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Costa Rica Vacation

 
 
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 08:54 am
I'm thinking of Costa Rica as a vacation destination in March. Any
comments from anyone who has been there....especially as to sight seeing, good places to stay, restaurants, culture etc....... Confused
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Sugar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 09:40 am
I was there last March. Stayed at the Allegro Caribbean Resort in Puntarenas (west coast). All inclusive cost me $1000 - airfare included from Boston.

The hotel was middle of the road - beach wasn't any good (black lava beach, very dusty) but everyone that worked there was great, the rooms were exceptionally clean - better than most here in the States.

If I went back, though, I would think about staying in these areas:
Quepos
Jaco
Nicoya

Make sure you figure out what you want to see before you decide where to stay - the roads aren't great (although you will be traveling in teh dry season, which is best) it takes a loooong time to get from place to place.

I went to Manuel Antonio National Park (recommended) and a little side trip to Isla Tortuga on a catamaran to hang out at a very pretty beach and do a little snorkling (snorkling wasn't the best off of this island, but beach was great and the water was beautiful - just watch out for the jellyfish).

A few notes:
Plan on only one activity a day, or a tour of a couple - one park takes all day, so plan wisely. All day can mean 8 hours or 16 depending on travel time and how many sights, 1 or 2.

Do not stay on the East/Caribbean Coast or in San Juan. It's pretty volatile and dangerous. I felt completely safe on the west coast and meet some great locals that we went out with at night.

I'll write more as I think of it, and let me know if your looking for any specific info.
0 Replies
 
Sugar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 09:54 am
I also had lunch here after visiting Manuel Antonio - it was a beautiful hotel in a greta area. Don't know how much you can spend, but if I had teh extra cash, I'd look into staying here: http://www.infocostarica.com/travel/hotels/parador.html
0 Replies
 
jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 11:34 am
Shepaints

Costa rica is most acclaimed for the beauty and diversity of it's natural environment and for its gentle climate.

I have been there three times and LOVED it. At one point I was considering it as a possible retirement site.
It is a lovely country and the people (who call themselves 'Ticos') are generally quite friendly to Americans and other tourists.

Naturally, if you speak Spanish you have a big advantage but most tourists do not and have a nice time anyway. Tour guides speak English of course as do most hotel clerks and those who deal continuously with tourists.

What you see and do depends of course on your interests, fitness, budget, time available etc.
Possibilities include: white water rafting, nature tours, jungle tours, beach-going, horseback riding, etc.
There are both live and dormant volcanoes that are big tourist attractions. In the north there are beaches where giant turtles come ashore to lay their eggs,
there is a chair lift that one can take to ride through the jungle canopy to look at birds, butterflys, monkeys etc.
Bird watchers will really enjoy themselves.

Make sure you get a good Costa Rica travel guide like the one published by Lonely Planet (I got several at Barnes and Noble but liked the LP best) They also have a useful web site. (below) Make sure you take prudent precautions for the protection of your valuables* as petty thefts can occur (The same as if you were visiting a large U.S. city. The travel guides cover this issue very well and provide important tips.
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/central_america/costa_rica/

The 'Tico Times' is an English language weekly newspaper published in CR. It is mainly directed at English speaking residents of CR but has useful information for tourists as well. The online version is at:
http://www.ticotimes.net/

I think the best strategy for most people, for a first time visit, is to look for a package tour that includes day trips and/or multi-day side trips to different
areas, sights, and activities. Good tour guides (and I never got a bad one) can add immeasurably to your experience. Mine were a 'gold mine'of information on history, customs, ecological issues, flora and fauna etc.

Caveat: Most of the good stuff is OUTSIDE the capital, San Jose, don't spend too much time there and neglect the best part of the experience of CR. You can see the highlights of the city in a day or two.

Places and things I enjoyed:

-The Arenal Volcano (an active volcano)
-The Monte Verde cloud forest
-Manuel Antonio
(a national forest right up against the sea, also nice beach, restaurants, clubs, etc. nearby)
-A day trip canoeing in the jungle
-A day trip to the old capital, of Cartago and the world
famous Lankester Botanical Gardens.(see link)
http://www.ucr.ac.cr/~jbl/

Finally, Costa Rica has many wonderful Country lodges or bed and breakfasts in beautiful country settings. They all can help you arrange day trips, tours, etc.
In my opinion the best accomodations in the capital are also at B&B's or in small European-style (or boutique) hotels. They are typically much more interesting than the big hotels. Of course if you want to feel like you're in LA or Miami you can find a Marriot, Holiday Inn etc.
Personally I think the big hotels are boring.

Final word,

Do your reading, do your homework and you won't be sorry. It'll add immeasurably to your enjoyment of your stay.

Have a nice trip! jjorge



* PS
This is true no matter where you go but the Carribean coast eg. around Limón is reported to have a somewhat higher crime rate.
0 Replies
 
Equus
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 11:40 am
I have a good friend whose father lives in Puntarenas. They love it down there. See the rainforest. And I believe they have some volcanos accessible to tourists.
Good shopping.

