What to do when you are there...
30.01.2004 - 14.02.2004
I spent two weeks in Costa Rica. Went to San Jose, Monteverde (in the mountains), Montezuma (Nicoya peninsula) and Manuel Antonio (Pacific coast).
If you fly into San Jose and are looking for a place to stay, The Hotel Aranjuez (Aranjuez Hotel) is very nice. We had a superior room for $38 (Double) and that includes a TV. Free breakfast with someone making you omletes in the morning. They take reservations, but are VERY strict on them - make sure you call to reconfirm when they say. A cab from the airport is $10 - $ 12.
By far, Manuel Antonio was the best destination. Lots of wildlife, both in the national park and just outside hanging around. I saw both capuchin and squirrel monkeys, and my friend saw a few sloths (including a mother and child). It's a little more expensive to eat and drink than some of the other locations, but still very worth it.
I stayed at the Cabinas Piscis. Highly recommended hotel. $43 / night for a double room with private bath. Very basic, and cold showers, but it's only 100 meters to the beach, and the beach is near deserted. The beach and sea bottom are all sand. The surf is good - not too big that you can't swim, but big enough that you can pull out a surfboard or boogie board for some fun.
From 4:30 - 6:30 go to the Marlin Restaurant for 2 for 1 drink specials. For dinner, head to the Costa Verde restaurant for excellent BBQ (it's pretty pricey though, so save up a few bucks). Eat breakfast on the beach at one of the sodas for a few bucks.
Based on what I heard from other travellers, there are a couple of places that I didn't get to that I would have loved to have seen.
The Arenal Volcano (which I saw from afar in Monte Verde) is supposedly quite impressive. If I go back to Costa Rica, I would for sure dedicate a day to the Volcano.
As well, Corcovado is supposed to be jam packed with wildlife. There are some nice tent camps in Corcovado park, where you sleep in a "tent" (which is really a wood floor with a canvas covering). These are supposedly REALLY nice, and go for $80 or $90 a night. A little pricey (compared to a hotel), but you get to sleep right on the beach.
If I were doing my "dream" two week itinerary, it would probably go something like this:
Fly into San Jose, stay at the Hotel Aranjuez for 1 night, leave the next day for La Fortuna.
Spend the night in La Fortuna, go to Arenal Volcano the next day (day 3), leave La Fortuna on day 4 for Manuel Antonio.
Spend 3 days in Manuel Antonio (day 5, 6, 7). One day for the national park, one day as a beach day and one day to do some fishing or some other activity. Leave day 8 for Corcovado.
I'd spent days 9, 10 and 11 in Corcovado hanging around. Probably do some of the zip-line / canopy tour thing, a day in the park looking for wildlife, and a beach day.
Day 12 travel Corcovado -> San Jose.
Day 13 is open for you to do whatever - white water rafting or seeing the sights in San Jose (which really only takes about two hours).
Day 14 leave.