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How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

Carrboro, North...
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How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

We have 11 nights for our March 2011 Costa Rica trip. We are a family of 5 including 3 teenagers (13, 15,16). We are not sure how best to divide our time so that we are not spending too much time in transit. We are thinking of 2 to 4 overnights in Arenal, possibly 2 to 4 nights in Manuel Antonio, and 4 to 6 nights in the Drake Bay area. Our flight times allow us to avoid staying overnight in San Jose as we arrive before lunch on our first day and depart after lunch on our last day. Also, we are planning to reach and/or depart Drake Bay via Nature Air or Sansa (depending on what area we are in before/after). Our top priorities for the trip are snorkeling, seeing wildlife, and zip-lining. It sounds like from all the posts I've read that zip-lining in Monteverde, while it may be the ideal location, is not worth the added travel time. Would the Drake Bay area be exciting/good for jungle and wildlife viewing? Would it be better to consider zip-lining in Arenal or Manuel Antonio? We are an adventure oriented family and will make good use of the kayaking and hiking options that some of the Drake Bay lodges include. Everything I've read about Drake Bay sounds like it would fit our family and interests in terms of lots of activities, low crowds, scenic location, etc. We are not sure whether Manuel Antonio has something unique to offer in terms of overall experience. Would there be a better area to substitute for Manuel Antonio? Should we just focus on Arenal and Drake Bay or would that be too much time in each? Thanks in advance for the ideas.

Cano Island
Islands, Nature & Wildlife Areas
Naturaseekers
National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Hiking Trails, Forests
Seattle, Washington
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1. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

You should an on 3 nights minimum in each areas you mention. 2 nights is not enough because it only gives you 1 full day. 4 nights is even better. Great ziplining in Arenal so you don't need monteverde specifically for that. I would move snorkeling down on your priority list because it's just not that good there while wildlife us. The best wildlife and family experience I've found is around Cabo Matapalo at Bosque del Cabo which really isn't a beach destination so you may want to split for some pure beach time.

Edited: 12:59 am, August 19, 2010
Munich, Germany
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2. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

I agree with Travelicious: ziplines are great at Arenal (e.g. Sky Trek). Arenal is great for all kinds of adventure and nature tours, so 3 to 4 nights there is a good amount. I would also do 3 to 4 nights at Drake Bay. One of the best if not the best place for snorkeling in Costa Rica is Cano Island. It is easily accessed through Drake Bay. Have done it this year in March from there. You will have a one hour boat ride to the island and we saw three whales with a baby on our way there. Snorkeling is really exciting: reef sharks, different rays, turtles and of course all kinds of fish. Highly recommend this tour. Before lunch, we hiked a bit on the island which was nice too.

Manuel Antonio has a very nice beach inside the park and you will see lots of wildlife there. But it can get crowded there. It is one of the most visited National Parks in Costa Rica. Actually a bit too crowded for me... I prefer the areas a bit more south where it is more quiet and less touristy (Uvita and Ojochal). Nice beaches there as well. Tortuguero on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is another place I really like. Great for wildlife, boat tours and kayaking.

Pensacola, Florida
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3. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

www.manuelantoniopark.com

makes a nice stop between

Arenal/MV area and Drakes

spend a night or 2 there

www.jinetesdeosa.com nice moderate at Drakes

3 days minimum there for me...

Cano Island and www.corcovado.org are a must there

Have fun,

Puerto Jimenez...
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4. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

you write: "We are an adventure oriented family and will make good use of the kayaking and hiking options that some of the Drake Bay lodges include..."

While Drake is a beautiful place, it is rather isolated, and trying to explore the rest of the Peninsula from there is difficult and costly. In my opinion, the benefits of Drake are swimming beaches and access to Caño Island.

The area around Rincon de Osa on the Golfo Dulce has some of the most pristine mangroves for excellent kayaking - Sunrise and Sunset host many bird species, and sometimes dolphins and whales can be spotted in the calm waters. Fishing for red snapper and other is also good here...

