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Affordable Activities Help!

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posts: 14
Affordable Activities Help!

Hello Everyone,

My husband and I will be visiting from Aug1-Aug8. We are not the typical American guest that Costa Rica may get with funds =) We are quite broke, the only reason we are able to go is because my dad bought this trip for us as my college graduation (and late honeymoon) gift. We will have maybe around 500.00 to spend while there. This 500 will have to pay for everything except airfare, hotel, and car; which were included in the package. Here is the list of things we would like to do: canopy, rafting, horseback riding. I also see that we will need to have money to enter almost all of the national parks, waterfalls, and so on. So my question is... what is worth the money, what should we avoid, where can we go? To give you a better Idea, we will spend the first two nights in Arenal, the next three in Quepos, and the last two in San Jose (though we hope to make our way towards the Caribbean coast during this time)

Please avoid this conversation if you are only going to try and market your company tours, which are overpriced, or if you are going to suggest I check out your site without prices.

Costa Rica
posts: 24,249
reviews: 26
1. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

melissa: Sounds like a great gift for you. Nice Dad!

$500 is fine for one week's expenses if your hotel, airfare and car are paid for.

Food: Most hotels will provide breakfast so that leaves you with the rest of the day. In Costa Rica, a restaurant that serves typical Costa Rican food and is inexpensive is known as a "soda." You can get good food at an excellent price - and lots of it! One dish that is popular is known as a "casado" which traditionally has six items: some kind of meat, fish or chicken; rice, beans, salad, and two "cook's choice" which could be a different kind of salad, a slice of cheese, half an avocado, a sauteed plantain. It's a LOT of food and for many people, it's two meals.. Typically, a casado will cost around $7. Otherwise, you can shop at local supermarkets for fresh fruit, cheese and bread from a bakery and just make your own "picnic." There are "fast food" chicken outlets most everywhere and some of them will feature fried chicken as well as "pollo asado" which is chicken roasted over an open fire.

Activities: Yes, most National Park charge $10 to enter. If you still have your college ID, you might be able to get a student discount. Bring it and show it to the ranger and see what happens! Since you have your own car, you can drive yourself to National Parks or other excursions and save the money you would have spent on an organized tour of some sort.

For horseback -- ask at your hotel and around town to find the best deal. Make sure the horses are in good shape before you pay and go.

With one week, you will have to make some choices. Two locations is really the most you should try for. Under the circumstances, I think you will be better off choosing Arenal and someplace in the southern Caribbean such as Puerto Viejo or Cahuita. I think you will find the Caribbean less expensive and less touristy than Quepos/Manuel Antonio.

Some helpful websites: www.arenal.net or www.fortunawelcome.com


www.yourtravelmap.com - for distances and travel times

A good website to look for some activities in the southern Caribbean: www.ateccr.org

The airport is actually in Alajuela, not San Jose. There is lodging (and food) of all sorts and all prices not far from the airport without the hassle of going into San Jose.

Edited: 8:50 am, July 10, 2013
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 8,016
reviews: 57
2. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

I understand that you got a package with airfare, car and hotels included, so no changes are possible. If so, here is what you can do in Arenal: morning hike in Volcano NP on your own (admission 10$ per person, no guide needed). Afterward drive along the Lake Arenal towards El Castillo for better views over Arenal volcano. Maybe visit the butterfly garden (admission fee). Or you can drive to Arenal Observatory Lodge to hike their excellent trails with lot of wildlife (admission fee 7$ pp). You can then drive along the other side of the lake for more different views. One day you can go for yourself to Cano Negro; It is a whole day affair. Head to Cano Negro village and ask around for how much a private boat tour would cost you. For hot springs there are free local ones; search this forum for directions, or ask when in La Fortuna.

There is not much you can do free of charge in Quepos / MA area. One day stay in the NP; bring food and water with you so you do not need to exit it. There are three fantastic beaches inside, and lot of wildlife you can see easily, or just look where all others are looking. You can drive to Tarcoles River bridge, watching the huge crocs is also free (but be aware not to leave anything in the car).

In San Jose Mercado Central is a location you can spend quite some time browsing small shops. And strolling on the central pedestrian only area.

Best thing (but maybe also risky one) is to make friends with locals, and ask them to show you around. You are driving (and paying for gasoline and lunch) and they will show you around. There are some very scenic roads in the hills behind Jaco.

Eat only at sodas, food is tasty and safe. Drinks you buy only in shops. Avoid ziplining, canyoneering,rafting, tours of any kinds, as they costs money. The most inexpesive thing to do is to sit in a local roadside bar with a cold cerveza in hand and just observe the life passing by (here you will need to buy drinks). Hold hands and walk around. Drive your car to nearby villages. Seven days will be over quickly. And do not forget to stash aside 2 x 29 US$ for exit tax (or you just pay for it when arriving).

Have fun, enjoy!

Barrie, Canada
posts: 2,300
reviews: 43
3. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

In the Arenal Area you can do the free hot springs under the bridge just [past Tabacon towards the lake, and El Salto (The Jump) which is also free. This is a great place to swim in the river, jump off high rocks or use the swing rope. Head towards La Fortuna waterfall and instead of turning right towards the entrance go straight maybe 800 meters where you will see a bridge. Park at the side of the bridge and walk down to El Salto.

Edited: 12:06 pm, July 10, 2013
Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 5,772
reviews: 22
4. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

I am concerned about this very tight budget if you have to make $250/pp cover a week's stay including gas, food, drinks and activities. Other than breakfast, stay away from hotel restaurants, eat your big meal midday at sodas and try picnic dinners to reduce food costs.

In Arenal I would also suggest you hike out to the La Fortuna waterfall and enjoy getting wet ($10/pp entry fee). Find info on hotsprings at tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g309226… Be sure and stop by DeSafio's office for info about the El Salto swimming hole. See more info at the bottom of the page at www.desafiocostarica.com/index.php…

Forget about the Caribbean coast on your last 2 days in San Jose. It's a 4-5 hour bus ride and you'd consume an entire day getting there and back. I'm sure you'd love whitewater rafting on the Pacuaure which is an all-day trip out of San Jose but doubt there will be any funds left to pay the $85/pp cost with Explornatura. Might have to settle for a day in town seeing the City. Drop off your car when you arrive in san Jose as parking and traffic make it very difficult to get around with a car.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 8,016
reviews: 57
5. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

For a day in San Jose, how's about taking a train ride to Cartago? It should not be too expensive, train ride is always a romantic thing, and in Cartago, there are some very nice places to visit, free.

Westfield, New...
posts: 91
reviews: 90
6. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

There are ways to enjoy yourself at any budget, particularly if your hotel includes breakfast.

If you make your budget very clear, you're likely to get some deals on some excursions. For example, I asked if I could do a 45 minute horseback riding trip at Manuel Antonio instead of a full 2-hour, simply because I didn't think my daughter would last that long. We negotiated a good price and it was just right for us.

I enjoy Manuel Antonio National Park. Although the tour is great, you can skip it an just eavesdrop along the way and follow the gazes of other tourists to find interesting wildlife.

Grab fresh fruit and pipa fria at roadside stands and find someone selling some homemade banana bread or meat pies. People are so friendly. Ask questions and talk to people.

Good luck!

7. Re: Affordable Activities Help!

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