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Last Minute Trip to Costa Rica

NOLA1

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Does anyone familiar with the Monteverde/Arenal areas have any suggestions/recommendations for non-touristy activities, restaurants, bars, etc? I am already planning on spending time in the cloud forrest, doing a zip line tour, and hiking near the volcano.

The second part of my trip will be spent near Jaco/Playa Herradura. Any suggestions/recs besides relaxing on the beach?
 

FLMountainMan

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Originally Posted by NOLA1
Does anyone familiar with the Monteverde/Arenal areas have any suggestions/recommendations for non-touristy activities, restaurants, bars, etc? I am already planning on spending time in the cloud forrest, doing a zip line tour, and hiking near the volcano.

The second part of my trip will be spent near Jaco/Playa Herradura. Any suggestions/recs besides relaxing on the beach?


For Jaco - take a trip down to Manuel Antonio National Park (about an hour or so if they've fixed the bridge near Parrita). Beautiful. Also, make sure to see Playa Hermosa (maybe fifteen minutes south of Jaco). Much, much nicer beach than Jaco.
 

pscolari

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Originally Posted by NOLA1
Does anyone familiar with the Monteverde/Arenal areas have any suggestions/recommendations for non-touristy activities, restaurants, bars, etc? I am already planning on spending time in the cloud forrest, doing a zip line tour, and hiking near the volcano.

The second part of my trip will be spent near Jaco/Playa Herradura. Any suggestions/recs besides relaxing on the beach?


There really aren't too many non-touristy things to do in Monteverde. You could tour the cheese factory on the road to the cloud forest or do a coffee tour.

Restaurants - I would recommend around Monteverde were Sofia and Chimera (great drinks at both) and I think these are actually owned by the same family. The pizza places were ok as well;think they were named Tramonti and Pizza Johnny. Most of the restaurants and bars are either located in Monteverde center, or on the main road leading to most of the hotels and eventually the cloud forest.

We spent 1 day too many in Monteverde. I think you could get there in the afternoon, do a zip line and then the first thing next morning go to the cloud forest and maybe a tour later in the afternoon and then head out of town. My recommendation would be to have your hotel book you a guide at the cloud forest which lasts a few hours. Guides are trained and speak excellent english and carry range finders and binoculars as well. With their knowledge and equipment they will be able to show you the howlers, quetzals (maybe) and fauna. This is what my wife and I did and then later in the day we went on a hike in the other part of the cloud forest to see the continental divide. The roads leading to Monteverde suck as well.

My wife and I went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon this past April. We started out in Peninsula Papagayo for 5 or 6 days, then went to Monteverde for 2.5 days, and then on to Manuel Antonio for 4. We are definitely going back this year. Have fun!
 

jqbomb

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I can't help with the Arenal area, but have spent time each of the last 6 or 7 years at Los Suenos in Herradura.

You should definitely do a zip line/canopy tour. Some of the ATV tours are also fun if you want to head off the beaten path up into the mountains and don't mind dustry roads. There are also a few companies that do excursions to an island up the gulf from Los Suenos - I think it's called Isla Tortuga. I've always been preoccupied with surfing and fishing when I'm down there so I haven't had a chance to check that out personally, but I hear it's worth the trip if you want to relax and do a little snorkeling.

If you're interesting in fishing, I've been a client of Dave Mothershead on the Miss Behavin' out of Los Suenos for years. You can check him out online @ www.costasportfishing.com. He's one of the best charter captains I've ever fished with. When the bite is one, Los Suenos is a world class destination for big Pacific sailfish with blue and black marlin mixed in as well. Local restaurants will also gladly prepare any fish you catch if you decide to go after meatfish like Mahi Mahi or Snapper.

As far as dining in that area goes --

El Galeon - fine dining on the marina at Los Suenos. It's probaby the priciest place in the area, but it's worth it. I usually make it a point to eat there twice a trip.

Juanita's and El Rey Marine - Both are located right on the beach in Herradura, outside Los Suenos and serve local style seafood. Great place to order a whole fried snapper or grilled lobster.

Aberdeen Angus - Great little Argentinian steakhouse in Jaco. Best bet if you're craving beef.

Pacific Bistro - Great seafood restaurant in Jaco. It's towards the North end of town across from one of the newer shopping centers.

Pizzeria Bocha - Pizzeria run by some Argentinian's on the main road in Hermosa. Great pizza.
 

NOLA1

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thanks for the detailed replies. the mention of whole fried snapper and grilled lobster is making my mouth water.

is the 15 mimnute trip to playa hermosa by foot or car?
 

FLMountainMan

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Originally Posted by NOLA1
thanks for the detailed replies. the mention of whole fried snapper and grilled lobster is making my mouth water.

is the 15 mimnute trip to playa hermosa by foot or car?


Car. You'll head south, climb up hill, go past a couple of miradors and then descend into the town. The town is very small, but the beach is beautiful. I went with a bunch of guys whpse interest were very divergent from my own, so I rented a car and drove all over the countryside. I actually found driving there to be a lot of fun and much easier than here. No speed traps, very few traffic lights, the whole thing is pretty organic.
 

coopster

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Nola -

Did the arenal/mauel antonio trip last christmas and it was awesome. The zip lining was one of the coolest things i have ever done. I never saw the volcano in arenal because it was always covered in clouds but the postcards they were selling everywhere made it look magnificent. depending on what your looking for I would suggest staying out of jaco (might get flamed) because , to me, it had the "mexico for spring break" vide. Ohya i would also suggest white water rafting in arenal, the drive to the river is as exhilarating as the rapids.
 

jqbomb

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Jaco definitely has the whole seedy beach town vibe going on. It's getting dodgier year by year. I haven't had any problems aside from being solicited by a hooker here or there...

As far as Playa Hermosa goes, if you decide to hit the beach there, don't leave anything of value in your car. It's the only place in country I've ever had a problem with theft.
 

Lucky7

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This thread is going to be very helpful. I am looking to book a trip to head down to Costa Rica this winter. I am looking for a get away. The only thing I really want to do is lay on the beach, drink, and maybe fish. I'm looking to go for 4 days jsut to get away from the stress of the business. A friend goes to Jaco all the time and swears by it because its cheap to stay and fairly nice. I'm not looking for Ritz Carlton, but Im not interested in crime.
 

NOLA1

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I really appreciate all of the advice, suggestions, etc. I'm off tommorow morning.
 

whodini

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FL, you came down here and didn't give me the heads up? Shame...

Well, being that I live here I'd recommend...

-Canyoning at Arenal assuming you don't mind getting wet and aren't afraid of heights. You'll spend a few hours repeling down waterfalls. (I'd take this over ziplining any day but you should try ziplining at least once)
-Hot Springs (Baldi) at Arenal. Touristy? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Great way to spend an evening.
-Forget Jaco and go down to Manuel Antonio. Far more to do and the beaches are much nicer.

To Lucky, four days in Quepos/Manuel Antonio is a lot better than time spent in Jaco. My family has a beachfront house in Jaco and I still prefer to pay for a room in Manuel every chance I get. Once you see the MA national park and its hidden beaches you'll understand why. I can recommend a decent place next door to the park for $40/night.
 

NOLA1

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I'm driving to Manuel Antonio on day 2 rather than spending the day in Playa Hermosa (I am staying at the Marriott Los Suenos in a 1 BR condo; hope it's nice; I have it for 3 days as my parents' trip to Costa Rica last year was cut short). Next, it is off to Monteverde for day 3 in the Cloud Forest; ferry ride to Arenal for days 4 and 5.
 

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