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Drive in one day?

San Diego...
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Drive in one day?

We are going to be staying at Vista del Valle about 30 minutes from SJO and will be driving to the Papagayo area. We would like to drive. Is this feasible if we leave the hotel by around 8am and do not want to do much driving after dark. We would be doing this in July where it gets dark around 6pm.

Nowhere
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1. Re: Drive in one day?

For starters, it essentially gets dark at around the same time, regardless of the time of year.

Second, the drive takes about four to five hours, depending on where you are going specifically. In other words, you'll arrive LONG before nightfall.

San Diego...
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2. Re: Drive in one day?

Do you think its doable to get into Papagayo before dark if we go up through Arenal and do the Hanging Bridges hike along the way? Thanks

Costa Rica
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3. Re: Drive in one day?

It's about 3 hours from Vista Valle to La Fortuna. It's about 3.5 hours from La Fortuna to the Papagayo area, depending on where you are staying. So a very long day with a very early start in order to get to Papagayo before dark.

It's not something I would want to do in one day. If you are interested in doing some of the activities in the Arenal area, then plan on spending a couple of nights there. Otherwise, you can do the hanging bridges at Heliconias Lodge in Bijagua (only four, though.....) as a day trip from Papagayo - it's about 2 hours.

Edited: 11 May 2014, 13:29
Nowhere
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4. Re: Drive in one day?

You should NOT go this way. While it is certainly possible to accomplish the entire drive in one day, you'll:

1.) find yourselves annoyed and frustrated at the slow pace you will invariably encounter.

2.) find yourselves under a lot of pressure while always wondering if you still have enough time or if you'll end up having to drive in the dark.

3.) be so distracted by this pressure that you won't be able to enjoy the Hanging Bridges.

4.) miss out on all the other activities and sights that the Arenal area has to offer.

5.) probably end up taking risks on the road you would't otherwise take, all just to "make it" before it gets dark.

If Arenal is on your radar, you should make this a dedicated side trip - not a day trip, mind you, but on overnight trip (or better yet, two nights).

Costa Rica
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5. Re: Drive in one day?

Framptonian, I can almost see the driver with white knuckles and big frown and the passenger, looking a little pale and tight-lipped with head turned out the window. Not a good vacation day!

San Diego...
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6. Re: Drive in one day?

Thank you. I am struggling with this vacation planning because we are only going to have 7 nights in late July/early August and 2 of those will have to be SJO airport hotels due to flight times. This leaves 5 nights to have both jungle and beach time. I would have liked to go to MA rather than the north pacific coast but am afraid MA would be too rainy. We are open to flying some rather than driving but there are few flights in/out of Arenal. Any suggestions?

Costa Rica
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7. Re: Drive in one day?

If possible, change your flight so you fly into LIR which is only 30 minutes or so from the Papagayo area. You don't have to spend two nights near the airport - you are already there! Then you can either do your volcano activities at Rincon de la Vieja (about 45 minutes to an hour) or head for Arenal for an overnight or two.

Otherwise, check Sansa and Nature Air for flights from SJO to LIR. That, of course, would depend on what time your flight lands.

San Diego...
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8. Re: Drive in one day?

I love your creative thinking! Our flights are already booked to/from SJO. However, we get in at 7:20pm. There are no more Sansa or Nature Air flights after that. Is there any other way to get from SJO to Arenal or the North Pacific coast at that time of night? We would love to wake up in a destination and, as you said, not waste time in airport hotels.

Costa Rica
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9. Re: Drive in one day?

Hire a private driver. He will meet you at the airport with a sign with your name on it and whisk you to Papagayo, no worries. Have a snack or nap and just enjoy the ride - and the conversation. Wake up in your destination.

Some to look at include: www.tucanlimoservices.com -- gets rave reviews here on the forum -- www.ecotranscostarica.com and Morpho Vans who have been getting a lot of positive feedback lately. There's also this: www.anywherecostarica.com/transportation

JENSEN BEACH
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10. Re: Drive in one day?

Hattie's suggestion is a very good one. First, realize You WON'T be able to see everything and do everything you want in Costa Rica in one week. Relax and enjoy the destination! Once iin Papagayo try and have a rental vehicle delivered to your lodging. Rincon de la Vieja can deliver some of the adventure activities you are looking for. For your last night think "outside of the box" hotel wise. Stay up near Poas Volcano, In a literal animal rescue ranch at Toucan Rescue Ranch, a B&B offering horseback riding, or something else that takes your fancy. SO many great places to stay within an hour of SJO. Don't look at it as "wasting" a night near the airport. It can be as much fun as the other nights! What do you guys enjoy? Ask for suggestions. Also what time does your flight leave coming home? You def want to be at the airport a min of 2 hours before your flight so it helps determine options for your night before.

Edited: 11 May 2014, 18:46