My boyfriend and I (both native San Diegans) just purchased out flights to Costa Rica this June! I purchased a Costa Rica book and have been doing some research, but this was a spur of the moment trip and I have not had too much time to figure out what places are the best to visit! Everything sounds amazing and it seems like I need a month or two to experience all that the country has to offer! If I could get input, that would be much appreciated. We both love adventure and travel, and are thinking that we want to spend most of the trip doing adventurous activities, with a few relaxing days mixed in.
Here are the details:
We arrive on Sunday, June 1st at 6:00am, and leave to return back to LAX early on Saturday, June 15th (we have 14 full days). We are both planning on saving $1000 each for all expenses EXCEPT flights (including hotels, transportation, food, activities, etc). We have no plans for hotels yet, other than to stay in San Jose the last night of our trip to make it to the airport. My family does have a time share in Costa Rica that we are planning on staying 4-6 nights at, and will not have to pay any expenses out of pocket for hotels those nights. We don't mind staying in hostels, and are not planning on staying in expensive 4/5 stars resorts (other than the timeshare). We both just graduated from college and do not have tons of money to spend, however we are also not on a shoestring budget.
Here are my questions:
1. Since we arrive at 6:00am after a red eye flight, what should we do for the first day? I know we will be tired, but should we plan on doing some touring in San Jose until early afternoon, then head to another city to stay the night? Or should we stay that night in San Jose and leave for elsewhere early the next day? I believe Arenal will be our first stop after San Jose.
2. How many days should we plan to stay in Arenal area? and Monteverde cloud forest? I have read that there is lots to do, and I know we for sure want to do ziplining and white water rafting at some point--is this the best place to go?
3. Where is the best location to book a time share for 4-6 nights? We want somewhere near the beaches of course, but close enough that we can take a few day trips for hiking/sightseeing/biking/etc.
4. What cities are a must see, and for how long would you recommend staying there?
5. Where are the best spots for ziplining, white water rafting, hiking, and mountain biking?
6. Does our budget sound over/under budgeted to you? Keep in mind that we have 15 nights, and about 5 of them will be paid for with time share points (no out of pocket expenses).
7. Is a day trip, or one night trip to Nicaragua worth squeezing in?
Sorry this is so general! This is my first trip I have planned and feel a little lost. The only other time I have planned a trip was a two week trip throughout Thailand, however I had already been living in Chiang Mai (for study abroad) for 3 months and had lots of help in the planning, as well as advice from locals. Thank you SO much for any input!