We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Which San Jose hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Level Contributor
126 posts
31 reviews
Save Topic
First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Hi, first post on TA, but I have done a lot of reading.

I am planning a trip to CR and decided to see if a travel planner could help. I am considering using CR Referrals, but I haven't read very may reviews in recent years about this company.

Does any of the "experts" know of them and if it's reputable? I just want to check and avoid trouble if possible.

Thanks!

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
Level Contributor
7,817 posts
43 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Good company, reputable, I recommend them a lot. Also check with Horizontes, another good one. Here is my full list.

Horizontes – http://www.horizontes.com/eng/ - Very green company, offers packages, involved with community programs, good company & good folks

Crreferals – http://www.crreferrals.com/ - Good for custom planning, has packages, involved with animal rescue, good company & good folks

Actuar - www.actuarcostarica.com/app/cms/www/index.php Off the beaten path rural tourism, involved with community programs, good company, good folks.

Caravan – http://www.caravan.com/ - Best for larger group tours up to 30. Excellent reputation and well respected. Awesome at what they do.

Costa Rica Expeditionswww.costaricaexpeditions.com/wl3/index.php - High end trip planner, owns some of there own lodges, has won many awards, great reviews in the forum.

Other companies from TA forum - tripadvisor.com/Travel-g291982-c117989/Costa…

Newtown, Connecticut
Level Contributor
3 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Dear tcandsam1,

I have been to CR recently and know only one area so far, but I can share my perspective from a July trip.

You really dont need a lot of travel planning to visit CR (but you will need sunblock - my son had 2nd degree burns in 90 minutes in the water) - it is a very easy place to visit, especially if you are from the US since you can use dollars everywhere. Go to YOUTUBE.com and type in icostarica24 and watch any of their videos where they will show you around various areas or google the words travel costa rica now and visit the website http://travelcostaricanow.com. Determine what you want to do... are you going to the beach to learn to surf, travel all over the country or do you want to go to the mountains near Lake Arenal? Many people love the beaches and there are many to choose from on both coasts. The pacific coast is more touristy from what I hear. I went to Manual Antonio and stayed at Hotel San Bada right next to the Manual Antonio national park and it was terrific. Many of the staff speak English and they are a quality hotel, and the staff will really help you out - they have your back so to speak. Read the reviews - people are extremely candid. Tamarindo is an upscale touristy place on the beach, further south there is Jaco, and then down to Quepos and Manual Antonio, and further south Dominical. Watch videos about the areas you are thinking of visiting to see what the town is like. For instance, we were very glad that we stayed at San Bada since it is all flat in that area, a quick hop to the beach on foot, and there are great restaurants and little shops on the beach front. All of the hotels north of the beach area are uphill so walking is tough in the heat on narrow roads. Very little is built right on the beach since there are building restrictions. If you are nervous about driving there the first time, take the hotel pickup package - at San Bada it was a tour in itself after a long flight - the guide stopped so we could get food and drinks, stopped to see crocodiles and macaws at a river, stopped for fresh fruit and then had a guided tour of the country as we headed to the beach. We were tired from the traveling, were in a new country, and the hotel van picked us up for a private excursion right from the airport - waiting with a sign with our names on it. 5 minutes later we were headed to the beach in the nice AC chatting about the trip. You can take busses and cabs everywhere in the country but we treated ourselves and were very glad we didnt have to think, watch our bags on the bus, and just rode to the hotel.

All of the pacific beach town resorts can easily get you to the fun stuff - ziplining and many other tours. You do not need to arrange them in advance - just arrange the day before from the hotel unless it is high season - people told me that in the high seasons tours can get sold out so book 2 days in advance from the hotel. You can literally pack a few things in a backpack, grab a credit card and some US cash and go. You really spend dollars everywhere - a fruit stand at the side of the road, a store 6 miles by ATV into the jungle. You get cash back in colones. You do not need any CR money in hand before you get there - dont waste the time getting any in the US. There are ATMs all over the place and Western Union across from San Bada at Manual Antonio National Park - 5 minutes and you have more cash. Check out travel costa rica now dot com and you will have a great head start on hundreds of questions. I am going back next week to the Lake Arenal area and then over to the Tamarindo area which i have not yet seen.

