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speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

Costa Rica Trip Review
I just got back over the weekend and figured I'd share our trip.

Day 1 (Travel To)
We flew out of MSY on United to SJO, with stops at IAH and TGU and no hiccups. It was an award ticket and my options were limited on routes, but it wasn’t bad at all. Just before landing at TGU, a flight attendant came by and told us that we were the only passengers on the flight that were making a connection at TGU. He mentioned that we should ask a worker at the airport as soon as we got off the plane, even though we had almost 2 hours before the flight to SJO. I stopped the first worker we saw and he came back a few minutes later and told us to follow him. They waked us through a door and did a quick pat down and sent us on to our gate. Easy enough!
We landed at SJO at 2:30ish and cleared out quickly. There was a van right outside when we walked out that took us to the Enterprise location, just a few km down the road. It all went smooth there and we were on our way to Manuel Antonio in our swanky Suzuki Grand Vitara by 3:30ish. I had heard about rough roads in CR, but after getting out of San Jose, it was smooth sailing all the way (at least until Arenal). I had never bothered using a wifi hotspot in other countries before, but decided to rent one (Tep Wireless Skyroam Unit) for this trip for the driving and hiking we would be doing – just in case. It worked flawless all over CR for the whole week and I paid $56 with a promo code (unlimited data).
Along the way, we stopped at the Tarcoles River bridge to see the crocs, which was cool for a few minutes. We also stopped at a Maxi Pali (CR Walmart) and picked up some snacks, booze and sunscreen/bug spray for the week. Passing by Jaco, right at sunset, allowed us to stop for our first great Pacific Costa Rica views. We arrived at our AirBnB, which was perfect, after dark and couldn’t take in much around it. This place is very near the park and surrounded by some great restaurants/bars that were all within walking distance. After dinner and a few drinks, we crashed with plans of hitting the park in the morning.

Tarcoles River Crocodiles
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Sunset near Jaco on the way to Manuel Antonio
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Manuel Antonio AirBnB
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Day 2
We woke to the sound of some identified animals outside the window at 5:15am. I nearly jumped out of the bed, but it was instantly worth it when we finally got a view from the balcony. After enjoying the view with coffee on the balcony, we hopped on the bus (350 colones/~$0.60each) and arrived just down from the park entrance in a few minutes. The park opens at 7am and we had heard it gets pretty busy later in the day, so we arrived shortly after opening. There’s a ticket office down from the entrance that takes CC or cash ($16 for foreigners).
There’s two main beaches in the park. The first that you come to from the entrance (Playa Manuel Antonio) is the prettier of the two, but gets crowded at times. We went straight there to get some pictures and enjoy the water before the crowds arrived. We also walked the other (Playa Espadilla) and it was much less crowded, but still a great beach. Once in the park, you will immediately begin to see some great wildlife and plants. We saw capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, 2 and 3 toed sloths, agoutis, raccoons, WT deer, coatis, countless colorful birds and many others that I’m sure I have forgotten. We stayed at the park until after lunch and then went back and rested up for a bit before dinner. There’s some cool restaurants around town and I’ll just include pics throughout. I preferred the “Sodas” with the more traditional foods…rice and beans with everything.


AirBnB Balcony View
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Playa Manuel Antonio
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Some other pics from around the park
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Pretty cool bar/restaurant made from/around a plane - El Avian

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Sancho's Mexican
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Costa Rican Casado
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This post was edited on 4/16 at 9:04 pm


speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Day 3
This was the day that I was most interested – fishing. A lot of people go to CR for the offshore, but I’ve had Roosterfish at the top of my wanted list for a long time. They are unique to certain parts of the Pacific Coast, unlike most of the offshore species. That said, I’ll be back soon for some offshore fishing in the future. I booked a full day of inshore, specifically for roosters.
When we got on the boat, the captain did the usual “been a little slow lately…” that I’ve heard many times, no big deal. After we got to our first spot, he mentioned they had only caught 2 roosters in the last 3 days. That felt like a kick in the nuts. We hit several spots over the next few hours without a bite. Finally around lunch time, I caught my first rooster. We only caught a few, but I was more than thrilled to knock off roosters. I’ll eventually be back after them in a kayak as well.

