All hotel and tour reservations but one were made through Vacationcity.com. Their personnel were very helpful (including a last minute adjustment), all bookings were made exactly as they described, and our entire trip went smoothly. We’d use them again in a minute.
Day 1 : Mon May 2, 2005
Arrived 9 pm CST. A taxi company is integrated with the airport; one pays a fixed fee in advance, so that it is unnecessary to run the gauntlet of gypsy cabs or worry where the driver is really taking you.
+ Located in a quiet suburb of San Jose, just a $2 cab ride from the airport Ideal for our late arrival. Helpful personnel. Excellent complimentary breakfast.
- Our room with private bath was located opposite the front desk. A late arriving guest and an early departing one kept us wakeful. Made use of sleep mask and earplugs. Next trip we get a room there without bath.
Day 2 : Tue May 3, 2005
Budget Rent a Car
+ 4x4 Daihatsu Terios was delivered to our hotel at 9:00am as scheduled.
$270.00 for 6 days, plus $40 for gas, plus $180 for insurance.
- Delivery driver didn’t speak English and didn’t have maps with him. Thankfully a representative of Service rent-a-car was there to help with both. Budget asked for a copy of the voucher we’d received from Vacation City—what voucher?
- Daihatu lacked a trunk in which to conceal luggage
- Budget drop-off location at Airport is poorly marked – can’t they afford a sign or two?—and we almost missed our flight. (Note: all flights to U.S. close an hour before departure.) Give Budget a miss.
In retrospect, we’d have done just as well and $aved a bundle had we used public buses the entire trip.
We drove first through San Jose--a nerve-racking experience, and then along a winding mountain road--a nerve-racking experience, to San Isidro de El General. A well-paved, but ill-marked road then led down to the coast. Here the pavement ended, but after ten minutes of potholes we came to
+high point of our trip. Clean comfortable multi-room cabin equipped with refrigerator, stovetop. Plenty of pillows, plenty of towels. Easy walks to forest and beach.
120.00 +tax 19.67 139.67
Tuesday—took walk to beach—butterflies, land crabs, lizards
Wednesday—took walk through forest, saw troupe of Capuchin monkeys. Ate lunch in nearby Dominical, then realtor drove us to look at mountain properties.
+ With guide’s aid saw Toucan, White-faced monkey, crocodile, sloth, and sleeping bats. Tour included car ride, river cruise, ocean boat ride, snorkeling, lunch, and hike.
-- boat lacked ladder for easy descent into water, mask leaked, fins inadequate
Sphere was carved by pre-Columbian indians using stone tools at right of photo.
Phil drove today; said it kept his mind off the jolting we received as we progressed up the coast through and around the potholes to Quespos and Manual Antonio.
Manuel Antonio—the town and beach—tacky, overpriced, noisy. Beach has good body surfing, but water is polluted
Playa Espadilla Hotel and Cabinas. Clean, comfortable, cabin with noisy AC. But we were spoiled by Hacienda Baru and wanted refrigerator and coffee maker. Continental breakfast not included. Two nights. 110.00 18.03 128.03
+ a troupe of Squirrel monkeys passes through the overhead canopy each evening.
Manuel Antonio—the nature reserve--$7 a person per day—all we saw were 2 ducks and a raccoon; heard but did not see howler monkeys.
Day 7 : Sun May 8, 2005
Had breakfast in Quepos at El Patio—great coffee, bad food.
Next stop, bridge at Tarcoles to look at crocodiles.
Extremely friendly owner Alvaro has pretty much let the place go. While we were greeted with a refreshing glass of juice, we were left alone after that to wonder whether and where dinner and breakfast would be served.
Guests stay in private cabins nestled between ripe mango and avocado trees and creeks that flow through the surrounding forest area. A-frame cabins have tile floors and cold-water bathrooms. Rooms go unoccupied for long periods so they are dusty. Still, it’s a great place to wind down after a vacation and only an hour from the airport. The hotel grounds have a trail, a boche ball court, a foosball table, and a large filtered outdoor pool. Continental breakfast included. Doubles $35
Got to the airport area in time, but spent 20 minutes looking around for Budget rental car drop-off. We paid departure tax then headed for ticket counter. “Sorry, but flight is closed. It closed one hour before departure.” Our hearts sank; we loved Costa Rica but still were ready to go home. A last minute reprieve—we were allowed to board plane!
May Costa Rica always have friendly inhabitants, great coffee, and freedom from U.S. interference.