We are a family of 4, w adults, 2 older teens. We have airplane tickets booked to San Jose for one week at the end of June/ beginning of July (7 nights); we are scheduled to arrive mid afternoon on a Sunday. We don't want to run around too much, and drive somewhere new every day, or even every other day; we'd prefer to go to just two areas at most. Also, we'd prefer not to rent a car. We're open to a range of activities but would rather experience what is unique to Costa Rica, while still leaving some time to relax.
Right now, we're thinking of going directly to the hotel Lands in Love from the airport, and making that the base for the first 4 nights. It seems as if we can do adventure activities such as zip lines, rafting, hiking, etc. right from the hotel and it sounds as if it is in a beautiful area. Another advantage is that they will accommodate gluten free diners (one of us has celiac). Are we really missing out if we don't stay in Arenal? My understanding is that the volcano isn't active right now. We can do a trip to Arenal (and the hot springs) as a day trip from Lands in Love if we want to.
I'm less certain about what to do the second part of the trip. At one point, we were thinking of going to Tortuguera. Now, we're thinking of 3 nights at a beach area, perhaps Samara. I was thinking of Samara rather than Manuel Aretenio because I've heard that Guanacaste is likelier to be somewhat drier at that time of year. How long a trip would it be from San Ramon (where Lands of Love is) to Samara? (We'd probably need to hire a driver to do it.) Is there another Guanacaste location we should consider instead that might be easier to get to? We're not big on all inclusives, although a place with a nice pool, proximity to the beach, and even a little luxury for this piece of the trip wouldn't be frowned upon.
I actually like the sound of both of these locations -- however, I feel a little funny because I don't think that either area is on most people's first time trip to Costa Rica -- they certainly don't seem to be featured on the various package tour suggestions.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice!