Costa Rica Itinerary Help, Please

Old Oct 29th, 2022, 03:32 PM
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Costa Rica Itinerary Help, Please

Hi. I'm trying to plan a trip for December for my 14-year-old daughter and me (female/55/good health). We have flights booked in and out of San Jose, but nothing else booked yet. I've read several of the best guide books and a bunch of websites. I've got information overload and decision fatigue. We've got 10 days in CR. My daughter is a good and patient traveler, and would like to do "more things, even if that means more traveling" and I'm fine with that. Priorities are animals, rain & cloud forests (hopefully including zip line and hanging bridges), some type of volcano experience, soaking in hot springs, a beach experience where we can go in the water and maybe take a beginner surfing lesson (so, not a "surf-only/no swimming" beach), and a chance to snorkel would be a bonus. Flying in and out of San Jose.
My current, curated hit list includes:
Volcan Paos/La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Foruna/Arenal
Monteverde
Rincon de la Vieja
Manuel Antonio
I know it's a lot, and I'm open to removing things you think could be redundant. We are willing to be busy! I'm having trouble putting the itinerary together and figuring out the transportation (shuttles? rent a car for some parts? fly somewhere?).
Thinking perhaps:
Day 1 (arriving late the night before): Rent a car in SJ. Drive to La Fortuna/Arenal via Volcan Paos/La Paz Waterfall.
Day 2 and 3: La Fortuna and Arenal
Day 4: Taxi-boat-taxi to to Monteverde (but how do we get rid of the car? Doesn't look like we can leave it in La Fortuna)
Day 5: Monteverde
Day 6: Monteverde to Rincon de la Vieja (but how? Should we just keep the car and drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde?)
Day 7: Rincon de la Vieja
Day 8: Rincon to Liberia (leave car in Liberia if we still have a car) -- fly to Manuel Antonio (Quepos) via San Jose
Day 9 and 10: Manuel Antonio
Day 11 (travel): Fly Quepos to SJ early morning. Afternoon flight out of SJ.

Is this too nuts? Do you have suggestions of things to drop if it's too much? We do have a lot of energy.

Thank you so much for any thoughts and suggestions!
Alexa
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Old Oct 30th, 2022, 12:02 AM
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Yes it's way too nuts. We did a nine day trip for our first trip and did the Arenal area combined with Manuel Antonio. It takes a long time to get from place to place, so you're going to be on the road way too much and not get a chance to enjoy things. We are go go travelers, but I wouldn't attempt to cram all these places into 10 days.
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Old Oct 30th, 2022, 12:06 AM
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I would definitely keep the Arenal area on your list. Check out Tabacon for a beautiful hot springs experience. Sky Trek is great for ziplining, and the area also has the Mistico Hanging Bridges. If you stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, they have a free guided hike every morning, lots of willdife on site. You could also visit the La Fortuna Waterfall. The Bogarin Trail guided tour is excellent for seeing sloths.
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Old Oct 30th, 2022, 06:39 AM
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Thank you for your info and experience! So, looking at my "too nuts" list above, the biggest geographical outlier is Rincon de la Vieja. I visited CR about 25 years ago and never got to Rincon, and I thought all the geothermal stuff would be great for my daughter especially to see. But maybe we can get enough of that with a visit to Volcan Poas? If someone can tell me it's "ok" to skip Rincon de la Vieja, I'd appreciate it
I feel like Moteverde and some sort of beach are must-do. It seems like Manuel Antonio is the easier to reach and more swimming-friendly beach experience over the Nicoya Peninsula. So, that would give us:
1) Day trip to Volcon Poas/La Paz Waterfall (either I guided trip from SJ or en route by car to La Fortuna)
2-3) 2-3 days in La Fortuna/Arenal
4-6) Travel and time in Monteverde
7-9) Travel and time in Manuel Antonio
With one day left as we piece it together.
Still busy, but does that sound better?
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Old Oct 30th, 2022, 08:38 AM
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We've been to Costa Rica over ten times and never been to Rincon. I think it's okay to skip for your first trip. We really enjoyed Poas, but it gets enveloped in fog, and a lot of times you can't see it at all. We had to wait quite a long time for the fog to lift, and the crowd cheered when it did. They've started implementing timed tickets where you have to go at a certain time and can only stay so long, at least they did during Covid. You'd have to check to see if that's changed. You may or may not get to see it. We love the La Paz Waterfall Gardens; the waterfalls are beautiful We stayed at the Peace Lodge and really enjoyed it. It's probably really expensive now; we haven't been recently. Lots of hummingbirds there, and you can hand feed them. Monteverde is popular with birders; we saw quetzals there, other than that just about everything you can do there you can do in the Arenal area. It was also really chilly when we were there, had to wear sweatshirts and fleece jackets at night, and our hotel had the fireplace going. I've never had a strong desire to go back. You'd also have to take a look at your flight times. You don't want to travel between cities in the dark - may need to spend a first or last night near the airport. Manuel Antonio has a beautiful beach inside the park. We used Manuel Antonio Expeditions for a guided tour of the park and for the Damas mangrove tour; they were excellent! We stayed at Tulemar - saw monkeys and sloths right on the property. Good open air restaurants nearby; you just have to be careful walking along the road. I'd recommend bringing a small flashlight. Two days isn't enough for the Arenal area. We usually stay four when we go. I'd increase time there if you can.
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Old Oct 30th, 2022, 08:40 AM
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https://www.tabacon.com/product-category/one-day-pass/ has some pics of Tabacon - it's really pretty.
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