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Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

CA
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Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

Hello,

My husband and I are going to Costa Rica in May 2009 for a wedding in Manuel Antonio at the Si Como hotel. We are planning a 10 day vacation. Has anyone heard of this hotel being nice? Want to know how many stars it is? We are from California and in our upper 20's want to stay somewhere that has a lot to do and the same time get some relaxation in. What is there to do in Manual Antonio or Quepos? We want to go ziplining, white water rafting, swim in waterfalls, swim with dolphins, and learn to surf.

Before and after the wedding, we want to go outside of Manuel Antonio. Some main attractions I hear to see is Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Tamarindo, Jaco, Papagayo, San Jose, Corcovado, and Tortuguero. Can I get some suggestions from anyone how to go about seeing all these places in 10 days and where to stay? We don't mind spending $200-$400 a night for a room. I don't mind driving 2 hours to see something, but if it's longer than that, I would do an overnight stay.

Also, is Tortuguero safe to visit? I have heard reports that it's become dangerous. Should I skip seeing? I can't find any websites that have reports from there, does anyone know of any or what's going there and things to while there?

Appreciate your help!

Manuel Antonio...
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1. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

Si Como No is a great hotel is a 3 stars well doned hotel. Manuel Antonio area offers great adventure and nature tours, you can jsu about everything you have said but not swimming with dolphines, they will kill you. For a 10 days vacation with wedding you arent going to have a lot time to travel. you can probably do a visit to Arenal from Manuel Antonio.

Are you planning to travel with familly in M.A?

NATUREGUIDE

St. Petersburg...
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2. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

Don't know how much time you will have to spare with the wedding but no, you can't see all those places in 10 days. I would pick 2 other places max, and would not include Jaco, Papagayo or Tamarindo in the options. I would do Arenal & Tortuguero or Arenal & Peace Lodge; haven't heard anything about Tortuguero being dangerous - heard 'reports' from where exactly?

CA
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3. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

Thanks for your responses!

How many hours away is the Arenal Volcano from M.A.? Should I do an overnight at the Arenal or day trip from M.A.? I can see everything in one day right at the Arenal? If I stay there, where do you recommend staying? I heard there is a hot spring hotel near there that is nice, but don't know the name of it. One of my friend's stayed at the Peacelodge and she did the Arenal from there and was only 2 hours, so I was thinking of doing that too since there are waterfalls to see there. Where can I go to swim in waterfalls?

I've been looking at reviews of the Hilton in Papagayo and have been really good, that's why I wanted to try to fit that location too. But can only do Hilton or Peacelogde in 10 days. What do you recommend? How far is the hilton from the Arenal? I am not traveling with family. It will be just me and my husband.

What do you think of the Los Surenos Marriott instead of Hilton or Peacelodge as far as everything I want to do? Would it be too close to M.A., that it's not worth staying at?

I thought I saw in one of these forums that there were reports of Tortuguero not being safe right now. I heard it was very rasta like and the carnival was canceled last year. I might be wrong, but I thought it was the caribbean side of Costa Rica and that is where Tortuguero is. But, I believe you if that's not true. What is there to do there? I really want to see the caribbean side of Costa Rica, what areas do you recommend for tourists other than Tortuguero?

I will only be busy for the wedding I'm going to at Si Como for 2 days.

Thanks for your help!

Mission Viejo, CA
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4. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

We did Arenal to MA in 5.5 hours. It's definately an overnighter to Arenal...or more if you want to enjoy it. The hot springs and hotel you're thinking of is Tabacon. If you take more time, staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge for a night is more than worth it. Hearing & seeing it explode all night was the best worst night sleep I've ever had.

Haslett, Michigan
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5. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

Just back from a 10 day family trip including Tortuguero (2 nights), Arenal (3 nights) and Manuel Antonio (3 nights). We went to Tortuguero with Costa Rica Expeditions, staying at their Tortuga Lodge. We were very happy with the stay, saw a sea turtle laying her eggs, the grounds of of the lodge were beautiful, food excellent and we felt safe at all times. (http://www.costaricaexpeditions.com/)

For my family, 3 nights each in Arenal and MA worked well - although we might have liked one additional night in MA. Many of the activities in which you're interested (ziplining, white water rafting, waterfalls) are available from both locations. We stayed at Si Como No in MA and loved it.

The drive from the SJ airport to Arenal took us about 2 1/2 hours, from Arenal to MA - closer to six because of construction delays (road and bridge), and MA back to SJ airport ended up at about 3 hours. We came across people doing some of these things as day trips from a base in SJ, but they were spending a lot of time traveling. I wouldn't choose to do any of these things that way.

Good luck with your plans.

Seoul, South Korea
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6. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

I have never heard anything about Tortuguero being dangerous. It is a pretty low key place primarily to see wildlife. There are places on the caribbean side that have more crime than other locations such as Limon and that may be what you read about. They have Carnival.

There are very few places you can get to from Manuel Antonio in 2 hours. Even to get from San Jose there is 3 1/2 hours but you have the option of taking a small plane through Sansa or Nature Air. You may want to think of that as an option if you are trying to avoid longer road trips but travel on these small planes is only from San Jose to locations meaning it would take two planes to get to another destination.

Within a 2 hour drive of Manuel Antonio is Jaco (which I would not recommend) or Dominical, which is a smaller village like atmosphere heavily touristed by surfers. There may be some natural sites you would like in that area but Manuel Antonio has much to do to keep you occupied.

Manuel Antonio can fill up alot of time. You can go to the National Park and see monkeys, sloths, and beautiful beaches. You can go ziplining. You can go to the RainMaker private rainforest preserve in whcih you hike across huge suspinsion bridge and finish off in a waterfall pool in the 3rd cleanest water every tested on earth. You can hang out at the public beach or at one of the many restaurants in the area for a sunset view. You can horseback ride to a waterfall. It is a big deep sea fishing destination as well.

As far as lodging you will have no problem at all finding a place in that price range because that is pretty high end for Costa Rica. Si Como No is considered one of the nicer hotels in the MA area. I would suggest if you head to another location that you choose the location then look for a hotel at that location rather than letting the hotel dictate the choice of where you go.

CA
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7. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

thanks everyone for all your responses! I am starting to narrow down where I am going to go. Definitly stay in Manuel Antonio for the wedding, go to the Arenal for a few nights. Does anyone know if I can do a day trip from Arenal to Monteverde and how long it will take? After Arenal, I'm trying to decide whether to go to Tortuguero or Corcovado. What do you all recommend? How many nights you think is sufficient enough to see either place? It's just going to be my husband and I. What do either places offer to see? I know they are completely different and just want to do things that are different from Manuel Antonio and the Arenal.

thanks for the help!

St. Petersburg...
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8. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

You can do a day trip to Monteverde but I can't imagine it would be very pleasant. If you take the boat-taxi option, it would take 3 hours one way, so that would be 6 hours total traveling to spend about 2 hours there. Unless you have 3 or 4 nights I wouldn't attempt the Osa, though if you have 2 nights you could do Tortuguero. You could also spend 2 nights at Peace Lodge and enjoy the grounds, it's about 1 hour away from the airport or Selva Verde which is about 2 hours from the airport.

Mission Viejo, CA
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9. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

There is the option of the jeep-boat-jeep to do Arenal to Monteverde and back. Take an overnight bag, leave the rest with you hotel in Arenal. I haven't done this, only seen posts.

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10. Re: Visiting Costa RIca in May 2009 - Need help with Itinerary!

First of all, travel times between "places" in CR take much longer than you would probably expect from looking at a map. In general, there are very few "day trips" from one place to another unless it's something like visiting Poas volcano or La Paz waterfall gardens enroute from one place to another. Day-long tours are usually specific activities like white-water rafting or Cano Negro (river safari.)

Arenal offers an active volcano, great hot springs and lots of "adrenaline" activities like ziplines, canyoning, rafting, etc. Also a nice waterfall.

To be honest, based on your posts, I'm not sure that you'd like Monteverde. It's a cloud forest area, very low key, great for birding, no multi-starred hotels/resorts.

The Osa peninsula (where Corcovado national park is) is phenominal for its wildlife but it takes some work to get there. Most people fly to the peninsula and then take a car or boat ride to the lodge/hotel. Because of its isolation, you would generally want 2-3 full days there minimum.