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3 weeks in Costa Rica 1st time in Jan 2018

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We are a couple in our early 60's & have 3 weeks in Costa Rica.
flying into Liberia staying one week close to Samara
traveling to Arenal for 3 nights

The remaining is unplanned. Any suggestions?
Should we fly out of Liberia or San Jose? Either one works for us.

We haven't decided if we will rent a car or hire a driver for our trip. Could combine this.

Our interests are: chilling, beach, hiking, seeing animals, local interests, all nature, good food

Thanks for any ideas.

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    I love the Arenal area - lots to do there, and we've been several times. Nice hiking at the Hanging Bridges, the volcano, and the waterfall. You can see some nice wildlife on the Cano Negro tour with Desafio. The Penas Blancas safari float is fun too. Great adventure activities if those interest you. The natural hot springs like Tabacon or Eco Termales are nice for an evening. You might also like the Proyecto Asis animal rescue center; we got to help feed the sloth, monkeys, etc. when we were there. Very cool.

    You would also check out the Osa Peninsula if you want something more off the grid. We stayed at Bosque del Cabo and loved it - great hiking and saw all four species of monkeys, sloth, anteater, coatis, agoutis, scarlet macaws, and toucans.

    Monteverde has some nice hiking in the reserve, and you can see quetzals there. Very popular with birders and a cooler cloud forest environment that you'll see elsewhere.

    If you want more beach time, Manuel Antonio has a gorgeous beach inside the park and tons of fairly tame wildlife - lots of monkeys and sloths. We like Manuel Antonio Expeditions for tours. Did a guided tour of the park and the Damas mangrove tour and spent time at the beach. Tulemar Bungalows is nice.

    Food in Costa Rica tends to be pretty simple - casados are popular - a meat like chicken or fish paired with rice and beans, plantains, salad. Not much spice.

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    I'd suggest Monteverde and Manuel Antonio and then fly out of San Jose. If you are up for a litle adventure, from Manuel Antion you can do a night or two in Uvita and then head to San Gerardo de Dota. It is a remote cloud forest which is popular for birding. It is completely unique and so cool!

    Your other option would be to head from La Fortuna to Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast and then down to Cahuita and Puerto Viejo.

    I run a Costa Rica travel blog. I'll leave you the link to the destination page so you can check out some of the spots I mentioned.

    A far as transportation, I prefer getting a rental car so you have the flexibility of exploring when and where you want. The other option is taking a private shuttle if you don't want to drive the long distances and rent a car for a day or two in each destination. I have partnered with Adobe (the only company I really trust here) and have a 10% discount and second driver free, if you want to check that out. Actually, no matter which company you go with you should probably read this to be aware of some of the hidden charges other companies charge.

    Let me know if you need more tips! I'm happy to help. It's a great country but I know it can be difficult to plan a trip here.

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