My spouse and I are planning to travel to Costa Rica this January 2006. Does anyone have advice about planning? We want to see alot of things like the jungles, maybe rafting, hiking, beach, maybe a volcano. We plan to spend about a week. There are alot of tours online that seem very expensive. Do we need to make reservations ahead of time for the jungle tours and things like that? or can we do that after we arrive? We are redeeming sky miles for the flight down and want to do this as inexpensively as we can. What about car rentals? Is it safe and easy to get around or is it better to just take buses or taxis? Neither of us speak spanish, is that a problem?
Hope some of you can help us, we are not experienced travelers to other countries.
You will have no problem in Costa Rica,everyone speaks US English and they use the US$.
What you are intending to do in a week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think is a bit to much but when you get their you can check out jungle,beach,rafting,volcano tours etc from travel shops and take your pick from their.
Have a good look at links,tools and destinations at top of page for maybe better indepth info and for all your info and Planning Lonely Planet Central America guide book has it ALL in print with time scales etc.
Their is no problem useing bus's but check out car hire from guide book and see what price you like,timewise you are a bit pushed for travelling by bus!!!!!!.
We all live and learn so do your trip and wishing you a good one.
Have a nice day.
al de bes
I spent two weeks in Costa Rica. Went to San Jose, Monteverde (in the mountains), Montezuma (Nicoya peninsula) and Manuel Antonio (Pacific coast).
If you fly into San Jose and are looking for a place to stay, The Hotel Aranjuez (http://www.amerisol.com/costarica/lodging/aranjuez.html) is very nice. We had a superior room for $38 (Double) and that includes a TV. Free breakfast with someone making you omletes in the morning. They take reservations, but are VERY strict on them - make sure you call to reconfirm when they say. A cab from the airport is $10 - $ 12.
By far, Manuel Antonio was the best destination. Lots of wildlife, both in the national park and just outside hanging around. I saw both capuchin and squirrel monkeys, and my friend saw a few sloths (including a mother and child). It's a little more expensive to eat and drink than some of the other locations, but still very worth it.
I stayed at the Cabinas Piscis. Highly recommended hotel. $43 / night for a double room with private bath. Very basic, and cold showers, but it's only 100 meters to the beach, and the beach is near deserted. The beach and sea bottom are all sand. The surf is good - not too big that you can't swim, but big enough that you can pull out a surfboard or boogie board for some fun.
From 4:30 - 6:30 go to the Marlin Restaurant for 2 for 1 drink specials. For dinner, head to the Costa Verde restaurant for excellent BBQ (it's pretty pricey though, so save up a few bucks). Eat breakfast on the beach at one of the sodas for a few bucks.
Based on what I heard from other travellers, there are a couple of places that I didn't get to that I would have loved to have seen.
The Arenal Volcano (which I saw from afar in Monte Verde) is supposedly quite impressive. If I go back to Costa Rica, I would for sure dedicate a day to the Volcano.
As well, Corcovado is supposed to be jam packed with wildlife. There are some nice tent camps in Corcovado park, where you sleep in a "tent" (which is really a wood floor with a canvas covering). These are supposedly REALLY nice, and go for $80 or $90 a night. A little pricey (compared to a hotel), but you get to sleep right on the beach.
Let me know if you have any questions, I would be happy to help.
I spent 8 days in Costa Rica and did a lot, but it was only due to taking cabs from city to city and carefully planning how we were going to do things.
We began in San Jose, and then took a bus to Puerto Viejo. From there we went to Cahuita, and then back to San Jose in a cab where we caught a bus to Monteverde. From Moneverde we did the jeep-boat-jeep (which was wonderful!) to La Fortuna where the volcano is. Then it was another cab back to San Jose.
You do not have to pay for package deal. You can do it all on your own for much cheaper if you are willing to plan it out and be ready for buses to be unreliable and often full depending on the city. BUT- cabs are cheap and you can always find someone willing to share a minibus ride to another town for not much money. Many of the hostels and hotels can help you book cabs and arrange everything for you.