Hi Roadadvisor and Xelas - Thanks for your responses!
RA - Yes, actually one of the reasons I chose Korrigan Lodge was based off of previous comments you've posted on this forum! Those comments prompted me to investigate them more and I loved what I found! As soon as I saw the photos of the location and read their guest comments about Bassam (the dog) it was love at first sight for me. I've had my mind set on booking them for the last 6 months. I actually just looked through all of the hotels again last night on TA to check them all out one more time before I book and it's for sure - I REALLY want to stay at Korrigan and they have availability for our dates.
Yes...I thought that kind of money was waaaaay too much also. We're pretty low budget travelers, but we have done a few spendier excursions that were worth it. But that's just really more money than I want to spend for that kind of thing.
Xelas - you mentioned that you WOULD do an extra day in SJ and a tour, but not those two. Which one would you do? I looked at Adventure Lodge's site and didn't really see anything that looked super special, based on what we're already doing/have done. Maybe you have a recommendation? Let me mention that we prefer to explore on our own, or if we have to go with a group, we prefer small. We do not like large tour groups.
Last trip to La Fortuna we: did a private tour of Proyecto Asis (wildlife nature center) that was WONDERFUL - spendy for us because it was$200 - $120 for the admission (3 of us) and then $80 cab (to/from La Fortuna), but we all felt it was worth every penny. We got to walk around with a guide for a half day who explained everything to us about the animals, we got to see them up close/touch/hold some, and volunteered a couple of hours by helping to feed/clean cages.We had a snack in the middle of the morning. Carlos was an awesome guide and I HIGHLY recommend Proyecto Asis! Support the good work they're doing.
That same day we did a nighttime safari float down the river with Rio Tropicales. They picked us up around 4, we floated the river, viewed sights/sounds, ended the river float at a farm house where we had a traditional meal that was delicious. It was a small tour - two other couples were on the boat with us. I think we arrived back to our hotel around 9 p.m. We paid $180 for the 3 of us for that trip. We really enjoyed it.
The last day we were there we went rapalling with Pure Trek. We rappelled 3 waterfalls and one dry rappel. I'm glad we did it, because it was super fun, but it felt very rushed due to having around 25 people in our group. I felt they wanted to get us down as fast as possible. It was $300 for the three of us and included lunch. I felt that the cost outweighed the “fun factor” on this one, due to it being so rushed. However, it was something we had not done before and did like it – just not the tons of people/rushed part.
That afternoon - after all the rappalling and hiking in the jungle, we did MORE of that! We hiked 3 miles from our hotel up to La Fortuna Waterfall Park (at noon in the heat – what can I say…we really wanted to go!). We stopped at little shops along the way looking for unique hand crafted souveniors to buy on the way back. The entrance to the park was $20 ($10/each adult, my daughter free). We spent a couple of hours messing around in the park hiking/swimming/just enjoying the beautiful scenery. We took another hour hiking the 3 miles back to our hotel, again stopping at the little shops and getting a much needed batido! This was an afternoon that we thoroughly enjoyed and it only cost us $30 – including the batidos! I prefer this kind of activity – something we can do on our own, for whatever amount of time we want, low cost, high enjoyment – great family time!
We left that Monday for Mal Pais and spent 7 nights there at a GREAT place called La Hacienda Tropical – I highly recommend this small boutique hotel!
We rented a quad here from the hotel for $55/day and that was the BEST thing we did. Most of our time in this area was spent driving the quad up and down the coast on the jungle road stopping at remote spots on the beaches to just hang out, swim and snorkel. This is a beautiful part of the world! From my understanding – people don’t really drive these in the Puerto Viejo area? And/or they’re a lot more expensive than that?
We did a few tours while here. One day we went fishing with a local fisherman for a half day $200 for the 3 of us. We all enjoyed this a lot (my husband LOVES fishing), but I was the only one who caught a fish…and it was a BIG fish!
One day we did a tour out of Cabuya with Solo Bueno Tours. We spent the day with Jeffry riding around in a boat near Cabuya Island, snorkeling and spearfishing. We also stopped on the island and he told us the history of it. The entire day was $120 for the 3 of us. We felt like this was one of the best days we had in CR. My husband is a well experienced spear fisherman and he loved this trip. We all had a fantastic time hanging out with Jeffry and Carlos. One of the best things about it was that it was only US and the two of them. The personalized attention is amazing and it was fun making new friends.
We also drove the quad to Montezuma Waterfalls and explored that area on our own. That only cost us $2 to park the quad in a “lot” next to the entrance. We spent a half day doing this and had a great time. We met some locals while trying to hike to the waterfall and they helped us get through the tricky parts. Armando (one of the people we met) even showed my husband how to go behind the waterfall and to jump through it. This was a free trip and lots of fun.
Our second to last day we went zip lining with Mal Pais Canopy Tours. It was $120 for the three of us to do this tour. This ended up being our favorite experience and I think that was in large part to Carlos – our guide, #1 and that we were the ONLY people in the “tour”. He was so personable and wonderful with my 8 year old daughter. He made her feel very comfortable. He rode tandem with her on the zips she was scared of and she went by herself on the ones she wanted to try. We had so much fun with him that morning that we decided to go back again the next day for one last time doing the zips. One of the reasons we enjoyed this so much is that it was NOT rushed. This was in stark contrast to our rappaling experience with Pure Trek.
Like I said, one of our favorite parts about the whole trip was just being out on dirt road on the quad. The jungle road shortcut between Mal Pais and Cabuya is such beautiful countryside and we rarely saw anyone the whole time we were on the road.
There are so many wonderful things to experience in CR. I want to do them ALL! However, my money is not unlimited, so unfortunately we must pick and choose!
Here are things we know we want to do for sure while staying in Punta Uva: beach time – exploring, swimming, snorkeling, at least one fishing trip, zip line tour and the Jaguar Rescue Center.
Things we’re considering: Cahuita National Park, Caribeans Coffee and Chocolate Tour, a night turtle watch (not sure if this is possible at the end of June?), Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge Hike, Nature Observatorio, and Finca La Isla Botanical Gardens – anything else we should consider? Again – small tours or a private tour with just us.
Sorry this is so long winded! I just thought it might be helpful for people recommending to us what to do if they knew what we’ve done and what we like. We can only do a few paid excursions (due to that little thing called money), as our airfare and hotel accommodations will be more expensive this time around. We are doing private transports to/from the airport and will not have a car. We plan on using their bikes and taking cabs.
Thanks for all your help! Trip Advisor forums are the BEST!