Costa Rica questions and answers

I will be travelling to Costa Rica with the wife & my 2 girls (16 & 7). We will arrive in San Jose and be staying near Jaco.

Right now our plan is for the following day trips:

1. Volcan Poas/La Paz Waterfall Gardens (Arenal is farther and my 7 y.o. is dying to see the butterfly garden in La Paz)

2. Parque Manuel Antonio

3. Pacific Rainforest Aerial Tram (near Jaco)

4. Possibly taking a boat trip out to one of the small Pacific islands

Question: I am considering renting a car to get around instead of taking shuttles. Does anyone recommend that or is driving too dodgy?

Answer: If you haven’t driven around in Costa Rica yet – I would recommend that you learn the lay of the land first – the trips you mentioned sound like a good sampling – once you see how the main roads work and the driving style of the country – which is very agressive – you will probably feel more comfortable driving.

Question: What are the best resources for traveling to Costa Rica?

Answer: In my opinion, here are the two best guide books – Costa Rica for Dummies and the Lonely Planet Guide to Costa Rica.

Question: I’ve heard great things about the Nicoya Peninsula and would also be interested in any tips or recollections you might share.

Answer: The Nicoya peninsula is great – We’ve stayed at Playa Samara and Montezuma and enjoyed both for different reasons. However I will tell you – we are strange and don’t like to go where the crowds are – hence we stay away from some of the more popular locations.

We rented a car and drove out to Montezuma (and Mal Pais, St. Teresa, & Cobano) . I thought Montezuma felt a bit more touristy/college town than Tambor or Mal Pais, but I liked them all. Montezuma is a real kids hang out – but where we were it was about a km East of the village on the beach – that’s where the wildlife preserve begins and runs all the way to Tambor. We rode horses through it and that was a real treat.

We also watched some football in Spanish and ate lunch at the Sano Banano. (Who knew that a sack was a “captura”?) I liked that football was easy to find down there. The nachos were good and I loved the presentation, even the refried beans were good which I usually hate.

If you ever go to Southern Nicoya, in Tambor there is a little Italian place (the sign just says pizza and Italian kitchen or something) that is really great.

We did the Cloud Forest before heading (by ferry) to the Nicoya Penninsula. Monkeys, iguanas, geckos, every kind of bird imaginable, coati, and some so-so scuba diving. A great trip. Costa Rica was beautiful, and the people were quite nice.

We were in Manuel Antonio for a week, we stayed in a beautiful place called La Mansion. Lots to do in the area, and with kids in toe you may want to check out a place called Anaconda for dinner one night. They’ve been feeding those crazy little spider monkey guys for years and they come like crazy everyday, around 5ish, ask someone and they will tell you.

Your girls and you will get a huge kick out of it. The park is an awesome experience and if you have time, check out the hotel Mariposa for a drink at the bar. Incredible hotel. We did a rafting trip which was great.

Question: Can we drive from San Jose to Arenal?

Answer: It is a trek from San Jose to Arenal because you have to go over and around the mountain chain in the area – the Poa Volcano is more of a straight run up hill – and if you go to Poa and have a chance you can visit the Doka Coffee Plantation there – despite what the other coffe tours say – that’s where the best coffee can be had – their Organic Roast is amazing – we are set on trying to work out a deal to distribute their organic coffee.

Question: Didn’t they set Jurasic Park in Costa Rica?

Answer: We drove through the area where Jurassic Park was filmed two years ago. It’s on the Central Carribbean side of Costa Rica – it was awesome – miles and miles of Tropical rainforest wilderness

Question: Where’s your favorite spot in Cost Rica?

Answer: The best spot we were at was the Tabacon Resort under the Arenal Volcano (which is still erupting) we hung out in the lava-heated hot springs there – in the middle of a spectacular rainforest with volcanic views and massages and great food. Avocado salad made right at the table and the ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice) just amazing – that’s a great meal.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Terry says:

    I’ve been to Costa Rica twice; I think the Poas Volcano is awesome but it’s not always visible. The Britt Coffee Plantation gives a really fun presentation. The Ticos are about the friendliest people I’ve ever met! For a B&B in San Jose I recommend La Amistad Inn. Huge breakfast, great staff & close to museums, the zoo & other attractions in town. Cafe el Mundo just down the street has great food as does The Sportsman’s Lodge and Las Palmas; they are all in easy walking distance. At the Sportsman’s the dorado (fish) is awesome!

  2. Tara says:

    I’ve been to Costa Rica and it was awesome! I really liked the arenal volcano! it’s so cool when it erupts! You should check out the hot springs too, they are so unique it’s very cool.

  3. Dave says:

    I agree that a stay at the Tabacon Resort under the Arenal Volcano is a good spot, especially if you can get a room with a view of the volcano. Watching it at night from the balcony is amazing. Don’t forget the Monteverde Cloud Forest and your 16 Y.O. may enjoy the adventure of a zip line through the forest. It’s safe, but takes a lot of trust to slide down 60′ of rope at the end! Be careful on the black sand beach. It’s funny to watch the people adventure out onto it and by the time they realize how hot it is, it’s like watching a firewalker as they try to get off the sand.

  4. Nick says:

    You will love Costa Rica I was fortunate enough to live there for several years. The wildlife is fantastic. I found that my relatives sometimes found it a bit stressful – don’t let holes in roads or Tico Time get you down. The different ways that we do things in each country are what makes travel experiences unique and educational.

    There is a bridge over the main road just North of Jaco where there used to be several large Alligators sunning themselves. I hope that they are still there!

  5. Sebastian says:

    I have never been there but I have heard so many times that it is marvelous and amazing over there! Gotta plan a trip soon 🙂

  6. Garima says:


    I am a student from India, and have an offer to work at costa rica for 4-6 months. I am concerned about safety for women in the country. Could someone please reply and put my worries to peace.

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