Me and a friend are deciding on where we should travel to for New Years (late December and early January) and we were thinking about going to Costa Rica. Has anyone been there? And if you have, could you tell us where you went to and what were the best places to visit? Any other advice is muchly appreciated.
Costa Rica has a lot to offer, it really depends on what you're after. First off, it's really easy to travel around even if you don't speak much spanish (which doesn't mean you shouldn't make an effort of course ).
My personal advice would be get to out of San Jose, the capital where you probably land, as soon as possible and either go to the Caribean site for a relaxed time on the beach in Puerto Viejo or head to the beautiful Tortugero National Park in the north east of the country. There I saw sloths for the first time and realized that pineapples grow on bushes !
On the western site (the Pacific coast) you find Manuel Antonio National Park near Quepos and further up Jaco, a good (but unfortunately expensive) spot to take surfing lessons or if you're already an expert go for the great waves. In the "northern" centre is Arenal which features a volcano and if you're lucky you can even see its lava sometimes. Close to there also is Monteverde cloud forest, a large reserve with outstanding wildlife sanctuaries.
Hope this helps as a start,
I have been to Costa Rica. I'd second the advice on Manuel Antonio, it's beautiful and not as busy as Jaco.
I wrote up some advice in the past that you can find on my blog entry on Costa Rica. Please let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to enjoy!
I agree with steff with not staying in San Jose.
You can head up to Fortuna and see the active Arenal volcanoe. Its well worth a visit and buses go there directly from San Jose. The public transport is really good and reliable, so you won't have any problems getting around.
Also, if you're into surfing, there are great waves to catch on the Pacific coast. i was in Jaco which was really good.
Last month i went to Costa Rica and went to San Jose (get out quick)
Puerto Viejo (good place to relax on the beach and surf)
Cahuita (the national park is fantastic with lots of wildlife and its next to the beach to)
La Fortuna (hopefully you can see the volcano,plus theres zip line tours and a nice waterfall to see)
Monteverde (more zip line tours and i did a night walk in the forest)
Manuel Antonio (another nice beach although abit touristy)
If you get time head to Bocos Del Toro an island off Panama not far from the Costa Rica border.Theres loads of small islands there that are amazing and you can see dolphins to.
I spent last Christmas in Montezuma, its on the pacific penninsular. I had an amazing time, all the locas are really nice, there are some amazing hikes to do, there are 3 or 4 wonderful waterfalls to see and just the right mixture of tourists and locals to ensure a good is had by all. I was camping at the time and stayed at a campsite that was a couple of hundred yards down the beach. Christmas day the boys of the campsite went fishing and then we had a feast of fresh fish then on New Year we built a bonfire on the beach and sang songs with the locals. It was unforgettable!
I will definately be going there again! We spent 3 months travelling through Central America so we were on a small time scale. When we arrived in Montezuma, we didn't want to leave and ended up staying for two and a half weeks!!!!
Just be aware of the pelicans!!!!!
Just got back about a week ago!
For New Years, I'd stay on the Pacific side. The Carribean side is nice and relaxing with a lot of places to chill out, but there is more extreme stuff and party towns on the Pac side. It's sure to be a lot more hectic at New Years. Manuel Antonio is sweet, Montezuma too. Wasn't too impressed with Jaco. If you want to surf, go to Tamarindo and the nearby beaches.
San Jose gets a bad rap, but it's a fun city if you have locals to take you to the spots.
Costa Rica is an excellent choice. If you planning on the Caribbean side do not miss tortuguero. It's the place for nature lovers- lots of wild life and many beautiful sights.
Arenal volcano is also recommended but be sure to go there on a good weather.
I stayed there in a nice hotel- lands in love which is in the middle of a cloud forest but only 45 minutes from Arenal so I was able to know when the weather is good and decide to make the ride or not.
Whatever you do leave some time for relaxing at the beaches, either Pacific or Caribbean.