costa rica vacation advice
August 27, 2011 1:32 PM   Subscribe

costa rica vacation advice? My fiance and I are leaving for costa rica in a week. Our plan is to rent a car and spend a week doing a loop around the Nicoya Peninsula: 3 nights in Tamarindo, 2 in Samara, 2 in Montezuma, 1 in Liberia, then fly back to the US. My question is: given this basic plan are either any "don't miss" items that you would suggest seeing/doing or anything that we should know or be prepared for. I'm hoping to hear from others who have done similar trips in this area and to learn from their experience. Thanks!
posted by metadave to Travel & Transportation around Costa Rica (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Are you I-wanna-do-things people or layabout people? Tamarindo is a nice place to spend some time lounging but we would have had a hard time being there three days.
posted by phearlez at 2:48 PM on August 27, 2011

Response by poster: I wondered about that myself. The place we are staying had a three night minimum ( which we have already paid for ) and this is our first stop so we figured we would lounge for a little while in Tamarindo to start out our trip. Also, it's only two *full* days since the day before the first night and the day after the last night will be travel days.

I guess we can be either I-wanna-do-things people or layabout people. I think we better start thinking about how we are going to spend our Tamarindo time before we go though :)
posted by metadave at 3:27 PM on August 27, 2011

Montezuma is super-fun. It's tiny, so a two-night stay is perfect.

There's great restaurants there. When I was there, we rented an ATV and drove around to a nature preserve to view monkeys (about a 20 min ride) and hiked to the Montezuma waterfall (must-do). Wish I could remember specifics or link but I'm on my phone.

posted by brynna at 4:32 PM on August 27, 2011

Yeah, definitely do the Montezuma waterfall hike. There are also awesome day boat trips out of Montezuma that are usually pretty affordable. My only caveat is that it's rainy season, which can make Costa Rica beach trips more unpredictable than in the dry season, although not impossible ( and often more affordable).
posted by sweetkid at 5:31 PM on August 27, 2011

Have you driven in Costa Rica before? If not, plan WAY more time than you think you need for the drive. My boyfriend and I stayed a little south of Tigre and drove to Tamarindo. It took eight hours easy -- and we avoided the traffic jam. It took us over seven hours to get back to San Jose from Tamarindo.

When I do it again, I'll spend a solid week in-land and a solid week in Guanacaste, probably in Tamarindo. If I were you, knowing what I know, I'd cut something from my itinerary just to accommodate the traveling and related exhaustion.

But if you've been, you already know what you're dealing with. HAVE FUN!!!
posted by motsque at 7:20 PM on August 27, 2011

For reference, that drive was less than 200 miles / 320 kilometers.
posted by motsque at 7:23 PM on August 27, 2011

I've been vacationing in Costa Rica for years, though always in winter. My go-to place, as it happens, is Ylang-Ylang just outside of Montezuma.

Do at least plan to have dinner there--it's a short walk along the beach. It's vegetarian (with seafood). Always yummy, they have a good bar, including decent and resonably priced wines and it's right on the shore break.

Funny thing is, I've seen as much wildlife there at 5pm as I've ever seen in the parks, like Manuel Antonio to the south. (Except for sloths, my role models.)

The nearby national park is okay, but no great shakes. Better, for my money, is the 20 minute hike to Playa Grande, a mile-wide, rockless beach where a day passes in an hour.

Have fun!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:31 PM on August 28, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who responded. The trip was great! If we were to go for "the first time" a second time, we would have skipped Montezuma. The drive was a little long for a two day stay and it turned out to be a little more of a party town than we expected. Our view might have been a little biased by the fact that the place that we ended up staying at was not as nice as the Samara or Tamarindo spots.

The traffic was better than I was expecting - any reservations that I had about driving went away after just a short time on the road. The weather was also excellent.

We found all three of these places to be quite laid back but with opportunity for more activity if you choose. Plenty of chances to see wildlife ( monkeys, birds, snakes, turtles ). The people were friendly.
posted by metadave at 5:26 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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