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1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Sydney
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1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Hi there,

My husband and I are travelling for around 10 days to CR. We must spend 2 nights in San Jose as we have to go for work, but then we have about 8/9 nights to see the sights! We don't want to travel too much, but would obvioulsy like to do volcano, rainforest, beach... - the best of CR!

We would like to do the Springs/Volcanic Area for 3 nights, and then are undecided on beaches;

Pacific side ie. Tamarindo - We are from Sydney Australia, and always swim in the ocean at home...I am unsure if the beaches would be as stunning as where we live!

Carribbean side: i.e.We have been recommended to go to Puerto Viejo and Tortugeurro on the Carribbean side, as it's gorgeous but I am worried though that it is not too safe.

Manuel Antonio - I hear lovely reports about this place, and it is a bit more luxiuorious than other towns??

What are your opinions for 10 nights?? We are not interested in travelling for long periods, and would rather just see 2 or 3 towns that show case the BEST of CR culture/landscape.

We don't have a budget as it's a work trip. We are from the food industry, so enjoy great places to eat, enjoy very good hotels with a good bar (that has atmosphere as we are in our early 30s).

Any help is FAB!!!...Claire

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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1. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Beaches in Costa Rica are surely not as long and as wide as those in Sydney area not to mention the Gold Coast ... however on the Atlantic side they are similar. Caribbean side (i.e. from Cahuita to Manzanillo) is different and IMHO much better; swimming is safer, water is calmer. But you should not come so far for the beaches; rainforest, volcanoes and wildlife is what you should look for. For 10 days choose 2 or max. 3 locations. Arenal / La Fortuna is one; an adrenaline center of Costa Rica with many upscale hotels and good restaurants. Manuel Antonio has better choice of more luxurious hotels but I am a fan of the Caribbean side. As third location maybe Monteverde (something you don't have in Australia) or Tortuguero (depends also on the time of the year). For transport between the places use private driver. For hiking use private guide. And people of Costa Rica are as friendly and easy going as those I've met while traveling in Australia.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Here are some helpful websites:

www.arenal.net

www.puertoviejosatellite.com

www.tortuguerovillage.com

www.tortugueroinfo.com

www.nicoyapeninsula.com

www.manuelantoniopark.com

I go along with xelas advice here. For 8-9 days, pick three places and I agree with his recommendations.

Check here for distances and travel times - www.yourtravelmap.com

You might think in terms of "loops" and one loop would be San Jose to the Arenal area, from there to Tortuguero and on to the Caribbean coast and back to San Jose.

I wouldn't worry too much about safety issues on the Caribbean Coast. With something like 250,000 visitors a year, the 10 (or even 100) people who get robbed are in the news and not the other 99% who love it and have a great time. Common sense is the main prerequisite.

Another loop is San Jose to Arenal to the Nicoya Peninsula and back to San Jose.

For the "wilderness/nature" trip - San Jose to Arenal to the Osa Peninsula to San Jose

Of course, there are beaches on both coasts of all shapes and kinds but they are mostly volcanic sand and so you will find beige, brown and black sands as well as white. Don't expect hugely wide, sugar sand beaches to be everywhere.

For food - Costa Rican food, for the most part, is simple. It is well-prepared with fresh ingredients but nothing like Mexican food, for example with its sauces of 20+ ingredients. Here at the forum, we can furnish you with a list of "things to try for sure" while you are in Costa Rica.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

MAybe Arenal Volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park area...nice beaches and nice volcano the best in Arenal...

roadadvisor

Saint Louis...
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4. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Arenal and Fortuna are a pretty good bet. My wife and I just got back from our 12 day honeymoon on 6/26 from San Jose-Manuel Antonio-Puntarenes-Miramar-Monteverde-Papagayo

. Monteverde/Santa Elena was definately one of our favorite places. Both towns are neat and give you a good feel for Costa RIca, as well as many activities in a concentrated area. The SkyTrek & Skywalk were a pretty good deal at $75/person for a tram, ziplining canopy tour and suspension bridges. There are many night hikes in the area too. The only catch is that all the roads getting there are pretty rough.. for about 30km or so up the mountian. But once you get there.. everything is paved.. like you stepped into another country.

Manuel Antonio was about a 3 hr drive from San Jose. It was a cool town and most things are nice there, but not worth the drive for just the park. If you want to take a tour of the jungle, Carara national park on the way has good guides for cheap for a 3 hr tour.

The beaches definately won't be anything to write home to Austrailia about. The beach in Manuel antonio is nice, especially near the park, but the others were just okay. The Hilton Papagayo is situated on a couple of black vocanic beaches which were neat to see.

I've reviewed most of the hotels we stayed and a couple of restaurants if you want to check them out.

Have fun!

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Tortuguero for the wildlife in a canal-laced wonderland where there are no roads and all travel is by boat. With luck you can watch turtles nesting on the beaches. This is defintely not a beach destination however. You visit as a package tour from San Jose and typically stay 2 nites. You can fly in or out or take the bus/boat transfer that takes half a day.

Arenal for adventure activites including canyoning, whitewater rafting, caving and waterfall hikes. Don't forget to visit the hot springs.

The Osa peninsula for a chance to visit a primary rainforest with tons of wildlife. Wide range of lodgings from luxury (Bosque del Cabo, Lapas Rios, Aguila de Osa to very simple places) but all tucked into the rainforest.

MA has a beautiful beach and a gem of a little national park along with more tourists than anywhere else. If you're coming all the way across the ocean from a country with spectacular beaches the Osa would be a better representation of the best that Costa Rica has to offer (IMO).

Sydney
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6. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Wow, thankyou all so much for the info.

I think we have decided to do

San Jose 2 nights (for work) then shuttle to Puerto Viejo for x nights (not sure how long I need here - help!) and shuttle back to San Jose.

Then we will fly to Maneul Antonio for x nights (again I'm not sure for how long!) and then fly on to Arenal, perhaps for 3/4 nights as it seems Nature Air flys in a sortof loop.

We will stay in the Springs and do our zipling etc from Arenal, and hopefully we can do a trip to Monteverde for the day from Arenal - can we do the SkyTrek/Walk from Arenal?.

We are then going to shuttle or fly to Libera and stay around the Gulf Papagao area before flying home out of Liberia.

Sooo....it means I have left off Tamarindo...which I think is ok?!

Now, we are going to be there in OCTOBER - the Wet Season - does or should this impact our time/city choice.

Thx...Claire

Sydney
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7. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

Forgot to mention that I can stretch our trip to 12 nights if it is better!

8. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

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9. Re: 1st time visitor - 10 days to choose where!

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