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Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

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Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

Hi Everyone,

My husband and I are planning a trip and were considering Hawaii, but after reading a lot of forums where people strongly prefer Costa Rica, we decided to look into it. We are wanting to do some excursions...zip lining, hanging bridges, waterfalls, guided tours, etc. We're really not the type to go out hiking on our own, rent some type of off road vehicle and explore on our own, etc. Most of the sample itineraries we have come across have involved a lot of driving. We would prefer to pretty much stay put after arriving...maybe two hotels the whole time and just go out for day trips probably driving no more than an hour each way. We are only looking to do a 5 day trip. Do you think this is feasible or should we look into another location? Most Caribbean locations did not offer enough interesting non-water activities (if you have recommendations those are welcome of course). If this is feasible, what part of the country should we focus on to get the most of our trip while minimizing travel? Thank you everyone!

San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

Dear Jennifer...

With only 5 nights...I will visit Manuel Antonio National Park...easy to get from SJO...and very much what you are looking for!


Playa Guiones...
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for Nosara
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2. Re: Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

Totally agree with roadadvisor, Manuel Antonio has many things to do in the area, and it's beautiful!

Brooklyn, New York
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for Sarapiqui
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3. Re: Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

If you want hanging bridges and waterfalls, I think Arenal would be a better choice than Manuel Antonio, which is more of a beach area. Both areas have ziplines as well as a wide variety of quality lodging.

Chicago, Illinois
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for Costa Rica
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4. Re: Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

With only 5 days/4 nights I agree that you should limit yourself to 1 destination. Manuel Antonio would work as it has a small national park with wildlife and a beautiful beach. Most lodgings are not beachfront but many have gorgeous views overlooking the ocean. Possible nearby daytrips include ziplinines, hanging bridges at Rainmaker Reserve, horseabck rides to waterfalls, boat tours or kayaking through the mangroves at Islas Damas, and sunset sails. You can drive directly from SJO, hire a private driver or fly down (SANSA from SJO or Nature Air from Pavas airport roughly a half hour from SJO).

Other alternative destinations that might work include Uvita (fly into Palmar Sur) or Montezuma (fly into Tambor). Both have beautiful beaches, waterfalls, horseback rides and ziplines as well as a lot fewer tourists than Manuel Antonio. The downside is that unless you fly there, it's a longer drive from the airport.

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5. Re: Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

First, I think it is a bit silly to compare Hawaii and CR and try to figure which is "better." They are different and great in their own ways. Kauai, for instance, is beyond breathtaking from the Napali coast up north to the Waimae Canyon in the southwest. The Big Island's Volcanoes National Park is unlike anything anywhere on the planet. All in all it is another world in Hawaii, and everyone should visit at least once (just DO NOT stay in Wikiki unless--it is a long trip to get there and not all that different than urban beach resorts anywhere in the world if that's all you want).

CR on the other hand has abundant wildlife, is a much less developed country, and is very varied in sites, too, like Hawaii. But everything is a bit more spread out and most people take in two or three areas over 6-10 days. For 5 days, you have two days of travel leaving you with 3 full days. If you go to the Arenal region, you can do activities like zip lines, waterfall repelling, nature walks with some wildlife, visits to the Tabacon baths. The Tabacon Hotel is extremely nice but there are also other very good hotels in the area. If you go to Manuel Antonio, you can do a bit of beach time, zip line, take guided tours through the mini-preserve and see lots of monkeys and sloths and wildlife. The Hotel Gaia in MA is top-drawer, very romantic, and will help you coordinate everything. You can find many reviews on tripadvisor. Both hotels I mention are in the expensive category.

I recommend either hiring a driver to take you to whichever area you go if you ultimately choose CR. Once at the area, you can take cabs or have tour operators pick you up or use hotel shuttles/concierge services if offered. Driving in CR sucks--bad roads, often no signage, and very confusing. Another option is to take a little plane to wherever you settle on staying there.

Good luck with planning. Not really a "wrong" choice to make among the many things you are considering.

6. Re: Trip with minimal driving/flying in Costa Rica

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