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Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

Jamestown, ND
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Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

Coming to Costa Rica for the first time. Will be there Jan 27th - Feb. 7th.

Will be 3 adults, and 2 boys 6 & 8. Have been to Mexico every year with the same people. Thought we would try something different.

We are adventurous, and are kind of planning a seat of your pants vacation. Arrive in the evening into San Jose. Plan to book a hotel so we have a shuttle. After that we haven't booked any hotels for the rest of the trip (are we crazy?). I just don't want to book hotels in an area we aren't excited about after we arrive there.

We have pre-rented a car from an agency with good reviews.

Plan to wake up morning of 28th and head up to Arenal. Depending on weather we find it to our liking might spend a day or two there.

Then onto Tamirindo. We think we will probably like that the best (but don't know for sure). Will probably spend around 4-5 days there. Tour, fish, and check out the area.

Then onto Manuel Antonio for the remainder of the vacation, heading back to San Jose the night before we depart.

What are you thoughts? That is 10 days of free travel time to spread among our choices.

When traveling to Mexico I have rented a car and driven there. Can't imagine things will be much worse than in Mexico.

The big question is lodging. Are we crazy to not book a place until we arrive? We plan on staying in middle of the road places ($75- $150 a night).

We like to experience the local lifestyle. You know check out the local restaurants, shopping, and culture.

Any recommendations / ideas?

Cahuita, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

If you were simply a couple traveling, I'd say go for it, but January is still high season here and you may find hotels are busy. I would feel a sense of dread about having tired, hungry children in the back of a car while you drive from place to place trying to find space for you all. Perhaps you could ring from one destination to book the accommodation in the next to avoid unnecessary stress. Arenal is a good place for activities and kids - waterfalls, volcano, springs etc, Manuel Antonio is pretty busy all year round but the park and beaches are good for kids - safe swimming inside the park and lots of wildlife to see without lots of walking. Tamarindo is also very touristy. If you are flexible and want to see the country, maybe consider Samara or Nosara or other beach locations that are more off the beaten track. Have a wonderful time!

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

I share Sara's concerns about winging it with 2 young kids in high season. Yes there will be places to stay but you will be paying rack rates and might have to stop 3-4-5 places before you find something available at your budget. I think I would definitely book 2 nites in Arenal in advance since you know you want to go there and stay an extra nite if you enjoy and they have a room available for the 3rd nite. Try and make a list in advance of 5-6 hotels that might work for you in each destination.

This itinerary will work but includes 2 long drives. Not sure why you are headed to Tamarindo but for deep sea fishing I would wait til you're at Manuel Antonio and book a fishing charter out of Quepos.

If it were me and I wanted a beachfront hotel with young children I'd head for Samara over Tamarindo any day. Tamarindo is a surfer's town. Samara has much better and safer beaches for the younger generation. Just my 2 cents.

Edited: 02 January 2013, 02:57
Slovenia
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3. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

With a rental car and a wish for adventures I would head towards Caribbean side: Sarapiqui, Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo. But if Pacific side then my vote also goes to Samara, a lovely small Tico town with decent restaurants and surfing and a great beach 15 min away, Playa Carillo.

London, England...
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4. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

Strongly recommend you heed the advice of Sara and crfan. There's a taste for adventure and there's setting yourself up for a nightmare going in high season and expecting to just rock up at hotels and book rooms with kids in tow having driven 4 hours.

Accommodation plans aside I think your itinerary is fine. We (3 guys) did 2 nights in Arenal, 2 in Monteverde, 3 in Tamarindo and 2 in Manuel Antonio back in November and it worked great. Didn't feel like we spent too much time in the car and liked all the places we visited.

Oh, and you mentioned Tamarindo, so please be ready to ignore solohobo when he logs on and starts talking about 'Tamagringo'. Reality is very different to solo's axe-to-grind view.

guanacaste
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5. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

10 days in CR , fly in /out Liberia . Do some beach in Guanacaste, tamarindo is fun and has many things to do then do a Monteverde Arenal round for adventure and sight seeing. You can even add Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (which is active) that is close to the airport.

Jamestown, ND
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6. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

Keep the advice coming. I will likely be taking a lot of the advice and putting it to use. Already looking at Samara. And will probably book rooms ahead of time for all the destinations.

But keep the ideas coming. We are excited.

7. Re: Is this feasible itinerary / plan?

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