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Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

Richmond, Virginia
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Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

Hey everyone! My boyfriend and I are planning a somewhat last minute trip to Costa Rica this January. We are in our 20's and interested in hiking, adventure, and nice beaches. We prefer to be a bit "off the beaten path" and not in overly touristy areas (i.e. high-rise hotels, etc.). We plan on being there a week to 10 days and will rent a car. My question is-- I've done quite a bit of research on the Caribbean site of Costa Rica (Cahuita, Punta Uva), and that appealed to me, but I've also read that it can be rainy in January in that area. I've also looked into the Uvita/Dominical area, and that seems great too. Do any of you experts out there have some good advice for me? Where would you recommend for a January trip?

Thanks in advance!:)

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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1. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

Weather aside (as nobody can really predict the actual weather situation) I would go to the Caribbean side. It has more off the beaten path feeling, is less expensive (accommodations and restaurants), and is more manageable without a car. Yes, by going to the Caribbean side you will not need to rent a car, and this could be a major saving (which you can invest in more personalized tours like hiring the private guide for Gandoca and going to Bri Bri villages.

Dominical, Costa...
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2. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

January is a great time to visit the Dominical and Uvita area. We have most everything activity-wise that Costa Rica has to offer except visiting active volcano's. We like the fact the five-star places have not invaded our area yet, in fact the largest public / hotel building in our area is 3 stories high (and the third story has been unfinished for years). I run mid-morning on the beach behind us and many times I do not see any footprints, even in January when we have many guests (couple be they were up later than me). With ten days you could check out the volcanos closer to San Jose on your way in or out of the country.

Big Lake, Minnesota
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3. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

Take a look at this map. Hover your mouse over the areas to get an idea of average monthly rainfall.

costa-rica-guide.com/Weather/WeatherMap.html

It looks like a little less rain falls on average in the Dominical area in January, but not by much. I've been to both areas, and no matter what you choose, you can't go wrong for what you are looking for.

Maybe look at lodging in both locations and see what appeals to you the most to help make your decision.

Cahuita, Costa Rica
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for Cahuita
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4. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

The Caribbean is certainly easy to explore without a car if you are looking to keep your budget low, although you will obviously have more freedom with your own vehicle. Uvita and Dominical are beautiful but living this side of the country I am biased towards it and do believe it fits more closely into the 'off the beaten track' category. Hiking through the Cahuita NP and Gandoca/Manzanillo reserve are fantastic with wildlife and beaches all around. Waterfall swims, indigenous village trips, chocolate tour, animal rescue center are popular tours and with 10 days, you could start in Tortuguero (no car access) and then work your way down for a really exciting adventure through crocodile filled canals.

Dominical, Costa...
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5. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

It is rare that we get any rain between December 15th and around the first part of April in the Dominical area and even our May to November "rainy" season is misleading as we wake up almost every day to blue slues that give way to clouds at 2 pm and nice tropical rains at 3 pm for 2 to 6 hours and it starts all over the next morning. Unless there is a hurricane sitting over the Caribbean drawing moisture from the Pacific, we hardly get a full day of rain. Two years ago in November we got 124 inches of rain due to a slow moving hurricane out in the Caribbean and it rained for 8 days but long time locals described it as a 25 to 30 year occurrence. Today is November 8 and it is a gorgeous sunny day so far and it was like this yesterday too (and the day before). Be sure to bring sunscreen no matter what time of year you come and what coast you decide to do. Being located 9 degrees above the equator, the sun can be harsh.

Grecia, Costa Rica
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for Province of Alajuela
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6. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

IMO if you are looking for more off the beaten path and beach Caribbean side is the way to go. Personally I prefer the Pacific side and there are certainly off the beaten path options, but in the Caribbean's case the entire coast is more or less uncrowded. Dominical is a great alternative.

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

I agree, start in Tortuguero and work your way south. Give yourself 3 nights in Tortuguero to get the best out of it. You can look at my previous post ( trip report ) for my recommendations on where to stay.

Have a great trip.

8. Re: Caribbean vs. Pacific Coast in January

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