Costa Rica vacationing...another original Ask Mefi topic
January 21, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone been to Los Altos de Eros in Costa Rica? What did you think? Alternatively, other CR recommendations?

My wife and I are finally taking a belated-honeymoon in mid-April, and we have pretty much settled on heading to Costa Rica. Neither one of us have traveled to that part of the world before, so we aren't quite sure what to expect.

After reading through a lot of TripAdvisor reviews, the Los Altos de Eros seems like a great hotel. We are thinking about booking, but I guess I have a few questions...

1. How long is a good vacation in Costa Rica? We were originally thinking 10 nights or so, but now I'm concerned that might be a little too long.

2. My wife is very much a "go go go" kind of vacationer, while I'm more of a "relax at the hotel" guy. Is she going to be bored? Any hotel recommendations that would accommodate both of our needs?

3. Anything else we should know about traveling to CR?

Thanks MeFi'ers!
posted by suburbanrobot to Travel & Transportation around Los Altos, CA (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My wife and I just spent a week in Costa Rica, after spending a week in Panama. We both tend to be the "go go go" types, so weigh my answers accordingly! Unfortunately, I can't really talk much about the Tamarindo area... we flew into San Jose and spent our time in the eastern areas of Costa Rica.

First, I'll answer 1 and 2 at the same time, because they work well together.

How long is a good vacation in Costa Rica? We were originally thinking 10 nights or so, but now I'm concerned that might be a little too long.

My wife is very much a "go go go" kind of vacationer, while I'm more of a "relax at the hotel" guy. Is she going to be bored? Any hotel recommendations that would accommodate both of our needs?

Personally, I think that ten nights in the same place would bore me. If you are feeling adventurous, car rental rates aren't too bad -- you could look at splitting your time up and seeing more of the country.

My wife and I spent quite a bit of time in the Arenal area. We stayed in the Arenal Observatory Lodge which was a very nice place, but the Arenal area has many options, ranging from more basic hotels to high-end resorts. There was a ton of activities in the area -- hiking, nature reserves, all sorts of options.

Anything else we should know about traveling to CR?

We found Lonely Planet's guidebook on Costa Rica to be a great help. If you are looking for a travel guide, I'd recommend it.

If you plan to do any driving, do note that Costa Rica doesn't have much of a formal address system. Expect to do quite a bit of navigation from landmarks that may or may not exist anymore. Rent a GPS system with your rental car. It will save you major headaches.

Overall, Costa Rica was an incredibly beautiful place to visit. The people, to a person, were incredibly friendly and helpful. I'd definitely recommend it.
posted by OwenMarshall at 12:44 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: Although Costa Rica is small, it isn't tiny enough to consider it a single place. The road infrastructure isn't great so a trip from Tamarindo to San Jose or other places in the country can be an all day affair. To get there, you should fly into Llberia's airport and you can take a taxi to the hotel. Flying into San Jose may be cheaper, but ugh. It is sort of drive to anywhere cool. There are two little airlines in the country that can get you from place to place quickly at relatively good prices. It is a 30 minute flight from Tamarindo to Arenal and can be a 4+ hour drive (worse if a road washed out). But it is also fun sometimes to rent a car and see the rainforests from the ground level. But it isn't a country of good roads and GPS and so it is slow going. I would strongly recommend you pick up the Lonely Planet Guide for Costa Rica to plan your trip there.

When I've been to CR, I'll spend a few days at the beach like Tamarindo and then go to the mountains like Monteverde or Arenal. 10 days at a single hotel is a foreign concept to me. 10 days in Costa Rica can give you a great taste of the various parts of the country. You can spend the time in luxury hotels and the experience is different than if you go with local mom and pops, eat in sodas, and explore.

I've been to Tamarindo but not that hotel. It was a great little beach town when I was there last in 2007. Not overly built up and Americanized (they were building a giant JW Marriott outside of town I saw while on a ATV ride. There's zip lines, ATV tours, monkeys, horseback riding and surfing to do. I stayed at a place I found in the Lonely Planet Guide that was right in town and a few minute walk from the beach.
posted by birdherder at 12:55 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

@birdherder: These are some good thoughts. A few notes I'd add:

You are definitely correct to say that driving will be slow. My wife and I had quite a bit of fun taking our time on the drive, stopping at the local sodas and talking with people. If you are a very destination-oriented traveler, though, you should definitely consider flying.