Pez Gallo!
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Day 4
On Monday, we did not have anything planned other than moving on to Jaco. We really didn’t have much interest in Jaco, but it was our jumping off point for a day trip to Isla Tortuga. The fishing was my planned day and Isla Tortuga was what my wife had picked herself. We got settled into our AirBnB and went looking around. I had seen The Beer House in Jaco online and decided to check it out. We enjoyed some decent Costa Rican craft beers and chatted with the owner for a while. He recommended trying The Green Room Café for dinner, so that’s just what we did. They also had a solid list of beers and I did some sampling. They had an open mic night and there was actually some damn good music being put out by the bands playing that night.


A cool stop in Playa Esterillos Oeste on the way
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The Beer House
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The Green Room beers
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Day 5
Tuesday was booked for the trip to Isla Tortuga that we had booked with Calypso Tours. After finding this tour, I actually found the same trip & company in the Chase UR portal and booked for 19k points vs a cost of $290total on the tour website. A nice tour van picked us up from our AirBnB, upon request, at 7am. They took us to the dock in Puntarenas, which took about 1hr 15min. Before departure, they provide a breakfast, which was surprisingly good (eggs, bacon, rice & beans, fresh fruit, etc). The trip out to the island, across the Gulf of Nicoya, takes about 1.5hrs on the big catamaran, but is quite enjoyable. Once on the island, you can snorkel or ride the banana boat for free. We chose to just lounge on the beach and enjoy the water. The crew set up a bar and the prices were very reasonable for good drinks – much cheaper than what we paid on the mainland. The included lunch was also much better than we expected, including some great mahi ceviche. We had 5hrs on the island and then the 1.5hr ride back in to Puntarenas. In total, it was about 12hrs from pick-up to drop off back at our AirBnB.

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This post was edited on 4/16 at 9:29 pm


HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
17850 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review


Gonna read this in detail in the morning otherwise I’ll be up all night planning a trip to CR....that’s next on my list.



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21
speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Day 6
On Wednesday, we were driving from Jaco to Arenal. We stopped at the La Fortuna Waterfall on the way and it was definitely worth the stop. The entry cost is $15/pp. When you walk in, there’s a great view of the waterfall off in the distance. From there, you walk down 500 (exactly) steps to the base of the waterfall. This was definitely the picturesque ideal thought of Costa Rica. We piled our stuff up on the rocks and swam in the freezing cold water. We also stopped at Mistico Hanging Bridges against my better judgement and it was honestly pretty boring. I wouldn't recommend that stop.

From there, we drove into La Fortuna and ate lunch at a soda, before heading on to our resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano. Arenal is an active volcano and one of the youngest, yet largest, in Costa Rica. At check-in they mentioned that it had last flowed lava in 2010, so we didn’t get any shows of lava.
We stayed our last two nights at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. This place was much more than I expected, especially from our room. We booked on the “Smithsonian” rooms, which had a full view of Arenal with glass across all the way across the front of the room. One thing I overlooked when booking was the lack of air conditioning. There was no AC anywhere on the property, but luckily it stayed much cooler than I had anticipated and we actually got a little chilly at night. The only downside was the noise from outside. All the windows had screens, so we could keep the breeze going, but the bugs/critters outside make a ton of noise every night.
The lodge has a pretty decent restaurant on site, which is the only thing around. It’s 8km of bumpy arse gravel road, back to the main hwy and anywhere else to eat. They also have a big observatory deck to view the volcano, but we had just as good from our balcony.

La Fortuna Waterfall
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Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal & Arenal Observatory Lodge Views
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Day 7
We spent the morning and lunch time hiking the trails on the resort property. There’s a good range of trails from super easy/paved roads to one that basically requires you to grab tree roots to climb back up to the top. We did them all, minus a couple small loops that were closed at the time. After hiking, we relaxed at the observatory area that has a solid bar and couches overlooking the lake and volcano.

Various trail pics around the resort property
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We had to depart before breakfast on Friday and the hotel was nice enough to pack a road breakfast for us – ham & cheese sandwich and cookies. The drive between Arenal and San Jose was a little hairy for a while with twisting roads and thick fog/clouds. I got in behind a tour van and followed him most of the way down. In most places you couldn’t see past the edge of the cliff, right next to our car.

