Which of these Costa Rica Itineraries is best?

Old Aug 10th, 2007, 06:40 PM
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Which of these Costa Rica Itineraries is best?

ITINERARY 1:
Day 1: Costa Rica 1/2 Day (Land at noon)
Day 2: Arenal
Day 3: Arenal
Day 4: Monteverde
Day 5: Monteverde
Day 6: Manuel Antonio
Day 7: Manuel Antonio
Day 8: San Jose (flight home)

OR

ITINERARY 2:
Day 1: Costa Rica 1/2 Day (Land at noon)
Day 2: Arenal
Day 3: Arenal
Day 4: Arenal
Day 5: Monteverde
Day 6: Monteverde
Day 7: Monteverde
Day 8: San Jose (flight home)

We cant decide if we should add extra days to Arenal or Monteverde - or try to squeeze in Manuel Antonion.

THANKS
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Old Aug 10th, 2007, 08:04 PM
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Hi luvtravelin,

Itinerary 1 would be pretty darn rushed imho. Lots of time on the road and not much time to experience each destination.

I have not yet been to Monteverde, although I would like to get there someday! We did this itinerary last year:

Day 1: Arrive in CR, stay at Peace Lodge ~1 hour outside of SJO
Days 2,3,4: Arenal
Days 5,6,7: Manuel Antonio
Day 8: home

We loved this itinerary! It provided a nice mix of volcano and beach.

Monteverde and Arenal will have some similarities, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but you might want to consider substituting one of them for Manuel Antonio for greater variety.
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 05:47 AM
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I agree with cmerrell - I haven't been to Monteverde yet either, but personally I'd do a combo of Arenal and a beach destination just so you can see more of the country and have a greater variety. We did Arenal and Manuel Antonio for our first trip. Do you know what you'd like to do in Monteverde?
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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Thanks for the response. Well, in monteverde I had made a list of possible activities but you are right - it seems very similar to arenal:

Trapiche Sugar Mill tour
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Hummingbird Gallery
Walkway tour
Selvatura park
suspended bridges
Canopy tour
Butterfly garden
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 08:00 AM
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Hi, luvt - based on the things you've listed that interest you, have you considered staying at the Peace Lodge on the way to Arenal? We loved it there. They have a butterfly house, ranarium, aviary, and 5 really beautiful waterfalls that you can hike to. They also have a hummingbird garden where you can hand feed the hummingbirds - it's a neat spot.

Maybe you're not a beachy person? For me, I kind of like to see a variety of places.
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Hi - No - we are beachy people which is why I originally wanted to incorporate Manuel Antonio into the itinerary but was wondering if it would be too hectic.

I definitely do not want the whole trip to end up being sitting on a bus getting from one place to another.

So my main concern is - I would love to see all three places - but is it doable in the amount of time i have.
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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Hi luvtravelin,

I don't think you could go wrong with an Arenal/Manuel Antonio combo. It's a popular first-time visitor's itinerary with good reason; lots of good hotel and restaurant choices, lots of great activities, gorgeous flora and fascinating fauna.

Volcanogirl shares my love of the Peace Lodge and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. A first or last night stay there would be a really nice addition to your trip.

Arenal/MA will give you a well-rounded vacation that allows you to experience different regions and eco-systems within the country (and won't have you run ragged with continual transit from one location to the next!).

If you could add a few additional nights to your trip, Monteverde would also fit in nicely, but 8 nights just won't allow you to do that many destinations justice.
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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Apologies, I misread your post. Personally I would skip Monteverde and sub in Manuel Antonio and also spend a night at the Peace Lodge. Agree with cmerrell that you don't really have time to do all three this trip. We did a 9-day trip and only had time for Manuel Antonio and Arenal. It takes a long time to travel from spot to spot and really eats into your vacation time.
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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Hi volcanogirl,

Do you ever get the slightest twinge of separation anxiety when you have to sign off of Fodors in order to take care of the more mundane details of life? I totally do!! I'm off to Walmart on a busy Saturday, Ugh...
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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Hi, c - yes, absolutely I do. My husband is waiting for me right now to go run errands - LOL! When I come out of the study, he always say, "How are your Fodor's friends?!"

