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Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

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London, United...
posts: 24
reviews: 5
Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Hello

We are visiting Costa Rica for the first time. Could you let us know if this itinerary looks good

Day 1 : Arrive Arenal at noon, check in to Rancho Cerro Azul

Visit Venado caves in the afternoon

Day 2 : Mambo Combo day tour day-trip with Desafio Tours

Day 3 : La Fortuna waterfall/ Tabacon hot springs

Day 4 : Drive to Manuel Antonio, check in at The Falls by 1PM

Day 5 : Visit park, would like to do a nature visit and see wildlife

Day 6 : Drive back to SJO for 12 noon flight

Questions:

-Overall is the itinerary fine, would you recommend changing anything?

-Would the rafting/canyoning trip require high fitness. Also my partner doesnt swim. Is that a concern for any of the above activities

-We dont have much time in MA this time unfortunately, what would you reccommend for the time we do have.. Since Arenal is hectic - we'd like to keep it more laid back and enjoying good scenery.

-Are the places we've chosen like Tabacon, and the tour company Desafio good choices.

-Any other tips on driving conditions or overall trip would be very helpful

Many Thanks!

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 5,231
reviews: 20
1. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Itinerary is fine. I would not change anything.

The rafting/canyoning excursions do not require a high level of fitness but they do require you to be reasonably fit, not a total couch potato or someone with a bad back, bad knees or afraid of heights. You'll be wearing a life jacket so the only issue is if the non-swimmer freaks out when they fall out of the raft. And odds are someone will fall out. DeSafio Adventures is a highly reputable tour operator and I have enjoyed trips with them.

Tabacon is a gorgeous hot springs. They are expensive and their meals are not memeorable but the setting and pools are gorgeous. Try and get there before dark so you can enjoy the setting and be sure and explore the grounds to find hidden pools.

With your limited time in Manuel Antonio I would spend most of it hiking and enjoying the beach inside the national park, then if you want another view - take a sunset cruise along the coast.

Be sure and stop at the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles on the drive down to MA from Arenal. You will see lots of cars stopped there and you can walk out on the bridge and take a look at giant crocodiles that hang out below the bridge. DO NOT leave valuables in your car while you stop here or anywhere else en route. Just get in the habit of keeping cameras, passports, phones and laptops in a bag you can sling along with you when you make stops/.

London, United...
posts: 24
reviews: 5
2. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Thanks a lot. A couple of questions :

-With driving conditions, what time would you think we should start from Manuel Antonio for the airport. Our flight is at 12 noon and we also have to return the car at the airport.

-Also for the above activities and itinerary what sort of footwear should I be carrying. Sneakers, flip flops, hiking shoes or all of the above.. And any other tips on what to carry.. I'd ideally like to travel light but also not miss gear that would have significantly improved the experience. Or am I over thinking it?

-Also would you recommend doing tabacon for the day price or is the 6pm - 10pm slot at 45 a good way to experience the hot springs

We are a couple in our 30s travelling for the first time to CR.

Thank you.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 5,231
reviews: 20
3. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Airlines recommend that you arrive at SJO 3 hours before your flight. It's a 3 hour drive from Manuel Antonio to SJO so you need to leave by 5:30 AM to drop off the car but that doesn't give you any buffer for a flat tire or other mishap along the way.

London, United...
posts: 24
reviews: 5
4. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Help needed!

Wow, made a huge error.. The only full day we have in MA is a Monday and turns out the park is closed. My partner does not swim so snorkelling tour is not an option. Clearly it's not the best situation but what should we do now.. The mangrove tour maybe or horseback riding to the waterfall or just the day at the ma public beach?Your advice would be much appreciated!

posts: 4
5. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Itinerary is fine, just a couple advices.

*Driving from Arenal (la fortuna) to MA is exhausting.

*You really need to leave MA at 5am the last day.

*La Fortuna (Arenal) its great beacause Arenal Volcano, but its a rainy town and some times you dont get to see it. I just back today from my second visit there and it was visible only 2 hours yesterday....today was completely cover by clouds.

*MA landscapes could be more interesting if you like sunny places.

*There is another great place for thermal in Arenal (Baldi). If you dont love water or heat a half day stay there its enough.

*Both places are hot tropical weather places, no sweater or coat needed but umbrella or a raincoat is a must in la fortuna.

Let me know if i can help you with something else.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
posts: 4,092
reviews: 102
6. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

Definitely try to see the park if you can; it's beautiful with lots of wildlife and a gorgeous beach inside the park. For your Monday time, consider doing the Damas mangrove tour with Manuel Antonio Expeditions - great company. There's also an awesome spice tour you can do at Villa Vanilla if you're interested in tropical plants and spices; they let you try beautiful desserts and drinks made with the spices they grow.

7. Re: Itinerary help, 3days in Arenal + 2days in Manuel Antonio

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