If you are thinking about vacationing, relocating or buying in Costa Rica but you are not sure where this might help. Pictures and web research only tells part of the story so your best bet is to actually visit the different sites you are considering. If nothing else you end us having an action packed vacation that give you a taste of all the different climate types Costa Rica has to offer.
Hopping from place to place: The Central pacific of Costa Rica is a great base and just a little over one hour to the SJO International airport. Jaco is the main tourist town and is full of life all year around. Contact Suncoast Rentals to set up your hotel or condo. Make sure you:
- Hit the top restaurants: Pili Pili, Graffitti, Lemon Zest, Wishbone and Tsunami.
- Enjoy the nightlife, cultural and nature activities. The area offer everything including: culture and art shows, night clubs, nature tours and much more.
- Challenge yourself to a little adventure: ATV Tours, Surf lessons, Bungee Jump, Horseback ridding or one of the many other tours
If you want a little romance or want to enjoy a sunset cocktail Villa Caletas is a MUST! This hotel has ridiculous views… and it’s only 15 minutes from Jaco Beach. Villa Caletas is away from town but it is worth staying here 1-night and driving into Jaco if you need anything. Make sure that you are there in time for the sunset which is around 5:45 all year down here.
From Jaco you can take a day trip south to Manuel Antonio (1 hr) or go a little further to Dominical and the Osa Peninsula. Manuel Antonio has a beautiful national park on the ocean with monkeys and sloths chilling alongside you. Keep in mind that the park is closed on Mondays. Make sure that you plan in your schedule to go to the park early in the morning as that is when you will see all the monkeys and wildlife. Other suggestions: Barba Rojas for sunset, Café Maligro for breakfast and La Hacienda for dinner. I also really like Hotel Si Como No for dinner and a movie.
Then I would head to Monteverde (about 3.5 hrs from the ocean). Here you can do all the jungle adventure stuff like canopy tours (zip lines through the forest), hikes on suspension bridges, butterfly and hummingbirds gardens, etc. You can spend a full day at this adventure park http://www.selvatura.com/. Then the next morning I would recommend visiting the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Be sure to get a guide or you won’t get the full experience in the forest. Johnny’s pizzeria has excellent Italian food and the Rainforest Café in town has great atmosphere. My husband and I liked a hotel in Monteverde called El Establo http://www.elestablo.com/.
Continue on to the town of La Fortuna which is around 1 hour form Monteverde. This is where you will find the Arenal Volcano and a bunch of places with hot springs. Ask your hotel to recommend some great hot springs that are less commercialized and very cheap. To see the La Fortuna waterfall and have dinner at this nearby hotel http://www.hotelarenalkioro.com/ that has good views of the volcano. Other Hotel Recommendation: http://www.hotelsilenciodelcampo.com/.
I would plan staying 2 nights in either of these places depending on how much you want to do. If you want to spend a full day at the hot springs, check out the volcano and do the waterfall then I would stay 2 nights in La Fortuna. However, I would probably do the 2 nights in Monteverde so you can explore the cloud forest and spend a lot of time at the adventure park. You only need about half a day to explore the park at Manuel Antonio.
It is relatively safe to drive here but I would recommend that you try to do all of your traveling during the daylight. This way you will be able to enjoy the country side as you travel.
This is a LOT to cram into a few nights so if you are up for the adventure then I think this will give you a great overview of the country. Since I am limited on time when I travel that is the way I do things. If you come in rainy season (July- Mid December) then be prepared to deal with some rain but it is truly beautiful in Costa Rica all year around and you should still have a great time.
Above all, ENJOY!
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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle –