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Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

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Boulder, Colorado
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Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

Our family is returning to gorgeous Costa Rica, this time to the Caribbean side. We arrive around 11:30 am in late March, after an overnight flight. The plan is to rent a car and drive a bit to get out of the city and be on our way, but not too far as we'll be tired (less than two hours, hopefully)! Can anyone recommend a fun place to stop en route for one or two nights? We love to hike, so a park with trails and basic accommodations would be great. We are not really into touristy, crowded places. The kids are too young for the rafting trip. Or, is it not that interesting, and should we just drink a strong coffee and drive the whole way? Or, take a shuttle and rent a car there (is 4WD needed)? Can you rent there and return in San Jose?

Can't wait to return!

Many thanks in advance for any advice on this!

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

I recommend the Sarapiqui area. Not too far from the airport and "on the way" to the Caribbean coast. Several good options for lodging - Posada Andrea Cristina is very popular in that area. For a more spartan approach, the biological station at La Selva has fantastic opportunities for wildlife. And check out Selva Verde.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

I second the vote for Sarapiqui. It is not directly on the route but it is a scenic 1.5-2 hour drive from SJO. You can take the main highway going thru San Jose and then route 32 thru Braulio Carrillo National Park before turning north to Sarapiqui or it might be more fun if you have a GPS to head up into the foothills of Poas Volcano toward Varablanca with a short stop at LaPaz waterfall at the sidde of the road (not the Waterfall Gardens) and then continue on to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. That way you can have an "all Puerto Viejo" vacation. Tons of wildlife and rainforest in this area.There's a treehouse at Posada Andrea Cristina that might be fun for the kids or stay in their regular accommodations. Great family, expert birders and a charming but simple place to spend a couple of nights. They can organize easy guided hikes at La Selva for you on good flat trails, but advance reservations are needed. Just note that the backdoor route would be very confusing if you don't have a GPS.

Edited: 05 February 2014, 14:01
Punta Uva, Costa...
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3. Re: Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

Sarapiqui is beautiful, just remember that you'll be backtracking a bit, it will be about a 6 hour drive the next day. Also recommend http://www.casarioblanco.com/, about one hour outside of San Jose.

Punta Uva, Costa...
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4. Re: Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

I'm sorry, brainfart, I was thinking Arenal. From Sarapiqui is only about 31/2-4 hours to Puerto.

Costa Rica
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5. Re: Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

I was wondering..... maybe it's the drought that spread to your brain......lol.

At any rate, this is a great source: www.yourtravelmap.com distances and travel times. For the Sarapiqui area, you can use Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.

This is also a great map of that area -- it's mainly for birders, but shows you a lot of the area plus some excellent places to stay. http://www.costaricanbirdroute.com/sites.htm

6. Re: Stops en route to Puerto Viejo from airport?

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