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1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

Fort Lauderdale...
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1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

My boyfriend, myself and a group of friends are trying to plan a trip to Costa Rica for one week in March 2012. We'd like to stay on the Pacific Coast, probably flying into San Jose. We'd like to do and see as much as we can while here while having one central location.

Does anyone have any suggestions for locations on the coast where we could enjoy the beach, along with easy access to the rain forest & volcanos for day trips??

Costa Rica
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1. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

For one week, think two locations.

We usually recommend visiting the Arenal area www.arenal.net and a beach location. A beach location can be small town, laid back or busy with lots of nightlife - and everything in between.

On the Pacific coast, you have your choice from the Osa Peninsula to the Nicaraguan border. With only a week, I would limit your search to the area from Uvita to Papagayo. Here are some helpful websites




Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

Your best choices are probably Manuel Antonio for a beautiful beach and national park, wildlife, lots of tourist infrastructure and activities including ziplines, sunset sails, horseback rise to waterfalls, canyoning, boat trips thru the mangroves and more. No beachfront lodging although some are within walking distance. Most lodging is on the 3 mile ridge road between Quepos and the national park entrance, many with stunning ocean views. 3 hour drive from SJO. No volcanoes or hot springs in this area. You'd have to add a couple of nights to visit Arenal.

Alternate choice is farther north around Tamarindo where there are lots of beachfront lodgings and great surfing. Plenty of excursions and activities including spotting wildlife on a boat ride through Palo Verde, and daytrips to visit volcanoes at Rincon, Tenorio or Miravalles. 5+ hour drive from SJO but less than an hour from the airport in Liberia.

La Fortuna de San...
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3. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

I'll throw out a 3rd option which is to go on a tour like with DesAfio. Their tours will have you white water river rafting, rapelling down waterfalls or whatever else you guys want to do. There are many options for tour companies and they're for the young and adventurous (not just the older crowd). Sometimes a set itinerary is almost easier with a group so they can see it and agree to it before hand and then just sit back and enjoy! :-) Here's their website, you and your group may want to check them or other tour operators out: http://www.desafiocostarica.com. You can do a search on this forum for other tour operators, we just love DesAfio so we only use them. Have fun!

Wendy, La Fortuna, CR

San Jose, Costa Rica
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4. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

100% with crfan...that makes a lot of sense...maybe some side trips to see the great waterfalls around Uvita and Dominical...a nice all terrain vehicle tour...some raftng at Savegre or Naranjo river...

I really thing that you do not need a young or old travel agent advice...in one word you czn do and plan your whole vacation you do not need any middle person to book or plan your vacation...you can book everything direct with tour providers...


Playa Flamingo...
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5. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

I would do both Arenal and then drive west to the Pacific Beaches. Tamarindo is the most touristy with great surfing, and plenty more beautiful beaches north and south of it.

One of my favoirte hotels is Hotel Sugar Beach, about 45 minutes north of Tamarindo. Another nice place is Flamingo Beach Resort. The Flamingo area is so lovely I think it would be nice to spend half your trip there while the other half enjoying Arenal.

So many incredible places in Costa Rica!! That's the hardest part, choosing where to go.


Punta Uva, Costa...
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6. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

Arenal and Tamarindo on the Pacific, maybe Arenal and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean is you want less tourist, more laid back island feel.

San Antonio
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7. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

I just returned from my first trip, stayed in a private house in Quepos next to Manuel Antonio park. The house manager was fantastic, Tom Barron, and manages several homes. He set up all our tours as we went, giving excellent advice, stopping by to make sure we got to the tour pick up site, calling to ensure the best guides, etc. The house we stayed in has a site: www.costaricadeluxe.com and had a private pool overlooking the town, beach, and mountains that was worth every penny we paid. Oh yeah, and we paid less than most hotel rooms for this 4-bedroom, 3-bath home! So I would recommend highly checking into that. Quepos and Manuel Antonio are an easy drive from San Jose. It was nice to have the rental car for the week to go off on our own but we would've survived without it.

8. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

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