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.

First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
2 posts
14 reviews
Save Topic
First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

We're traveling to Costa Rica for the first time and trying to figure out what is the best airport to fly in and side to stay on. We want to be close to the best beaches and excursions like zip lining, horses back riding, waterfalls, and seeing the tropical animals. Which is the best area to stay for this and the airport to fly in? Prefer not to have a long 2-3 hours to our hotel from the airport. Also, do you have any suggestions for some must do excursions and who to book with, places to see, and things to do? Planning on a long weekend trip for this visit. A quick relaxing getaway with some adventure and sightseeing. We appreciate any helpful tips you're able to offer including nice, reasonable priced all inclusive hotels.


5 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
18,814 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

Flying to Liberia (LIR) and then staying somewhere in Tamarindo will tick some of the boxes. Start your research there. Only a handfull of AI resorts/hotels in Costa Rica and majority of them are located in Tamarindo area.

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
9,127 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

Your Qn is very broad.

You may want to get a guide book on CR, a map (https://costa-rica-guide.com/all/maps/ ), and go over the Destinations Summary Guide- https:/… and the info about weather / availability in May: https:/… .

Level Contributor
331 posts
37 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

Fly to Liberia y and you have the beaches to just 20 minutes, stay at Coco Beach area, Playa Hermosa (Villa del Sueño Hotel, or Bosque del Mar Hotel) peaceful places and close to the best places to practice zip line, horseback ridding, rappelling, rock climbing, hot springs, and the really nice sunset.

Enjoy your vacations.

Level Contributor
35 posts
41 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

Funny cause your question was damn near identical to the question I was just about to ask. Last night my girl and I decided on CR, but today I start my due dillegence as to where, what, etc. TA's post on best things to do is pretty helpful. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g291… Anyway, I may piggy back off your post to see the responses. Have a blast!

New Orleans...
Level Contributor
349 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018

Sometimes is Costa Rica, the long drives are unavoidable to get what is "best".

Everyone has their own travel style, and so there is no one size fits all answer. Personally, I 'm not a huge fan of Guanacaste. Tamarindo is one of the most commercial beaches in the country, and the mega resorts with their golf courses are not great spots to view animals. None of these places are convenient to great nature.

There is Santa Rosa National Park north of these these beaches, and of course Rincon de la Vieja to the east. But I wouldn't call these convenient. Otherwise, this region is pretty flat pastureland, without a lot of forest remaining.

That being said, the coastline is nice. Some good beaches and large resorts.

I usually find myself recommending Manuel Antonio. We had a pretty spirited discussion about this in this forum last week. I'm stealing from that a little. It is a 2½ to 3 hour ride from SJO airport. But well worth it.

Manuel Antonio sometimes gets a bad rap. Sure, it is more crowded than it used to be. But everything is relative. I feel that it is less commercial than the northern beaches, because they actively enforces the set back rules here. These rules assure that now permanent structures are built close to the beach. This leaves a strip of greenery so that the animals can move around freely to forage and help maintain a diverse gene pool.

With a few exceptions (hotels that have been grandfathered in, or exceptions granted by the municipality) there is noting built on the beach. The topography here also includes hills that run right down to the beach, and this protects the beach from being developed as well.

The hotel zone, and the public beach are quite busy. And there are more folks in the park these days. But we are always able to find some uncrowded areas of the beach. There are also some "hidden" beaches in that area.

The positives are that there are lots of local adventure tours (ziplines, ATV tours, whitewater rafting, etc) . There are also some good nature tours as well. There are mangrove boat and kayak tours, horseback riding into the rainforest, day tours to Carara National Park, and more.

One of the advantages to this area, is that no matter what you spend your days doing, there are lots of great restaurants for nice dinners. You head back to your hotel for a shower in the late afternoon, and are enjoying a great seafood dinner and view at sunset. Sometimes, that is my favorite part of the day!

I hope this helps. Let me know if I can offer any further advice.

Warm Regards,

Pat Hewitt

Costa Rica Travel Exchange

"Haters never win. I just think that's true about life, because negative energy always costs in the end.

-Tom Hiddleston-

Reply to: First Time Vacation in Costa Rica in May 2018
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted