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Costa Rica

Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive

London, United...
Level Contributor
51 posts
14 reviews
27 helpful votes
Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive

We just got back from a two-week holiday in Costa Rica so wanted to give a quick trip summary - thank you for the help to those on this forum. We were traveling as a family, with two children aged 7 & 9.

A couple of general points:

Before we went, I was worried about the rain, but the weather was fine. We never needed our ponchos & only used our raincoats once.

Driving was also fine. We didn't use the 4x4 function in our car but we're glad that we had the option & were high up as went on several unpaved roads. We booked with Vamos who were great, the phone they gave was invaluable for Sat Nav

Aug 21 - landed late afternoon. Stayed that night in the Doubletree in Alajuela. Hotel was next to main road & quite noisy, also has a casino by the restaurant. But did have a pool & jacuzzi which we enjoyed after a long flight.

Aug 22-26. Drove to Cahuita. Took about 5 hours as they were doing works over the mountain & closed the road for about half an hour & we had a coffe stop. The mountain road is stunning, would have liked to visit the park there but think it would have been too much for the jet- lagged kids.

We stayed at Suizo Loco, nice two bedroom bungalow. Very pretty grounds with decent pool which the kids loved. While there we went on a guided trek in Cahuita, went snorkelling, & had a day in Puerto Viejo & Punta Uva ( our one bit of rain).

Had great sloth sightings in Cahuita, & also saw Capuchin monkeys,howler monkeys racoons, turtles, iguanas, snake & various insects.

26-28 Sarapiqui. We stayed at Chilamate Eco Lodge which was nice, family run place. Swam in the river, went white-water rafting (which my kids loved), went on a small chocolate tour and a short walk where we saw turtles, toucans & a snake.

28-31 - La Fortuna. Got a deal on The Springs so stayed there. The family room was amazing wth two connecting rooms & the kids loved the hot springs, slide & games room. Great breakfasts but pricey. I found it a bit corporate & really didn't like the way they had a tv at every bar showing sports, even the one in the rainforest. We were glad to have a car there so we did all activities independently. Went zip-lining with Sky Adventures - that was the kids' highlight. They can take children from 5 up but take them with a guide. We also did the Mistico hanging bridges unguided, saw monkeys, lizards & insects. The weather was more mixed there, we were on our way to the bridges one morning when it got really misty so went back to hot springs instead. I was glad I hadn't pre-booked as it meant wet could be really flexible with the weather. It did start raining while we were zip-lining, but was still clear & we ended up with our best volcano view despite the drizzle.

31-4 Playa Samara. Stayed at Villas Kalimba 2 bedrooms, small pool, very near the beach. We did surfing & horse-riding while here, weather was fine until the last afternoon when it started raining.

On the whole though a fantastic trip. Would like to return & do Osa Peninsula, Central Pacific & Southern Nicoya next. Such a stunning country, I was blown away by the beauty & greenery everywhere, even driving on quite main roads.

Happy to answer any questions, Pura Vida🐒🐍🦎🦜🐛🐜

4 replies to this topic
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
6,490 posts
54 reviews
11 helpful votes
1. Re: Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive

You did a great job with your planning. What a wonderful report! Where exactly is this mountain road on the way to Cahuita? Do you remember?

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
14,404 posts
75 reviews
191 helpful votes
2. Re: Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive

pequenitaLondon ,

Thank you for coming back to share your trip report. (What?! You are back, already?!)

Glad you had a good time.

The drives through the mountains on the way to/from the east coast are amazing! The weather could be changing so rapidly there! On our trips to that coast, we had sun, rain, fog, more sun, rain, all within a short time of each other, with very limited visibility during the foggy periods, but when we could look around the road, it was beautiful! E.g., those huge green leaves ("poor man's umbrellas") right next to the Hwy etc were very interesting to see! Glad the Hwy closure did not delay you much, 5 hrs total with a half-hour wait for the construction is not bad.

[mlmdaisy, driving directions, a few routes, depending on the departure point, - https://www.puertoviejosatellite.com/driving-to-puerto-viejo.php].

I know what you mean about TVs in your Arenal hotel. When ppl visit CR to enjoy its natural beauty, some ppl's need for TVs seems suprising to us, too, but, I guess, certain hotels figured there might be those who rely on TVs all the time as a must of a good vacation.

What did you see when snorkeling inside Cahuita NP?

London, United...
Level Contributor
51 posts
14 reviews
27 helpful votes
3. Re: Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive

Yes, it's the road that goes through Braulio Carrillo, so you're effectively driving through the cloud forest, it's stunning. My kids were wowed by the big leaves @subjectively.

My husband & youngest daughter saw a sting ray snorkelling, other than that lots of parrot fish,Yellow & black stripey ones, some bright blue flourecent small ones - don't really know the names. We didn't see any turtles or manatees, but visibility was good. The reef us brown rather than coloured but looks healthy.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
58,540 posts
122 reviews
38 helpful votes
4. Re: Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive

Thank you Pequeñita...great report...you can easily write a Travel Guide for Costa Rica...some jokers now days even trying to write books what a joke...!! well is a free world.

Great place The Springs...welll some poor caged animals around but great

Some cheap lodges in or around Arenal...with ONE TV set for more thatn 100 people...how nice!!LOL

The drive by Braulio CArrilo is always great I drove by a bout 2 days ago...love it...just love it...and glad you like it too!

Thank you ...please keep coming back !


Travel ProfeSional

Edited: 1:40 pm, September 06, 2019
Reply to: Trip report August-September 2019 self-drive
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