Costa Rica "don't miss" ?
March 8, 2004 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Me and two friends are headed out of Chicago to Costa Rica from March 14th until the 23rd. While we have a list of things we would like to do, I'm looking for suggestions on things not to miss. So far we are planning to hit Montverde, the Arenal Volcano, and Playa Montezuma. Any suggestions or trips for our travels?
posted by alicila to Travel & Transportation around Costa Rica (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Monteverde is worth as much time as you can spend there. I would try to hit the butterfly garden, avoid the serpentarium [or whatever that wretched snake pit is called], go on a coffee tour, and try to stop in at the little Quaker bakery that is walking distance from the entrace to meet some interesting expats, if you're into that sort of thing. We took a guided tour through Monteverde and felt that it was worth the money. Bring binoculars for watching hummingbirds and bug spray. I also went to the west coast to a place called Iguanazul which was fun, remote but not crucial, and spent some time in San Jose which was really not at all important.
posted by jessamyn at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2004


previous Costa Rica thread - Jessamyn got there first, too. ;-)
posted by whatnotever at 11:44 AM on March 8, 2004


Two friends and I...
posted by Grod at 12:04 PM on March 8, 2004


I know two different sets of people who travelled to Costa Rica. Both of them mentioned that their favorite thing was zip-lining.

I am not sure the exact name of the thing, but I saw pictures. These people were in some deep jungles with a massive gorge. They had harnesses on them and were clamped to a rope. They would fly across the gorges through the forests.

Both of these unrelated groups expressed how that was the highlight of their respective trips.

Hope that might give you another idea to enjoy on your sure-to-be-fun trip.
posted by Seth at 12:11 PM on March 8, 2004


In Limon, on the Caribbean, there is a park where sloths hang out, and also near there (or in the town) there is a sloth rehabilitation center.

On the slopes of Arenal, or close, there is this track ride where you rope into a harness and glide over the rainforest canopy for several miles, from platform to platform. There are maybe 18 'stations' where you change cables. . .you ride a horse up the mountain and glide down. Very cool.
posted by Danf at 12:13 PM on March 8, 2004


Like Seth said
posted by Danf at 12:15 PM on March 8, 2004


After googling it, perhaps what I just mentioned is what you referring to when you wrote Monteverde.

I apologize if I just pointed out the obvious; I freely admit that I don't know much about CR but I thought I'd share.. I was just sharing w. Anyhow, this is the link I found.
posted by Seth at 12:16 PM on March 8, 2004


wow... costa rica rocks ... my girlfriend and i were just there a month ago - we went all the way out to malpais/santa theresa and stayed there for the entire duration... it is magnificent.

surfing is the main attraction in mal pais/santa theresa ... so if you are into it ... i'd say stay there and enjoy the unparalleled beaches for your entire vacation (we met alot of people who were spending a month plus there - i wish we had been able to) we really liked the bluejay lodge (cool hillside bungalows) but ended up staying at casa cecilia (www.casacecilia.com) and absolutely loved it - very laid back quiet beachside accomodations - the hostess: pia is as cool as they come.

for some adventures you could head down to cabo blanco and the nature reserve there ... which is very cool.

you can email me for more info (i've got tons more info on getting in and out San Jose etc...) ... if you think you will be headed that way. i'd say stay out of montezuma except for an afternoon - really touristy and the ocean/beach is ok but not nearly as spectacular as the pacific side (rather than protected gulf side).

i think you'll love the nicoya peninsula - we plan on exploring the interior next time....

if you are really feeling adventurous - i'd say go south, to golfito and perhaps pavones - which sounds awesome.

if i dont hear from you... best of luck. our costa rica trip was without question one of my all time faves - you'll love it... oh... and if you've never been - take a surfing lesson, it will change you for the better :) .


posted by specialk420 at 12:43 PM on March 8, 2004


Alicia, I didn't know you were in MeFi -- I just heard from Jes that you were going. Have fun in Costa Rica!
posted by me3dia at 1:06 PM on March 8, 2004


Wow, a lot of good suggestions; Thanks. I knew someone asked about Costa Rica before, but I was unable to find it on google. What about renting an SUV? Worth the extra money or should we just take the buses and cabs?

I'll try to take a surfing lesson but I heard it takes a few days to learn to even stand up, and I'm a little discouraged by that. Those pictures of Pavones look absolutely amazing.

