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Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

Boston...
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Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

Hello, I will be traveling to CR for the first time in mid-late November. (18-27) This is for a honeymoon. I currently plan to start off in the Arenal area, for a few active days; have not yet decided whether to go to Monteverde yet.

But the big question is: we will want to finish up our trip with beaches. I originally thought the Manuel Antonio area would be best, maybe with a stop up the coast as well near Jaco, but now the Montezuma area is tempting me. Generally speaking is one area less rainy than the other in late November?

Also, which area is better to "beach hop"? I will most likely have a car, so I think it would be fun to check out other beaches that are close by, in a relaxing way (wake up whenever, drive for a little bit, hike a short distance, that kind of thing). I’m concerned the MA area will have more people, but perhaps in late November that is not an issue (although it is Thanksgiving week in the US, so maybe crowds are an issue).

Even if the Nicoya Peninsula is better for the beach, will it still have that jungle feeling I hope to find in CR? I mean, Manuel Antonio is popular for a reason, right?

Any thoughts?

Alajuela
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1. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

Rantipole,

Manuel Antonio is popular because there are 150 hotels on a 7km strip advertising the heck out of it. It does have a nice park but it is not very wild anymore and the capuchin monkeys know how to open backpacks faster than ladrones. It is worth visiting but for a honeymoon and if you have a car . . . head off for Montezuma . . . the Cabo Blanco park - far more "wild" and unvisited, S. Teresa etc - avoid Tambor . . .

Late November the big rains have gone and the country will be busy - MA more so . . . book ahead for the top rated places on Tripadvisor!

Alajuela
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2. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

Rantipole,

Manuel Antonio is popular because there are 150 hotels on a 7km strip advertising the heck out of it. It does have a nice park but it is not very wild anymore and the capuchin monkeys know how to open backpacks faster than ladrones. It is worth visiting but for a honeymoon and if you have a car . . . head off for Montezuma . . . the Cabo Blanco park - far more "wild" and unvisited, S. Teresa etc - avoid Tambor . . .

Late November the big rains have gone and the country will be busy - MA more so . . . book ahead for the top rated places on Tripadvisor!

Berni

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Boston...
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3. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

That is a valuable insight. Gracias.

I would still be interested in hearing other opinions as well. :o) To repeat my question as briefly as possible: what are the pros and cons of staying in Southern Nicoya versus the Manuel Antonio region?

Also, is the Southern Nicoya Peninsula "jungle-y" enough? I mean, will we feel like we are in a unique place, compared to beaches in the Caribbean?

Alajuela
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4. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

The best "jungly" is in Corcovado . . . or any place with no decent roads and intermittent electricity . . . Berni

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5. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

The choice is between better beaches in southern Nicoya and the jungle experience you're seeking in MA. The beaches in the M.A. park are white sand and very beautiful but the surrounding beaches have rip tides and there aren't so many beaches to hop around to. Matapalo south is 45 minutes, Dominical another 1/2 hour from there. Northern beaches similar distances.

One thing to consider is that you will BE in the jungle at Arenal, so perhaps following up with the Nicoya would be a good change.

Another thing to consider is your timing. While late November is usually the end of the rainy season, last year it was still a little rainy in the first week of December in the Nicoya, the year before it stopped on the 24th of November. And, Guanacaste and Nicoya is drier than M.A. I'd suggest that you go to Arenal first, since you're looking to beach it then your odds for less rain will be better the further north you go and the later in the month you go.

Santa Teresa, Costa...
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6. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

You will get the 'jungle feeling' if you go to the Nicoya Pen. If you want beautiful sand beaches, head for Santa Teresa area. The water is swimable, and the sunsets are gorgeous. The roads are not dusty in Nov., the jungle is still green. You can stay at places like the Mal Pais Surf Camp, Villas Hermosa, or rent a small casita in nearby Manzanillo and you will be around jungle, monkeys, birds etc. Nov. is not as touristy. You can beach hop from Montezuma, to Mal Pais, Santa Teresa, Hermosa and Manzanillo. The beach continues north and you can walk forever without running into someone!

Boston...
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7. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

Hahaha… yes, thank you Alajuela, I guess I don’t quite it so jungly that there are no roads or electricity. :-) (Seriously, though, if this were not our honeymoon, the campsites at Corcovado sound very cool.)

rmaria, when you say it a little rainy until December... do you mean the afternoon rains that come for a couple hours then stop? Or did you still have the massive day-long rains until December!? I hope that doesn’t happen this year!

Wefish: Very helpful. Thanks.

This is the itinerary I’m thinking about currently:

Day 1: Arrive late, stay near airport.

Days 2-4?: Drive up to and spend a few days in Arenal region.

Day 5?: Most of a day spent driving down overland to Southern Nicoya.

Days 6?-9: Several days on beach.

Day 10: Most of a day driving back to San Jose via Puntarenas ferry. Stay overnight near airport.

Day 11: Depart CR. :-(

boston
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8. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

Our April trip's itinerary sounds similar to your plans. Our first night was spent in Atenas, visiting friends, and because we wanted to get out of San Jose quickly. When we were in the Volcan Arenal area (La Fortuna), we hiked down to the beautiful waterfall at La Catarata de La Fortuna, before heading down to Jaco (surfer dudes), past Quepos (not recommended for swimming..pollution) on to Manuel Antonio. We stayed at the La Mariposa hotel with stunning views overlooking the MA park. I recall the beaches at MA and Playa Espadilla having beautiful soft white sand, palm tree lined, and not crowded when we were there. I suggest doing Rainmaker Canopy Walkway, (at one point you're 20 stories above a forest floor and nothing like you would find in the Caribbean!), but not having done the Monteverde Canopy tour, I can't compare. We did not go to Peninsula de Nicoya this time, as our friends who live there thought "first-timers" might enjoy MA more. One regret was not seeing the quetzal, but having chestnut-billed toucans in the trees outside my room more than made up for it, and another was not buying one of the beautiful, melodic mahogany wind chimes..just didn't have room in the carry-on. Costa Rica is stunning and perfect for a honeymoon! Congratulations!

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9. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

I can't compare the two because I can't seem to get beyond the Nicoya Penninsula and specifically the Guanacaste portion. I've been there 6 times in the last 5 years and love it.

Look at: http://www.nicoyapeninsula.com/

There are beautiful remote beaches and wonderful little communities. If you want big and touristy, it isn't for you. I surf so that influences my opinion but I also am a birder/naturalist. The beaches south of Tamarindo (Playa Avellanas) all the way to Playa Coyote are great. Again I can't comment on the southern penninsula because I can't seem to get there. There are plenty of places to stay and things to see. Nosara (Playa Guiones) has lots of choices both for lodging and food. Casa Caletas at Punto Coyote is a great place to stay. Cabinas las Olas is a fun place to stay at Playa Avellanas.

Monkeys, iguanas, and a variety of birds are abundant.

Boston...
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10. Re: Help! I can't decide between Nicoya Pen. or Manuel Ant. area

In late November, should I be concerned that M.A. might be slightly rainier than Southern Nicoya? Or do they get about the same rain by that time of year?