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costa rica help

Hi! Headed to costa rica next week for 5 nights. My Bf and I are very active and looking for a great itinerary. Have compiled some info but would love some input from a seasoned CR traveler. Thinking its best to fly into SJO vs Liberia? We want to see hot springs, wildlife, possible waterfall hike and zipline. Some have suggested 2 day Pacuare river excursion. It looks extremely structured and we don't love being in large groups for tour, so not sure about that? We are marriott bonvoy members so would like a Marriott property if possible. If not, we are open to great places not crazy $$.

Thanks for help!

Posted by
7 posts

Hello Kwarbritton79, I was in CR in December 2023 and it was amazing!
Do you plan to rent a car? Use public transportation?
With only 5 nights I suggest focusing on one area only and take day trips from there, for example Monteverde or La Fortuna.
The airport choice may depend on where you are flying from. Liberia may better situate you to the some points of interest. Keep in mind you will need to build in time to get back to either airport on your return flight.

The suggestion to review Mytanfeet is a good one.

Good luck and enjoy!

Posted by
317 posts

I agree, with 5 nights stick to an area. Arsenal/La Zfortuna will give you hot springs, wildlife and some night life. You could book a day trip from there to Sarapiqui, for example.

How do you plan to get around? Roads aren’t great in Costa Rica and it takes longer than you think to get from place to place. It isn’t a place I would drive in myself.

There is a Marriott in San Jose. I’ve stayed there. It’s not the greatest.

Going last minute with no bookings may mean the more affordable things are booked out.

Posted by
102 posts

We were in Costa Rica Feb 2023 and aside from a night near San Jose airport at the beginning and end of our trip we split our time between La Fortuna (4n) and Uvita (5n). We are also Marriott members but there were no properties in the areas we stayed in. We loved Uvita and spent some time at Manuel Antonio. We preferred it to our time in La Fortuna. We rented a car, the driving is easy albeit slow at times due to traffic and some poor roads but driving was fine. For 5 nights I would suggest 1 location- Uviita, Manuel Antonio and Domincal have everything you are looking for except hot springs. We rented a car from Go Bananas and would recommend also.

Posted by
465 posts

We want to see hot springs, wildlife, possible waterfall hike and zipline. Some have suggested 2 day Pacuare river excursion.

I have gone to Costa Rica five times with groups of high school students. All the raft trips we did were in the first couple years before our school district took that off the list of acceptable outdoor activities. That was on the Sarapiqui River. Always very organized. Zip lines we did in Arenal and Monteverde. Wildlife is not a guarantee anywhere--all depends on time of day, weather, season, luck, and which national park. Many times it is a surprise: I finally saw the elusive quetzal while ziplining. I encountered a coral snake while planting mangrove shoots. I came across a poison arrow frog while planting trees. My feet were swarmed by biting ants while tasting cacao on a farm. I saw my first toucan (a favorite bird) while hiking. I really enjoyed volunteering at a wildlife rescue center on two of the trips we did.