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Itinerary suggestions

London, United...
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Itinerary suggestions
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Hi, I would appreciate any helpful comments. My husband and I are in our 50s and hope to spend about two weeks in Costa Rica in December over Christmas. I would like opinions on our itinerary and if we are spending enough time in each place and if there are places we should include and trips we should consider taking. We fly to San Jose and stay the night. Next day we bus to Tortuguero for 2 days - one day on a boat trip on the canals seeing wildlife. No plans for day two so open to suggestions. Then bus to La Fortuna for 2 days – one day hiking and hot springs and one day exploring the rainforest on hanging bridges. Is La Fortuna Waterfall worth a visit for a swim? It seems that most places eg parks, hot springs, waterfall all charge an entrance fee. Are we stretching ourselves and do we need more time and should we see more. Then bus to Monteverde for 2 days – we will probably visit Santa Elena and do a canopy tour and hanging bridges and little horseriding. Then bus to either Manuel Antonio or Tamarindo to relax for 5 or 6 days by the beach, My preference is Manuel Antonio but quite a few people seem to go to Tamarindo. I would like to do little scuba and like the place to have shops and the opportunity to take day trips. We don’t want 24/7 nightlife but we do like places to eat and shop for food/gifts. Is Manuel Antonia a better option? One last question re: humidity, my husband is moderate asthmatic, will the weather be quite heavy going? Thank you.

10 replies to this topic
San Jose, Costa Rica
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64,729 posts
140 reviews
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1. Re: Itinerary suggestions
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Dear Martina...

Let me try...when you say BUS are you talking about a public bus or ???

SJO is in Alajuela not in San Jose...many places to stay near SJO...Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Courtyard by Marriot, Mangose etc all of them about 3 minutes from terminal , with free transfers to hotel and free breakfast.

Of course others like Pura Vida Hotel...nice and relax...

To Tortugero you can take a publicd bus and public boat,,,not simple but of course possible...check Casa Marbella in Tortuguero...

from Tortuguero you can take a boat back to La Pavona, then maybe shuttle to La Fortuna

Many hotels in La Fortuna ...try to find aplace that is close to LA Fortuna and hopefully with free hot Springs

La Fortuna waterfall is a nice hoke...I like it !!

From La Fortuna you can take tje Jeep Boat Jeep is nice door to door service and only $ 20.00 USD per person...

Many hotels also in Santa Elena ...or around...

Take a shuttle to Manuel Antonio is incredible there...good food, nice number of wild life...Ohhhh park is close mondays !! Many hotels...

Then back to SJO or...

Shuttle services are good...but now days with the virus...many shuttles companies are not operating or with different schedules

Not the same as a year ago...hopefully you will get advice by people that has been here in the last year!!

Please keep asking questions...a lot of locals an visitors ready to help you with first hand advice

Roadadvisor

Gainesville, Florida
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45 posts
44 reviews
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2. Re: Itinerary suggestions
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Hi Martina, by 2 days, do you mean you’re staying 3 nights so you have 2 full days in those locations? Is so, 3 nights in La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio worked well for us. Two nights in Tortuguero is all you need and more nights in MA is fine. If you get bored there are plenty of day trip options. When we went in August MA was definitely the most “touristy” place, but not too much. Mostly on the hiking trails. We enjoyed having plenty of restaurants to choose from. And the weather was great to us, but we’re in Florida so just about anything is better than a FL August! Monteverde was chilly at night, pleasant during the day. MA was the warmest and most humid, but not at all oppressive.

Tampa, Florida
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Yes, I would also say that two full days is the minimum time to spend in any area. This requires three nights, at least. You seem concerned about budget, so I can suggest some affordable lodges.

Look at Arenal Oasis Ecolodge, Villas Vilma, and Hotel Kokoro for Arenal. Check out Los Pinos for Monteverde, but there are plenty of places to stay for even less.

You hint that you're getting around via public buses. If you won't have your own vehicle, that impacts exactly where you should consider.

Around the holidays, it will be very busy and expensive in the most popular areas. If it was me, I'd head further south on the coast, to somewhere between Dominica and Ojochal. However, many lodges down there are somewhat isolated and you'd want to have your own vehicle.

Ontario, Canada
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70 reviews
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Martina, "It seems that most places eg parks, hot springs, waterfall all charge an entrance fee. ": yes, and the fee is considerable for foreign adults, and recently, some places increased their ticket prices and also lowered the age for the kids who used to be able to come in for free, in case someone is reading who is traveling with families/kids.

