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Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

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clark summit, pa
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Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

Hi

I am going to San Jose in May and plan to visit the Arenal and Monteverde area. Seems it is much closer to the Playa Conchal area. I got the advise here to hire a car and driver and travel to Guanacaste. Then I saw that there are 2 domestic airlines. Would anyone please advise me on trips via Nature air vs. hiring a driver? I will appreciate any help. Thanks.

The Bakery
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1. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

We drove ourselves and I doubt flying would save much time. FYI-The little internal CR airlines are not famous for their ontime flights. Just MHO.

2. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

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clark summit, pa
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3. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

Thank you all for the info. But I wanted to know something different. I plan to visit Arenal and Monteverde from Playa Conchal. I actually wanted to know whether to take a flight from San Jose airport to Playa conchal or to hire a driver and go. We are not planning to drive and if the flights are okay but a little bit more expensive that's ok too because it gives me one extra day. You input will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Costa Rica
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4. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

Hello Sara!

As somebody said before, local flights are not precisely known for its punctuallity. Does it save time? Considering that the flight takes less than an hour, and then adding one hour before (for the cheking in process) and finally one more hour at the airport after landing, not mentioning departure delays . . . I can guarantee to you you won´t save much time.

A Private Transfer from San Jose to Conchal costs $170. If you leave San Jose at 7 am, you will be at the beach before 11 in the morning! It is a nice and relaxed ride that you will definitely enjoy!

Take care and feel free to contact me for any kind of assistance you may need . . . bye

clark summit, pa
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5. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

Costarican Guy

Thank for that info. If we want to hire a private car and driver to Arenal from SJ how long will it be and what will be the cost? Also, how will we go to the Volcano from Sant Elena without a car? We also plan to visit Monteverde. We would like to spend about 3 nights in the Arenal and Monteverde area. I am not that sure whether I want to visit the Tamarindo/Playa Conchal beaches. Given that I have been to Mexico and Carribean beaches several times, will Manuel Antonio be a better idea? We will have my son 11 years old travelling with us. And we are not planning to rent a car. Will that pose a huge problem for us? I know I have too many questions, hope you will be understanding. Thanks.

Sacramento...
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6. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

We have always taken either Sansa Air or Nature air from San Jose to either the Guanacaste area or even to Manual Antonio. The flights are about a half an hour and you only need to get to the airport no earlier then half an hour. True, you can run into delays, but I really enjoy the experiance on the little planes and the great views of the country. The flights are about $70 - $80 one way. If you are wanting to stay in Playa Conchal you can fly into Tamarindo which is about 15 minutes from Playa Conchal. Regarding staying in Playa Conchal/Tamarindo or Manual Antonio - that is a hard decision. I love the Manual Antonio area because of the tropical environment and the low key town of Quepos. If you decide to stay there try to stay at the Buena Vista Villas which are wonderful. They are like tree houses built into the jungle - beautiful!! Playa Conchal has one of the most beautiful resort beaches in Costa Rica but it is a little more comericalized then the southern part of the country. There is a beautiful golf course there as well as the resort and condos to rent. Tamarindo is a very bustling town which used to be just a surfing village but has lots of construction going on right now and lots of great restaurants and places to stay. If you are going in May you may be better off staying up north as it is drier up there and it will be the start of the rainy season at that time. Hope this helps. I love all of Costa Rica and in fact just bought a condo in Playa Conchall to live in part time.

B.C. Canada
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7. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

Monarchtravel,

This is probably a bit personal but what does a condo cost in Playa Conchal? I am always interested in real estate and we are planning on visiting that area in May. Sorry for being so nosey....

Tampa, FL
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8. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

So many questions and issues raised here. Where to start.

First, a correction to Liberia Tours info, there are no flights to Monteverde but there IS one Nature Air flight to Fortuna (Arenal) that leaves at noon everyday. I still wouldn't recommend it for the reasons CRGuy laid out (you won't save much time) and because the drive to Arenal is so damned scenic.

I'll also have side with Monarch re: punctuality and added time. Flight delays do occur, but aren't usually that large. Additional pre-flight arrival time should be factored into your travel decisionmaking, but not a full hour. And I don't see why anyone would need to stay at the airport for an hour after arrival since you don't have to go through customs/immigration and your "checked" bags just get unloaded from the back of the plane and are placed on the tarmac as you de-plane. OTOH, if you're flying Sansa and are staying in SJ, you also have to add the time (and cost) to get out to the airport in Alajuela or if you're coming into SJO and want to take Nature Air the time and cost of getting to their airport in San Jose. Ultimately, while CRGuy may have exxagerated the added times, I'll have to agree with his basic point that the time you save by flying is not nearly as great as most flight-advocates make out unless you're taking one of the longer flights to one of the more remote parts of the country.

As long as we are tearing apart CR air travel, I'm surprised no one mentioned the recent spate of airline accidents. There have been 4 in the past year (14 people have died). The most recent was a Nature Air flight to Tamarindo (fortunately no one died in that incident). This is still a small percentage but given the relatively small number of flights in total to begin with is far more than there should be.

But none of those things is really why I usually recommend people drive. Unlike Monarch, the main reason I prefer ground travel is that I actually prefer to see the country close up from eye-level. Birds eye views are nice, but you can't stop and get out of the plane and look around and you can't see the people or how they live and, just as importantly, sometimes even some wildlife.

Since I always try to find the middle ground, what I would suggest for Sara is to drive to Arenal, Monteverde and Playa Conchal and only CONNSIDER a one way flight back to SJ or vice versa - fly or drive to the beach and drive back by way of your other destinations. The most time would be saved on the longest flight. One big drawback to flying in CR is that all flights begin or end in SJ and one can't fly directly between all the various places one wants to go (one can't fly to Monteverde at all). This makes flying to your other destinations prohibitively expensive, time-consuming if not downright impossible.

The drive from SJ to Fortuna (Arenal) takes a little over 3 hours unless you stop to sightsee along the way, which I would recommend. Traveling between destinations in CR should NOT be seen as eating into your "usable" time, whatever that is, but as a worthwhile activity in and of itself.

According to CRGuy a private driver to Arenal will cost you $120 for up to 4 people and could be the way to go. Since you only have 3 people it will work out a little cheaper to take the shuttle which will only cost you $29 per adult ($14.50 for your son), but you'll have to leave according to their schedule and won't be able to really sightsee along the way. Another possibility that I have been recommending to some people is if you plan to go rafting (your son will love it) to do it ON YOUR WAY from SJ to Arenal. The tour company will pick you up in SJ and drop you at your hotel in the Arenal area for only $10 more per person and you will have saved all the driving you would have had to make out to the river and back that you would ave had to make anyway.

As for getting to the Volcano from Santa Elena, it can't be done since Santa Elena is near Monteverde and FORTUNA is near Arenal. I'll assume that was just a mental slip-up. One can find local taxis that will take you to the road outside the park (one doesn't need to actually go in the park to get the best views). One time I went to the Arenal, I stayed at Los Lagos and actually hiked up to the viewing point after dark.

You can also go with a private driver or interbus shuttle between Arenal and Monteverde but I'd recommend you take either the jeep-boat-jeep tour across the lake or the jeep-boat-horse version.

I can't really add much to what Monarch said about MA vs. Conchal (except perhaps that I find the town of Quepos itself to be a bit of a pit). Both areas are very touristy. Guanacaste is drier than the MA area, which might be an advantage if you're going in late May, but makes the beaches more similar to the ones you've visited up north in Mexico. In fact, I think you'll find that, while CR has some nice beaches, that is really not their strong point vs. other travel destinations. IMHO, its places like Arenal and Monteverde that make CR special and I would concentrate on those if I were you but if you have to get a little beach time in I'd give a slight edge to MA just because it may be more tropical than some of the other places you've been.

Finally, re getting back from the beach , as Monarch said from Tamarindo it will cost you $80 per adult ($60 for your son) or roughly $220 to fly vs. $170 for the private driver and, even adding an extra 1-2 hours for check-in times and delays, that extra $50 will save you at least a couple of hours of travel time. Again interbus, despite its other shortcomings, wil be cheaper still at only $72.50 for your group. If you go to Manuel Antonio the figures are still $72.50 for interbus, drop to maybe $120 for the driver and less than $140 for the flight (though the time you save flying over driving will also drop considerably)

Costa Rica
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9. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

Great answers from Prolijo. Do you live in CR Prolijo? And as I just posted, it just turns out that flying is not as safe as it should be. Anyways, pay attention to the facy that you are allowed to bring up to 25 pounds (per person) on the little planes. So pack accordingly . . .

Take care and cheers!

Tampa, FL
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10. Re: Travel from San Jose to Guanacaste region

CRGuy,

I don't live in CR, but I sure wish I did. Do you think you might want to hire me as one of your guides for your clients? :)