Myself and my Girlfriend are visiting Costa Rica for the first time, this January. Flights are booked, we are staying for 3 weeks. We will be renting a 4×4 for the whole time to give flexibility. The first part of the trip is planned and accommodation is booked, but I am after some advice about what to do after that.
we arrive about 5pm in SJO, so we are staying at a hotel close to the airport for one night. We pick up our vehicle (yet to be booked) the next day and drive to Playa Chiquita on the Caribbean coast. We will be staying for 5 days.
We are then going to drive to either La Fortuna area or Montverde. I was thinking La Fortuna because it seems a slightly shorter drive from Playa Chiquita. I am a bit worried about how busy La Fortuna might be though. I was thinking about staying at the observatory lodge in Arenal national park, has anyone stayed here? Is the whole area just overrun with people, or can you still get away and in to nature? We will obviously have the car, so day trips will be possible whilst we are there. Do you think 3 nights is enough here?
We would then drive around the lake to Monteverde. I have read elsewhere that this journey will take about 4 hours, does this seem about right? Would be nice to have time to stop in a couple of places on the way if anyone has any recommendations? Plan is to stay in Monteverde for 3 nights also. Probably thinking of staying just outside Monteverde, maybe saint elena? Any recommendations? Just want to be as connected with nature as possible, maybe stay in a treehouse if anything exists like that in that area.
After Monteverde we will then head for the Pacific coast, and ultimately Dominical as we know someone who has a house there. What do you think of that area? It looks as though there will be plenty of little beaches and interesting day trips to be had from there as a base. Also, can you recommend somewhere between Monteverde and Dominical that would be good for an overnight stay, just to break up the journey.
I know it’s quite a lot to be doing, but we do have 3 weeks. Do you think we’ll be able to squeeze it all in? I’m aware of journeys taking longer than expected due to quality of roads etc.
Any thoughts, advice or recommendations would be much appreciated.
That sounds like an awesome 3 weeks. You have a lot of questions so first I will say that you might benefit from our itinerary review service, which will give you the most help. That being said, you seem to be on a pretty good track so here are some posts that will help:
Rental Car Discount (we get special pricing for our readers and clients)
Road Conditions of Specific Routes in Costa Rica
La Fortuna: What to expect from Costa Rica’s most popular destination (note, the Observatory is a beautiful property and feels secluded.)
Monteverde: A Forest in the Clouds & Monteverde Hotel Guide & Driving to Monteverde
The Costa Ballena (this is the area that Dominical is in, you could consider a stop near Jaco on the way)
Hope these help, have an awesome adventure!