We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First time in CR need guidance

Level Contributor
6 posts
3 reviews
Save Topic
First time in CR need guidance

This is our first time to CR and having hard time in selecting places and hotel. It seems like so much to do in CR. Reading this forum we are planning to do following:

Nov 19 we will reach LIR around 1:30

Rent a car for a week

Nov 19 - Nov 22 Arenal

Nov 22-Nov 24 MonteVerde

Nov 24-nov 26 some beach area

Nov 26 fly back to home from LIR around 1:30 pm

At this time, I have only book the ticket and hotel in Arenal. I am not sure if I should drive to Montervede as some sections are bad . Should I skip montervede and spend two more days at beach?

Also I am having hard time in selecting the right beach and Hotel. I like to get a hotel that has a nice view of ocean and right at the beach. Quite beach would be preferred. Looking at flamingo beach resort and Ocatal beach resort. Ocatal appeared to have great views but mixed reviews. We are looking to spend $100-$120 range for a nice hotel. Perhaps hotel may decide which beach to go.

We are in Mid 30's and love to do ziplining, rafting etc. We never did surfing and scuba diving and like to try that.

Also it appeared that we will be getting some rain so should we change the spots and go towards carribean side?

Any recommendations around hotels in montervede and beach area. What are the must for first timers? Is driving and directions going to be problem? If I buy s GPS in US, will it work there ? Or I should rent from the rental cars ?

Any guidance will be highly appreciated.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,654 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First time in CR need guidance

1. Should you skip Monteverde? I think you are the only one who can decide that. Yes, part of the road to Monteverde is bad which makes it time-consuming to get there. On the other hand, you will pass through some beautiful countryside. Just be sure of why you are going to Monteverde. www.monteverdeinfo.com Check this out to see if there is anything interesting to you that you can't do in Arenal. Is it worth the trip to visit a cloud forest?

2. Take a look at Hotel Sugar Beach and Capitan Suizo. Sugar Beach is isolated and very beautiful. Capitan Suizo is near Tamarindo which is pretty well developed and has an assortment of restaurants and nightlife.

3. About the rain - you just never know. Yesterday, it rained here in the morning and was clear until late afternoon when it rained again. If you are flying into LIR, going to the Caribbean won't be easy or quick. www.yourtravelmap.com for distances and travel times. I would just stick with the Pacific side. With the short amount of time you have, it would be better to put up with a little rain than to spend so much time traveling back and forth from one side of the country to the other.

4. I would rent a GPS with your rental car unless you have other uses for it. If you buy a GPS, you can buy and download maps for Costa Rica. I don't think you will have a problem with driving or directions. The places you are thinking about visiting are easy to get to (well, not Monteverde) and clearly marked.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
3,528 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: First time in CR need guidance

Monteverde is worth a visit!. For Monteverde I would suggest the Cloud Forest Lodge, the Sapo Dorado or the Fonda Vela. Most rooms at Ocotal are not beach front, only some of their upgraded rooms. The hotel is very nice. Flamingo Beach Resort is beach front. Another one would be the Tamarindo Diria. Have a great trip!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
46,303 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First time in CR need guidance

Dear Sajj

Thank you for coming ..and we hope we can give you some great advice...if you deal with a Travel Agent...please be sure they even have residence visa to work in our country...some funnny people around playing Travel Agent...and they are not even legal to work here!

Nov 19 - Nov 22 Arenal...Great choice good drive around 4 hours...nice road all the way...just a couple places around the lake...but no longer than 5 to 8 meters...not a big deal at all..

Nov 22-Nov 24 MonteVerde...The drive between Arenal and Monteverde is nice...from Tilaran to Santa Elena...rough road...but juts drive slow! About 2.5 hours to 3 hours...nice ride some immpresive views!

Nov 24-nov 26 some beach area...Ocotal is a nice area with some great ocean views ...but not very nice beach...some places maybe around Playa Hermosa by the sea...Tamarindo can be perfect check CApita Suizo..Casa Cook...great places small but nice...

