For a family special an active family...Arenal is the place... is a lot going on there...but if your family is into nature, plants, insects, hikes...Monteverde is your place!
Just buckle up and enjoy the ride in PARADISE!
I like Arenal over Monteverde. Arenal gives you hot springs, Venado Caves, La Fortuna Waterfall, many different tour options. Not to mention one of the worlds top 20 most active volcanoes and Lake Arenal. While your in Jaco Poseidon has the best restaurant in town, Tsunami Sushi is excellent, Wishbone Restaurant, Bubbas Tacos, Claritas beach bar if you want to meet some of the Americans who live in town.
Hope this was helpful
I travel, therefore I am...
Arenal....much, much more to do and see!
We really prefer Arenal over Monteverde - so many adventure activities, and the active volcano which is really special. Arenal is also easy to get to; the road to Monteverde is long and bumpy. Monteverde is nice if you want to see quetzals and experience the cloud forest environment, but Arenal is a place we'll go back to year after year.
Definitely Arenal. Your kids will love it, with an active volcano, wildlife and tons of adventure tours to chose from. And you can enjoy it all from naturally heated hot springs.
Hope this helps,
Marina K. Villatoro
arenal = more touristry and less natural
monteverde = centres around nature, not as many gimmicks or touristy feel.
i'd choose monteverde over arenal, but i am also fine wandering around the cloud forest for days. i don't do the white water rafting or ziplining.
I do think Arenal has natural beauty as well though - the volcano is amazing, and the waterfall hike. Eco Termales natural hot springs doesn't have the touristy feel that some of the other spots have. Also the Hanging Bridges hike - we didn't really see anyone else on the trails. The Cano Negro tour is great for spotting wildlife - have spent several hours on the river without seeing any other people.
You are probably already locked in and confirmed at Jaco but another idea is drop Jaco and do both Monteverde and Arenal?
Any families out there who have visited Jaco care to offer experience on Jaco for families?
From what I have been reading in several books and tripadvisor Jaco is not one of the preferred areas, esp for families with children. I have read from several resources that it is one of the biggest and touristy beach towns with lots of bars, us fast food places, not too safe. I would stay away. Have been told Nosara, Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Arenal are all good choices. Hope this helps.