My husband and I are planning a vacation in Costa Rica in late May.
The itinerary is as follows:
May 24: Arrive in San Jose
May 24, 25, 26, 27: La Fortuna Arenal
May 28, 29, 30: Totuguero - beach activities (including surfing)
May 31: Drive/Fly to San Jose for departure
In La Fortuna Arenal, we would like to include activities like hiking through the rainforest, visiting the volcano, hot springs, cloud forest, butterfly park, hanging bridges, etc.
1. Can you please suggest accommodation in both places (we are not looking for 5-star resorts - just cozy, comfy places with beautiful views, preferably)? Would you recommend pre-booking? Do you think we should go through a tour guide to book accommodation and activities?
2. We have been warned not to rent a car during our stay. Is it better to fly to each of these locations or to get a taxi? We don't want it to get too pricey, but don't want to waste whole days driving, either.
3. Would it be preferable to get a tour guide, especially at La Fortuna Arenal (so as to make the best of the short visit) or to go alone? We are both relatively active and enjoy outdoor activities. We would prefer to go alone, but do not want to miss out on anything good.
4. In order to get the best rainforest and beach experience out of Costa Rica during our 1 week stay, would you recommend some other combination of towns instead of La Fortuna Arenal and Tortuguero?
Thank you in advance.
You chose some interesting spots, but you have to consider the following:
1. La Fortuna (Arenal) does allow to visit the volcano and hot springs, whereas the other activities you mention are better offered in Monteverede, Santa Elena.
2. Tortuguero can only be reached by either plane (daily, from San Jose) or boat (either from Moin - Limon, or Parismina). Also here, no "beach activities" in the sense that Tortuguero offers nature watching, nor is it fit for "surfing". For this you would need to either go to Puerto Viejo (south of Limon) on the Atlantic, or otherwise some spot on the Pacific coast.
3. To "miss out on anything good" is unavoidable during a week's visit in Costa Rica.
4. Driving or flying: La Fortuna and Tortuguero have daily flights from San Jose. Taxis are expensive. For buses, see info further below.
Unless you haven't already done so, check the following websites (dot com unless otherwise mentioned): visitcostarica (this is the official Tourism Institute), visitacostarica (note the additional "a"), travelingcostarica, costaricanativa. For Arenal a nice site is: arenal.net
For anything concerning transportation: costa-rica-guide, costaricabybus, costaricapass.
Other very useful information can be found under "costaricatravelers" in groups.msn.com
Moon (books) also offers good web-based information on Costa Rica.
However, the best guide, in my opinion, is Exploring Costa Rica 2008/9, published by the Tico Times (ticotimes.net). Purchase an inexpensive copy (ISBN: 978-9968-746-11-3) before your trip or upon your arrival, and you'll find most replies to your questions. A host of the most updated information on Costa Rica.
Hopefully the above meets your requirements.
Welcom to Costa Rica and have a nice trip!
Costa Rica looks small n a map but because of terain and some poor roads it can take HOURS to ge from point A to Point B...Although I and many of my B&B guests love as I do Tortuguero. It can not be reached by car and a bit dangerous to try getting there via Limon a VERY dangerous port within the last few years . AND as writer says above NOT a place for surfing or swimming on beaches ( Tortuguero is great for Jungle experience abundant with wildlife including crocodiles etc. )
My suggestion is to choose a B&B or hotel WITHIN the Central Valley ad have them book you daily or overnight tours to either place .Many travelers are not aware that, despite the "Hype " from many travel agents reaping large commissons , it is not necessary to waste DAYS traveling to the boon docks in order to experience Volcanoes , Rainforests . Cloud Forests Jungle atmosphere etc.We have the ALL of those in our Central Valley AND in only ONE week you would spend much time in a car or bus ..Most B&B's or Hotels can arrange inexpensive all inclusive tours to Tortuguero ( One of my favorite places to "get away from it all" when my B&B slows down.
I send my guests all over including Tortuguero but if they have only one week they skip the Touristy overpriced area of Volcano Arenal ( hardly evr SEEN due to cloud forest ) and you can not go NEAR it .IF it errupts all Hotels and surrounding areas are evacuated., so may do not evn see the Volcano let alone fire shooting from it as many posters depict .
The 2 Central Valley Volcanoes Poas and Irazu are AWESOME and lovely day trips .The drive up to both summits are an experience to remember Then you can not only hike on top ad look down and photograph the Craters ..but spend time ON the Volcanoes .
So my advice would be spend your week mostly at a B&B in the Central Valley Then do day trips or overnight trips NOT so far away... And although I agree Tico Times book is good ..My INN is recmmended in it..My guests prefer the new and GREAT new guide book" OPEN Road the BEST of Costa Rica" by Charlie Morris .It is very honest and accurate and Charlie actually LIVED here in Costa Rica
Have fun, Be safe and enjoy our lovely country
[ Edit: Edited on Apr 23, 2008, at 12:20 PM by Luucy ]
OF Course Ice who does not live in Costa Rica and at age 19 and enjoys amusment parks ..I guess it is really bigtime to know it all at age 19!
Wow ! wish as all my worldly travels I had known it all at age 19 took me 50 more years to get to that stage! haha!
PS Comet I am sure is spelled Comment LOL while Scratching my head
I was in Costa Rica on the west coast in the Guanacaste (sp?) district in 2006 for my honey moon.
I absolutely loved costa rica but I wish I had covered more ground. We spent most of our time relaxing at one resort... which after our wedding was probably a good idea. We met several couples who traveled around in country by jeep they rented and their experiences on rough back roads were a little harrowing but they seemed to be having a really good time. Our trip from the airport to the resort took a lot longer than I thought it would from looking at the map because the roads were so bad.. more than once we had to double back because a road was covered by an over flowing river.
If you want to get a feel for where the hotels are and how they're concentrated here's a map of most of the hotels in the country and their prices. http://www.hotelmapsearch.com/?llz=9.976965850016049,-84.375,9&m=m