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1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

Milwaukee, WI
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1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

We are planning a 9 day trip to CR and so far know we are doing the Pacuare Lodge/River rafting for 2nights/3 days and also want to do at least 3 days in Arenal to do ziplines, canyoning, cave tours, and possibly Rio Celeste.

Our travel agent suggests we finish with Manuel Antonio for which I've read mixed reviews. My fiance doesn't have much beach experience but I'm from CA (lived in San Diego for 4 years) and been to Hawaii several times so the beach is not a necessity. He would really like to go for snorkeling/kayaking but I think these might be better suited to a different trip.

My question is what other areas people would recommend visiting for 2 days from Arenal if we weren't willing to fly or waste a day driving. Appreciate everyone's knowledgeable opinions!

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

I'm not sure you have any time for a beach stop. If you have 9 days in country, you are spending the 1st nite in or near San Jose. Days 2-4 on the river with dropoff (hopefully) in Arenal at the end of day 4 for 4 nights. Spend days 5-7 in Arenal with canyoning and hot springs 1 day, Rio Celeste another and then caving & ziplines crammed into another. Now its day 8 and if your plane leaves on day 9 you don't have time for a beach stop. Better to spend a morning relaxing in Arenal before heading back to the Central Valley for the last night. Maybe Vista del Valle or Casa Bella Rita or if you want to splurge Finca Rosa Blanca.

If I have misunderstood and you actually have 2 more days as you did not count the travel days in the 9 available, then I'd suggest you consider flying Arenal/Quepos on Nature Air. They have a 12:30 departure that arrives in Quepos at 1:05 PM. From Quepos it's a 15 minute drive to Manuel Antonio where you can snorkel on a sunset sail (don't expect much) and kayak at Islas Damas or head south from Quepos to Dominical (one-hour) and there are more deserted beaches adn kayaking mangroves. You can fly back to SJO from Quepos or hire a private driver. Beaches in Costa Rica are nothing like San Diego or Hawaii for that matter. The beach inside Manuel Antonio national park is one of those perfect little coves where the rainforest comes right down to the shore and the monkeys are both an attration and a nuisance (if they grab your sunglasses or anything else left sitting out).

Edited: 31 May 2012, 20:28
San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

If you are not interested in beach go to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Area. From Arenal you can travel on the land boat transfer through the Arenal Lake. it would save you one hour on the road. In Monteverde you can enjoy Cloud Forest hikes, horseback riding, ziplines, hanging bridges, butterfly gardens, humming bird gardens, frog ponds, coffee tours.

Edited: 31 May 2012, 22:19
San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

You can drive to Sarapiqui area...nice lodges there...great area for wild life ...Sarapiqui is only 1.5 hours from Arenal and 2 hours from SJO...easy to get...lovely area to enjoy our nature...a lot of birds...it is bird watchers paradise...

Also Dota area can be great for easy hikes...


Grecia, Costa Rica
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4. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

Good idea to plan a beach vacation another time, as it does seem that your travel agent is cramming too much into a short trip. Although Sarapiqui is nice, there is a lot there similar to the Arenal/La Foruna geography, I would suggest a stop at Poas volcano and area for an active volcano (different to Hawaiian volcanoes), then try one of the local coffee tours, a waterfall trip close by, perhaps a butterfly garden, and finish with a walking tour of San Jose Centro to see some great architecture and learn about CR history. You will be back in plenty of time for your flight home, and you would have seen a large slice of what makes Costa Rica. Have a great trip.

5. Re: 1st Time Trip to Costa Rica

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