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Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

Oxford, UK
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Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

Urgent advice needed please. I'm travelling to central america in a couple of weeks and am not sure how best to spend the time in Costa Rica. Specifically, I'm trying to decide between:

1. Tortuguero vs Manuel Antonio

- in January it's not prime turtle-time in Tortuguero but I'm wary that it is prime tourist-time in M.A!

2. Arenal vs Monteverde

- Arenal would be easier to get to from Nicaraguan border at Los Chiles, but is the cloudforest at Monteverde a must-see? Or is it mainly misty cloud views, with lots of eco-tourists wandering around?!

To put into context, our trip starts with:

- Granada (Nicaragua)

- Ometepe Island (Nicaragua)

- Rio San Juan (Nicaragua) ... probably

And our trip ends with:

- Cahuita (Costa Rica) ... probably, because it's on the way to Panama

- Bocas Del Toro (Panama)

So hopefully we've already got a mix of nature, beach, volcanoes. We just don't know how to spend the 7-10 days in Costa Rica. I love beautiful scenary, and my travel buddy likes wildlife.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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Granada
Granada
Province of Granada, Spain
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Central America
Panama
Panama
Central America
Costa Rica
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1. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

Monteverde vs Arenal: Monteverde is at a higher elevation, cooler and more rainy. Cloud forest. Hilly. Arenal is more spread out, at lower elevation, and - there's a volcano. www.monteverdeinfo.com www.arenal.net

Tortuguero is a totally different from Manuel Antonio as you can get. To Tortuguero - only boat traffic, no cars. Totally undeveloped and "natural." Opportunity for quiet canoe or kayak trips on your own through the many canals. Manuel Antonio - the most visit National Park in the country. www.tortuguerovillage.com www.manuelantoniopark.com

Since you will be coming from Nicaragua, I would recommend Arenal and then Tortuguero and make your way to the southern Caribbean coast for your trip to Bocas del Toro.

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Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Central America
Caribbean
Caribbean
North America
Canada
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2. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

I would agree with Hattie's recommendations here. Since you already have quite a few beach locations planned, Tortuguero is the way to go here. It has beautiful scenery as you require, and lots of wildlife here. There are boat tours available, but it is a great idea to rent a kayak for a morning and set out on your own in the canals, you'll see much more this way. Or, you can hire a private guide in a canoe, but try to get a boat without a motor.

Manuel Antonio would be just another beach location, though there is quite a bit of wildlife there, the species you might have the opportunity to see are less diverse. It's important to note that the beach in Tortuguero is not a beach for swimming, some of the reasons why not I've heard are sharks and terrible riptides.

In regards to Monteverde vs Arenal, keep in mind that because Monteverde is at a higher altitude, it is significantly chillier than other parts of Costa Rica. Either or would be a good choice for you, but there is more to do in Arenal, if you're the adventurous type.

Victoria, Canada
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3. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

I Would go with Tortuguero.

Its a tough one between Monteverde & Arenal but in Monteverde we went on one of the BEST Zip Line Adventures we'd ever encountered with THE Aventura CANOPY TOUR - We did a 2000 foot Superman style Zip Line from Mountain to Mountain over the Tree Top Canopies

More Details of our Trip - mikeeeho.com/costa-rica-in-10-days-or-one-we…

Oxford, UK
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4. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

Thanks for your help! I have been to Fortuna/Arenal before (although my partner hasn't), and just wanted to check that I wasn't missing something AMAZING in Monteverde. I always prefer less organised, less touristy nature stuff, so I'm hoping we'll get our fill of nature in Nicaragua.

About Tortuguero vs M.A - I was just a bit worried that Tortuguero would be quite similar to the Rio San Juan part of our trip....there's only so much travelling along rivers/estuaries in boats, bird-watching that I can do in one trip! I know M.A is very busy, but is it popular because it's so incredibly beautiful? Or is it just because most people can't be bothered to put the effort in to go to other places? (e.g. tortuguero). I do like picturesque beaches, and it'd be a shame to miss M.A if it's the best beach in the country...

Also, I've been to Cahuita before and really liked the laid-back vibe and the jungle-meets-beach. I especially liked the relative lack of tourists (compared to Montezuma, Samara etc). But is there somewhere else on the caribbean coast we could go that's as good as (or better than) Cahuita, whilst we make our way down to Panama?

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Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Central America
Panama
Panama
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Oxford, UK
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5. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

Thanks MikeeeHo - I read your trip report...sounds like you had an amazing time.

It's great to hear from someone who has been to both Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio, and prefers Tortuguero.

We might play the Fortuna vs Monteverde by ear. If we're feeling like thrill-seeking, we'll make our way to Monteverde. If not, we'll stick with Fortuna cos it's easier.

MikeeHo - do you remember how much the hot springs at Fortuna was when you were there?

San Francisco, CA
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6. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

i was just in Costa Rica last week. I enjoyed seeing the volcano, but preferred hiking in the virgin forests of Monteverde. As noted, it's much higher, so much cooler.

Canada
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7. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

Keep in mind that you can zipline in Arenal as well. Those ziplines are also pretty great. Even though you'll be seeing the volcano in Granada, there are a lot of activities to do in Arenal. Another thing to consider is the extra clothing you may have to bring if you decide to travel to Monteverde, because it IS chillier.

I have been to both Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio as well, and love both, and yes, MA's beach is picturesque and gorgeous BUT Tortuguero is an experience like no other. Although you are planning on doing the Rio San Juan, keep in mind that Tortuguero's canals are much smaller and if you opt to find a tour that uses a boat without a motor, you will likely get much closer to wildlife than you ever would on the Rio San Juan. The only thing I would remind you to do is, if you bring your camera, put it in a plastic bag in case you get splashed (or peed on) and bring LOTS of water & sunscreen.

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Granada
Granada
Province of Granada, Spain
J H
London, United...
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8. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

If you want to see real cloudforest, try La Amistad - it's the forgotten brother to the tourist-saturated Monteverde.

Texas
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for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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9. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

For us, Tortuguero has a very magical feeling to it. We saw amazing wildlife there, and it really is beautiful and quiet out on the canals. The beach inside the park in MA is very pretty, but we found the wildlife to be a bit tame. The monkeys there know how to open bags of potato chips! We prefer Arenal to Monteverde just because of the number of activities it offers, the natural hot springs, and the volcano. Monteverde was very chilly when we were there, and we had lots of rain. Had to wear sweatshirts and fleece jackets at night.

Oxford, UK
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10. Re: Monteverde VS Arenal ; Tortuguero VS Manuel Antonio

All these comments have been really helpful! We've decided to go to Tortuguero (hopefully staying at Casa Marbella) and Arenal (possibly Gringo Pete's). We're thinking of getting private transfer from Arenal to Tortuguero to save us having to stay a night in San Jose - anyone have experience of this?

To get more time at Tortuguero and Ometepe we might even give Rio San Juan a miss altogether so we can enjoy time at the other places more.