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Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

Seattle, Washington
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Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

Hello! I am hoping for some help with my itinerary. I tend to push vacations to the limit and want to be sure I don't create an itinerary that creates frustration from too much running.

First, we are a group of 2 couples, mid-30s, in decent shape and looking to experience the adventure and culture that CR has to offer.

So, here's what I've got so far:

Day 1 ~ Arrive SJO (although, I am considering changing to LIB after research on this forum and discussions with friends who have been to CR before.) Rent 4x4. Drive to Arenal Springs Resort. (Thanks to this forum, I am aware that I need to watch my arrival time to allow us enough time to get anywhere we are going well before dark.)

Day 2 ~ 7:30am - 4:00pm Waterfall Rapelling and Rafting Tour followed by 5:00 - 9:00pm Eco Termales Hot Springs

Day 3 ~ Drive to Trapp Family Lodge in Monteverde

Day 4 ~ 8:00 - 10:30am Café Monteverde Coffee Tour followed by 1:00 - 5:00pm Selvatura Canopy Tour and Suspension Bridges

Day 5 ~ Drive to Hotel Costa Verda in Manuel Antonio.

Day 6 ~ 9:00am - 2:00pm Catamaran Tour with the rest of the trip at leisure in MA before driving back to the airport a couple of days later.

Will this be too much? Am I missing a must-do thing? Assuming this is the only trip we ever make to CR, what, if anything, should we change?

A friend suggested dropping MA and doing another beach town (we want to end the trip at the beach) up north so we aren't driving too much... what do you experts think? Another said Monteverde wasn't spectacular, but I think the idea of a cloud forest is pretty intriguing...

Thanks for the help!! :)

Punta Uva, Costa...
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for Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
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1. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

If you are there for nine days, I think three locations is fine, but if you want to spend more time at beach, i would drop Moneverde and add a day to Arenal. I think SJO is fine, no need to use Liberia which is usually more money anyways.

Edited: 23 July 2013, 23:55
Chicago, Illinois
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for Costa Rica
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2. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

First of all with this itinerary it makes much more sense to fly into San Jose rather than Liberia to reduce driving time. If you switched Manuel Antonio with Playa Conchal or Brasilito or another nrothern pacific beach than Liberia makes more sense.

Second, it makes no sense to drive all the way to Arenal to spend 1 day there when it is the adventure capital of Costa Rica and it sounds like you are looking for adventure. On a short vacation I'd suggest you drop Monteverde and check out the ziplines and hanging bridges at SkyTrek in Arenal. Also whitewater rafting, waterfall hikes, volcano hikes and more. Coffee tours are available in the Central Valley and you could check out Doka Coffee Estate on the day you drive from Manuel Antonio back toward SJO.

Last don't miss a guided hike in the national park at Manuel Antonio. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at the perfect little beach cove inside the park.

Whether it makes more sense to visit Manuel Antonio or a northern Pacific beach depends on what time of year you are traveling. In September-November I'd head for the northern beaches as that's the height of rainy season. In March-April I's definitely head for Manuel Antonio as the northern beach areas look dried out toward the end of dry season.

Grecia, Costa Rica
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for Province of Alajuela
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3. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

Crfan hit the nail on the head, she always does... I agree with what she wrote 100%, Cubanon too. Have a blast on vaca and write about it when you get back.

Cheers

Seattle, Washington
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75 posts
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4. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

Thanks for the input, I appreciate it. I should have mentioned we are going sometime mid-January to end of February. Dates aren't set yet, but we always like to get out of the PacNW along those times!!

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

I'm wondering, if we change our plans to only do 2 stops (we are planning on 7 nights in CR) should we forgo the rental and hire a car and driver to get from place to place?

Atlanta, GA
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6. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

If you're heading to Guanacaste, I'd keep the car, as the hotels are pretty spread out and not close to tours and attractions, restaurants, etc, and cab fares in the area are super expensive by comparison to other areas of the country. If you stay in Manuel Antonio, there's plenty within walking distance of hotels, as well as inexpensive public bus service. I've personally never paid more than $5 for a cab to get anywhere between the Manuel Antonio area and Quepos. Cabs are a little higher in La Fortuna, but the hotels are more spread out...maybe $10-$15 one way from Arenal Springs to most anywhere in the area. If you go the transfer route, look at Interbus/Grayline for shared transfers which will save you some $$, and I'd consider the Nature Air flight from Arenal to Quepos to save 4 hrs worth of transfer time. If you go the rental route, you don't need a 4x4 and can just get a compact SUV which would be less expensive (which if you're going to Monteverde, you'll want due to the road clearance, but a 4x4 isn't a necessity up there anymore). if you cut Monteverde, you don't need anything but a basic car. As Crfan mentioned, you can break up the drive between Arenal and Manuel Antonio and see cloud forest in the Central valley on the way. You mentioned wanting to do rafting as well...if you go the transfer route, both Desafio and Wave Expeditions offer rafting + connecting transfer service on the way out to beach areas.

Costa Rica
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7. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

The description by gringagirlATL is not strictly true. Staying somewhere in Guanacaste, you can stay at a hotel in a town where you don't need a car or taxis (Samara, Flamingo, Tamarindo, Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa for instance) or you can stay at a remote location where you would need both to get around. It really depends on what you are looking for.

Atlanta, GA
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8. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

I should have clarified HattieCostaRica and been a little less general...yes you can stay in towns, but not all of the hotels are located in the towns. They may be just outside or if you go all inclusive, most of those are more isolated. If you want to go from town to town, you'll pay...I don;t know for sure, because its been a while since I didn't rent a car down there but a cab from playas del coco to tamarindo with posted rates from the Ocotal hotel was like $40-$50 one way. In some instances, tour prices are higher because of the distances from the beaches to the tour locations (specifically, things like rafting and tubing/river floating, Rincon de la Vieja and the adventure day tours like Buena Vista, Guachipelin, Rio Perdito, etc) than similar tours in Manuel Antonio. But as you say, its relative to what you want to do and see.

Costa Rica
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9. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

Kind of equivalent to going from Quepos to Jaco?

Unless you are staying at an isolated AI, I don't know why you would need to do a day trip to another town. Wherever you are in Guanacaste, there are things to do locally as well as day trips to National Parks or boat trips, etc. There are organized tours that you pay for, just like in the Manuel Antonio area.

Plus - if budget is an issue, there are frequent buses between all the towns.

10. Re: Itinerary help... am I trying to do too much?

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