Hi Jenn and Matt, Your book has been super helpful in planning most of our 2-week trip, 10 days of which will be spent with another family between Manuel Antonio (2/16-20) and Arenal (2/20-2/24). Our own family of 5 arrives in SJO 2/11 and we are trying to nail down our itinerary for the first 6 days and need some help. On us: we prefer warm weather for half of that time since we live in cold, rainy Seattle. We’re an active family -we like to hike, observe wildlife and don\’t want to sit on the beach for long. Our kids are ages 8, 10, and 12 and can hike up to 6 miles per day. I don\’t think they\’re ready for the intensity (humidity) of Corcovado so we figured it\’s best to skip Drake\’s Bay and that area. Here are the two alternatives we are considering – would appreciate your advice on which one to do, and any thoughts on transport as well. Option 1: rent a car in SJ, drive to Monteverde (2 days), then Nosara (3-4 days) before driving to Manuel Antonio to meet our friends. We’d need a rental company that allows us to drop off in different locations, as we plan to use drivers/shared vehicles for the rest of our trip. Option 2: rent a car in SJ, drive down Pacific coast to Hacienda Baru. Spend 3 days between there, Parque Marino Ballena, Uvita. Possibly do the overnight camping in jungle outside Hacienda Baru (open to other locations – just hard to find!) and 1 day at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, arriving back at Manuel Antonio a day before our friends to do things like a Mangrove tour, spice farm tour that we won’t do with them. The latter itinerary feels appealing because it feels off the beaten path, but we also don\’t want to miss out on CR \”essentials\” – and you highlighted Nosara for families and Monteverde is always at the top of everyone\’s list. Also, in case you\’re wondering, our itinerary for our time in Arenal and Manuel Antonio already includes rafting (MA), ziplining (Arenal). Thank you for your help!
While option 1 would be really fun, it is a lot more driving than option 2 and you won’t miss much in Nosara that you can’t experience in the southern zone. Since you are an active family and like hiking, we would say option 2 is better suited to you anyway. Nosara has a lot less hiking options that are nearby. There is a lot to do near the Dominical area and you’ve already pointed out some great day trips. Hacienda Baru, Cloudbridge, and the Uvita Whale’s Tail are great. Cloudbridge will give you a taste of the cloud forest and the environment and wildlife is similar to Monteverde. To add you your list, you could hike or horseback to the Nauyaca Waterfalls, or check out the Diamante Waterfall and Cave. We can even help set you up to do an overnight stay in the cave if you’d like! There is also Playa Arco or Playa Ventanas to the south of Uvita which are fun for active kids. When you do meet up with your friends, it looks like you’ve picked some great activities too. If you need recommendations for rafting, zip line, or mangrove tour companies, we know of some great ones and we are happy to help set you up with them. Hope this helps you nail down your itinerary!