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Transportation advice for Costa Rica

San Francisco...
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Transportation advice for Costa Rica

Hi there,

Three of us [friends] are going to Costa Rica for about 7+ days. We'll get to San Jose 12:50pm Feb 12th and leave San Jose Feb 20th 3:55pm.

This is the itinerary we are thinking of

San Jose -> Arenal area -> Monte verde -> Manuel antonio -> San Jose

We are thinking of staying in some inexpensive hotels. Do I really need to make reservation in advance in all the places based on our itinerary?

My main interests are checking out rainforest and the wildlife...as I like to take photos...not any adrenaline rush activities..

Have a few questions.

1. Do you think this is a reasonable itinerary for the number of days we have? or can I add one more place? I kind of want to check out the La Selva research station also but not sure if that will take a lot of time. So if you have been there, please advice.

2. If I want to see scarlet macaws and the basilisk [jesus christ] lizard walking on the water, where do I need to go? I heard Carara and Corcavodo are the only two places for macaws. How about the lizard? I want to see it in action...so somewhere with creeks?

Third and most important question is

3. How do I get to all these places? I heard public bus is kind of sketchy as people say our luggage may get stolen.

Do you suggest we rent a car or take may be like shuttles? Or any other way?

Thank you for your time....:)

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

For seven days, we usually recommend two locations. You have chosen three. The ones you have chosen will be fine - just look here for distances and driving times so you will understand better how long it takes to get from place to place.

Either give up one of your locations or save La Selva for the next trip. An alternative would be either Arenal or Monteverde, La Selva and Manuel Antonio.

Just so you know - the airport is not actually in San Jose but the next town over. If you need to spend your first or last night near the airport, plan on spending it in Alajuela which is where the airport is located.

For transportation, you can take a domestic flight, hire a private driver, rent a car, use the shared van shuttle or the public bus, listed roughly in order of expense.

Public bus is fine - if you take a few precautions. If there are two of you, bring a small bicycle lock and lock your bags together when you put them in the compartment under the bus. This makes it very difficult for anyone to steal your luggage. (Not a common occurrence, anyway, despite what people have told you.)

Keep your valuables with you in a daypack and don't put it in the overhead bin. Put it in your lap or at your feet.

The public bus is a great way to get around inexpensively although some routes can be more time-consuming due to the need for transfers.

San Jose
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2. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

Hello! February is actually the highest season in Costa Rica, so I would recommend advance reservations, but if you really prefer to wing it a little bit, I would definitely at least book my first or two nights in Costa Rica.

If you arrive at 12:50 in the afternoon you could think of going directly to arenal rather than needing to overnight in San Jose. a shuttle service would not be the best option as times would not match. I would consider the rental car. Being 3 and dividing the costs between the 3 of you, you will most probably find it to be a good deal, even better probably than the shuttles and having the advantage of moving around at your own pace and having a car to move around in the evenings. Of course, public transportation is the cheapest, but there are many factors to consider...

Tortuguero is to me a great place to see the Jesus Christ Lizards, and not only for that but also for all the many other wildlife that can be seen, but that would require a different logistics from your part. In your case, best option would be to take the public boat in La Pavona and stay at one of the cabins in town. I believe it would be a little bit too much to add it to your trip, where you have already selected many locations for the number of nights youll be here. If you do decide to do three locations then, to me it would be 2 or 3 arenal, 2 Monteverde and 2 or 3 Ml antonio plus a last night in san Jose. Decide whether this extra 3rd night youd like to spend it in arenal or Manuel Antonio....good luck

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

Let me try...

Three of us [friends] are going to Costa Rica for about 7+ days. We'll get to San Jose 12:50pm Feb 12th and leave San Jose Feb 20th 3:55pm.

Feb is a great month to visit us...dry ...summer time!

This is the itinerary we are thinking of

San Jose -> Arenal area -> Monte verde -> Manuel antonio -> San Jose

You can drive to Arenal the same day of your arrival..only 3 hours...

We are thinking of staying in some inexpensive hotels. Do I really need to make reservation in advance in all the places based on our itinerary?

You really do not have to make anyreseervations...affordable hotels with good location around La Fortuan...El Sesteo and Hotel La Fortuna.

My main interests are checking out rainforest and the wildlife...as I like to take photos...not any adrenaline rush activities..

Great area to take some great pictures..

Have a few questions....I may have a few ansswers.

1. Do you think this is a reasonable itinerary for the number of days we have? or can I add one more place? I kind of want to check out the La Selva research station also but not sure if that will take a lot of time. So if you have been there, please advice.

Yes good number of days...no good idea to include La Selav...possible of course...but way to much my humble personal opinion!

2. If I want to see scarlet macaws and the basilisk [jesus christ] lizard walking on the water, where do I need to go? I heard Carara and Corcavodo are the only two places for macaws. How about the lizard? I want to see it in action...so somewhere with creeks?

From Tarcoles all the way to Bejuco...good chances to see them...and the lizard...are not that easy to see them in action...but good chances around Arenal rivers or creecks..

Third and most important question is

3. How do I get to all these places? I heard public bus is kind of sketchy as people say our luggage may get stolen.

You can do the SJO..Arenal...MOnteverde...MA...SJO ...for about $ 195.00 per person including the jeep.boat jeep between Arenal and Monteverde..of course public is way cheaper!

Do you suggest we rent a car or take may be like shuttles? Or any other way?

