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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,049

    Default Anyone been to Costa Rica?

    It looks like we might be going to Costa Rica in Dec. My travel agent was able to find flights that we could use our miles on.
    Has anyone ever been to Costa Rica? What towns did you visit? What hotels did you stay at? Did you do any adventure activities while there, like kayaking and white water rafting?


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    447

    Default

    Yes, and it was amazing. We went in July 2003 and stayed in Arenal, Quepos/Manuel Antonio, and Punta Islita. We stayed at the Tabacon Lodge, La Mariposa, and Hotel Punta Islita. Great hotels, especially HPI.

    We did white water rafting on the Naranjo River, horseback riding, a canopy tour, and many nature hikes. The hot water springs at the Tabacon Lodge were great too.

    Ask again if you have more questions, I'd be happy to answer!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    328

    Default

    My husband and I went to Costa Rica on our honeymoon during the month of
    December. It was fantastic! We stayed a few nights at the Melia Cariari in San Jose and then went to Tortuguero on the Carribean side. We also visited the Arenal volcano - they have wonderful natural hot springs there. Then we traveled to Monteverde and hiked around the cloud forest. We finished up in San Jose before heading home. It was the best trip I've ever been on - I think December is a great time to go. The rainy season has just ended and everything is beautiful and green.
    Have a great trip!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    431

    Default

    How fun! I love Costa Rica! I went with some friends in the spring of 2001. We spent 1 day in San Jose, 2 days whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River, 3 days at Arenal, 2 days in Monteverde (cloud forest), and 3 days in Manuel Antonio (beach). My favorite things were the whitewater rafting and the Monteverde cloud forest.

    The outfit we used for the rafting is Rios Tropicales. I highly recommend them! Very professional and very fun! The Pacuare is one of the best whitewater rivers in the world. It'll be pretty big in December -- class 4 & maybe even some class 5. But you don't need any previous rafting experience. All of us were novices and did fine. It's absolutely gorgeous scenery! I'd recommend the 2-day package so you can stay in their cool lodge overlooking the river overnight. They pick you up and drop you off at your hotel in San Jose.

    In Monteverde, we did some hiking and went on a canopy tour of the rainforest. I don't remember the company we used, but you'll see plenty of signs for the canopy tours. No need to book this in advance. It's a ton of fun! I loved Monteverde, but it is a pain to get to. We rented a car for the trip & drove everywhere ourselves. I'm glad we did it because it gave us flexibility, but the drive to Monteverde sucked (long uphill stretch of very rocky dirt road).

    In Arenal, we did a lot of good hiking and soaked in the hot springs at Tabacon. We did a horseback ride to a waterfall ... over-rated and not much fun.

    I found Manuel Antonio to be somewhat boring, but then I'm not much of a beach person. I would have preferred one less day in Manuel Antonio and one more day in Monteverde. There is a cool nature park, though, in Manuel Antonio that's worth visiting. There are monkeys and iguanas all over the place (including the hotel pool), which was fun. The famous hotel there is Si Como No. We didn't stay there but I've had friends who've been there and had a wonderful experience.

    We stayed mainly in hostels so I can't really help you out with hotel recommendations. For the most part, CR seemed quite cheap to me. People are friendly and it's an easy place to get around. With the exception of some bad roads, we had no problems whatsoever. Have fun!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    634

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    We're going in October (I really hope it won't be raining at that point). I'll make sure to come back and post our experiences and reviews. We booked a semi-guided tour through www.gotoday.com. Many activities are already organized but there's still plenty of free time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    2,935

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    I went in 2000 and stayed in San Jose, Arenal (volcano), Montezuma, Manuel Antonio, and Puerto Jimenez. My favorite by far was Puerto Jimenez (on the Osa Peninsula), but it's kind of out of the way.

    In San Jose I stayed at Cinco Hormigas Rojas (the name means Five Red Ants). It's a very fun place and in a safe neighborhood of San Jose. Most people don't spend much time in SJ (understandably) but I met 2 friends there at 2 different times so I kept having to go back into the city. The owner can organize trips for you if you need her to.

