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First Timer, tips and advice please

nyc
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62 posts
13 reviews
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First Timer, tips and advice please

I will be going to Costa Rica for the first time with my bf but I haven't booked my flight yet. I've no clue where exactly to go. I would like to spend most of my time on the beautiful beaches but would also like to visit the rainforest if at all possible, see some wild life, do zip lining, horseback riding, hot springs, all that. We are very adventurous. Since the airport is in San Jose, should we stay there, nearby? Are there any nice beaches around there? I wouldn't mind driving 2 hours or so, anything more I think I would have to take a bus or something. We are also young so would like some type of nightlife, maybe fun bars, not really clubs though.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Atlanta
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for Jaco, Bocas Town
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1. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

How long are you going for? If you want rain forest, hot springs and beautiful beaches you probably need to visit two places. Arenal and Manuel Antonio are very popular destinations for first time visitors. You will find nightlife at any tourist area. I wouldn't stay in San Jose. The only beach town within a two hour drive from San Jose is Jaco, but I don't think Jaco is what you are looking for. You are going to have to be willing to travel more then two hours if you fly into San Jose.

You could also fly into Liberia and your drive time to some beautiful beaches is much shorter, but you won't be near Rain Forests.

nyc
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62 posts
13 reviews
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2. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

Thank you. I will most likely be going for about a week. How far is Liberia from Manuel Antonio or Arenal?

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
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3. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

If you plan to go to Manuel Antonio, you are best off flying into San Jose.

Liberia to MA is about 4.5 hours

Liberia to Arenal about 3 hours..

You might want to haver a look at Tamarindo if you decide to fly into Liberia. There is some nightlife there, However there is not the same wildlife or other vegetation as in Manuel Antonio/

To get an idea of times and distances between various places have a look at

yourtravelmap.com/costarica/…

You can also get some ideas by reading some of the trip reports - see the Top Questions at the right side of the main Costa Rica Forum.

pura vida

raquel

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3,528 posts
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4. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

If you fly into Liberia you might want to combine the Arenal Volcano area for hot springs, rain forest, ziplines, horseback and the beaches in Tamarindo, Flamingo, Papagayo. It would be more than 2 hours driving from Liberia to Arenal and back to the beach as stated by the above poster. Also if you fly into Liberia you can get hot springs, zioplines horses (No rainforest) in the Rincon de la Vieja area approx 1 hour from Liberia and then go to any iof the beaches I mentioned above. If you arrive to San Jose then you can combine the Arenal Volcano area (Aprox 3 hour drive) and the Manuel Antonio Rainforest and beach area, lots of wildlife in Manuel Antonio and beautiful beaches (Apprix 4 and a hlaf hour drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio and a 3 hour drive from M anuel Antonio to san Jose.

Cincinnati, Ohio
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5. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

Fly into sjo and drive to arenal...3 hours...beautiful and you will see what you want there. They have zip line..stay at tabacon...trust me worth every penney....then travel 3 hours to samara...four nights...you might try making your trip a leave Friday back on Sunday to give yourself a bit more time. Check out my blog.....costaricatravelguru.com

San Jose, Costa Rica
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6. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

Dear hgrl...

As others mentioned...nice to fly into SJO get a car...drive to Manuel Antonio NAtional Park area...easy drive about 3 hours...or fly only 30 minutes...many great place to stay...you can shop around the best way...

Then to Arenal Volcano area...about 4 hours...great road all the way but the last 12 kms...getting into Santa Elena...

You can take the road to Abangares and then to Pan Am Hwy...and drive to some great beaches in Guanacaste...or even visit Rincon del la Vieja Volcano...on of the most active volcanos in our country...and the fly out of LIR...

BUT...also you can do...SJO...Arenal...Manuel Antonio NAtional Park...then back to SJO...it is a very popular itinerary...

Be carefull with some sharks around looking for youur booking commisions...they can easily swim away with your money...

roadadvisor

nyc
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62 posts
13 reviews
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7. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

Thanks everyone! I guess it might be fly into san jose, then Arenal and Manuel antonio, just a few questions though! Since it is about a 3 hr drive one way, how is the safety of driving there? Is is dangerous or a fairly easy drive? I don't know how comfortable I am to drive in other places outside NY lol I've only driven in Florida and NY.

8. Re: First Timer, tips and advice please

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