One week in Costa Rica -- Need help with itinerary!
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Dec 2, 2012 12:34 PM Last Post By: GBF123
Dec 2, 2012 4:05 AM
One week in Costa Rica -- Need help with itinerary!I will be in Costa Rica with a friend for exactly one week (Sat-Sat) and need some help! My basic questions:
+ Should we rent a car?
+ Pacific Coast or Caribbean Coast?
+ Is Arenal worth the visit?
In addition, I would love some suggestions on how to spend the week we are there. I definitely want to go zip-lining, but I'd also love some R&R (read: at least one full day lazing on a beach). But other than that, I don't have any specific desires.
Any and all ideas and guidance would be most welcome!
Dec 2, 2012 4:12 AM
1What time of year are you going? There is rainy season and dry season, weather and micro climates vary greatly by elevation and coast.
Renting a car is the best way to get around and see the most on your own schedule.
With 7 days, pick 3 places to see. Have you looked a guidebook? There are too many National Parks and Activities to list here.
The three most popular places in CR are Arenal Volcanoe (not active at present) and Hot Springs, Monteverde Clouforest (Zip Lines and Cloud bridges) and Manual Antonio (Honeymooners/Couples/Families). But you can zip line everywhere, they are like ATM machines in CR (I avoid them).
Its best to avoid Jaco, and Papagayo areas.
Other very popular and less touristy parks and areas to enjoy, is Rincon for hiking, as well as Tenorio/Celeste Waterfalls (car is best for these two parks) and Tortuguero Canals on the caribe side, via boat (No roads, no cars).
Are you flying into San Jose or Liberia?
You can raft rivers, take surf lessons, hike rainforest (Corcovado/Drake Bay) and a host of other activities.
Dec 2, 2012 4:21 AM
2We are there this month (December) before Christmas. And we fly into San Jose. What do you think?
Dec 2, 2012 4:58 AM
3for one week, i recommend 2-3 locations, depending on when you arrive/leave. depending on the time your flight arrives or leaves, you may need to spend your first/last night somewhere near the airport. this also depends on your mode of transportation.
arenal is certainly worth a visit, even if the volcano is not spewing lava. (it is still classified as "active" since it does put out some steam and smoke now and again) there is so much to do in that area and several interesting day trips. http://www.arenal.net is a good source of information.
arenal is about 3 hours from sjo airport, depending on where you are going in the area. things are rather spread out so it's a good place to have a rental car. in fact, having a rental car will allow you a lot of freedom and save time, which is important with your short amount of time.
from arenal, you could head for tortuguero - with or without your rental car. there are shared van shuttles from arenal to the boat landing for tortuguero for the boat to the village. if you choose to keep the car, there is secure, covered parking. tortuguero is a great place to visit. http://www.tortuguerovillage.com
from tortuguero, you can head for the southern caribbean area. if you keep your car, boat back to the dock at pavona and then drive to the puerto viejo area. otherwise, you can get a boat and shuttle to your lodging. the boat trip from tortuguero to moin (just north of the town of limon) is fantastic. it takes about 3 hours and is like a trip through the amazon.
for more information about the southern caribbean, http://www.puertoviejosatellite.com
i have to say: at this point in time, your lodging options would be limited. you will be here at the busiest time of the year so get started NOW finding a place/places to stay.
a couple of other possibilities:
arenal to uvita - check out the uvita area here: http://www.tikivillas.com
spend a day or so in the alajuela area (this is where the airport is located) and visit poas volcano. then head for the coast. the southern nicoya peninsula has some beautiful beaches but it is 5 hours or more from alajuela. one popular place to stay in the alajuela area which is not far from poas is orquideas inn.
Dec 2, 2012 5:16 AM
4Why do you always push the Tiki Villas in Uvita? It is not even on the beach, and you cant even walk to the beach? Not to mention its rather isolated, and there really is nothing to around there other than day excursions, or drive to Ochajal for dinner, or Dominical...
This place is right on the beach, and next Playa Dominical, and you can drive to Bellena/Uvita in under 30 minutes.
But this entire area is best for going to the Osa, if all the way in Arenal/Monteverde area, its not exactly on the way...
Dec 2, 2012 5:30 AM
5i post the link to tikivillas because there's a lot of information about the whole area and things to do.
uvita is just another beach option after arenal. it's around six hours from arenal - but so is the caribbean coast. it takes almost that long to get to the beaches of the southern nicoya peninsula.
there are beaches that are closer to arenal - samara, for instance. so another possibility would be arenal/samara.
Edited by: wiremu
Dec 2, 2012 8:56 AM
6There really is no need to hire a car for the whole duration of your wonderful trip. The local internal flights, walking and boat trips will let you see all you want to. A car for a day and a half or so will be just fine. You'll be able to do a few 100 miles in that time and for me that would be enough. There are many local agents who will sort you out excursions a lot cheaper than the travel agents overseas. Make sure you do a night out and a boat trip along one of the rivers. The wildlife and photography are amongst the best in the world.
Dec 2, 2012 10:03 AM
Dec 2, 2012 10:40 AM
Dec 2, 2012 11:41 AM
9I traveled in Costa Rica in Jan 2011 and had a fabulous time. Landed in San Jose, spent the first night there and in the morning was picked up for a trip to Arenal/ Baldi Hot springs which was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING for 75.00. It included hotel pick up and drop off, a guided tour the enitre way which included a stop to use the bathroom and shop. From there we ate an included lunch with full view of the volcanoe ( which didnt seem active at all....... lol ) After lunch we were dropped off nearby at Baldi Hot Springs which is a water park filled with dozens of pools of different temperature water. Swim up bars included as well as water falls and water slides and live music. It was great. After the visti to Baldi, we had the included sit down dinner with wine which was great as well. The 2 hour ride back was easy and that was worth the 75.00.
The next morning we took off in our rented vehicle for Puerto Viejo. The ride was beautiful and very interesting. We halfway and ate at a wonderful buffet style place that was right across the street from a farmers market where we purchased baked goods and fruit. We continued on to P.V. We stayed at Hotel Guarano for 30.00 a night. It was clean, had a fenced in parking lot and very safe surroundings. We also stayed at Banana Azul honeymoon sweet for 100.00 and it was beautiful. We stayed at another place across the street from the Banana Azul that had a great pool and bar and it was 45.00. We got a bit antsy so we crossed the border into Panama and toured Bocas Del Toro for several nights and that was an experience I will never forget......... so adventurous and fun. We headed back to P.V. and zip lined which we LOVED and visited the Jaguar rescue facility to hold baby sloths............ MY FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP. Use common sense as far as safely for we did meet several couples that were mugged and we also were pulled over by the police on the way back to San Jose and were bribed to pay 40.00 to pull away. I loved that trip and would do it again in a heart beat.
Dec 2, 2012 11:44 AM
10Sounds like you had a great time. Costa Rica is one of the most wonderful locations I have ever been to.
Dec 2, 2012 12:05 PM
Dec 2, 2012 12:34 PM
12All good suggestions, CR is fantastic. Just one thing to add. Keep in mind you don't necessarily have to fly in and out of SJO there's also Liberia (LIR) airport that American, Delta, United, US Airways, Taca and Copa all fly to as well as SJO so you can fly into LIR and out of SJO or vice versa, an open jaw ticket, they don't generally cost any more unless the fare is higher to one or the other but usually not much. For the rental car you would usually pay a drop fee for a one way rental, Budget for example its about $50 (one way fee + concession recovery) so there's an added cost but if you're only going for a week and it may be more convenient to see more without backtracking. Just a thought.
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