Going to Costa Rica in 12hrs on a whim. Where should my journey begin?
March 4, 2014 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Going to Costa Rica in 7hrs for 10 days. Ive been told I need to get out of San Jose ASAP, so where should my journey begin?

I woke up this morning and thought it would be pretty cool to go to Costa Rica and backpack for 10 days. I know very little about the country, but I've been told that I need to get out of San Jose (airport where I arrive/depart) as soon as possible. That said, I arrive at 2:30pm Wednesday, and I'd like to know what area I should make my way to first. I'm looking for beach/rainforest/adventure, hostel style of trip. Thanks so much for your help!
posted by AMWKE1984 to Travel & Transportation around Costa Rica (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you seen these?
posted by Houstonian at 8:55 PM on March 4, 2014

I admire you very much.

It was 20 years ago but I enjoyed both the coasts. The train ride down to the Atlantic coast is world-class. A series of old canals allow boat access up as far as the Nicaraguan border. The Pacific coast has better surf.

Really, go anywhere and ask the backpackers you meet where to go next. Enjoy.
posted by LarryC at 12:52 AM on March 5, 2014

The Nicoya Peninsula is good and hot this time of year. Beach towns in the area with lots of backpackers and hostels (if available--this is their high season) are Montezuma and Mal Pais to name two. Also in the area and good for hiking, though it's not a rainforest, Cabo Blanco National Park.

To get there, you could fly from SJO on Sansa or Nature Air (30 minutes to Tambor) or work your way over to Puntarenas and take the ferry.

Have fun!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 3:07 AM on March 5, 2014

If you want solitude and not a lot of nightlife, go to Hacienda Baru. We spent a few days of our honeymoon there and it is lovely.
posted by gauche at 6:21 AM on March 5, 2014

here is some very preliminary information i was able to pull from some old emails (circa 2010) - i had to go to jaco with some people and was looking to plan a few days away but it never happened so i cannot speak to whether any of this is feasible / worthwhile:

I am told Mal Pais is beautiful... There is a ~1hour boat ride from Jaco to Montezuma for $40 per person and then like another $15 each for a ride into Mal Pais (about 20km) where we could rent a 4x4 for about $35/day - does anyone know how to drive a manual ? ha

We'd want a car because we could then drive to all sorts of crazy places (waterfalls, the national park, empty beaches), and it would have to be a 4x4 because many of these places require crossing small rivers...

here is a map of the area (mal pais is on the bottom of the penninsula all the way on the left and jaco is across the bay immediately to the right):

posted by lulz at 6:52 AM on March 5, 2014

I went to san jose (city, neat markets), arenal/la fortuna (volcanoes, hotsprings, adventure tourism), monte verde (trees, nature, coffee, ziplines) and tamarindo (surfing)

I found the wiki travel usefull http://wikitravel.org/en/Costa_Rica as well as HostelWorld.com
Costa rica is super easy to travel, stay at a hostel, get them to book you activities for the day, and then get them to book you travel to the next place. They take care of everything, and you pay them a bit of commission, but its worth it. They'll even book you a hostel in the next town over.
posted by captaincrouton at 9:26 AM on March 5, 2014

Last time I was there, we drove out to Limon and piddled around for a day and then drove down the coast to Playa Negra and stayed for a couple of days taking in the ocean and the national parks. Highly recommended.

One thing I will note is that Hwy 32 is narrow and crowded with trucks driving very fast. It can be kind of a white knuckle trip.
posted by kjs3 at 12:05 PM on March 5, 2014

Just in case anyone needs to know: yes, there are skunks in Costa Rica and yes, they are armed. So if you're on your way back from a midnight swim in the resort pool and see a ravishly cute little spotted creature ambling along the shrubbery... it's not a stray kitten.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 12:56 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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