Rent a car can be a nice way...and shuttles like Interbus or Gray line they may work for you as well!

Roadadvisor

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

I would say rent a car! I am on day 4 of the same itenirary as you have planned and I couldn't imagine not having wheels. I feel perfectly safe. You can get a car with all insurance for under $50 a day. Between 3 that's the cost of a hamburger and an imperial(local beer). I find driving here to be no problemo.

Just heed everything on this forum about not being a mark. Take everything out when at a destination.

We saw a whole group of Coati's today while circling lake Arenal.

Enjoy your upcoming trip. It's lovely Aqui.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

Thank you all for your replies.

Roadadvisor, when you say Jeep-boat-jeep, are you talking about some kind of shuttle?

Also, do I need to take a boat between Arenal and Monteverde, let's say if I rent a car?

henry, which rental car company you rented the car from which is $50 a day? Also, I read somewhere that most rental cars are stick-shift there. Is that true?

Have a great time there.

crpuravida, I am not planning spend any night at San Jose. Since my flight is 3:55pm on 20th, I am thinking of spending the night of the 19th at MA and then get back to San Jose 20th morning. Also, since the airport is at the town of Alajuela, I am assuming I won't have to deal with driving through San Jose if I rent a car?

Thank you

San Francisco...
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6. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

We used thrifty car rental. If you do a search you will find people don't like them, but I got an amazing price of $276 for 10 days. The mandatory ins and license plate fee added another $220 or so. Message me and I'll let you know the agency we went with to get the car. We drove today from Arenal (Chachagua) and it took 3.5 hours. The first half is beautiful. The lake on your left and beautiful scenery and a wonderful road-then the fun comes... It's a washboard road with potholes. Actually, it wasn't near as bad as I thought. The weather was dry, almost no impediments on the road, was clear sailing.

We have a Garmin gps which is a lifesaver. And yea the SUV we have is a sticks shift. I hasn't driven one in a long time but it came right back.

Seems like we're 415 neighbors. I'd be glad to share what were learning.

Henry

Costa Rica
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7. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

henry f - you are lucky with your experience with Thrifty. Based on their reputation, you could have lots of problems. I wouldn't recommend Thrifty to anyone.

You drove from Arenal to Monteverde? You kind of left out the name of the destination. And what is "415 neighbors?" Sound like some kind of cryptic code.

Anyway, glad you are enjoying your time here. I hope you are writing a report about your time in Chachagua - I know we are interested in knowing more about that.

Winnipeg, Canada
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for Costa Rica
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8. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

Hattie, Though perhaps off topic - 415 neighbours is not really all that cryptic. If you notice - both are from San Francisco. And 415 is the original area code for the SF area..... So he was just commenting that they are from the same area....

Re the original question - getting from A to B - I agree with Hattie that the issue of luggage being stolen on public buses is for the most part overblown. (But it can happen...) However of your destinations - Arenal to Monteverde and Monteverde to MA don't really lend themselves to public bus unless you have a lot of time and patience . There are no direct buses on these routes and you would have to piece together connections.

Renting a car would definitely give the most flexibility. However if you decide against it or decide to only rent for part of the journey here are some things to consider:

For Arenal to Monteverde, you could look at jeep/boat/jeep.

Since there are 3 of you, if you use a private driver, you really won't pay that much more than by using interbus or interbus. These days the various legs on the shuttles all seem to be over $40. If you do a private driver - you each may pay a few dollars more but you can leave on your schedule. As well a good driver will act as sort of a tour guide and you will learn about the country.

pura vida

raquel

Costa Rica
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9. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

raquel -- like I'm supposed to know that 415 is the area code for San Francisco? And in San Francisco, they spell it "neighbors." Oh, no! Let's not start that spelling thing again - haha.

With three people, hiring private transportation can be more economical the same as renting a car. But the public bus is still the least expensive. It really depends on whether they have more money than time or more time than money.

Of course, they don't have to use the same transportation method every time. On the more direct routes, public bus; on others a private driver or the taxi-boat-taxi from Arenal to Monteverde.

The taxi-boat-taxi: A taxi picks you up and takes you to Lake Arenal where a boat takes you across the Lake and another taxi takes you on the final leg to Monteverde. For more details - www.arenal.net Using this method saves quite a bit of time and is very pleasant.

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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10. Re: Transportation advice for Costa Rica

yes - the public bus is definitely the least expensive. And anyone who has read my posts knows that I am a public bus advocate - where it makes sense. However if one checks the useful link

http://www.thebusschedule.com

for getting to Monteverde the BEST connection they show - due to the infrequency of buses shows "Bus: duration: 11:30h, chg: 1"

And for Monteverde l to Manuel Quepos- the best connection they show "is leaving at 4.30 AM. It only takes 6.5 hours. So if you have lots of time and lots of patience - you can get there and save money.

On straight point to point journeys - the bus is a great way to both save money and add to your Costa Rican experience.

raquel

message to Hattie: you wrote

"And in San Francisco, they spell it "neighbors." Oh, no! Let's not start that spelling thing again - haha. "

Unfortunately Hattie, I really do not see the haha humour (or perhaps not to offend you - humor) here. I am Canadian and happend to spell that way. It appears to be you that started the "spelling thing" I was not correcting anyone - nor criticizing anyone's spelling or mocking anyone - I just wrote the way I naturally do - but I am not sure what your point was.

And now you are not supposed to necessarily know the area code for SFO - but the OP - to whom the comment was directed probably would have figured it out.