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Itinerary Help!

Ft Lauderdale, FL
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Itinerary Help!

I am starting to seriously plan a 20 year wedding anniversary trip and I am seriously overwhelmed by Costa Rica. From what I have learned we need to stay in one spot for 3 nights at a span because driving around is a pain in the butt. We plan on renting a 4x4. That's about ALL I can tell you. Here's what I am looking at and I desperately need feedback. We can do this backwards too.

- Arrive LIR and go to Playas del Coco. Hubby loves to dive and even though I don't dive I want to give him a dive experience. Do they do horseback riding on the beach in this area? Love horses. Would love to do a horseback tour at some point. I am sure there is lots to do from this base point.

- Drive to Arenal or Monteverde? Friends stayed at Arenal Observatory Lodge and loved it. I know I will need to drive out for dinner because I think the food sucks. I love the look of the Hidden Canopy Treehouses in Monteverde. Hubby wanted to stay at a treehouse but the place he wanted to stay at was very far south, required a zip line in and you had to bring biodegradable TP. All of that sounded too granola for me. Then I found the Pacuare Lodge and fell in love until I read the reviews about weather, no electricity and $900 for 2 nights. So the Treehouses look cool, right?

- Poas Crater - Stay at Finca Rosa Blanca? Looks really nice. Do some day trips.

Am I missing monkeys and wildlife? I keep stumbling across Manuel Antonio but I am not a fan of going to all the super touristy areas since we are from South Florida and we get plenty of that at home.

I figure I can do the following from ANY of these bases:

Horseback riding

Check out Rio Celeste. No need to stay at Hideaway right?

Monkeys and wildlife

Zip Lining

Hot Springs and Thermal Spas

Scuba for hubby

Beaches are not required since we live in Florida but I do love a good coastline like PCH :)

White water rafting Class III or lower or Kayaking

I basically want to feel like we have arrived on another planet!

I would love to stay in treehouses or local unique hotels - No Four Seasons or Holiday Inns if we can help it

We like charming and off the beaten path. We like unique experiences. We drove around Ireland and loved it. Drove around Italy (between Venice, Florence and the Tuscan hill towns) and loved it. We stayed in a tiny walled city that no one had ever heard of. We ate amazing food. We like electricity. We like good local cuisine and chatting up the locals. The biolumiscent tours looked cool but didn't have the scuba angle.

Appreciate your help with my ADD planning!

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Itinerary Help!

It can be difficult to plan a visit to Costa Rica because there is SO MUCH to see and do - as you already know.

You have many many points and questions in your post - but I'll give it a try.

Flying into Liberia and spending a few days at Playas del Coco for diving is fine.

Then on to Arenal -- and Arenal Observatory Lodge is a great choice. A huge property with lots of wildlife and the closest hotel to the volcano. And their own trails - which are so good that people come for the trails even though they are staying at other hotels. The times I have been there, I didn't think the food "sucked." It depends on your taste, really. The breakfast is huge with a good variety of Costa Rican and "American" dishes. Sometimes people just have an early dinner somewhere in La Fortuna before returning to the hotel for the night. It will depend on how tired you are from all your day's activities!

Since you are flying into LIR, Liberia and unless you are flying out of SJO, I would not go any further south than the Arenal area. There's PLENTY to do and see in the northwest of Costa Rica, that's for sure, without going somewhere 4 hours or more from LIR airport. Think hard about just why you are going to Monteverde: is there a real reason to go there or is it because it is famous?

I put together a list of "things to do not far from Liberia" for someone else - it might help you:

1. Do the One Day Adventure Pass at Guachipelin. www.guachipelin.com

2. Visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park for hiking, volcano, waterfalls, hot springs, mud pots, etc.

3. Go horseback riding, fishing or boating

4. Visit Santa Rosa National Park and see the old farmstead known as "La Casona" - now a museum - it figures prominently in Costa Rican history. There are several nearby trails to choose from and one longish trail ends at a deserted beach.

5. Visit El Viejo Wetlands and take a boat tour through Palo Verde National Park http://www.elviejowetlands.com/

6. Take the boat to Witch's Rock for surfing or just visiting a beautiful beach.

7. Visit the town of Guatil where you can see authentic Chorotega pottery being made.

8. Head to the Tenorio National Park for the hike to the Rio Celeste.

9. Go to Llanos del Cortes waterfall. Huge waterfall with small swimming area. There are often monkeys in the trees overhead.