When we were in CR in July, we didn't have computer access, and he was teasing me that I'd go through withdrawal. The nice thing is you always know it's here when you get back. I think the CR boards are some of the friendliest around. Have a great day.
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 01:29 PM
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luvtravelin - I think you have come across a problem many of us have had and have had to "cope" with: trying to see it all in a short period of time. I know it is tempting to try and see as much as possible but on the other hand you want it to be as enjoyable as possible without seeing much of CR from a car. I would really pick two places (MA & Arenal or Monteverde & Arenal) and maybe do one night at Peace Lodge as well. Either would be nice, well rounded trip with a good variety but not so crammed full of mving about. CR is one of those places that lends itself very easily to going back again and again.

off-topic but not really - on my last 3 trips to CR, when I have been talking about my upcoming vacation, there always is a co-worker (granted we are cordial to each other but otherwise can't stand each other) who always says the same thing: "you're going there again? why???" (this is said in a tone of voice that suggests amazement & disgust). I've decided next time I go to CR (cause there is always a next time) I will just tell her "since you've never even been there, you wouldn't understand; once you go you'd see why so many go back again & again". Excuse the mini rant!
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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oops sorry I meant: pick two places - MA & Arenal or MA & Monteverde
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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I would agree that it would be best narrow this down to two destinations. You are trying to cram in a lot in a short time.

But I personally would not cross Monteverde off your list too quickly. There is a lot to do there, including all the activities you mention in your later post. Arenal and Monteverde both offer a few similar things to do. But the eco systems are completely different. The area around the La Fortuna is at an altitude of about 800 feet. Monteverde is at about 5000!

A cloud forest is an extremely delicate ecosystem. When you change the altitude by just a few hundred feet, everything changes. Definitely different plant life and often different animals. On the same day, we have noticed completely different birds (Toucans) on a hike in the San Luis area at 4300 ft, than at the Monteverde Reserve (Quetzals) at 5300 ft. So you can imagine that the difference between the nature at Arenal and Monteverde is huge.

But there is a lot to be said for a live volcano and relaxing in a hot spring. And a lot to be said for the beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park, with its beaches and monkeys.

Go with your gut, and pick the two that appeal to you the most. You will just have to go back to Costa Rica. It is such a diverse place. I have several clients that go every year or two. It is always fun planning for something totally new, combined with an old favorite.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 07:01 PM
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Hi Pat,

Thanks for the clarification on some of the differences between Monteverde and Arenal. I am always quick to sing the praises of Arenal because I really loved that place and could return again and again, but I admit I have not been to Monteverde (yet...), so I don't have the good basis for comparison that you are privy to. I guess it really is apples to oranges in many respects.

Hi tully,

I rather enjoyed your rant! ;-) I'll take it a step further and say that I'm always taken aback by the people I occasionally encounter who really have no interest in traveling outside of the U.S. I love the diversity and beauty of the U.S., but I just can't fathom not having any natural curiosity about the 'outside' world. To each his/her own, I suppose!
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 10:24 PM
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luvtravelin - Agree with everyone, best to pick 2 places and probably Arenal and MA for your 1st time with 8 days. La Paz is a beautiful area where you can stay for one night and see a lot, and still enjoy your time in 2 other places.

cmerrell and tully - I'm sorry to say I have the same rant I've given up explaing to people because if someone asks "WHYYYY?" in that sarcastic, doubtful, condescending tone (like, why in the world would you go there, what's there to do there?) I have to choose to either ignore them, or slap them! I remember someone asking me this when I was going to Thailand, and thinking, "you've got to be kidding me!" And, had the same comment the other day when I told someone I was returning to CR next year. She said "WHHHYY". I said because it's incredible, and beautiful, and one of the most amazing wildlife opportunities". And changed the subject before it got ugly.
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Old Aug 13th, 2007, 10:15 PM
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wow - thanks so much for all the responses. It took me a while to read each of them - but they all have 1 thing in common - PICK 2 PLACES! so DH and I will have to narrow it down to 2 soon, so we can book hotels. We are going in beginning of Dec.

Thanks again!
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 05:10 AM
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Good decision CR is one of those places you just have to keep going back to!

cmerrell & hvc - good to see I'm not alone! And my co-worker thinks her 4 day trip to Las Vegas "getting wasted & blowing tons of money" is normal! Of course now, with me going to Nicaragua I have already got a comment "but what about the war going on there?" Sigh..... I took my first trip alone to London when I was 21 and haven't looked back since!
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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My co-workers are nice - when I say I'm going back to CR, they say, "That must be an amazing place." I show them all my pictures, so they get it. One went to CR for her honeymoon, and another has reservations at BdC. I'm thinking I missed my called as working for the CR board of tourism!
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 10:42 AM
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missed my calling - sorry!
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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Tully,

I've thus far been too wimpy to travel solo, but I have thought about it a time or two. If I ever decide to take the plunge, I'll be hitting you up for advice.

VG,

Sounds like you could have a budding career as a Costa Rica Travel Specialist on your hands!

I take occasional "girl's weekend" trips with a couple of my co-workers and I've been dropping hints about CR over next Memorial weekend. We'll see... Maybe I should enlist you to help me influence them!

Luvtravelin,

Let us know which 2 locations you ultimately pick. We can help with additional activity suggestions if you like...
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