At this time, I have only book the ticket and hotel in Arenal. I am not sure if I should drive to Montervede as some sections are bad . Should I skip montervede and spend two more days at beach?

I love Monteverde but I think you can easily skip it this time...the road as I mentioned is un good shape but the last 12kms...getting In or of course the first 12 kms coming down to Pan Am..number 1...

Yes Flamingo is a nice beach...

We are in Mid 30's and love to do ziplining, rafting etc. We never did surfing and scuba diving and like to try that.

For rafting you can do somenthing around Arenal...be carefull with some people advicing for a great rafting out of Monteverde..of course no rafting around there at all!

Also it appeared that we will be getting some rain so should we change the spots and go towards carribean side?

Rains are coming dow...very much to normal rain for wet season...of course is a lot less rain at the Caribbean side of our country...I flew there this morning and it was a clear morning nice sunny day early in the morning!

Any recommendations around hotels in montervede and beach area. What are the must for first timers? Is driving and directions going to be problem? If I buy s GPS in US, will it work there ? Or I should rent from the rental cars ?

Monteverde..El Establo...Poco a Poco..Fonda Vella...Belmar..Las Orquideas..Rustic Lodge...

If you buy a GARMIN NUVI for example...you can contact NAVSAT.com in Costa Rica...they offer the best mapping of our country...and yes they work great...of course you can rent one..most of rent a cars use the mapping from NAVSAT!

roadadvisor.

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
Level Contributor
7,944 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First time in CR need guidance

Just a quick chime in, I stayed at Ocotal Beach resort once and I actually kind of liked it. I remember reading the reviews and thinking they were not so hot, and it is not my usual kind of place to lay my head, but went anyway being a friends vacation and I was just along for the ride.

Long story short I thought the view was great, the hotel is fine, nothing spectacular but certainly worth the money, IMO a good deal considering the prices of some places with that kind of view.

Cheers

Level Contributor
6 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First time in CR need guidance

Thanks for great inputs. I m leaning towards dropping Montevideo and may spend couple of extra days at beach. May tryout two hotels. Two nights in tamarind and two in flamingos or Hermosa. What is a must in Arenal and in what sequence should I do things? If it is raining then can I still do the zipline? Also what is the best zipline and should I book it now?

Playa Conchal...
Level Contributor
2,033 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First time in CR need guidance

I'd recommend just 2 destinations in a week to cut down on the driving and give you some time to settle down and relax.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
9,288 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First time in CR need guidance

I think if you plot out day by day and include driving times you will see that squeezing Monteverde into this trip severely limits your beach time. If you just want 1 day at the beach that's fine, but it sounds like you would prefer more time to try surfing and scuba diving. I think you're making the right decision to save Monteverde for the next trip.

Great outings in Arenal are ziplines (try SkyTrek), canyoning (PureTrek or DeSafio) and a visit to the La Fortuna waterfall. Also must visit hot springs but that could be in the evening. Eco Termales is my favorite. You need advance reservations for Eco Termales. You might want advance reservations for all the above if you're trying to squeeze that much activity into 2 days, but odds are if you don't care which zipline or which canyoning trip you can find something available once you're there.

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
85 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First time in CR need guidance

We loved La Finisterra in Playa Hermosa. We were there in green season so don't know what Play Hermosa's like in high season, but it was pretty quiet and the views from the hotel are stunning. Good food too. If you go to Playa Hermosa, don't miss the restaurant, Ginger. I haven't been to any other Guanacaste beaches, so I don't know how iPlay Hermosa compares to them. It's a pretty beach; not white sugar sand like the Florida Gulf coast or places in the Caribbean, but still pretty nice.

I'd think about rafting and wouldn't miss Sky Trek in La Fortuna. And if you're into birds and passive nature watching, the Cano Negro with Desafaio from La Fortuna was the best expedition we went on.

Level Contributor
6 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First time in CR need guidance

Thanks all for great inputs !

Playa Guiones...
Destination Expert
for Nosara
Level Contributor
2,188 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: First time in CR need guidance

I would just stay in one beach hotel to cut down on packing/unpacking, check in and check out....

You can easily visit the other beaches in the area with your car....