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Choosing a destination?

3 posts
Choosing a destination?

So I'm heading to Costa Rica in the beginning of June and having a hard time choosing my destinations. I've done a fair amount of research and searched on here but wanted to get some other opinions.

My current set in stone parts of my itinerary are below:

Day 1: Late arrival to SJO, staying near airport

Day 2: Rent car from Vamos, drive to meet friends at Jaco, in Jaco

Day 3: In Jaco with friends

Day 4-9: ??

Day 10: Early flight out of SJO (planning to stay near the airport again the previous night)

Basically this leaves me with about 6ish days to explore. I'll have a rental car the whole time but will be traveling by myself (female if it matters) for those 6 days after being in Jaco with friends. I speak some rusty Spanish and have traveled solo before. I enjoy moderate hiking, photography, and soaking up the culture but don't want to be surrounded by tourists the entire time.

A few ideas I'm thinking about:

-- Spending Day 4 in Manuel Antonio. Day 4 a Sunday so by the time I'd get there from Jaco I'd have the rest of that day. I understand it's closed Monday so is it worth it to just go there for part of the day and that night?

-- Visiting Manuel Antonio then the Osa Peninsula and staying overnight at Sirena station (is it too late to book this though?)

-- Visiting Manuel Antonio then making my way up to Monteverde then Arenal

-- Skipping Manuel Antonio completely and going straight to Monteverde and Arenal (worried they will be too touristy though)

-- Skipping Arenal and going to Guanacaste and Monteverde

Any suggestions or advice?

6 replies to this topic
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,639 posts
51 reviews
1. Re: Choosing a destination?

Where you go from Jaco depends upon what you'd like to do. I'm partial to Monteverde, especially for easy hiking and taking pictures. You should know, though, that there's road work and scheduled closures on route 606.

You should get the cell phone with Waze from Vamos, especially since you're traveling alone. June is not a month with tons of visitors. Even popular places like Arenal and Monteverde won't be too crowded. A lot depends upon the lodging you select. If you sleep away from the towns you will feel more isolated.

You can visit Manual Antonio as a day trip from Jaco. If you can't work things out to go to Osa, then I would suggest Arenal and/ or Monteverde.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
50,992 posts
42 reviews
2. Re: Choosing a destination?

Manuel Antonio can be nice for you guys and only 1.5 hours drive.


Costa Rica
Level Contributor
147 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Choosing a destination?

If I went south I would go straight to Osa Peninsula and skip Manuel Antonio there is so much to do there.

If I went north, then for sure to Guanacaste with a stop in Monteverde.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
10,958 posts
23 reviews
4. Re: Choosing a destination?

I’d spend the 4th in Manuel Antonio, tour the park & enjoy a beach day (much prettier beach than Jaco). Day 5 drive to Sierpe, leave the car & take a boat down river to Drake Bay for 4 nights. You can take daytrips by boat to Sirena ranger station, San Pedrillo ranger station & Cano Island. You can even arrange an overnight at Sirena with a private guide but the cost would be very high for a single traveler.

It might be worthwhile dropping the car in Uvita, taking a taxi to Sierpe & flying back to San Jose from Palmar Sur. Otherwise you’re looking at a full travel day to boat back to Sierpe & drive to San Jose.

3 posts
5. Re: Choosing a destination?

Thanks for all the advice!

Right now since going to the Osa sounds a bit complicated I'm leaning towards going north to Guanacaste (Tenorio National Park and maybe Rincon de la Vieja or Volcan Miravalles) but I think that would mean skipping Manuel Antonio or probably only choosing either Arenal or Monteverde.

Is it realistic (timewise) to spend my Day 4 in Manuel Antonio then Day 5 and 6 in Monteverde, Day 7 at Tenorio Park and Day 8 in Arenal? Is it worth cutting one of those out to have more time in one place over another? They all sound amazing so I have no idea which to cut if I were to cut one...

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,639 posts
51 reviews
6. Re: Choosing a destination?

You can visit MA from Jaco (with your friends) and Tenorio can be a day trip from Arenal. If you budget your time wisely you can do this. You'll save time by not constantly checking into and out of hotels.

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