I will definitely go on the zip line canopy tour. I just hope my fear of heights doesn't cause me to keep my eyes closed the whole time.

Thanks Grod for the tip there. Somehow I always mess that up. I know how it works and a little trick to help me remember, but it seems I never remember to check myself.

Hi Andrew. I'll definitely have fun. Thanks
posted by alicila at 2:01 PM on March 8, 2004


alicila - if you can afford it ... renting a small SUV (the smallest 4 door version will serve you just find) is worth it, don't sweat all the extra insurance they try to talk you into... the roads are pretty rough in costa rica - and especially poor going up to monte verde i heard. they are pretty brutal going out to the peninsula as well.. but you can make it in a small car if need be.

if you can afford it i'd say rent a car - it will make your trip a lot easier and allow you to explore wherever you end up much easier.


are you flying into san jose?
posted by specialk420 at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2004


Thanks. We are flying into San Jose, but we hadn't planned on staying there at all.
posted by alicila at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2004


Rent an SUV and get out of San Jose immediately is my advice. The good news about an SUV as opposed to the busses and taxis are much more freedom of movement, less walking if you don't feel like walking [we got almost everyplace once we were in Monteverde on foot, sometimes it took a while but the scenery was excellent] and no crossed signals with taxi drivers. That said you *can* get around with not too much difficulty using taxis and busses, but you can't always stop to look at stuff when you want, use the bathroom when you want or just not be on a bone-crunching drive when you want. The roads out to the Pacific beaches I remember were basically riverbeds with tiretracks in them. Get something with shocks if possible. My last bit of advice is to not assume you can get short distances [on the map] quickly. When we went to the Pacific coast from San Jose, a lot of the trip was roughly 10-20 MPH so it took a long time. We were flexible so we decided to go to three places instead of four [in 9-10 days] and were happier for it. Also, bring lots of water everywhere.
posted by jessamyn at 5:05 PM on March 8, 2004


yeah - what jessamyn said. we found the lonely planet guide and a good map very helpful as well ... although the lonely planet was not as good as others i have used (they need a new editor for costa rica and central america in my opinion).
posted by specialk420 at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2004


If you're going to be in Arenal, you might want to check out the hot springs at the base. It's kind of like a free hot tub. And make sure to be there at night (camping out works) so that you can see the magma eruptions.

Montezuma is very nice. There's a ~40 foot waterfall if you follow the river up about a quarter mile that you can jump off of and swim in the basin. It makes for a good afternoon. You should probably ask some locals exactly how to get there.

And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't spend the night in Puntarenas. Seriously. I can't stress this enough.
posted by toothless joe at 8:11 PM on March 8, 2004


What about renting an SUV? Worth the extra money or should we just take the buses and cabs?

Worth the extra money. You don't need much; we had a great time in a Daihatsu Terios and never felt cramped. The roads outside San Jose are rough by American standards, though, so you will definitely want 4WD.

Most of the really magical moments in a trip like this, the things that stick with you, are the things that happen by accident: something catches your eye and you just go for it, and it turns out to be something really cool and unexpected... that's much easier to do when you have your own vehicle.

I'll try to take a surfing lesson but I heard it takes a few days to learn to even stand up, and I'm a little discouraged by that.

It depends on your expectations, I guess. I'd never gone surfing before, and it never occured to me that you could get lessons. I just rented a board and jumped in, and had one of the best afternoons of my life. It's hard to put the feeling into words. Warm water, golden sky, happy Costa Ricans swimming and surfing, adrenaline... I mostly fell off, or didn't catch the wave right, but the bliss when I *hit* it made up for everything. I am getting chills up my spine just remembering it.

If you are interested in adventurey sorts of activities, check out one of the whitewater rafting companies. Costa Rica has some good Class III/IV rivers; I've been down the Pacuare and the Savegre, and in both cases it was a marvelous way to get out into the backcountry and see the overwhelming abundance of life there. The rapids were fun, too.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:52 AM on March 9, 2004


mars.

cool tips - yeah. we rented a terios as well... great little ride, i went up some sh*t that was ROUGH ... really rough. the terios had no problem, we also packed 3 hitchhikers with all their gear in with us as well, ... so thats all you need unless its rainy season. the beefier suspension was definitely nice to have.

as for surfing - get your hands on a fiberglass longboard if you can, you'll be up in no time ... here's a basic guide to getting started: print and read on the airplane... :)
posted by specialk420 at 3:13 PM on March 9, 2004


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