Costa Rica is the largest country in the world without a standing army. Supposedly very peaceful. My friend warns against drinking any unbottled water- that includes ice cubes.
0 Replies
 
Sugar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 11:56 am
Costa Rica does not have a standing army because the US Military protects it - for our own interests, Nicaragua, etc..

I did drink the water, but Equus makes a point - drink bottled if you are more comfortable. Another note if it affects anyone - you will not be able to give blood after you return (usually 1 year to 18 months). Although the area is not on malaria watch - you don't need pills or be concerned - the Red Cross and hospitals hold off to be on the safe side.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 12:14 pm
shepaints, All good suggestions. I would add my .02c worth as a one time visitor by ship. There are many good tours to Costa Rica that covers most of the diversity of the country at very reasonable prices - most costing less than $2,000 for two weeks that includes all transportation, lodgings, some meals, and tours. Never drink the water, and always take insecticide with 30 percent DEET, even if your doctor doesn't recommend malaria meds. Always wash your hands before meals. Costa Rica does not have a military, but provides universal health care to all its citizens. They call their coffee beans, "cherries." San Jose is the major city in Costa Rica, but the other small towns and hamlets have much to offer the visitor. We visited the "metal church" that was imported from Spain, but I'm afraid I do not remember the name of that town. c.i.
0 Replies
 
mikey
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 12:30 pm
www.land-ho.com

the original land ho is here in town, nice people, great atmosphere.

pavones, which is south of there is nice as well. close to the rain forest, nice beaches and really cheap. my kids go every winter.
0 Replies
 
shepaints
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 12:43 pm
Thank you all for so much great information Very Happy I do like to get
advice (especially for accomodation) from those who have actually travelled to a place.

Once after studying the hotel brochure for a foreign hotel, I arrived with my tennis racquet only to find a huge pit the middle of the tennis court......(not visible in the hotel photo of the court),
they also neglected to mention the hotel was under construction!!!!

My fear is being surrounded by college spring breakers.....(Yes, that's happened before!!!), and we can only go in March. Anyone know of accomodation in Costa Rica which is off the beaten track?
0 Replies
 
jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Fri 27 Dec, 2002 12:49 pm
The water is ok in San Jose and is probably ok in most areas. It is a
prudent precaution to drink bottled water when you are in small towns or the countryside. Lately I have found that tap water is awful (although undoubtedly safe) in my own city of Warwick RI and in an increasing number of US areas.
In Costa Rica's central plateau ( 'meseta central') you may go a long time without ever SEEING a mosquito!
Still , in the lowlands and forests it is prudent to use a good repellant.

Don't let anyone make you paranoid about CR!
Over a million tourists from the US Europe Canada etc go there every year and the vast majority have a great time and don't get malaria and don't get robbed.

BTW Costa Rica has not had a military since 1948 (the last time there was a coup). There is no 'protection' agreement with the US.
although the US has always reserved the right to meddle in any part of Latin America that it wanted to. (usually looking out for the interests of corporate octopi like United Fruit Company or Gulf and Western etc.

As a small country, surrounded by small countries, Costa Ricans apparently feel the threat from coups was greater than any threat from a foreign invader except perhaps the US and the US would be to powerful to resist.
http://www.photo.net/cr/moon/why-costa-rica
0 Replies
 
shepaints
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Dec, 2002 08:18 am
Thanks Jjorge, for the great info and link.....
0 Replies
 
jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Dec, 2002 09:17 am
You're welcome.
If you do go to Costa Rica, let us know how you like it and how your trip goes.
0 Replies
 
babsatamelia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 06:46 pm
As it happens - I have friends who sold all and moved
to Costa Rica (surf fiends). It is devastatingly beautiful
and pleasant place to visit, but after hearing about the
experiences with (1) snakes, best to carry a machete
(2) scorpions, they are everywhere - watch where you
stick your hand, and be sure that your boots are in
a plastic unbreakable container - or else you will be
going thru the daily ritual of shaking then out, then
prodding sticks down there, just to be sure there isn't
a scorpion in your shoes(boots) AND be protected
overnight by the finest of mosquito netting, no holes.
That sort of altered my feelings of ever wanting to go
there... no matter how beautiful. Hawaii has some
monster centipedes, but nothing as lethal as the
scorpions OR the monkeys who love to pee on the
travelers. Laughing
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 06:51 pm
babs, I guess Costa Rica is a nice place to visit, but not to live. Everybody, and I mean everybody, that have visited Costa Rica have said they loved it. Wink c.i.
0 Replies
 
jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Feb, 2003 09:52 pm
Babs

Sounds like your friends were camping out in the jungle. Most people don't do that. If one DOES go on a jungle tour the usual practice is to stay on the paths. Most animals snakes etc will avoid you.

