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Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

United States
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Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Hello,

We are a family of 3 (couple+8 year old girl) visiting CR for first time. Our trip is from Dec 21st (landing 6:30am in SJO) to Dec 30 (6am flight).

Below is potential iteniary:

21st through 24th am in Arenal/Fontana area

24th and 25th in Monteverde

26th, 27, 28, 29 the in Manuel Antonio or Samara or Tamarindo

29th night stay in SJO

I wanted to checkin with your experts and see if

1. Is 2 nights too less in Monteverde?

2. Goal in Arenal is to relax and see nature, take hikes, and not do too many things (like ziplinging, rafting). we can do those things if time permits. I havent looked at hotels yet but would really appreciate if you can suggest some that allow for easy access to trails. Do you recommeded any tour guides?

3. We would love to end the trip with visit beach and relax for few days but would prefer something less crowded but closer to nature. Open to Samara, Tamarindo. Your thoughts are appreciated.

4. I hear that Monteverde is best for cloud forest..can we do that in Arenal as well?

5. Given this is our first time, I am unsure if I shoud rent a car or shuttle. One option I am thinking is that we take shuttle to Arenal, rent is arenal/fontana area only. What are thoughts from this group.

6. Our flight from SJO is @ 7:40am on 30th, good hotel close by? Typically does the hotel provide shuttle or do we need to get a cab @ 5am.

-Thanks much in Advance

CantwaitforCRTrip

San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Hello Smita K

1. It is the right time, monteverde is just for a one day experience.

2. Recently i went to Los Lagos Hotel Spa & Resort, have and amazing hot springs, butterfly watching, volcano watching area and is specially to come with family. Theres some ATV tours, Volcano walking.

3. Well, this one is kinda hard question. Theres so much beautiful beaches to see. Manuel Antonio is an amazing beach, lot of activities and a National Park next to the beach.

4. ¡Yeap! Arenal as well.

5. Pick up the best choice thinking about the budget and the driving hours.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Great itinerary...SJO...ARENAL...MONTEVERDE...MANUEL ANTONIO...SJO...you can rent a car...shared shuttles...private services as much as 535 usd for all the transfers for your whole family...

Try to deal with owner operators...avoid big web sites...they are just middle people...they hire cheal services and sell them expensive....always ask for a brak down...complete break down...no break down find somebody else....also find out if during transfers drivers at least can sain Good Morning...some compa nies will offer cheap rides...but 0 Ingles...

Hurry up with hotel reservations...

roadadvisor

Boston...
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3. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

You need to keep in mind the drive times between all the places you've listed.

SJO to Arenal is about 3 hours north and SJO to MA is about 2 hours south.

I did MA and Arenal in one trip, drove north to Arenal first then 5 hours south mid week to MA for second half. On another trip I flew into Liberia and did Tamarindo area and a day trip Monteverde which was 3 hours away.

Lots to do in Aernal and I would recommend Jacamar Tours and in MA I would recommend Iguana.

There are hanging bridges in Aernal as well as Montecerde. Monteverdes are higher and cool if the clouds roll in. I've been twice once with clouds once without. If you can't manage all areas on your trip do to time I would recommend Aernal over Monteverde. If you like to swim in the ocean I would do Tamarindo over MA, but MA has more options for tours. We were in Tamarindo last Xmas and did a turtle tour in Playa Grande it was amazing we saw a leatherback and green sea turtle nesting. In the 3x I've been to CR I never rent a car I find with the mandatory insurance private transfers end up cheaper. I've use Easy Transfer Costa Rica and others that my hotels have arranged.

Playa Conchal...
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4. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Heres a nice hotel for your final night close to the airport in Alajuela, also providing a free airport shuttle:

http://www.hotelrobledal.com/index.php/en/

Costa Rica
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5. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Re: LCameron's statement about not renting a car...... which is better will kind of depend on where you are going, your budget and how many in your group or family. With 3 or 4 adults, private transportation becomes about as economical as the shared van shuttle. But you need to consider this: They only provide your transfers from place to place and once you are there, you still have to pay to get around. In some locations, this really isn't much of an issue, but in others, it will add significantly to your costs. Plus, if you use private transportation, you will have to use organized tours that will include transportation. If you would like to do some things on your own or go on excursions where you don't have to go with an organized tour, then renting a car becomes just as economical. You can rent a small SUV for a week for around $300 and for transfers from SJO to Arenal and Arenal to Monteverde and Monteverde to SJO, you would pay something like $400 and you still have to pay for transportation around the local area.

Charlotte, North...
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6. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Can anyone advise how easy or difficult the drive from SJO to Arenal to MA back to SJO is? My concern would be steep or treachorous or unmarked roads or confusing directions? We would like to rent an SUV but are concerned about safety. Thanks

Costa Rica
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7. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

No steep and treacherous roads or unmarked roads or confusing directions.

From SJO to Arenal, part of the way will be through a mountainous area, but nothing scary. Just curvy and a bit up and down. No problem, really - just slow down and enjoy.

For distances, travel times and directions: www.yourtravelmap.com

Charlotte, North...
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8. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Thank you! I have also heard that rental car break ins are common? Can anyone advise? Just trying to weigh the options of driving or doing private transfers.

Costa Rica
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9. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Rental car break-ins are not frequent - unless you leave a bunch of stuff in your car that is just too tempting. What has happened is at very popular tourist restaurants - mostly along Rt 1 - and popular spots where tourists top -- Tarcoles Bridge is one -- then thieves target cars at these places. If you read a lot here on the forum, you will see written over and over: Don't leave anything in your car unless you can lock it away in a trunk.

There are also many many places that thieves DON'T target so no worries there. In general, the more "touristy" a place - the more it is targeted. As a general rule, put all your valuables in a day pack and keep that with you all the time.

Many restaurants and supermarkets have a security guard so this helps also.

United States
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10. Re: Family visiting Costa Rica for 9 days

Thank you all for responses. Based on the comments, these are our thoughts on iteniary

Land in SJO, private shuttle to Arenal.

3 days in Arenal (will rent a home/private room in La Fortuna/ElCastillo area), Rent a car.

2 days in Monteverde, No car, use tours/etc, transfer jeep/boat/jeep

3 days in Manuel Antonio (no car, use local buses), transfer using shuttle

Stay in SJO for last day/night, use the hotel mentioned in this post for last night.

We will most likely stay in rented rooms/homes with kitchen during our stay.

Questions:

Does above iteniary look ok. too less in MonteVerde or too less in Arenal?

We are using part rental and part cab/bus. My current car rental pricing is ~ 900$ with all taxes. I am assuming the price of not renting will be $ equivalent

Even though we are 3 nights in Arenal, we will technically be there by 21/2 days. We would like to spend time hiking, volcano, soaking it in. We dont intend to zipline/etc.I am conflicted between MonteVerde and Arenal and am wondering if we should not do MonteVerde at all.

Any good recommendations for homes in arenal and Manuel Antonio?

Thanks

Smita