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Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

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Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions


Planning a vacation for June-July 2014 to Costa Rica. Young couple in late 20s.

Choosing Costa Rica because we both enjoy tropical climates, nature, the beach and outdoor activities. We like to have a good time, but are not looking for anything wild or spring break-ish by any means.

Not very familiar with the area at all, but want to explore somewhere new. We've been to other Caribbean locations but believe this will be much different.

From our research we are leaning towards spending half our time staying In Arenal and half our time at a beach location. Arenal looks like there is plenty to do especially the volcano. But I am curious what the area surrounding hotels is like.. (Safe, walkable, restaurants, local shopping)

As for the beach part we were recommended to stay at Riu but any other suggestions? May want to do some surf lessons but mainly relax with some frozen drinks on the beach the last few days.

Any stops we hAve to definitely do? Any restaurants we should plan on hitting for local food?

Any help is appreciated!!


Thank you!

Brooklyn, New York
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for Sarapiqui
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1. Re: Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

For Arenal, virtually all of the best lodging choices are NOT walking distance to anything. the town of La Fortuna itself is maybe the most touristy place in all of Costa Rica--you can find that atmosphere at the Jersey shore.

Many, many better options than the Riu. Note that swimming beaches are not good surfing beaches, and vice versa. We liked Montezuma, which had decent beaches for wading as well as for surfing.

Costa Rica
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2. Re: Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

I usually agree with Racandee - but this time, I don't.

Parts of the town of La Fortuna are touristy with souvenir shops and tour agencies, etc, but that's a small portion of the town -- and the whole area, which is beautiful.

This might help: www.arenal.net Be sure to look at the "Maps" portion which will give you some ideas about where the hotels and excursions are in relation to the volcano and the center of town.

However, I do agree that the best lodging choices are not really in the town of La Fortuna - unless you are looking for a hostel or other small and inexpensive hotel.

Do keep in mind that the volcano is not currently producing any lava - but you can often see "belches" of steam and/or smoke. You can hike over the old lava fields.

For beach area - please do NOT book the RIU. It has a horrible reputation in Costa Rica and is not even the best choice for either a beach area or an AI. Really, AI is not the way to go in Costa Rica. There is a good tourist infrastructure all over the country so no need to isolate yourself in a "gringo ghetto."

For some great beach information: anywherecostarica.com/destinations/…beach

A good rule of thumb -- two locations for a one week visit. Look here for distances and travel times: www.yourtravelmap.com

Where you go will be somewhat determined by which airport you fly into: SJO San Jose or LIR Liberia -- they are 4.5 hours apart. LIR will put you the closest to beaches -- Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa are only about 30 minutes from the airport. And the Arenal area is about the same distance from either airport.

Edited: 28 January 2014, 19:57
Manuel Antonio...
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3. Re: Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

Hello! I really enjoy going to the Arenal area. It is very low-key and beautiful scenery to relax in. I especially enjoy riding horses there as the tour gives you a good view of the volcano and explains some of the history of the volcano. I have booked with Hotel Montanas de Fuego and Los Lagos and enjoyed both. In my experience, I have stayed near the volcano and found that there is not that much within walking distance. I usually stay at Hotel Los Lagos for that reason because the food is good and not that expensive and there is a lot to do onsite with hot springs, various pools, and a butterfly/reptile farm. Having a car or using taxis to go to other restaurants or sites seems necessary for me.

As for your time at the beach, I highly recommend that you consider visiting to Manuel Antonio. It is absolutely beautiful, there are a ton of activities in the area, the beach is amazing, and there is a very nice eclectic mix of restaurants and nightlife options. I always bring my visitors to Manuel Antonio and it is a favorite not to be missed.

Hope this helps! Enjoy!

London, England...
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4. Re: Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

Unless I've missed it, can you confirm how long you've got and which airport(s) you're planning on flying into and out of?

Arenal is a great CR intro, lovely place with lots to do. Good idea to then go for something different to pair it up with. For beaches I'd either suggest Tamarindo (for party/fun) or Manuel Antonio (for rainforests, albeit a bit touristy).

Chuck some more info at us and I'm sure people will provide further advice.

Buenos Aires...
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5. Re: Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

In Limon Province very close to the Sloth Sanctuary (by the way a visit to be recommended) there is roadside diner called "Anteojitos" or "Antojitos" (not sure - not to be confused with an Los Antojitos Mexican restaurant in the San Jose metropolitan area). This place in Limon looks totally nondescript and is surprisingly good, fast and cheap. One or two friendly and attractive waitresses don't hurt either.

6. Re: Costa Rica Vacation Itinerary Suggestions

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