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.

What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

new york, ny
Level Contributor
83 posts
Save Topic
What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Hi there,

I am considering a trip to Costa Rica in August. I would be flying into San Jose and doing a 2 week Spanish course in Santa Ana. After that, my boyfriend was hoping to join me for about 4 days. Anyone have any "must-do's?" We would prefer to spend the majority of the time outside of cities. Maybe one night at a very nice place and the others in fairly budget accomodations so we can spend our money on activities.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Would we have to rent a car?

Thanks in advance!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,282 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Unfortunately you can't do it all in 4 days, so what are your interests for those days? Rafting, hiking, Volcanos, beach... You could do a rafting trip combined with time in Arenal, head down to Manuel Antonio and enjoy the park and tourist activities in the area (rafting, zip lines, kayaking, mountainbiking, etc etc.)...

Will you be doing any side-trips while you are on your language course? My guess is that after two weeks in Santa Ana (beautiful area in the hills a few miles west of San Jose, btw) you'll have a pretty good idea from talking to people about where you might want to go off to. If you're willing to play it by ear without reservations, just tell your BF to show up. Mystery bus ride!

You can taxi/tourist shuttle/bus/fly depending upon where you want to go off to, but with only 4 days you might want a rental car to give you more flexibility.

Philadelphia, PA
Level Contributor
30 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Tabacon Springs was really nice. It is not your typical costa rican experience. It has a little more of a resort area feel to it. The Springs are beautiful and it is right at the base of Arenal Volcano. It is more of a relaxing experience than anything.

New Jersey
Level Contributor
24 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Tabacon is fun, but we stayed at another hotel that had hot springs which was just as nice and less touristy, I think Arenal Lodge??, You can spend the day in Tabacon for like $20, which was great! Arenal is a nice trip for four day because you can do a waterfall hike, zip line, and the volcano.

new york, ny
Level Contributor
83 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

So doing Arenal and Manuel Antonio in two days is not overambitious? We were planning on going to Arenal either Friday night or Saturday morning, spending Saturday and Sunday there, driving to MA early Monday morning, then back to San Jose Tuesday night for an early morning flight. Is transportation at night going to be a problem? Do we have to rent a car?

I'm think we'll definitely do day/weekend trips with school so we'll be somewhat flexible, but I'd like to have a general idea. I've heard it's not too hard to find hotels in August, is this true?

Thanks so much for the help!

quepos, costa rica
Level Contributor
438 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

I drive at night here but only because i have to. To say the least it is an adventure, really it is quite dangerous. I have come within inches of hitting two horses both during blinding rainstorms in the past year and countless pedestrians, bicycles and cars parked on the road with their lights off. I have seen driving that would shock and horrify you. If you feel like you have to drive at night then your rushing your vacation too much , you can do that at home.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,282 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

I think it's too ambitious to do both. I'd pick one or the other.

As fishingjohn and others have mentioned, driving long distances at night is a bad idea. You're also looking at 3-4+ hours for each leg if you drive, 10% more if you take a shared tourist shuttle and even longer by pubic bus. If you did try to squeeze it all in, a car or private taxi will give you the most flexibility to maximize your limited time.

Since your chances of having good views at Arenal are even worse than usual, I'd just head down to Manuel Antonio and enjoy the three days there. You'll really be able to play it by ear.

new york, ny
Level Contributor
83 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Thank you!

Since my boyfriend really wants to go to the beach, I think we'll try to stick to Manuel Antonio. I think after the intensity of my program, I'll want some relaxation too, and that seems like a good place because there is a mix of things to do.

I assume we can do a combination of hiking, beach, etc? I've seen mixed reviews on the weather so I guess we'll have to play it by ear according to that.

One more question - my program ends in Santa Ana on a Friday and my bf is flying in that day. Is there an easy way to get to Santa Ana, or should I plan on meeting him in San Jose? He hasn't really traveled much so I don't want to make him do anything overly confusing, he does not speak Spanish (nor do I).

Thanks!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
1,282 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

If your BF is picking up the rental car, he can drive out to you. If not and you are staying Friday night in Santa Ana, he can go to the transporation desk at the airport exit and get a taxi. You'll need to give him directions to pass along to the cab driver, usually in the form of "X meters north/east/south/west from X landmark". Quite easy. If you are staying elsewhere, you might as well meet him there.

new york, ny
Level Contributor
83 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Thanks for your helpful advice!

ottawa
Level Contributor
3 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: What to do - 4 days in Costa Rica?

Did you like the spanish course in Santa Anna? If so, would you tell me about it. Best regards.