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Have you been to Costa Rica?

(10 Posts)
wholettooth Wed 19-Oct-16 13:17:25

I'm thinking for summer next year with 2 older teens. Now BA fly direct it looks like a good choice.

We're quite an adventurous family; SE Asia, Mexico & Belize and I've always planned the trips myself. Would you suggest a travel company or is it comparatively easy to plan it myself. We'd be happy to self drive and get internal flights as necessary.

Any must dos? We like rain forest, scuba, wildlife and great beaches.
Definitely no AI american resorts but small, up market villas/hotels.

SJane45S Wed 19-Oct-16 18:13:07

Yes we went this August! The BA flight to San Jose makes it far less of a pain to get to - would recommend booking sooner rather than later - our flights went up over a grand from booking them the previous October.
We did everything ourselves and it was pretty easy to plan it all - just get a rough guide or look at travel companies itineraries. San Jose - isn't very attractive but we had a day there and it's interesting in parts! We then did a day trip to Arenal volcano through Viator. San Jose isn't a bad base for other day trips if you don't want to do a multi location holiday. We stayed at the Park Inn by Radisson in San Jose which is really reasonably priced.
We then went onto Manuel Antonio and stayed at Tulemar which was brilliant - it's set in the rainforest, has free nature tours and its own beach, free kayaks etc. It's a huge resort spread across the jungle and a lot of the time you feel like you have paradise to yourselves! Lots to do locally - bars, restaurants, zip lining, nature tours, kayaking etc. It seemed a very popular place for people with older kids - mainly Americans but more British than I was was expecting!
A few tips - it's rainy season in summer and the weather is typically hot in the morning with a really big thunderstorm every day in the afternoon or evening so take umbrella's or water proofs. Most trials start really really early to avoid rain! San Jose was about 25 degrees, Manuel Antonio 30 degrees. Use deet and spray your clothes! We used a private transfer firm which wasn't cheap ($200 return San Jose/Manuel Antonio) but you can do shared transfers and there are buses. Driving in Costa Rica is hairy and if you're driving back in a hairy tropical rainstorm on mountain roads with little visibility it's not for the faint hearted! It's not cheap - they've had decades of wealthy US tourists visit and prices reflect this. It's also a tipping culture (they expect 20%).
We didn't do the Caribbean side but according to some American friends we met who had just come from there, it's less pretty than the Pacific side.
Hope some of this helps! We had a brilliant time. Definetely go!

SJane45S Wed 19-Oct-16 18:14:45

Doh - most trips not most trials!

wholettooth Wed 19-Oct-16 19:10:06

SJ thank you, it sounds absolutely perfect for us. Would 2 weeks be long enough or would you press for 3?

wholettooth Wed 19-Oct-16 19:15:42

I've just looked at Tulemar, it looks gorgeous.

SJane45S Wed 19-Oct-16 19:24:58

Yes it was quite stupidly lovely! They have a sloth institute on site and because it's set in the rainforest you see a lot of wildlife, have monkeys in your hammock etc. Brilliant place! You can self cater there as well. We went for 2 weeks, there's more of the country I'd like to have seen so 3 if you can!

wholettooth Wed 19-Oct-16 19:35:26

I'm totally sold in it, we might do a week there and then go on.
Which accommodation did you stay in, do you think any are particularly good?
There's a gorgeous beach house but it appears to be $5900 us a night shock
A massive thanks for the advice.

SJane45S Wed 19-Oct-16 19:57:25

Yeah & we passed that every day and felt like poor relations! There's a real mix of property from 3 star through to large villa's with maids and private chefs! We went with our 8 year old and had a standard room - it was fine. The room was average but big with a great verandah looking down to the beach through the rain forest. I'm a cheap skate so if it was me I'd go for the cheapest option for your size of family. The place is huge and absolutely gorgeous, every place has a balcony so it's highly likely you won't spend much time inside! The American friends we made had a bungalow which wasn't 5 star but absolutely fine! As before, it's so large and spread out you often have pools and sometimes the beach to yourselves. The on-site restaurant was over priced but there's lots of places to eat along the road in front of the resort as well as 2 supermarkets. You can also catch a bus to the national park which is a lot cheaper than taking a tour. V pretty beach inside the park as well!

wholettooth Wed 19-Oct-16 20:24:56

I think we'd get away with a 2bed, there will be 5 of us.
We'll rough it the rest of the time.

SJane45S Wed 19-Oct-16 21:08:13

Have a great time - I'm not a holiday repeater (the worlds too big a place) but I'd go back! If you do go, shop around for tours, zip lining etc or book direct just to save some colones! Dollars are accepted in a lot of restaurants but they give change in colones so it's the more useful currency. Any questions, happy to help if I can! We didn't go to the Monteverde Cloud Forest but it's supposed to be great so maybe one for your list!

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