Costa Rica Journals

25th Anniversary in Costa Rica

A November 2005 trip to Costa Rica by BedfordEJ

Quote: A 1-week Costa Rica highlights trip: Alajuela, Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio

25th Anniversary in Costa Rica

Overview

Quote:
The highlights of our week were the Arenal Volcano and the Manuel Antonio tour.

Quick Tips:

Bring plenty of film or storage media for your digital camera. Bring two sets of rechargeable batteries. Be sure to bring your own shampoo, a hat, and good hiking boots.

Best Way To Get Around:

We had our transportation arranged by a tour company, specifically, Costa Verde Tours. They can be found online at http://www.costaricatour.com/ Having someone else handle the transportation was wonderful, probably the best decision we made. Many of the roads in Costa Rica are very poor. My wife doesn't like riding with me in the U.S.; we couldn't have survived a week on the roads in Costa Rica.
Quote:
This was a very nice hotel near the airport, not in downtown San Jose. The grounds were beautiful and include a nature trail. And there were lots of birds. It has a pool, a Marilyn Monroe-themed bar, a restaurant, a small gift shop, and a very good tour desk right in the lobby. They allowed us to check out an hour late to accommodate our travel arrangements. They have a TV in the rooms as well as nice hot showers. We stayed in a deluxe room. A nice breakfast is included. See http://www.orquideasinn.com/.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Orquideas Inn
Cruce de Poas/Cacao
Alajuela, Costa Rica 3009
+506-433-9346

Quote:
This was a nice lodge. The room was spacious and all wood. A nice shower and bath. No TV. The restaurant, however, was average at best, and they wanted you to make a reservation for every meal. I was annoyed they denied our request to check out an hour late. We had to sit in the lobby and wait for our transportation. They advertise as being the closest to the cloud forest, but that location doesn't really seem to bring any advantage. http://www.trappfam.com/

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Trapp Family Lodge
17 miles from highway
Monteverde, Costa Rica
(506) 853-3308

Hotel Plinio

Hotel | "Plinio Hotel"

Quote:
We stayed in a two-story suite. It was very nice and quite interesting. No TV, no windows, just screens. The hotel has an excellent restaurant and a nice pool. The nature trail was a true trail and led to a great view from the top of the hill. While up on the tower, a troop of squirrel monkeys came by.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Hotel Plinio
Manuel Antonio
Quepos, Costa Rica
(506) 777-0055

Quote:
From your bed, you look out a picture window and see an active volcano. Particularly impressive at night. Natural fireworks every night the weather is clear. No TV. A nice shower, breakfast included. Birds out the window. The hotel is at the end of a fairly rough dirt road, but don't give up. Before you go, check and be sure the volcano is still flowing in this direction; it can change. It also has a pool and hot tub. There was a rather loud wedding party the two nights we were there. They did not observe the quiet-after-10 policy.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Arenal Observatory Lodge
Arenal Volcano National Park
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
+506 692-2070

Nenes (Los)

Restaurant | "Los Nenes"

Quote:
This was one of the best meals we had in Costa Rica. The cream of onion soup was fantastic. The steak and shrimp were excellent.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Nenes (Los)
One Block off the Main Street
San Jose, Costa Rica

Plinio

Restaurant

Quote:
The menu is Thai, Indian, Costa Rican, Italian, and German. Somehow they pull it off exceptionally well. The location is very attractive, and service is good. One of the best meals we had in Costa Rica.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Plinio
1km from Quepos
Quepos, Costa Rica

Trapp Family Lodge

Restaurant

Quote:
This restaurant was pretty disappointing. The food was average and service was a bit slow. There was the same limited menu for lunch and dinner. The chocolate cake was good. The only flavor ice cream available was strawberry.

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Trapp Family Lodge
Inter-American Highway North to 150 Kilometer
Monteverde, Costa Rica
+506 645-5858

Musanni Bakery

Restaurant

Quote:
This is a bakery chain found throughout Costa Rica. A great (and inexpensive) spot for breakfast or lunch. They serve empanadas and other meat-filled bakery items, as well as bread, desserts, soda, etc. You pick up a tray and select whatever you want with tongs, and they bring the tray to the register. Locals as well as tourists come here. Keep an eye out for the orange and white signs everywhere.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Musanni Bakery
Manuel Antonio Road
San Jose, Costa Rica

Zoo Ave (Wildlife Rescue Center)

Attraction | "Zoo Ave"

Quote:
Not a tourist trap, a real zoo. It takes about 2 hours to see it all. Lots of birds, as well as iguanas, mammals, etc. Peacocks roam the grounds. There is a small gift shop and snack bar. Most of the signage is in both Spanish and English. http://www.zooave.org/

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Zoo Ave (Wildlife Rescue Center)
Zoo Avenue before La Garita
Alajuela, Costa Rica
2433-8989

Arenal Volcano

Attraction

Quote:
Hike on the side of an active volcano. Hear the rumbling, see the rocks rolling down the side, see the old lava flows. This is a very cool location, but views depend on the weather. Admission was $6. Not much wildlife, but the volcano was very interesting. The hike does not require high fitness.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Arenal Volcano

Arenal, Costa Rica

Quote:
We went on a guided tour with Iguana Tours. They picked us up at our hotel. It was excellent, one of the highlights of our week. Our guide was very knowledgeable. We saw iguanas, osprey, pelican, white-faced monkeys, sloths, crabs, beautiful beaches, a caimen. Animals everywhere. After the tour, we stayed at the beach for a while.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio Park Road
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Poas Volcano

Attraction | "Volcan Poas"

Quote:
Look down into the crater to see the steam and some beautiful views. Get there early in the day, as the clouds usually roll in by about 10am. Interesting flora in the area.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Poas Volcano
about an hour outside of San Jose
San Jose, Costa Rica

Quote:
While a true tourist spot, this is exceptionally well done. The hummingbird garden was our favorite part. Beautiful hummingbirds everywhere. The butterfly garden was interesting, but the rain had most of them grounded. There was an orchid garden, but not many were in bloom in November. The Frog Garden was neat as there was a guide that turned over the leaves to show you the different frogs. They were right there in front of you, not behind glass. The buffet was pizza, hot dogs, french fries, pasta, salad, etc. The kids should love it, and frankly, we did too. http://www.waterfallgardens.com/index.html

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Vara Blanca 1 Hour From San Jose
Vara Blanca, Costa Rica
(506) 225-0643

Ranario

Attraction

Quote:
Take the guided tour. There are all types of different frogs and toads in glass aquariums. For one admission you can enter twice, one in the day and once at night. The guide was very knowledgeable and helped you spot the frogs and toads. A small gift shop.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 27, 2005

Ranario

Monteverde, Costa Rica
+506 645-6320