1st time info needed

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean 1st time info needed

Last Post This thread is marked as being about Costa Rica
1. Posted by geoffb (Budding Member 4 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I'm a single male in my 40's travelling to Costa Rica Oct 8th for 2 weeks. I plan on spending a few days in San Jose and then going to the Pacific coast for about a week before returning to San Jose. I would appreciate some advice on where to go on the coast and any other tips from experienced travellers. If anyone is going to be there during this time I wouldn't mind meeting up at some point. Thanking you in advance. Geoff:)

2. Posted by jackboy (Inactive 350 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Yes,Costa Rica was a great place and on my Central America trip this year I had a great time for a few days in Playa del Coca on the Pacific Coast which is 5hrs by bus from San Jose.
Then again from San Jose the best places I found where on the Caribbean coast only 3hrs away by bus was Puerto Limon(stayed2days)then 1hr by bus to Cahuita(stayed2days)then 1hr by bus to Puerto Veijo for a day or two then bus over Panama border to Bocas del Toro which was really worth it.
The nearest costal town from San Jose is Jaco,(1hr) and I was thinking of going but went the other way!!!!!!!
Bus's are big,cheap,fast and plentiful so have a decent guide book like Lonely Planet and have a few good days in San Jose and take it from their.
Have a good trip and enjoy your travels.
al de bes

3. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Be careful in central San José especially at night and take taxis to and from your destination in the late hours, Costa Rica is not the CR of pura vida and leaving your passport in the room of 20 years ago, remember in CR and concentrated in the poorer barrios of San José are several hundred thousand guestworkers legal and illegal mainly Nicaraguans, and such things as child prostitucion still abound, best enjoy the city for a day then bus out or better yet fly into Guanacaste province s (NW province of CR only 1.5 hours from Nicaragua Border)new Liberia International Airport only a 25 minute cab ride from the Playas del Coco and Hermosa with Volcanoes and Rainforests nearby on the Gulf of Papagayo, avoid congested, dangerous and polluted San José completely. low season until mid November, lower prices but CR generally expensive so you can always hop over to see us in Nicaragua, an eco paradise in its own right with Beaches galore, bargain basement prices and friendly people. We have a registered ngo volunteer eco lodge project over there, for info just message me anytime.

4. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I especially liked Manuel Antonio as a destination. Nice beach with moderate surf and nearby park full of wilderness. It's only 3 hours by bus from San Jose (if I recall correctly) along decent roads.

I would think about some time up in the hills. Maybe seeing Arenal volcano or spending some time in Monte Verde.

San Jose isn't that great, don't plan on spending too much time there.

5. Posted by Luucy (Full Member 39 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

HI There
I have lived in CR for 15 years so I know most places ( Iown a B&B here ona fruit and coffee farm in Heredia Hills But it may be a bit too quiet for you )
Here is my recommendations
Skip San Jose true it is polluted and dangerous ..Head to Heredia just 8km from the Airport and cleaner and safer than SJ..
As for beach areas fellow Brit JackBoy was lucky not having problems in Carribbean ESPECIALLY Limon VERY Dangerous ..althous the Beaches are pretty I stopped sending my B&B guests there 6 years ago when the drugs saturated the area and crime is AWFUL I hear the news daily and many guide books warn of the dangers in the Carribean ..the local police are afraid to work there ..hence even more crime
As one poster said Manuel Antonio is lovely and the park there is teaming with wild life. If you wnat the crazy night life without hte Natural Beauty Jaco can be fun and Great Western is a hopping hotel there
Good Luck and take care choose your places carefully ad don't waste time on the tourisy touted ares like Monte Verde a LONG haul and a waste of time ..we have rainforests in the Central Valley anf unless you are flying into Liberia I would also not waste the 6 housr drive each way to Guanacaste ..we have closer beaches just as nice ..Same goes for highly touted Volcano Arenal which is usually clouded in ..The Central Valley has 2 of the most awesome Volcanoes Irazu and the Poas with gorgeous waterfalls ..AND you can hike on the top of both and look down into the crater whereas yu can not go near the Arenal..and few people even SEE it usually clouded in ..but travel agents get huge commisions for sending people to way out places like Arenal and Monteverde..Believe me there is SO much to do in the Central valley and ALL tour can be booked from you B&B or hotel in the Central Valley..I gt guests who spend WEEKS at my B&B and do dailytrips and STILL have not seen all there is to see ..I always send them for 1 or 2 nights in the jungles of Toruguero AWESOME if you are into wild life 2 nights is long enough though
Good Luck
Have fun

6. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Flying into Liberia in Guanacaste Province in the NW near Gulf of Papagayo is usually cheaper than flying into San José with flights direct from Canada and from Europe via Miami and you avoid San José. The Papagayo Gulf area has all the attractions from quiet unspoiled beaches to rain forests to volcano climbing etc. without bussing for hours on end. Often is best to form a small group and hire a driver/guide of trekking or taxi if just sightseeing for a day and only 1.5 hours from Liberia to the border of Nicaragua by Bus or Taxi for a group, colllective taxis on other side. if you want to experience a poor country, rough edges, yet full of indingenous culture (CR has "indian reservations" like the US, most indingenous were killed off here 2 centuries ago and there is very little non-american culture in CR)amazingly low prices, friendly people, awesome crafts, volcanoes and national parks, beaches, colonial towns such as nearby Granada (the centroamericano Bus out of SJ takes you there from Liberia in less than 4 hours a/c with video $10 o.w.)no need to travel to Managua either.

