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Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

San Francisco...
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Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

My husband and I are traveling to Costa Rica for 9 nights at the end of April/beginning of May. We plan on spending 1 night in San Jose, 3 nights in Monteverde, and 5 nights in Arenal (two nights at Nayara and 3 nights at Tabacon). My question is: Should we shorten our stay in Monteverde & Arenal to include a two day trip to Manual Antonio?? I'm worried that adding an extra stop will make the trip feel too rushed. We were hoping for one excursion a day, followed by lots of down time and trips to the spa. We travel to Mexico & Florida several times a year, and we live in California. Needless to say...we're always at the beach. Will the extra miles/expenses/and time to get to Manual Antonio be worth it, or should be stay put in Arenal/Monteverde?

San Jose, Costa Rica
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1. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

Depending on your arrival time why not go directly to Arenal less than 3 hours from San Jose, then 3- nts Arenal, 3 in Monteverde and the rest in Manuel Antonio. Otherwise if you do not want any beach check out the Sarapiqui Rain Forest Arena for a couple of nights (Less than 2 hours from San Jose) then go to Arenal and Monteverde.

Edited: 24 February 2012, 20:24
San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

It is one of our most common itineraries...SJO/Arenal/Monteverde,,SJO

What ever order you do is not big difference....of course is better Areanl and Monteverde then MA..

Manuel Antonio is nice for the wild life...is one of our smallest parks...but incredible nice...MA is not only a beach!

If you decided to used a Travel Agency be aware of some fake travel agents...recommending phantom tour operators...if you can ask for Secretary of Tourism certifiaction...a lot better and safer for you and your money...

roadadvisor

Pittsfield...
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3. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

We just returned from a trip to CR arranged by Absolute Experts of Costa Rica. One night in the Hotel Bougainvilla which was beautiful and had an excellent restaurant. The next day we went white water rafting on the Pacuare River and traveled to Arenal. Three nights in La Fortuna/Arenal, mountain biking, hiking, canyoning, hot springs. Two nights in Santa Elena/Monteverde, more hiking, zip lining, horseback riding, orchids and more eating. From Santa Elena it is about a 3 hour drive to Manuel Antonio. The preserve is extraordinary especially for people from the city. The beach is beautiful, the water is warm and clean. There are many activities available but by this time all we wanted to do was lay around in the sun. The La Mariposa Hotel was gorgeous, the service was impeccable and they arranged for an earthquake as an added thrill. We had some good meals in MA, specifically, the Cafe Milagros, Agua Azul and Victoria's. The entire itinerary was arranged and conducted by Nicole Engle of Absolute Experts of Costa Rica. So to answer your question the Arenal/Monteverde/MA itinerary is a good slice of CR and very enjoyable. We had a terrific time and are already planning our next trip.

Tustin, CA
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4. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

To the original poster, You are in OC like myself and we are planning a trip to CR 5/21-5/31as well!

Which travel company are you using? I've been following TravelZoo and finally decided to go with LatinDestinations.com. They offer "build your own" vacation packages including flights/hotel/excursions/airport/hotel transfers. We've booked a few excursions thru them but are considering using local excursion places. Who are you using for your excursions?

I found Desafiocostarica for ziplining and SUP

http://www.desafiocostarica.com/

as well as this site: frommers.com/destinations/…0219023259.html

Deciding who to choose in terms in reliability at cost is hard though. Anyone else have suggestions?

Lastly, to anyone else that can help:

We like Arenal and Manual Antonio but would like to see the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Our original trip was to stay 4days Arenal/2days Monteverde/4 days Manual Antonio. We didn't like any of the hotels/lodge in Monteverde so would it be possible to just take a tour from Arenal to MOnteverde or MA to Monteverde? Or is that just too far (8hrs I believe?) Would it just be better to stay in Monteverde for 2 days then?

Thanks for any tips/advice! You guys helped a lot when I planned our trip to Cabo San Lucas! =)

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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5. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

Going to Monteverde as a day tour is just too far and tiresome.

What are your expectations re. hotel/lodge in Monteverde? Or better, which hotels you do not like and why? There are many accommodations some of them less known.

Tustin, CA
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6. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

Xelas,

We picked Monteverde Lodge b/c that's one of 13 hotel options given to us on LatinDestination.com's website. It was recommended but we just think its "older" than we'd like. We're also concerned w/ meals at the hotel since our trip will involve eating at the hotel mostly (not inclusive). Since we are in Monteverde for only 2 days it's not a big deal. tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g309277-d310473…

However, we are trying to decide what excursion to do and how much time to do them. My understanding is Selvatura Park is located WITHIN the Cloud Forest so we were thinking of doing a Guided hiking tour + suspension bridge + canopy tour+ butterfly garden + reptile/amphibian exhibit. Or should we forgo the canopy tour and just enjoy the nature w/ a hike + butterfly + reptile exhibit + suspension bridges?

We're interested in this tour:

anywherecostarica.com/destinations/monteverd…

Thanks for your reply!

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7. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

Don't miss out on Manuel Antonio- it is not "just a beach". It is one of the "Top 10 most beautiful sunsets in the world" according to travel magazines and I agree. The wildlife is fantastic too. 3 nights in Arenal/2 Monteverde/The rest at Manual Antonio is perfect. The Selvatura Park tour is still one of my favorites in Costa Rica.

Texas
Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
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8. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

I think Manuel Antonio is worth seeing. The beach inside the park is beautiful, and it has really easy access to wildlife, which isn't always as easy to spot in other places. If possible, I'd skip the first night in SJO. If your flight lands early enough, I'd just head out the first day to Arenal. It's really up to you and whether you'll feel too rushed or not. Seeing three places in a 9 day time frame will involve a lot of travel time. We did one 9-day trip that was only Arenal and Manuel Antonio, and that was a nice combo. I like the idea of pairing a beach and non-beach location. It took us about 5 hours to travel between Arenal and Manuel Antonio.

Rome, Italy
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for Sri Lanka, Maldives
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9. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

we were in Costa Rica last year, and i agree with volcano girl, you can't skip Manuel Antonio... its beautiful.

we went to Manuel Antonio straight from the airport, and after Manuel Antonio we took off to Monteverde, and then Arenal.

we read a quick recap with pictures and videos after we got back last year, you can read it here:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g291982-i813-k4316…

Edited: 16 April 2012, 23:37
Tustin, CA
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10. Re: Arenal/Monteverde? Or Arenal/Monteverde/Manual Antonio??

For sure we're going to visit Manuel Antonio. Do you guys know what the water will be like (temp, waves big or small?) I read there was a lot of run off b/c it's near a city.

Also we are going to skip staying in San Jose and are choosing to go directly to the hotel in Arenal. Do you guys have any recommendations for a transfer company/shuttle service?