If you have a lot of people in your group, then you may need to plan a bit more. If you find a hotel you like online, read all reviews, and THEN use this site, or another of the big travel websites to check the prices they show which will be much cheaper than the hotels will post. Then call them and negotiate a rate like you find online with them directly. We find that the best vacations are those where we stay in one spot for a while instead of packing up and going here and there for 2 days and never really seeing anything. Remember if it shows 75 miles on google maps from one place to another, do not expect that it is like hopping on I95 and running up to Boston. It takes a long time to drive places so you will spend the better part of a half day or more moving from one place to another. Find a good spot and see the whole thing. We chose Manual Antonio for the first trip since there are amazing beaches - especially in the national park - most beautiful beach I have ever seen with astounding wildlife. There is MidWorld ziplining that has duel cables that we loved, an ATV tour to a jungle waterfall that San Bada does is an exclusive to their private farm and pristine waterfall swimming place. If you need help for other areas try contacting Mark Anthony and D'Angelo at their website noted above - they will arrange something wonderful for you. They are both expats from the US and have lived there for many years. I do not know them personally but have watched almost all of their 200+ videos and they are very insightful.

Hope you have a great trip!

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
956 posts
105 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

I love to research my own trips but if you don't have the time or would rather get advised I highly recommend Gecko Trail Adventures also. I have found them VERY friendly and informative. Although one could book shuttle transfers directly with the companies online I like to do it through knowing there will be someone available to deal with any disruption. I like to give them a bit of business anytime I can since they have helped me before.

http://geckotrail.com/index.htm

Edited: 15 August 2013, 23:05
Level Contributor
126 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Hi Incabod, thanks for the recommendations. I did a search on crreferrals, but most of the people who posted about the company only had 1 post on TA. I just want to make sure they are 'trustworthy'. Thanks for your vote of confidence.

Level Contributor
126 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Hi AnnZ. Wow, thanks for such a detailed reply. I will definitely take a look at youtube, I didn't think of that before, though I've pretty much decided on Manuel Antonio and Arenal. Coincidentally, I want to stay at San Bada too, great to know you had a good experience! I liked the fact that they were close to the beach and Park. :-)

I'm actually going to MA first, and finish at Arenal, which I realize is the opposite direction than most people take, but it seems to work better for us in terms of shuttles and costs. I've notice most people take a shuttle between the two towns, but there is a flight that is only and hour and costs about the same per person which I'm considering.

GREAT to know about the ATV tour that San Bada does. The only "tour" in MA that we are planning is horseback with Finca Valmy and some guided tour of the Park.

As for Arenal, we're trying canyoning with Desafio (seems scary and maybe too hard for me...but my 20yr daughter thinks it looks "fun"). Also ziplining with SkyTrek, seeing some wildlife at Proyecto Asis, and river rafting the Pacuare. My only concern is the river might be too tame during March, but I don't know if there's any guaranteed class III river in the dry season.

The one thing I like about going through a travel agent, is that they prices are the same (since they get it wholesale they can offer it at the same price I would get from the tour operators), but if something goes wrong, there is someone "local" in CR that I can ask for help.

Thanks again!

Level Contributor
126 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Hi Lesab33 - thanks for the recommendation to Gecko Trails. Do you know if they are in CR. I prefer to use a "local" business so that my tourist dollars go to CR. :-)

I like the idea of having someone 'local' to help if a problem comes up. I will check them out! Thanks.

Winnipeg Canada
Destination Expert
for Winnipeg
Level Contributor
4,455 posts
402 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

great links

Toronto
Level Contributor
8 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Actually six of us are also travelling in March 2014 to CR and this is our first trip too! So, thanks a lot guys.

These links are very useful.

Mano.

Moose Jaw, Canada
Level Contributor
6 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

I'm thinking of going in March as well! I'm considering Gadventure tours for my first week or so and then try a week on my own at a beach somewhere. I've found this site and Gadvenutre tour forum very helpful in my research!

Puerto Viejo de...
Level Contributor
125 posts
174 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: First trip to Cost Rica in March 2014!

Gecko Trails Adventures is a Costa Rica company, they have offices in San Jose and Puerto Viejo and do bookings/packages all around the country. They are easy to work with, their staff speak multiple languages, and have on-line, phone, and in-person services. www.geckotrail.com