7. Posted by Luucy (Full Member 39 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

I know you are promoting Nicaragua, but for travelers who are looking to visit HERE in Costa Rica, Please do not recommend that they fly into Liberia it is NOT cheaper than flying into the Central Valley (San Jose, althought the Airport is not IN San Jose City) I have many friends in Nicaragua and have visited Grenada and surrounding areas on 2 occassions, But truthfully it is nice but cannot compare to Costa rica ..And advising tourists to fly into ugly LiberiaSURE it takes them closer to Nicaragua BUT locks them into Guanacaste ...with ONLY beaches...whereby flying into San Jose they have LOTS more to see and do here in the Central Valley
Just my advice, after living in Costa Rica 15 years ..I do send some of my guests shopping to Nicaragua... IF they wish to visit there ...But they can just as easily hop on a bus for $10 from HERE in San Jose NO need to fly into boring Liberia ...

8. Posted by dbloom (Respected Member 586 posts) 13y Star this if you like it!

Just Beaches huh? from a local Guanacaste website...


General Characteristics:

Guanacaste is towered of volcanoes, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and friendly people! Whether your interest is eco-tourism, bird watching, adventure sports, fishing or just relaxing on an isolated beach. Hotel industry in Guanacaste has undergone a major growth during the last two years. With the aperture of important hotel chains like Melia Playa Conchal Resort, ^All Inclusive^ properties at the Gulf of Papagayo as Occidental Papagayo and the easy access by the Daniel Oduber international Airport located in Liberia just 45 min from Tamarindo / Flamingo or Conchal beach areas, the region can compete properly with international high standard accommodation and services.


Driving time from San José: Approximately 4 ½ hours

Access by domestic air: Travelair / Sansa

From San Jose to Liberia International Airport: 50 minutes
From San Jose to Tamarindo Airstrip: 50 minutes
From San Jose to Nosara Airstrip: 60 minutes
From San Jose to Samara Airstrip: 50 minutes
From San Jose to Punta Islita Airstrip: 60 minutes

Major attractions:

White, black and pink shell beaches
Santa Rosa National Park (last primary tropical dry forest).
Palo Verde National Park
Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Tropical Dry Forest national Park
Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge
Activities Available:

Coral reefs
Deciduous forests
Mangrove swamps
Tropical dry forests
Morning or Sunset yacht tours
Sport fishing Diving Surfing
Deep Sea Fishing (World record Bill fishes)
Horseback riding
Turtle Nesting (Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge - Nesting Season from Dec to Feb)
History and cultural activities "

Closest center with major infrastructure:

Liberia City offering all modern facilities and services such as Restaurant, bars, Shopping centers, Museums and Theatres, medical assistance, ground and air transportation, international and domestic flights, etc….

The people who live full or part time or vacation in Costa Rica are completely different than those who reside in or visit the rest of Central America to the north....Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua..Meso America and the Mayan World..thriving Indingenous culture from the "Living Maya" in Guatemala's Highlands to the Miskito people struggling to survive in the remote Atlantic Coast regions of Nicaragua and Honduras as opposed to the "Indian Reservations" that exist in areas of CR, where the native population was decimated finally a century ago. Costa Rica is for Eco Tourism and is very bland without a real culture of it's own..most of the crafts in teh tourist markets must be imported. Some Ticos, not all, consider themselves of course to be "European" and superior to other Central Americans, don't tell me I am wrong, I was a periodista in CR back several years ago for a multi lingual news weekly out of SJ, we could not print any of this of course, nor anything about the Real Estate scam artists, robberies and rapes of tourists, corruption etc.."democracy". In 1999 I accompanied 2 executives of TACA from El Salvador and Guatemala to SJ for business (seems some of my ancestors helped to build modern Central America from before turn of century)and one TICO, a bit inebriated, told us the "only good Indian was a DEAD Indian" we floored that TICO, I mean floored him, and left, the Guatemalan was of Mayan ancestry, my Dad's Great Grandmother was Native American and as well my associate on the project in Nicaragua is full blooded Cherokee Nation from USA. I finally started telling the Ticos I lived in the US instead of Guatemala, with all the snide remarks..what does not "compare" Missy? (I was first in CR 35 years ago was beautiful)..we have plenty of people with a good heart who come and help out and are charmed by the Nicaraguan people, explore the Natural Reserves, Beaches, Volcanoes, National Parks, Indingenous and Colonial Towns and villages, Crafts Markets, Monuments and more....and the Nicas tell foreign visitors what they think, out front, unlike in CR they will tell you what you want to hear....don't put your nose too high up in the air, someone may cut it off someday by accident..oh and since you know everything you have nothing more to learn. Have agudday.