Currently, only 1 trail continues to be open to visitors inside the MA park, and the beach inside the park closes earlier than the park itself. US18 pp to access the trail and the beach.

Re the bus between Arenal and Monteverde - there used to be a jeep (taxi)-boat-jeep (taxi) transfer option via L. Arenal that existed for those two destinations. Desafio Co is still selling it now for US32 pp (https://www.desafiocostarica.com/transports-details/La-Fortuna-Arenal-to-Monteverde-Van-Boat-Van), but their prices are not necessarily the best, in comparison to what this same option was going elsewhere, so the above is just for your info re transportation options.

It is hard to say how busy smth will be these days, as the travel during the pandemic has changed, but by the next peak season / Christmas it might peak again, as winter holidays is one of the 2 busiest, most expensive times in CR, as mentioned earlier, and MA is one of the most popular areas. We found it too crowded in rain season, so I would not think about going there in the holiday season. Why not stay S. of there and visit the park on a day trip, if you wish, by bus, which can be easily done? Have you considered traveling outside of the busiest time? If you r planning on taking buses vs shared shuttle vans or private transfers, I understand that budget is a consideration, so you will be saving a lot of $$$ by booking accommodations outside of the peak times, which might go from mid Dec. and well into Jan.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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64,729 posts
140 reviews
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5. Re: Itinerary suggestions
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Martina be positive...nobody knows what is going to be open..!! We hope that everything ia going to be open...we hope !!!!

Who knows about xmas time ?? who knows about high season ??

Just relax... and read positive advices...and then later on the year to see what will be the way and where to stay or do !!

In refernce to tour prices they prices are not that bad !!

eoadadvisor

Edited: 06 February 2021, 19:56
London, United...
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I cannot say thank you enough to each of you who have responded to my post, I've found the advice helpful, thoughtful and warm. I'll certainly look closer at all your suggestions and look forward to visiting Costa Rica. Than you again.

Ontario, Canada
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18,755 posts
70 reviews
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@6, You are welcome, Martina.

I realize that choosing the time of a vacation is not always possible. But in addition to the difference in holiday price rates mentioned in my earlier post (many hotels have 3 price ranges - rain/green season, high/drier season and peak season), consider special booking conditions that, in some accommodations, apply specifically to the peak season(s). Since your current itinerary involves frequent moves from hotel to hotel, you might want to read the reservation policies of each place carefully - during the peak times, they might require a certain minimum # of nights per hotel and give no refunds for any changes or cancellations, no matter how early the request to change/cancel might be received. The biggest minimum required booking period for Christmas that I have seen in hotels in CR, was 7 nights. As mentioned, it is in some accommodations, not all.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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64,729 posts
140 reviews
45 helpful votes
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You are WELCOME Martina

Do not hesitate to ask any question any time...a lot of great TA members living here full time and ready to help you with first hand advice

Now days not even the hotels know about any seasons...simple answer thay have no idea if they are going to be open...

One thing is real...hotels are not going to be full capacity...

Do not pay anything in advance...terrible idea !!

Xmas minimun stays ?? I will like to know how any hotel etc...knows how busy they will be in Xmas ??

roadadvsiro

Ontario, Canada
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18,755 posts
70 reviews
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Martina, in case you get confused by the 2 last paragraphs of poster 8, here is just one of many examples:

"All Christmas and New Year’s reservations require payment in full by June 1st of the travel year and are non-refundable.", "Cancellation for Christmas & New Year’s reservations will result in the forfeit of 100% of total rent." (https://www.tulemarresort.com/rates-specials/terms-conditions/) and when one goes to "Book now" and tries to book a few nights around Christmas 2021, you get a refusal message that "Please note that a minimum stay of 7 nights is required for these dates.", asking you to choose a different booking period or to book 7+ nights. .

As I mentioned earlier, the above is quite common in the peak holiday season, though not for that many days minimum. Read the booking conditions carefully.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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64,729 posts
140 reviews
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10. Re: Itinerary suggestions
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About 11 months was another reality...we can not base our lifes in what use to be...or gusessing what may be

Just relax and common sense...once again do not pay anything in advance...abd if you like to worry...just read the confirmarion on booking conditions

We just learn during the last Xmas 2020 that rules and conditions change and will change again for 2021..

Relax and be happy !!

Some day we may solve the mistery why some people are the way they are...!!

roadadvsiro

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