It's been my dream since I was a kid to visit the rainforest and glad I finally fulfilled it by visiting CR. Recently got back from an eight day trip and hit the following destinations:
First off, wouldn't suggest under any circumstances to stay in San Jose. The town is dirty and pollution is rampant.
Secondly, if you're thinking of going to Manuel Antonio, think twice. MA was one of the biggest disappointments of the trip. Wayyyyyyyyyy overrated and not clean.
Arenal is overrated as well. Also, if you're compelled to visit, know that if you don't stay in a certain area near the volcano you won't see lava and will have to drive at night to catch a glimpse. Apparently there are only a few hotels with lava view and the area they're in is sketchy. Also took a look at these hotels and they were unimpressive.
jaco was not great either, but we had to stay there. We had reservations in MA, but canceled ASAP.
Monteverde was the best part of the trip. The Monteverde Reserve is absolutely amazing!!! The town is clean and we felt really safe.
Dominical was hit and miss. The little town is dingy, but certain areas had beautiful beach and jungle. This was the second best part of the trip.
We rented a little 4x4 with GPS and thank goodness we did! I definitely suggest this.