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Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

Shreveport, LA
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41 posts
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Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

Would love any info or advice on comparing these two areas. We are trying to decide which one to go to, after leaving Arenal. It will be around New Year's, so didn't know which might be a better place for that too?? Any help with travel, hotels, restaurants, activites would be appreciated!! Thanks!!

Key Marathon
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1. Re: Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

Hello Gidget: Manuel Antonio and Quepos ( The strip between quepos and manuel antonio ) and Tamarindo are tow of the most visited destinations in C.R. Other extremely visited areas are Monteverde, La Fortuna ( Arenal ) and... You cannot really compare them since even though they are both on the Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio has a difrent climate than Taamrindo in the North Pacific which is Tropical Dry while Manuel Antonio is a little bit greener. The advantage of Manuel Antonio I think is that you have a nice Tropical " Transition " Forest right near the beach it is a small but nice national aprk so if you have never seen Tropical Forest it is a good chance too. Also from Manuel Antonio there is plenty to do. Local Tour Ops. like Rancho Los Tucanes and Iguana Tours offer great 1 day trips to Carara, Rafting, Park, Hiking, Horseback Riding to a Waterfall, etc, etc, Also i think Manuel Antonio is very charming. Tamarindo is in a very dry area. I think Tamarindo is nice too, but there is not too much green vegetation around you, Actually during the Peak Season everything is very brown and dry. You have many activities from Taamrindo as well. I recommend Bebedero River Tour, or Miravalles Volcano, or Curubanda or Miravalles Volcano. You can even go to Arenal Volcano, Rincon de la Vieja, or take a Corobici River Rafting Tour ( Soft Rafting - COmbininf animal observation with a little bit of adrenaline ). As far as hotels, in Tamarindo I think CAPITAN SUIZO is still number one ( beachfront ) or Cala Luna is ncie too. Tamarindo Diria is the only big resort there ( right on the beach ). Also nice is Jardin del Eden. All of them have web sites. In Manuel Antonio I suggest you to take a look at www.hotel-california.com ,www.casitaseclipse.com and also Hotel Parador, Costa Verde is veru nice too. Go into their web sites and take a look at their rates. Good Luck.

NY
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2. Re: Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

We were in Manuel Antonio this past New Year's. There was a big celebration on the beach, at and around the discoteque. If you want to see the locals party this is the place to be - drunk, dancing, making fireworks, etc. Many restaurants there offered American-style New Year's dinner menus ranging from about $30 to $60 all-inclusive, outrageous considering how cheap the food is in real Costa Rican restaurants.

We didn't go to Tamarindo, so I can't really compare the two. We did go to Playa Grande, which is the next beach north of Tamarindo, and I can tell you that the drive from Arenal are to Manuel Antonio would be a lot easier than to Tamarindo. Also, realize that just because these are the 2 most famous beaches in Costa Rica it doesn't mean they are the best, or right for everyone. There are plenty of other beaches to choose from. It really depends on what you are looking for...

Shreveport, LA
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41 posts
6 reviews
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3. Re: Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

Thank you both very much. Everything you said was very helpful. I am leaning toward Manuel Antonio - partly b/c a couple of the hotels in the Tamarindo area you mentioned - Capital Suizo (our first choice) and Cala Luna are both sold out for New Year's!!! Also, it won't be as far travel time, from Arenal and then back to San Jose to fly home. We realize we can't do it all in 8 days - will have to go back!!!!

Chicago, IL
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4. Re: Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

I recently visited both MA and Tamarindo, and strongly suggest MA. The activities and scenery are more diverse and the people much more accommodating and friendly. If you are driving from Arenal you should leave around noon so you arrive in MA before dark.

We stayed at the Mango Moon, an intimate, American owned hotel on the same street as Makanda and La Mariposa. The service was very good and the staff/owners have some great tour guides they can hook you up with. The website is mangomoon.net.

Restaurants range from casual sodas (lunch will run around $3.00 pp) to more upscale restaurants where you'll pay at least $60 for dinner for two. Our favorite dinner restaurant was MarLuna and favorite soda was Angel, both on the main drag of MA.

You should definitely see MA park, preferably with a guide. You can take a Damas mangrove tour. Ours was incredible - just my husband, the boat driver, the guide and I - and at the very end of the tour an entire troop of monkeys came to the boat and interacted with us. The beaches are very nice, just don't bring anything of value unless you want to take turns swimming as you can't leave anything alone or it will probably be stolen. North of MA you can take a Tarcoles river tour where you'll see crocs & birds. There are also suspension bridges, canoeing, waterfall trous and catamaran sails. You won't be bored!

We were not there for New Years but were there in late December, so I can't comment on the celebratory activities.

Be sure to make reservations well in advance.

Shreveport, LA
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41 posts
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5. Re: Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

Thank you, TopGoddess - for the valuable info............ I think you are right - we won't be bored and I am very glad our final decision is Manuel Antonio. After reading your post, I feel really happy ab it and our kids can't wait!!

In-Town Atlanta
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6. Re: Manuel Antonio/Quepos vs Tamarindo areas????

We travelled with our children from Arenal to MA in late November/early December. It is about a six-hour drive (including a stop for lunch). Our children needed motion sickness medicine for the curvy mountain roads.

We stayed at Mango Moon and do not recommend it for children. After my spouse posted a negative review the owners offered a free two night stay; when we did not accept it them responded in a very agressive and nasty manner on tripadvisor.com, suggesting that our troubles were our OWN fault because Costa Rica is too adventurous and unsafe for children. Odd.

There are not many places in MA that cater to children, but we found Tulemar and Si Como No to be pleasant (and the food at Si Como No is very good).