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First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

New York City, New...
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First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

I am trying to plan a trip to Costa Rica with my girlfriend at the end of February for 9 days (Friday to Sunday). I have done a lot of research and am now officially confused.

At first we planned to spend 3 days in Arenal, 3 days in Manuel Antonio (thinking at Gaia hotel) and 3 days in Guanacaste (at Playa Conchal). We were going to fly from place to place.

After reading a lot more, I am wondering if this is the best use of my time. Are Guanacaste and Manuel Antonio too similar? Should we try to get to Monteverde? And finally, are flights the best way to get around, or would we be missing out by not seeing the country on the ground.

Any help is appreciated!

Punta Uva, Costa...
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1. Re: First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

Renting a car might be best for you. I think you have pick some really good destinations. If anything I would go to the Caribbean side around Puerto Viejo first then Arenal and finish in Manuel Antonio. Is lots of driving.but a good way to see different parts of the country.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

Great itinerary...maybe you can change Manuel Antonio instead of Conchal...and do somenthing like...

San Jose...Arenal...Manuel Antonio...San Jose...you can rent a car or just hire private transfers...


Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in PARADISE!

La Fortuna de San...
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3. Re: First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

As much as I love the countryside here, I do think that if flying from place to place is an option-you should take it! For a short trip like yours you could spend 4-6 hours in a car or 15 minutes in a plane (plus the 1 hour you get there ahead of time).

If your itinerary changes and you stay in a more localized area then rent the car....you'll enjoy having the freedom of going where you want/when you want. The good news is that whatever you choose & wherever you go you'll have a great vacation! :-) Have fun!

Wendy at the Villa Hermosa, La Fortuna, CR

Destination Expert
for Jaco, Bocas Town
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4. Re: First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

I think you are trying to see to0 many places that are too far apart. What time do you fly into San Jose. When do you leave San Jose. You most likely will need to spend at least 1 night in San Jose, possilbe 2. So you may only have 7 nights. 3 in Arenal and 4 in Manuel Antonio would be nice. If you use a private driver then night driving is an option, so you could get 9 full nights outside of San Jose and possible hit 3 areas.

Flying is a great option, but just know that all flight go through San Jose, so not direct flights. You can't fly direct from Manuel Antonio to Guanacaste, unless you get a private charter flight. With weather delays, having to arrive early for flights and layovers it is often faster to drive.

Tamarindo, Costa...
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5. Re: First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

As mentioned, a lot of driving and the national (intra-country) flights are not direct. What airport are you flying into? Could make a difference. If you fly into the international airport in Liberia, the best route could be: Arenal - Tamarindo. Much less driving.

As far as the towns in Guanacaste or Manuel Antonio, try and decide what town you want to visit. Just so you know the travel time between San Jose - Arenal - Manuel Antonio is exactly the same as going to Manuel Antonio.


Here is more help, here is an orientation to Tamarindo which is on the northwestern coast of Guanacaste:


6. Re: First Time in Costa Rica for 9 days - Help Please

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