We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Itinerary too busy?

San Diego, CA
Level Contributor
9 posts
14 reviews
Save Topic
Itinerary too busy?

30-ish year old couple traveling with 50-ish year old couple (parents-in-law) for 1 week. Looking for hiking, a little relaxing, nature, etc. Planning to rent a car and initial itinerary thoughts included:

SJO (arrive, spend night)

--> Arenal x 2 nights

--> Monteverde x 1 night

--> Manuel Antonio x 2 nights

--> Jaco x 1 night

--> Return to SJO to fly out

Question to the group: is this too much moving around? Are we better off spending 3 in Arenal and 3 in Manuel Antonio and doing trips from there? Any advice appreciated. Thank you!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
46,644 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Itinerary too busy?

Good questions...really if you guys like to move around...go for it...the roads are in good shape...your rides are about 4 hours the longest one...Monteverde to Manuel Antonio...

I may delete Monteverde and keep the other destinations...maybe a extra night around Manuel Antonio if you like beach and some nice easy hikes...a lot of wild life around!

ROADADISOR

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
633 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Itinerary too busy?

I would not spend time in Monteverde, unless you have 2 nights. It takes 4 hours to get there. Why in the world do you want to go to Jaco (Jacohell) a tourist ghetto, sex tourism destination, and a filthy area of bachelor party style bars? Why does above poster not mention this? He is in the business related to tourism, and paints a picture of pure paradise. But, most people avoid Jaco.

With one week, you have time for 3 places, period.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
46,644 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Itinerary too busy?

I did not mention Jaco...because I beleive that Manuel Antonio is in this case a lot better place than Jaco...

Of course you may not be correct in many things but you are correct ..I m a very happy...driver and guide ...and of course I have had been providing travel advice to thousands of people in my more than 45 years...as a driver...tour guide...travel agent ...tour operator and even as internationsl flgth attendant flying thousands of great people..

Roadadvisor

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
15,505 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Itinerary too busy?

At the end, your Plan A itinerary is too busy. Instead do Plan B itinerary and whatever day trips you will need to do from each location (but don't ask about going to Monteverde as a day trip).

Playa Conchal...
Level Contributor
2,046 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Itinerary too busy?

Definitely Plan B-for some relaxation and cutting out a lot of driving time, at 2 beautiful locations. Have a great trip!

London, England...
Level Contributor
2,558 posts
116 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Itinerary too busy?

I'd drop Jaco for an extra night in Manuel Antonio. Very little good to say about the place whereas MA is lovely and will scratch your beach itch if thats why you'd planned Jaco.

San Diego, CA
Level Contributor
9 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Itinerary too busy?

Thanks for all the advice! With these comments, and a little re-organization, we're now planning to do the following instead, and of course have a few more questions for the community:

SJO arrive at 3pm, rent car --> drive to Manuel Antonio (Q: what time can we expect to arrive? Is this too optimistic?)

--> 3 nights in Manuel Antonio

--> 1 night *somewhere* between MA and Arenal (Going all the way to Arenal seems like a long drive for one day so we thought we would break it up.... where would you all recommend for an "off the beaten path" or "must see" location?)

--> 2 nights Arenal

--> SJO the night before we leave

--> catch our 10am flight out

What do you guys think? Better? Any other suggestions to improve upon this plan?

Edited: 26 December 2012, 05:45
Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
15,505 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Itinerary too busy?

Better. You will need to drive after the sunset to Manuel Antonio, but based on latest reports from fellow travelers the new Caldera highway makes it much safer and faster. And you do not need to stay a night between MA and Arenal, just cut the travel cca. 6 hrs in two parts stopping for a lunch and some sightseeing somewhere in half way,

London, England...
Level Contributor
2,558 posts
116 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Itinerary too busy?

The drive from SJO to Manuel Antonio is a doddle. Takes about 2.5 hrs, all good quality paved roads (w/a few tolls) with quite a lot of 2 lane highways making life easier.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
9,510 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Itinerary too busy?

Better but I agree with xelas - you're better off driving straight thru to Arenal. If you arrive at 3 PM and have checked luggage you can expect it will take 1.5-2 hours from arrival at the gate until you actually drive off in the car.

Be sure and carefully check out the car for any dents or missing equipment (like a tire iron - big headache the time that was missing) before you drive off. Finding Hwy 27, the Caldera Hwy, can be a little tricky so get clear directions from your rental company before you head out. The rest of the drive is pretty easy. The sun sets around 5:30 and it will be dark by 6:15.

For the long driving day (roughly 5 hours+stops) I'd just start as early as possible. If you start out at 7 AM, you can be in Arenal with a lunch break by 1 PM. Spend 3 nights (2 full days) in Arenal.

The next question is what activities do you have planned for your time in Arenal and Manuel Antonio?