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Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

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posts: 60
reviews: 64
Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

I have been reading the forum posts, but not sure yet how to plan our trip. We like to stay at a nice beach, we might do some snorkling, but not interested in surfing, We would like to see a volcano -never seen one (Arenal sounds great), would like to visit a nacional park to see some wildlife. My husband wishes to see both Carribean and Pacific but we have only 8 days to spend.Is it too much driving to try to do both?. We probably rent a car Any suggestions?

posts: 3,061
reviews: 33
1. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

Arenal 2 nights and Puerto Viejo for 3 nights and the central pacific area, then back to San Jose for a rest stop and maybe Manuel Antonio for 2 more days. A little tight of schedule.

Cartago, Costa Rica
posts: 144
2. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

I would do the arenal volcano area and manuel antonio. If you want yo add a third destination add the monteverde coud forest area in the middle. It would be too much driving to try to do both costs in 8 days. Over 5 hours to the caribbean, then 6 hours to arenal and 5 to manuel antonio

posts: 60
reviews: 64
3. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

Thank you for your quick answers. I was thinking of driving from San Jose to Arenal to La Fortuna probably for the first 2 nights. Is it doable when the plane lands at 5 pm?

Another question: What will the weather be like in the Carribean side at the beginning of January . I got the idea that it is raining most of the time. An what about MA? Which coast is better weatherwise?

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 3,527
4. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

If you arrive by 5pm you will get out of the airport when it is dark. The road to Arenal through San Ramon is in good shape but I do not reccomend to drive at night, most is a narrow 2 lane road with no shoulders, it is often foggy and it goes overs the mountains. It is harder to get help if something goes wrong with the car (flat tire etc). I would recommend that you stay your first night by the airport or get a private transfer to Arenal on arrival and pick up your car reantal the following morning. It is very hard to tell about weather January should be sunny and nice

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
posts: 6,723
reviews: 39
5. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

Agree with Mike you do not want to drive that at night. I also agree that a private driver on arrival to Arenal and then a rental car pick up the following day makes the most sense.

IMO you absolutely do not have enough time to do both coasts. If you had a 10 day trip I would say go for it but with just a week you are really pushing it, not relaxing at all to be running like that.


San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 43,338
6. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

From SJO to Arenal is a great road...tricky to drive it at night...some high shoulders...and most of the way with out a road lights...and is curvy and a lot of hills...up and down...

Maybe the best is to take a private driver or stay overnight by San Jose...and take the car next day...

Great itinerary idea by jose b....if you like to move around...!

January is a kind of tricky as well...maybe some showers...during the day...not a big deal...but is Caribbean side is totally different thn the rsta of our country...NOBODY that I know will predict the weather...there or anywhere else!

Please report any solicitng by PM...


posts: 60
reviews: 64
7. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

Actually we have 10 nights but 8 full days to spend. As my husband still insists on doing both coasts I have come out with the following itinerary. Can anybody comment or have better suggestions

1st Night ? Somewhere between SJ and Puerto Limon not sure where can we reach

2-3rd night in Puerto Viejo

4-5th night in Arenal La Fortuna probably

6-9 nights in Manuel Antonio

10-th in San Jose before departing the next day.

Is it advisable to book all hotel nights in advance it seems to be high season?

Manuel Antonio
Destination Expert
for Manuel Antonio National Park
posts: 2,164
8. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

Although the Caribbean coast is doable in that time span, that time of year is rainy on that side of the country, where as we are in our dry season in Manuel Antonio. Arenal is a great option, but probably not the best idea to drive up there the first night. If you really want to see an active volcano, one of the most active right now is Poas, only 1.5 hrs outside of San Jose. You could stay at Peace Lodge up there, or Xandari and Finca Rosa Blanca are great options not far from the airport and an easy drive to Poas the next day. Once in Manuel antonio, you will have so much to choose from, and of course you will love the park (best with a guide), so that would pretty much cover the rest of your needs especially if you leave yourself plenty of time. Definitely book your hotels in advance if able. Enjoy!

posts: 60
reviews: 64
9. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

Thank you LivNLarge. We might really consider Poas. I have done some reading and saw nice pictures of this area. Sounds a good idea.

Keego Harbor...
posts: 83
reviews: 18
10. Re: Planning first trip to CR in Jan, 2013

If you have 8 nights I would do the following:

Fly into San Jose.

Arenal for 3 nights. Stay at Tabacon- it's a beautiful resort and the hot springs are amazing, perfect after a day of hiking.

Monteverde 2 nights - we stayed at the rustic lodge. It's rustic alright but super clean and a great location.

Manuel Antonio- 3 nights. A beautiful beach town. La Mariposa was amazing. You'll understand why this hotel is in the book places to see before you die.

Your going to love CR, it's a beautiful country and the locals are awesome!

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