Image: https://s17.postimg.cc/l1j7ypm0v/IMG_5095.jpg
This post was edited on 4/16 at 9:30 pm


LSU Tigershark
South Alabama Fan
10,000 posts
Member since Dec 2007
9613 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Can you give details about the fishing trip? Who you used/cost? Did you charter individually or jump on with a group?


speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
I did a private full day of inshore with Quepos Fish Adventure. It was $550 for the full day inshore and I think $350 for 1/2day & $850 for a full day offshore. I told him that I was only specifically interested in roosters and he worked hard to get on them. Would recommend.

You also have to buy licenses at the dock for $15/pp and they are good for a week. Unfortunately, fishing isn’t “cheap” in C.R. like some nearby countries.


lsunurse
LSU Fan
Scottsdale, AZ
Member since Dec 2005
120687 posts
 Online 

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Love the pictures(especially the waterfall). Jealous you got to see Arenal volcano not covered in clouds. The time I went it was covered in clouds the time we were there.


Also jealous you saw more sloths. The one animal I was most excited to see in CR...and I only saw one...with the help of a guide at Manual Antonio National Park.

Looks like yall had a great time. Thanks for sharing with us


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CoachChappy
LSU Fan
Boudin Capitol of the World
Member since May 2013
24019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
quote:

I told him that I was only specifically interested in roosters and he worked hard to get on them. Would recommend.


Going to CR to target roosters is on my bucket list. What kind of tackle did you use? I'd really like to fight one on a fly rod.


speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
We used spinning gear. They were on my bucket list for many years also, so I wasn't going to get fancy and screw it up on my first attempt. I really want to go back and catch one from a kayak. May head to Panama for that though.


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LSU Tigershark
South Alabama Fan
10,000 posts
Member since Dec 2007
9613 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
quote:

I did a private full day of inshore with Quepos Fish Adventure. It was $550 for the full day inshore and I think $350 for 1/2day & $850 for a full day offshore. I told him that I was only specifically interested in roosters and he worked hard to get on them. Would recommend


My buddy is looking to do a half day trip, possibly to jump on as a +1 on a charter, not necessarily a private charter. Is that even a possibility there? In Kauai, I jumped on as a +1 with another 3 other guys from different parts of the country for like $135 and had a blast


speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Yes, definitely a possibility. The one I went with has that option on their site. You can e-mail him and I'd bet he replies within 1/2hr like he did for both of my messages to him.

Quepos Fishing


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HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
17850 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review


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harro
LSU Fan
Member since Feb 2018
119 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
quote:

Going to CR to target roosters is on my bucket list. What kind of tackle did you use? I'd really like to fight one on a fly rod.


If roosters are on your bucket list, I would suggest Cabo. I've caught them in both CR and Cabo and they just seemed more plentiful in Cabo. On my trip in CR, I only caught one, but on my trip in Cabo, we lost count (and this was on a half day trip). As the OP mentioned in his previous post, CR fishing will cost you much more too. In Cabo, we went in a 24' panga for $150.


CoachChappy
LSU Fan
Boudin Capitol of the World
Member since May 2013
24019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
good to know.


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speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
quote:

If roosters are on your bucket list, I would suggest Cabo. I've caught them in both CR and Cabo and they just seemed more plentiful in Cabo. On my trip in CR, I only caught one, but on my trip in Cabo, we lost count (and this was on a half day trip). As the OP mentioned in his previous post, CR fishing will cost you much more too. In Cabo, we went in a 24' panga for $150.


Definitely can't argue that, but for me, it wasn't just a fishing trip. If it were strictly for fishing, I would have gone to Cabo. All the other parts of CR are what made the trip.


harro
LSU Fan
Member since Feb 2018
119 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Absolutely. If I'm going on a trip with my wife to enjoy the scenery and activities, CR is where I'm going. For a guy's trip for fishing, golf and partying, I'm going to Cabo.


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crazyLSUstudent
LSU Fan
391 miles away from Tiger Stadium
Member since Mar 2012
2917 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Mount Arenal still quiet? Was there back in 2011 and it had not erupted for awhile when I was there


speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2019 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Yep. They mentioned there had been no activity at all since 2010.


crazyLSUstudent
LSU Fan
391 miles away from Tiger Stadium
Member since Mar 2012
2917 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
Guess she has gone dormant. Did you get to see the lava field from the last big eruption in the 60’s?


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nwalser
New Orleans Saints Fan
Prairieville
Member since Jun 2010
131 posts

re: Costa Rica Trip Review
thanks for the info. Going there in September


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