    I have to say, the Osa Peninsula is amazing. If you can get down there I highly recommend it (it's easiest to take a puddle-jumper plane from SJ).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    3,049

    Default

    Thanks for the tips! Did anyone go to Guanacaste? Was there a lot to do in the area? How much was the trip (not including airfare) if you don't mind my asking? We are trying to keep the whole land based part under 3k, since my travel agent was able to find flights that we could use our miles on.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    La La Land, CA
    Posts
    35

    Default Guanacaste and Other Costa Rica Tips

    My husband used to work in Guanacaste and I've been down there a few times. Most people I know go to Guanacaste to surf at the beaches around Tamarindo down the coast. There are new all inclusive resorts like the Four Seasons up the Papagayo Peninsula - but I wouldn't recommend those as they are so remote that you don't interact with the locals (Ticos/Ticas). If you do go to the Guanacaste coast, you're better off in small B&B's further south.

    Price range is variable. You can spend very little to a lot. We are budget travelers that splurge every now and then. You can get spartan motels for $35/night to nice B&B rooms for $125. I am assuming you will rent a car. That will be a large chunk of your budget. You will need a 4X4 if you are going to Monteverde. Your car will be mountain goating up the hill for 2 hours! There are locals who drive small Japanese sedans up it, but the rental agencies won't let you go to Monteverde without 4X4. Food is generally cheap. You can get casadas - the set-plates of rice, beans and some meat- for about $3 at local joints (sodas or fuentes). Of course, you can pay American price for meals at tourist spots.

    I would definitely recommend Monteverde (cloud forest) and Arenal (volcano, hot springs). Then add a beach area. I've never been to Manuel Antonio so I can't comment. Guanacaste is very laid back for the most part with nice Pacific beaches and cowboy country inland. The Caribbean side has its distinctive Afro-Caribbean culture and the typical calm blue waters. Though services here are much more sparse and remote. San Jose is VERY urban and congested. It is worth a day trip to check out the city and the nightlife if you are into that. I recommend staying at Alajuela instead on your last night. It is actually closer to the airport and it's a much nicer small city with many B&Bs.

    Happy traveling!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    132

    Default

    I loved Manuel Antonio--we stayed at Costa Verde which was amazing and the combination of rainforest and beach made it one of our best vacations ever. We really needed to relax and it was a great place for that! Plus I couldn't get over seeing monkeys in the wild--very very cool.

    Also went to the Tabacon and the Arenal Volcano which I was a little bored with. In retrospect, I would only spend a day doing that. The Tabacon resort can also get really crowded and full of Americans.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    650

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    I just got back from Costa Rica a week ago. It was a wonderful trip. If you want to read more about my vacation I posted a detailed recap with photos in live journal. Here is the link:

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/bee...96.html#cutid1

    What towns did you visit?

    San Jose, we stayed there the day we arrived as well as on our last night there. On our last night we went to a town called El Pueblo where they have clubs and restaurants. It was nice, the food was cheap and a great way to end our trip. The taxi there from our hotel was $12.

    We stopped in Zacero where they topiary's are. It was nice, fun to see but I do not suggest it.

    Near Zacero is a town, I do not recall the name but it starts with an S, and it's known for the artist that live and work there. We got really cheap gifts here. It was a nice stop. If you go here, get all your gifts, we never found things cheaper any place else. We also got Cuban Cigars.. loved em.

    We stayed in San Ramon two nights. Not much here, just the hotel we stayed at.

    We went to the Fortune area where the Volcano is as a day trip. We visited the Baldi hot springs which were gorgeous and empty. I love havng places to myself.

    We stayed in Islita as well. It is on the Pacific Coast. We never left the hotel when staying here so I cannot comment on the town. It was at the end of the trip and we pretty much swam and did tours with the hotel.

    What hotels did you stay at?

    Marriott San Jose in Costa Rica - loved it!
    Inn at Coyote Mountain - loved it (but nothing is there).
    Punta Islita - loved it! Super romantic, relaxing and gorgeous. It was a GREAT way to end our trip.

    Did you do any adventure activities while there, like kayaking and white water rafting?

    We did the Zip line. It was a lot of fun and not expensive.

    Let me know if you have any more questions.
    soaking in baby bliss: october 2007

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