10. Visit Las Pumas Wildlife Rescue Center in Canas where you can see all sorts of animals, including big cats.

11. Arrange a sailing trip with the Sea Bird out of Playas del Coco. Snorkeling or just a quiet sunset cruise.

12. Take a whitewater rafting trip on the Tenorio River or a float trip on the Corobici River. www.rinconcorobici.com

13. Take a whitewater rafting trip on the Cucaracho River riostropicales.com/index.php/…cucaracho-river

14. Go to the MIravalles area and visit Las Hornillas. www.lashornillas.com

JENSEN BEACH
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2. Re: Itinerary Help!

Hattie has some great suggestions. Unlike the majority of Travelers we don't find Arenal a "must". It is a bit touristy for our liking, we also live in S Florida and have too much of that here. If you do stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge be sure to visit Ranch Margot right (ck out their website) down the road. Given the description of what You and Your Husband enjoy it may even be more to your liking as lodging. Off the grid with neat little individual bungalows. Self Sustaining as they produce their own fuel and grow a lot of the foods. Rustic feel but still very comfortable. On site very nice stables with lots of riding opportunities. Wood fired ovens and good food. Minutes up the road to Arenal Observatory Lodge (some people were walking it), close to a lovely river convergence. Neat place off the busy touristy main Rd in La Fortuna/Arenal. When we visited I was sorry we had not stayed there. Easy to run into La Fortuna for restaurants/stores if you want during daylight. Not sure I would want to drive up there after dark.

Edited: 04 March 2014, 12:36
Ft Lauderdale, FL
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3. Re: Itinerary Help!

Thanks for the reply!!

I was thinking of Monteverde because of the "treehouse" property. Since hubby really wants to go on African safari (and that is not in the cards) I wanted to give him a safari-like experience. He is not that excited about Arenal volcano but I think that will change once he gets there esp since there is so much to do around that area.

He is interested in Poas crater so that is why I mentioned Finca Blanca Rosa.

You are NOT kidding about there being SO MUCH to do. At one point I was even considering the Osa peninsula but it's soooo far and we couldn't dive out of that location.

We were planning in departing from San Jose so we wouldn't have to back track. Thanks again for attempting to sort out my scattered question.

JENSEN BEACH
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4. Re: Itinerary Help!

Diving not really "all that" in Costa Rica. We save it for other locales. Osa is awesome for wildlife. Maybe Rancho Margot (see my post above) could take the place of the "treehouse" with the cabin a step up and the on site stables at the foot of Arenal. Close to river/lake. We saw a LOT more wildlife around Dominical than we did up at Arenal and we were there a week. Dominical is a much less developed option for Manuel Antonio. From our villa we saw daily monkeys, macaws, coatis, toucans and more. Does Hubby like horseback? Far off the beaten path I loved Voclan Turrialba Lodge. Located at the base of Turrialba Volcano which is rumbling and steaming all day it is on a huge ranch. (about 3 hrs to SJO) Private riding avail thru pastures, forest to the lava flow! $35 pp...there is horseback riding offered all over but I enjoy the individual riding as opposed to nose to tail trail rides. Near Volcan Turrialba is a rainforest adventure place, didn't go. An hour from San Jose Las Alturas de Puriscal is a great place to stay and ride. If you look at Dominical area for Pacific Coast, Rancho Tranquilo is in a great place and offers good rides. We also enjoyed Diamante Verde private ATV tour in the jungle with waterfalls, endless views and a fun guide Karl! Being from FL we had to ck out the Tilapia farm where you catch your fish and they prepare it over an open wood fire, after that great meal walk across the dirt road to a great waterfall and take a dip in nature's pool....about 1/2 hour from Dominical......Planning for CR can seem overwhelming. Thank goodness for the internet!!

JENSEN BEACH
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10,946 posts
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5. Re: Itinerary Help!

Forgot to ask. What time of year are you planning on traveling?? That can have a big impact on which Coast is best to visit weather wise! Wildlife viewing (especially the howler monkeys) on the Caribbean Coast around Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva, Manzanillo is very good and when it is rainy season in most of CR it is their dry season..........sorry to add further options/confusion but time of year can change things up a bit.

Montreal, Canada
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6. Re: Itinerary Help!

For treehouses near Arenal check out Tree Houses Hotel Costa Rica!

treehouseshotelcostarica.com

Ft Lauderdale, FL
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7. Re: Itinerary Help!

We are planning on going mid-June. Our anniversary is June 11th so it would be great to be there on our actual anniversary. I am planning on 8-10 days. Getting closer to a plan thanks to all of you!

8. Re: Itinerary Help!

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