We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Weekend Trip

Marietta, Georgia
Level Contributor
30 posts
29 reviews
Weekend Trip

Hi all!

I'm volunteering in Costa Rica next year for 3 weeks in May. I will have two full weekends (Full day Fri-Sun) to explore other parts of the country. One of these weekends I would like to stay at La Carolina lodge and hike to see Rio Celeste. Here are my questions:

1. My volunteer project will be based in San Jose. Would it be best time-wise to fly to Liberia early Friday morning and rent a car to drive to La Carolina? I was hoping to drive from San Jose to save money, but I would hate to lose more time than necessary by driving.

2. Will essentially 1 full day and 2 half days be enough time to really enjoy this part of the country, or should I try to visit this part of the country during a future trip?

Thanks in advance!

7 replies to this topic
Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
Level Contributor
8,235 posts
43 reviews
1. Re: Weekend Trip

Someone may correct me because I am not 100% sure, but I do not think flying to Liberia and then renting a car to get to Tenorio saves any time. IMO you are better off driving from San Jose. As far as I know the small flights here want you there about 1 hour before take off. So when you factor the flight time, then getting out of the airport, getting your rental and getting back on the road, I really do not think you are saving any real time in the end. Better I think to just bite the bullet and drive.

Do you have enough time? Not really, not to do the areas justice, but that does not mean it is not worth getting out and doing it. Life is an adventure, IMO go for it.

You might instead consider driving to Arenal (3 hours) and make that your home base. If you leave at 7am you will be in Arenal around 10am. That still gives you almost the entire day to do something. You could do a canopy tour, hanging bridges, something like that. The following day drive to Rio Celeste and spend the day hiking, then your last day do a small activity in the morning before heading back to the city.

IMO get out of the city when you can, the real beauty here is outside San Jose. Have a blast, great of you to spend time volunteering here.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,653 posts
25 reviews
2. Re: Weekend Trip

It's just over 4 hours from San Jose to the Bijagua area and La Carolina.

One very inexpensive option for you is to take the public bus. You can get the bus from San Jose to Upala -- there are several buses throughout the day -- and get off in Bijagua and then get a taxi to La Carolina.

Of course, in a rental car, you can drive yourself there and then to the Park and do a little exploring of the area.

And yes, two nights in the area would be fine.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,653 posts
25 reviews
3. Re: Weekend Trip

I should have added: It's about 1.5 hours from LIR airport to Bijagua so incabod is right -- it may not be worth the extra expense to fly.

Marietta, Georgia
Level Contributor
30 posts
29 reviews
4. Re: Weekend Trip

I'm with you, Incabod! I'd rather have a short time exploring than spend the weekend off in San Jose. I'm so glad I posted because I didn't think about the flight option not actually saving much time. I'll definitely rent a car and drive.

Regarding Arenal, I actually stayed near the Arenal volcano during my last visit and loved the area, but I wanted to mix it up this time. I found La Carolina and love the idea of being almost completely disconnected from the world and immersed in nature even for a short time.

Thank you so much for your help! I can't wait to visit Costa Rica again. I've missed it so much.

Marietta, Georgia
Level Contributor
30 posts
29 reviews
5. Re: Weekend Trip

Thanks for your response Hattie! You're right - that definitely isn't worth the extra expense. I also like the idea of having the freedom of a rental car to stop and explore when I want to.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,653 posts
25 reviews
6. Re: Weekend Trip

It's not a bad drive, especially if you use Rt 27 to Puntarenas and then get on Rt 1. Leave as early as possible on Friday because on Friday afternoon, the traffic gets pretty bad with people going to the beach.

Just north of Canas, you will turn onto Rt 6 which is a beautiful and scenic highway. At one point, if the weather is clear, you can see 6 volcanoes! To get to La Carolina, just drive through Bijagua and about 6 km or so, you will see the turnoff for La Carolina.

Have fun!

Marietta, Georgia
Level Contributor
30 posts
29 reviews
7. Re: Weekend Trip

That would be amazing - hopefully it will be clear! Thank you so much for all of these details. I am a little bit nervous about traveling solo for my first time, so this is really going to help me! I can't wait!

Reply to: Weekend Trip
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted