prices at Xandari!
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Jan 14th, 2011, 07:58 PM
  #11
 
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That's why I said "If you DID want to spend $..." Seems like they tend to stay at higher end properties since The Springs is one of the priciest hotels in CR.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 07:55 AM
  #12
 
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VG...I did notice that. But if she starts looking at Xandari, she might be tempted to stay there (we decided we couldn't afford it based on our other selections of activities).
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Jan 15th, 2011, 01:03 PM
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Okay, then Irina, don't peek! But if you do, check to see if they are running any specials because they do sometimes.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 01:31 PM
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VG,
I forgot about the specials; I think someone else mentioned that awhile back, but after our trip. We did go to Xandari for our anniversary dinner and loved both the restaurant and the grounds...or what we could see as it was dark when we got there. I didn't see any of the rooms, but they look very nice too.

Do you find out about the specials directly from the propery, or on some other site? Also, do they tend to be last minute options, or time of year?
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Jan 15th, 2011, 09:07 PM
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They are running specials right now - stay 2 nights, get 25% off 3rd night. It's a beautiful property.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 07:08 AM
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tully,
Thanks...I went out to their website last night out of curiosity, based on all the banter on here. The problem is that I don't know that I would want to spend the third night. There are also quite a few comments on TripAdvisor about thin walls and noise from adjoining rooms.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 12:01 PM
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Yep, they run various specials. I always see them on their website, and I've gotten some via e-mail as well. They also have reduced rates for green season which is when we travel. It's a beautiful property, and our room was really comfortable. My favorite thing was the beautiful patio with the great view. We got to meet the owner, who is an architect; he said it was his desire to leave a beautiful place in the world.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 02:08 PM
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What type of room did you stay in VG?
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Jan 16th, 2011, 04:48 PM
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Deb I honestly never had a problem with any noise, many of the rooms are separate anyway, though some are connected. I've stayed in the Prima Plus and the Ultra, loved both. Agree with vg that the patios are so wonderful to sit and look out over the city.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 04:53 PM
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tully,
I can imagine how great the views must be. The view we had during our dinner there was beautiful!
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