The area around Matapalo and Rio Piro (Bosque de Cabo - El Romanco - etc) is filled with great hiking, surfing, and lots of different kinds of animals.

Carate and La Leona are the gateway to Corcovado National Park - the crown jewel of the Osa. I would suggest spending 3 days exploring the park, hiking in and out from La Leona with 2 nights at the Sirena Ranger Station.

Enjoy your trip to Costa Rica!

Pura Vida,

Ballardo Diaz, Marine Biologist & Jungle Guide - Osa, Corcovado & So. CR.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

Lots of good advice. As far as Cano Island I haven't been in March but I was pretty disappointed even though it's said to be the best option in CR. I think the weather changes the visibility and types of fish greatly though and dry season should be better for you. We saw a few fish but it was nothing spectacular.

Antigua, Guatemala
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6. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

From the sounds of it, I would recommend spending 3 nights in Arenal and substituting Manuel Antonio for Monteverde (both Arenal and Monteverde have great ziplining with Skytrek) and then heading to Drake Bay. My favorite lodge there is: La Paloma and your flights are included in the package. Plus you get Cano Island, one of the top spots for snorkeling and a hike thru Corcovado!

Hope this helps,

Marina K. Villatoro

San Jose, Costa Rica
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7. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

You can make all land and domestic flights in your own...you will be surprised how much money you will save...

hard for me to said how many nights in Drakes since I love the area and we even own some land there...

Arenal good 4 nights...lovely area and kids just love it...and again you are coorect maybe 4 nights in Manuel Antonio...

Then to Costa Rica last frontier...I will follow the advice from Jaguardman local person, college degree in Biology, he knows OSA, he is there most of the time...

Manuel Antonio it is nice for a stop over and relax then go...recently I drove a group of people mostly Drs. and we stop over in Manuel Antonio and next day we drove to Puerto Jimenez...about 3 hours lovely ride!

roadadvsor from Costa Rica and IN COSTA RICA

Let me know if you have more questions!

Carrboro, North...
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8. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

Thanks--I am getting a lot of good info.

If we decide to concentrate on Osa (6-7 nights) and Arenal (4 nights), how do we go from Drake Bay to Sirena? That way we can still do Cano Island, but could have a little more time to explore Corcovado than a single day tour. It sounds like the wildlife viewing could be best if we stayed at the Sirena Ranger Station due to early morning and evening being good times for animal activity. Maybe the Drake area lodge would be willing to combine their Corcovado tour to the Sirena Ranger Station as a drop off and then pick up on a different day? Any ideas about which, if any, lodges would do this. I can also check with the lodge. I am most closely considering the Drake Bay Wilderness Resort. Any opinions on this lodge. They seem to have good reviews and reasonable packages. Also, thanks for the suggestion to make our own in country flight reservations and to do the zip-line at Arenal.

Rockford, Illinois
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9. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

The Drake Bay Zip lines were WONDERFUL, also you can horseback ride to them which next time we will do. Drake area is beautiful, make sure you leave enough time to sit on your deck and just take in all the nature around you. We spent six days there in Dec. and are going back late Nov. to Dec due to fantastic locals, guides, scenery, tours, food, new friends etc. etc.

Bring cards, games for nights after dinner. Also headlamp and flashlight are super helpful.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: How many nights to truly experience the Drake Bay area?

We were in Drake Bay for 4 nights in June and then did an overnight at the Sirena Station. We also did Cano Island but were a little disappointed in the underwater visibility, although you may have better conditions than we did with rain affecting visibility. We took a boat to Sirena which is easy to arrange since nearly all the lodges do daytrips to Sirena. After 1 or 2 nights in Sirena you can boat back to Drake Bay or hike out to LaLeona and Carate. We stayed at Las Caletas (loved it) and they provided the boat but I think you could easily work with any lodge. We hired a guide separately for our time at Sirena. And yes we had more luck spotting animals later in the day inclduing a herd of over 30 peccaries as well as a mother an baby tapir.