I have been to CR three times and never saw a scorpion.

I saw one snake (on a jungle tour) teh guide pointed him (Her?) out, sleeping in the sun by the side of the road.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2003 12:24 am
jjorge, I noticed in the many travel brochures that I get that CR is one of the most inexpensive destinations for Americans. I've been there only once for a day visit when my wife and I cruised through the Panama Canal couple years ago. We didn't get a chance to visit San Jose and other places of interest. If you wanted to see the best of CR, what are the places you would recommend? c.i.
0 Replies
 
jjorge
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2003 11:06 am
jjorge*197982* wrote:
Shepaints

Costa rica is most acclaimed for the beauty and diversity of it's natural environment and for its gentle climate.

I have been there three times and LOVED it. At one point I was considering it as a possible retirement site.
It is a lovely country and the people (who call themselves 'Ticos') are generally quite friendly to Americans and other tourists.

Naturally, if you speak Spanish you have a big advantage but most tourists do not and have a nice time anyway. Tour guides speak English of course as do most hotel clerks and those who deal continuously with tourists.

What you see and do depends of course on your interests, fitness, budget, time available etc.
Possibilities include: white water rafting, nature tours, jungle tours, beach-going, horseback riding, etc.
There are both live and dormant volcanoes that are big tourist attractions. In the north there are beaches where giant turtles come ashore to lay their eggs,
there is a chair lift that one can take to ride through the jungle canopy to look at birds, butterflys, monkeys etc.
Bird watchers will really enjoy themselves.

Make sure you get a good Costa Rica travel guide like the one published by Lonely Planet (I got several at Barnes and Noble but liked the LP best) They also have a useful web site. (below) Make sure you take prudent precautions for the protection of your valuables* as petty thefts can occur (The same as if you were visiting a large U.S. city. The travel guides cover this issue very well and provide important tips.
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/central_america/costa_rica/

The 'Tico Times' is an English language weekly newspaper published in CR. It is mainly directed at English speaking residents of CR but has useful information for tourists as well. The online version is at:
http://www.ticotimes.net/

I think the best strategy for most people, for a first time visit, is to look for a package tour that includes day trips and/or multi-day side trips to different
areas, sights, and activities. Good tour guides (and I never got a bad one) can add immeasurably to your experience. Mine were a 'gold mine'of information on history, customs, ecological issues, flora and fauna etc.

Caveat: Most of the good stuff is OUTSIDE the capital, San Jose, don't spend too much time there and neglect the best part of the experience of CR. You can see the highlights of the city in a day or two.

Places and things I enjoyed:

-The Arenal Volcano (an active volcano)
-The Monte Verde cloud forest
-Manuel Antonio
(a national forest right up against the sea, also nice beach, restaurants, clubs, etc. nearby)
-A day trip canoeing in the jungle
-A day trip to the old capital, of Cartago and the world
famous Lankester Botanical Gardens.(see link)
http://www.ucr.ac.cr/~jbl/

Finally, Costa Rica has many wonderful Country lodges or bed and breakfasts in beautiful country settings. They all can help you arrange day trips, tours, etc.
In my opinion the best accomodations in the capital are also at B&B's or in small European-style (or boutique) hotels. They are typically much more interesting than the big hotels. Of course if you want to feel like you're in LA or Miami you can find a Marriot, Holiday Inn etc.
Personally I think the big hotels are boring.

Final word,

Do your reading, do your homework and you won't be sorry. It'll add immeasurably to your enjoyment of your stay.

Have a nice trip! jjorge



* PS
This is true no matter where you go but the Carribean coast eg. around Limón is reported to have a somewhat higher crime rate.





C.I. Rather than retype the same info I just quoted an earlier post for
you. It also has useful links.
jjorge Very Happy
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Feb, 2003 11:13 am
jjorge, Thanks for the repost. Very helpful. I'm making a hard copy for future reference. I'm still trying to plan a third trip for this year, and this might make the grade. Thanks again, c.i.
0 Replies
 
dani
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2003 05:45 pm
I love Costa Rica
OK, I was just in Costa Rica 2 months ago, it was amazing, there are amazing people there. The culture is amazing, nothing is better than costa rica, when I went there, it changed my life. Now me and my friend plan to move there as soon as we finish high school, and trust me I am so serious I have already set up a seperate bank account for saving costa rica money. Also I am going back there in 2 months, I just can't stand being away from it. I am so excited to move there and I am currently taking spanish lessons. Anyways, who cares about snakes or scorpions, Costa Rica's worth it, the hot sun, the amazing nice people, the culture, the beautiful place it is, that all covers up for the snakes and scorpions.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2003 06:31 pm
dani, WELCOME to A2K. I haven't seen your kind of enthusiasm in a very long time, and I admire you for it. Please keep in touch and let us know how your plans are faring out. c.i.
0 Replies
 
 

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