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Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

NY
Level Contributor
213 posts
2 reviews
Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days ”

Nov 16, 2011, 12:04 AM

Because of the need to stay in San Jose for my first week in CR, i'll only have 4 extra days to visit another area. I am torn between Arenal and Manuel Antonio. I am a hiker and nature lover. It seems impossible to visit both in 4 days. Which of these 2 areas would you suggest i go to? This will be my first trip to CR and it will be in Jan 2012. I might be able to take off for an overnight trip during my week in San Jose but it seems to me that neither of these 2 places can be seen in such a short time.

Manuel Antonio
Level Contributor
86 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Good morning Nyvoyageur

Well, Manuel Antonio National Park recently has been mentioned by Forbes (forbes.com/pictures/eikg45fje/parque-naciona…), as one of the most beautiful parks in the world.

Not much to add....

Saludos

NY
Level Contributor
213 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

would it be worth it to go for one overnight to Manuel Antonio from Alajeula? Either flying or preferably by shuttle?

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
19,201 posts
62 reviews
3. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Depends more on what you prefer: Manuel Antonio has nice beaches, good nightlife and a park (but I disagree with Forbes). Arenal has volcano, hot springs and adrenaline activities.

NY
Level Contributor
213 posts
2 reviews
4. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

I've been reading a lot on both forums (MA and Arenal) and i think i would prefer the 4 days end of trip in Arenal. So, would it be worth it to take an overnight trip from San Jose to see MA? I'd prefer shuttle bus but to save $ i could even consider the Sansa flight.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
10,958 posts
23 reviews
5. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

If you can pick a different weekend to visit and save your 4 days for Arenal, I do think Manuel Antonio is worth a visit. You are more likely to spot wildlife around MA than in Arenal (unless you stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge). Take a guided hike within the park and check out the beautiful beaches inside the park as well, kayak or take a boat trip through the mangroves at nearby Islas Damas. You could also visit Rainmaker Reserve or Hacienda Baru, located an hour south of Manuel Antonio near Dominical with great hiking.

Hopefully you are aware that Arenal volcano is currently sleeping and the top of the volcano is often not visible for days. In fact I actually think that Arenal is great for adventure lovers, but hikers and nature lovers will find more of interest around Sarapiqui, roughly 1.5 hours out of San Jose.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
3,528 posts
6. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Both areas offer a lot of Nature activities and you can see wildlife on both. I think I would probably go to Manuel Antonio at kae a hike in the park and the Damas Island Mangrove boat tour. Otherwise if you go to Arenal I would suggest to take the Hanging bridges tour, the cano Negro boat tour, the Arenal hike, there a night walk at Ecocentro Danaus

NY
Level Contributor
213 posts
2 reviews
7. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Thanks for the replies. Here are a few more questions:

1) I just read in one of the forums that MA Park is closed on Mondays. Is this true? And if so, can one still go to the beaches inside the park? or the whole park is closed? I would lose one of my days!

2) i hiked in Volcano National Park in Hawaii and it was fantastico! Crossing sleepy craters, etc. That is what i assume i would have a chance to do at Arenal. So even it there is no lava, i would enjoy the hiking. Hiking would interest me more than thermal pools that all tours seem to take you to. Could i just arrive by shuttle van directly to the Arenal Park and just hike there with maybe a guide? And then stay somewhere overnight or find an evening shuttle van back to San Jose?

3) Or could i replace this kind of hike with going to Poas, (close to where i'll be the 1st week)?

4) I do not want to drive anywhere and though those shuttle sharing vans might be best. Your thoughts?

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
50,978 posts
42 reviews
8. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Dear nyvoyageur

Let me try to answer your set of questions...

1- Yes the park is close on Mondays...and Yes again the whole park...you can not just go to the beaches inside the park..sorry!

2- Yes you can do that...and now days maybe even better chances for you to hike some old trails that were closed by safety reason...but now with the volcano taking a nap...the Park Administration is open some old trails...the best way get a guide...

Most shuttle companies will dropp in hotels around La Fortuna, Tabacon etc...from there you may have to take a taxi...

3- Poas is a great Volcano...nice hikes but a lot more regulated...

4- INTERBUS and Gray line maybe the best shuttle companies in our country! good prices...nice vans...nice drivers!

You can also try in Arenal El Silencio old lava float...also a nice hike to Cerro Chato...also La Fortuna Waterfalls...great places...

Remember to dealt with companies that are certified by the Costa Rica Governmet..ICT

not ICT certitication you will be gambling with your money and your vacation!

roadadvisor

Treasure Island...
Level Contributor
347 posts
157 reviews
9. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

If you only have 4 days, you will have more than enough to do and see if you stayed in Arenal. Volcano, hot springs, numerous hiking trails, rain forest, waterfalls...the list is endless. Arenal is beautiful and definetly worth the 4 days.

Grand Rapids...
Level Contributor
45 posts
233 reviews
10. Re: Arenal or Manuel Antonio if only 4 days

Just returned this morning. Not sure I am ever going to Manuel Antonio again. Seems to be rundown, unsafe, just didn't like the feeling there. Arenal, on the other hand is bustling with young people, full of tours like canyoneering, hiking, waterfalls, etc. Everyone was happy with their experience when we would talk with people on vans or in restaurants. However, the zip line in Monteverde was awesome with views of Arenal, Nicaragua, etc. Did the Selvatura zip line and loved it. Did it with each visit. There are zip lines in every town and usually more than 3-4 to pick from.