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.

Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

Which La Fortuna de San Carlos hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Madison, WI
posts: 4
reviews: 9
Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

We're planning to travel to CR for 14 nights in February 2014. Our travel party will include my parents, my husband, me, and our then 1 year old and 3 year old. As of right now, our plan is to fly into San Jose, possibly spend the night there before spending 3 nights in Manuel Antonio. From here, we would like to go to Monteverde and Arenal before finishing our trip in Guanacaste. I'm trying to figure out how much time we should plan to spend in each place. I was thinking 2 nights in Monteverde and 1 night in Arenal to allow for daytime travel, but it seems like more people stay in Arenal for longer based on the vast number of accommodations. Will this be long enough in either place, keeping in mind we will have very young children, so we won't be able to be over-ambitious.

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
posts: 6,877
reviews: 41
1. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

IMO Arenal needs a bit more than just 1 night, you are just not doing the area justice on such a short time. For me I normally do 2 or better 3 nights up that way, I think you are fine with 2 nights Monteverde. More will chime in but that's my 2 cents on it.

San Diego...
posts: 24
2. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?


I was in the same dilemma deciding how much time to spend between the two locations. I ended up booking 3 nights at Arenal and scratching off Monteverde completely. Again this all depends on what you want to do.

Since I will be in Corcovado for 5 days I figure Monteverde would be about the same but with more tourists. From what I've researched and suggestions made by other forum members Arenal was the choice to make.

I'm sure others can chime in on this but this is how I came to decide on where to spend my last 3 days on my visit this coming January.

posts: 39
reviews: 1
3. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

More info on what you plan on doing at arenal and monteverde can help us guide you a littlw better.

London, England...
posts: 2,464
reviews: 82
4. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

We did 2 nights in arenal, 2 in monteverde, 3 in tamarindo and 2 in Manuel Antonio with overnights in SJO before and after. Was ample, never felt we were too long or two short anywhere.

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 634
reviews: 135
5. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

Most people allow a minimum of 2 nights for Arenal, there is a lot to do there, and its also very pleasant in the mountains.

The the Osa/Corcovado is great, I dont think its a good choice with the little ones, as its very raw, rugged and hot and humid and best for teens or better, its requires some energy to enjoy the atmosphere and getting about is not easy overall.

Monteverde is at least 1 night, depends on the activities, I really think its overrated IMO, but, for zip lines, sky walks/bridges and such, its a destination a lot of folks like. 2 nights would be ideal.

You dont mention how your are getting about, but its a long drive from Quepos/Manual Antonio, to Arenal, about 5.5 hours at the least, and Monteverde is also a good 5 hours, the last hour a slow go rutted road.

Getting between the two takes 4 hours, either way from Arenal to Monteverde.

There is a van/boat/van option between them, still takes 4 hours, both morning or early afternoon service.

I am not sure what, two small children can get out of CR, as its really a adventure and activity related destination, but taking kids in the extreme heat, humidity and damp/cool nights that young is not going to favor them IMO. But young families do come a lot these days.

Also, keep in mind the pacific beaches are not swimmer friendly overall, known for surf more than calm, so stay at places with pools, as rip tides, strong currents and rocks are the norm. Also, the heat on the beach is intense, especially with not so light sand, making it even hotter, and most the beach venues, umbrellas and chairs are only at the nicer resorts/hotels. get them rashguards t shirts, and also SPF 50 waterproof.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 799
reviews: 89
6. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

5 nites total

Madison, WI
posts: 4
reviews: 9
7. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

Thanks, this feedback is very helpful. I made another post specifically looking for feedback on visiting these two areas with small children, and I was also told Monteverde was overrated with young children, but Arenal was a hit with the toddlers. I think that based on the feedback I've gotten, we'll likely skip Monteverde and spend 3 nights in Arenal. I am planning to hire a private driver to take us from Manuel Antonio to Arenal.

boston, ma
posts: 85
reviews: 1
8. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

I agree with many of the posts above....if pressed on time, I'd pick Arenal over Monteverde. One hotel you may want to check out with young ones is Leaves and Lizards. Its off the beaten track (about 20 mins outside La Fortuna), in the hills above town, with an unparalled view of the volcano. We are going back for our third visit there with our kids this February (8 yr old twins). Its a former Costa Rican farm, turned lodge with gorgous cabins. Lots for them to do on property: farm chores (helping milk the cows, collect eggs from the chickens for breakfat, etc), horseback riding, easy trails to hike, etc). The one drawback is no pool, in the event thats important for you (although there is a swimming hole fed by the Arenal River).

Madison, WI
posts: 4
reviews: 9
9. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

Thanks for the suggestion, Phil! I will definitely check it out.

London, England...
posts: 2,464
reviews: 82
10. Re: Suggestions for length of stay in Monteverde & Arenal?

The Leaves and Lizards sounds amazing Phil, great tip! Would love it now let alone as a kid!!