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Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

New Jersey
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Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

I am planning a 9-day trip to Costa Rica. I know that I want to spend a day or two in Monteverde. I had originally planned on going from there to Manuel Antonio, and then to Corcovado. I'm beginning to think, however, that it may be best to spend most of my time in one of the places, and really explore it a lot rather than just getting a glimpse.

To tell you a little bit about what I am interested in, I LOVE wildlife and nature. I also love beaches, and like the idea of being able to spend half the day in the jungle and another part of the day out at the beach. I would like to be able to swim in the ocean, at least a little bit. I would also like to see some wildlife and waterfalls, as well as go kayaking or rafting. I tend to enjoy hiking that is not totally flat, but changes elevation over time. I will be with a friend who has pretty similar preferences.

So for those of you who have been to Manuel Antonio and/or Corcovado, which do you prefer? What are the differences between the two areas?

Or, would you recommend some other place instead? I really want a combination of jungle and beaches (and I want to see some monkeys!), but with that in mind, I am completely open to other suggestions.

Mentioned in this post
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Mississippi
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163 posts
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1. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

You can find a bunch of the things you're interested in in a whole lot of places. The three that immediately come to mind are the Pacific coast around Manuel Antonio and Dominical, The Caribbean coast from Puerto Viejo southward and Osa (where Corcovado is).

Superficially, they all sound quite a bit alike--tropical rain forest, animals, beaches--but when you go one step past the broad generalizations, they are quite different. I can't help much---I love them all. Why don't you get a book, do some reading, and check out some more of the forum postings. Then you could come back to the forum with more specific questions.

Wherever you go you're bound to love it.

Carol

Mentioned in this post
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Dominical
Dominical
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Province of Limon, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
St. Petersburg...
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1,158 posts
43 reviews
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2. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

Cocovado is where you will see the biggest variety of wildlife, birds, insects, plants etc - it's harder to get to and more protected development-wise so therefore more of everything. Manuel Antonio has all of the above but not so much as the Osa as it is much more developed - restaurants, hotels etc fighting for along with the animals for a spare bit of space.

Between the Osa Penn and Manuel Antonio I prefer the Osa hands down, for the amount of wildlife, the sparse amount of developement and the beauty of it. That's not to say MA isn't nice or I didn't have a good time there, but you asked which I preferred. Keep in mind that Monteverde, while it has birds and animals, it has less than places such as the Osa Penn and the focus is primarily on the cloudeforest rather than animals. You may want to consider the Arenal area for the ease of getting there, the wide variety of activities there and ofcourse the volcano itself. I don't know your budget so can't really suggest a place to stay for any of these places. I would also suggest if you go to the Osa to spend a minimum of 5 nights there and preferably 5 or 6.

Mentioned in this post
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
893 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
New Jersey
12 posts
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3. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

Thanks so much for your reply! The main reason that I want to go to Monteverde is to get the whole jungle experience, and it sounds like it is incredible. But would you say that I would get that experience in if I were to just spend my whole time on the Osa Peninsula? Am I missing out if I choose not to go to Monteverde? Arenal actually sounds pretty neat, and I looked at it, but I worried that there wouldn't be much to do besides look at the volcano...

Also, what part of the Osa Peninsula would you recommend staying in? From what I can gather, Drake Bay and Puerto Jimenez are the two main options. Are there any places that you would especially recommend? My budget is fairly flexible, but I don't really want to be in a well-polished, touristy resort.

Thanks again! You have already been very helpful!

Mentioned in this post
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
893 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Drake Bay
Drake Bay
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Puerto Jimenez
Puerto Jimenez
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
St. Petersburg...
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1,158 posts
43 reviews
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4. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

I really can't say whether Monteverde or Arenal is better as I've never been to Monteverde. Though I've heard it's beautiful, it's a rugged drive to get there and as I said it's focused more on the actual cloudforest rather than animals and such. Arenal is nice, as I said it's easy to get to, about 2.5 hours from the airport and has many activities to choose from - though you'll find staring at the volcano is pretty darn interesting itself. There is the Hanging Bridges, SkyTrek, a volcano hike, the Cano Negro daytrip and canyoning all right there.

For the Osa, I can only recommend my favourite place in CR - Bosque del Cabo. It's beautiful lovely cabinas are perched on a cliff, about 500 ft up, and has miles and miles of well-maintained trails. On all my trips there I've only left the property to go horse-back riding, there is really that much to do and with so much wildlife it's like living in a zoo. Not to mention the wonderful staff and great food and Jose, the best bartender on the Osa! Sorry to go but I really love this place - if you are interested in Bosque, PM me and I can send you a link to hundreds of photos. Other options in the area are Iguana Lodge, El Remanso and Black Turtle but I've never personally stayed at them. I could easily spend my whole trip on the Osa, some are fine with 4-6 nights, really just depends on your schedule.

Mentioned in this post
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Arenal Lodge
Arenal Lodge
893 Reviews
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas
Los Cabos, Mexico
Iguana Lodge
Iguana Lodge
455 Reviews
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El Remanso Lodge
El Remanso Lodge
658 Reviews
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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10,551 posts
23 reviews
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5. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

Just a couple of comments on the side. Monteverde is a cloud forest not a jungle. Its misty and humid and atmospheric but most of us when we say "jungle" are thinking lowland rainforest not cloudforest. Do some more research on Corcovado as I think you should spend the bulk of your time there, if what you're looking for is a rainforest experience.

Also there are significant differences in the beaches at Manuel Antonio and various options on the Osa peninsula. One of the most perfect beaches (IMHO) in the Americas is located inside MA park but it is completely undeveloped. That beach has light colored sand and the water is great for swimming with no waves on the days I've been there. It can get crowded on weekends but was nearly empty on several visits mid-week. By contrast the public beach right outside the park entrance is pretty, but has significant waves and an occasional undertow which can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Not really much good for swimming IMHO. Very few hotels in MA have direct access to the beach as most of the nicer hotels are located along the ridge road to the park with great views but no direct beach access.

By contrast some of the lodgings in the Osa peninsula do not have access to beaches even though they may have stunning views along the coast. The beaches on the Osa peninsular may be scenic but tend to be dark or black sand and swimming is limited in many areas by heavy surf or undertows (a problem throughout the Pacific coast). There are nicer beaches near Puerto Jimenez. If swimming in the ocean is important to you, check carefully on whichever loding you decide upon. And if you're like the rest of us, don't worry whichever decision you make, as Costa Rica has so many splendors you'll be sure to want to return!

Mentioned in this post
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Puerto Jimenez
Puerto Jimenez
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
49,025 posts
35 reviews
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6. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

Monteverde offer easy hikes and hotels are just minutes away from the reserve main entrance...Osa/Corcovado area is huge...there is really jungle...Monteverde is not jungle...

Manuel Antonio is one of the smallest park in our park system...nice and easy...a lot of monkeys...and sloths...and birds...and... of course some nice beaches around...

Been many times at either one in the last 35 years...all of them have somenthing to offer...and all of them are great!!

Luis Road Advisor

Mentioned in this post
Monteverde
Monteverde
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula
Osa Peninsula
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio
Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica
7. Re: Manuel Antonio or Corcovado??

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