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Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

Boston...
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Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

What is the right order?

We will be leaving San Jose airport area around 7am and on our way to Arenal we want to see Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation. What should we see first? Can you see everything in one day? What is the driving distance between all three attractions?

Should we see Poas first since the chance of seeing the crater are better around 8am?

San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

Yes you can do all 3 in one day and they are close to each other. First you would find the Doka Planatation then a 15 minute drive to the Poas Volcano and then a 20 minute drive to La Paz, (approx. times). I would however recommend to go first to the Poas Volcano, early in the morning (They open at 8am) is the best time to have better luck and see it, then the Doka Plantation and end at La Paz Waterfall Gardens

San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

Dear siechnice

We will be leaving San Jose airport area around 7am and on our way to Arenal we want to see Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation. What should we see first? Can you see everything in one day? What is the driving distance between all three attractions?

Just go all the way to Poas first! about 1 hour from SJO...about 45 minutes from Alajuela..

Then after the volcano down to Vara Blanca to take the road to La Paz Waterfall.. about 40 minutes ride...road in under some big repairs..be carefull please!!

Should we see Poas first since the chance of seeing the crater are better around 8am?

Better chances to see the crater early in the morning but nobody really knows...

Then from La Paz. backtrack to Alaljuela...about 45 minutes ride and take Pan Am Hwy North...get out in San Ramon...all the way to La Fortuna from Alajuela or SJO area about 3 hours to Arenal, La Fortuna...!

roadadvisor

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3. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

All 3 can be done in one day with a drive afterwards to Arenal but it would be a rather full day and you wouldn't really be able to spend much more than the minimum amount of time at each attraction. You're definitely gonna want to get as early a start as possible.

Are you actually LEAVING SJO at 7AM or ARRIVING then? If arriving then, you should figure about 30 minutes getting through the airport (shouldn't be too crazy at that hour) and then add a little more time to get your rental car (from their nearby office, not their airport rental counter), primarily because you'll need some time to go over the car and make sure they record every little ding, dent & scratch.

Assuming you really meant leaving SJO at 7AM then Poas should DEFINITELY be your first stop. As RA said it takes about an hour to get up there, which means you should be able to get there just as it opens at 8AM. As you and others have already noted this can increase your chances of clear weather when you get to the top, but it also means you'll beat most of the crowds that roll in between 9-10AM on tour buses. Besides that, the 1st tour at Doka doesn't start until 9AM anyway, so if you go there first it would really throw off your schedule for the rest of the day. Figure about an hour to see Poas and have a good look around. If you had more time you could also take a short hike to a nearby crater lake but that probably won't be in the cards.

What comes next is a bit less certain. The problem is not so much driving times as it is the tour schedule at Doka. Doka has scheduled tours at 9, 10, 11, 1:30 & 2:30. They also sometimes have non-regularly scheduled tours for special groups at other times, but you'd need to contact them directly to see if they might be able to accommodate you on one of those.

Using their regular tour schedule and assuming you'd finish at Poas around 9AM. You shouldn't have any trouble making their 10AM tour. An hour there plus driving time to back up to La Paz plus 2 hours there plus time for lunch would see you wrapping up around 2:30. OTOH, if you went to La Paz next (and allowing the minimum 2 hours there plus driving time), you wouldn't be able to make the 11AM tour at Doka and would probably be better off taking extra time there and shooting instead for the 1:30 tour there. Again that would wrap things up around 2:30 but leave you about 30 minutes further down the mountain (and thus closer to Arenal). Either way it would leave plenty of time for getting between the various attractions (even with the road damage past Varablanca).

After that I'd allow about 3.5 hours to get to Fortuna from Doka and maybe 4 hours if you go to La Paz last. Again that is based on RA's 3 hour estimate for ALAJUELA to Fortuna plus extra time for getting back down to Alajuela. Unfortunately that doesn't allow for much time for any pit or sightseeing stops along the way as driving non-stop would put you into Fortuna around 6:00-6:30 or just after sunset.

Of course, you might be able to shave some of the time off of that if you try to bypass Alajuela by taking a somewhat circuitous and obscure route directly to Grecia by way of the tiny village of Santa Gertrudis Nortes (and San Pedro de Poas if coming from Doka). However, I've never tried that route nor would I recommend it without a GPS. Also, I'm not sure how much time that would actually save you (if any) but maybe RA could weigh in on that. In general in CR it is always safest to estimate driving times on the high side (particularly on longer routes) because you never know when you might run into road delays (or get lost).

Edited: 15 November 2011, 02:58
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4. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

Rereading my post, I see where some of my scheduling was a little off, but the gist of it remains the same. Do Poas 1st arriving there around 8 and finishing around 9. Either of the other 2 places next with maybe something a little over the minimum times allowed after also accounting for travel times between and extra time for lunch. Finishing up both of them by 2-2:30 and arriving in Fortuna around 6PM unless you can save some time by going directly to Grecia (rather than returning through Alajuela).

Boston...
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5. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

After reading your replies we decided to go to Poas and Doka. La Paz Waterfalls Garden is under a question mark. We will see. Thanks a lot.

Illinois
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6. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

If you can time it right, we thoroughly enjoyed the lunch buffet at Doka. Some very fresh and delicious food.

7. Re: Poas, La Paz Waterfalls and Doka coffee plantation

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