I will note that the GPS I rented from my car rental company proved to be invaluable. The prevailing opinion seems to be that using GPS in Costa Rica is a waste of time, but I had no problems whatsoever.

If you do fly, pay careful attention to baggage restrictions on the domestic airlines. I flew Nature Air and found them to be extremely strict with their weight limits. Pack accordingly.
posted by OwenMarshall at 1:11 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: My wife and I spent out honeymoon in Costa Rica. We split our time between the rain forest and the beach. Like others have said here, if you drive, get a 4WD vehicle. There were many roads that were below several inches of water that we encountered. I highly recommend a quick day trip the waterfalls at La Fortuna. If you happen to visit or stay at Tabacon (near or in Arenal) you can visit La Fortuna. I also highly recommend the hot water springs at Tabacon. We stayed there and it was very pricey. You can also just visit the springs for the day/evening. It was my first time visiting a hot spring and it was definitely worth it. Near Arenal there is also at least 1 zip line that we did which was awesome and a lot of fun. Enjoy your trip and make sure you bring waterproof hiking boots.
posted by starsixnine00 at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: N'thing ARenal.... if you are splurging, spend a few days at the Tabacon resort (as it includes the Tabacon hot-springs entry fee). If not - I highly recommend Volcano Lodge - not super fancy, but *superb* value way above the price, especially the restaurant. (and then plan to spend one day at the hot-springs, and the other days doing whatever else you want up there) Plan a few days so you can actually see the Volcano - the weather is unusually uncooperative lately. You can book all this ahead of time.

Rent a big gas-guzzling 4x4 to get around in, it's worth it.

As others have said, travelling takes time on the road - what looks close by US standards on the map is actually quite far time-wise due to LSD-inspired road construction. Think of it as fun.

On the other hand, if you want to just chill and do a few things on the side, but be pampered - I'd say go for one of higher end all-inclusives - the Melia Conchal is a beauty. If you want adventure, you'll get bored there though.

Other option: rent a beach house somewhere on the pacific coast - between Jaco and Quepos. Rent the truck too. You can BBQ fresh big game fish, chill out by the pool, go for looooon walks on the beach, do adventury stuff, or just chill. Resaurants nearby in Jaco and Quepos etc....

Other option: I wish I had more details - PM me and I'll try to find them - but there is a house that used to be for rent, probably still is, occasionally (when the owners aren't using it) on Playa Montezuma, right on the beach.... pool, AC, satellite TV, etc.

Other hotels umm.... check out Villa Caletas (might have hte spelling wrong - it's north of Jaco. Get a deluxe room with *private* pool. wicked views, beautiful hotel, best sunsets on earth from the bar.
Check out the zephyr palace as well.
posted by TravellingDen at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2010

Seconding what the others have said so far. I've been to CR twice and with so much to offer, it would be hard to recommend staying at the same place for all 10 days.

Ironically though, I did stay in the same place for almost that long the second time I went and it was right next to Tamarindo (and I think you will like it there), in Playa Grande, . But, that was only because I was working on an Earthwatch project, monitoring the Leatherback sea turtles that nest there. (Unfortunately, you won't be there during nesting season as that would be a spectacular thing to do - go with the rangers/guides at night to observe the females laying their eggs)

After the project though, a few of us traveled around - to Monteverde (awesome zipline & cloud forest) and Arenal. On my previous trip, I went rafting on the rivers (Pacuare & Reventezon) near Turrialba and then down to Drake's Bay on Corcovado Peninsula.

I loved every area we went to. It is such a beautiful country with friendly people. You won't go wrong there, whatever you decide. But, If I were you, I'd consider going to at least two different places. My two cents.
posted by ourroute at 3:41 PM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: OK, so then a new plan...

- 5 nights in Tamarindo
- 1 day drive to Arenal, then 4 nights there
- 1 day drive to Liberia, 1 night there before flight

That way we see at least two locations, which from what I gather from all of you seems like a good idea. Thank you everyone for the help, and by all means if anyone else has anything to add please do so.
posted by suburbanrobot at 7:01 PM on January 21, 2010

Sounds like a decent plan.... have fun!
posted by TravellingDen at 5:11 PM on January 22, 2010

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