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3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

Morris County, New...
Level Contributor
113 posts
74 reviews
3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

Hi experts, We are arriving in Liberia on a Saturday and will be in this area (at the Springs) until Wed, when we are off to Manuel Antonio. We are taking private transport so we will not have a car at our disposal. Here is what I have sketched after reading the chapter in my guidebook and looking on trip advisor. Please give me any feedback or suggestions...

day 1: resort and hot springs (knowing we will not arrive until around 4)

day : hanging bridges and volcano hike

day 3: canyoneering and or whitewater or a combo of the 2 (offered by Wave Expeditions, deSafio, and Pure Trek.

day 4: ??

day 5: off to manuel antonio

My questions are:

*I have a blank ay right now. Is the above appropriately blocked out?

*What am I missing that I should insert on day 4?

What is the best way to get to the volcano and or the hanging bridges. Taxi? or is better to book a tour through Mistico to get transportation and can I add on the volcano from that tour?

*We have done class 2 and 3 whitewater rafting in Montana. Should we do whitewater rafting or waterfall canyoneering or the combination (knowing the only option is class 2/3 if we choose that route).

*Is it better to book these tours through the hotel or my travel agent or do it on my own?

*We are traveling with our son, who is peanut and treenut allergic. I would appreciate any suggestions for restaurants or anything we should avoid due to his allergies. He has had 6 years of Spanish in middle school and high school and one in college, yet I am still nervous about eating in another country where a hospital might not be nearby).

*Are these good choices for this area given that I am heading to Manuel Antonio after (and haven't even started planning that leg of the trip yet).

Many thanks for any and all advice!

8 replies to this topic
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
3,849 posts
51 reviews
1. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

I don't understand the reference to the volcano connected to Mistico. If the skies are clear you can see Arenal from practically everywhere, including your resort. A lot of people go rafting in CR but if it's something you can do elsewhere, I wouldn't put it high on your list.

You can book these activities once you're there. I'm sure the people at The Springs can help you. You can also stroll around La Fortuna and visit tour operators there. You might be able to negotiate lower costs that way.

It seems that you will depend upon taxis to get around. It's a bit of a trip, but I recommend a volunteer tour at Proyecto ASIS if you're animal lovers. You can also consider a day tour to Rio Celeste. You should know, though, that the water won't be that bright color if it's raining.

Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
Level Contributor
7,647 posts
267 reviews
2. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

I like the things you have planned. There are a few others that we like. The Bogarin Trail is a neat spot for seeing wildlife. It's close to the Catholic church. Locally owned by a family. You can do a guided hike for $35 per person. We saw five sloths when we did it; they're hard to spot, so that was amazing. Also saw an owl, poison dart frogs, red-eyed tree frog, and some cool birds. The waterfall hike is great too, very pretty, and you can swim in the river there. It's not really a hike per se, just lots of steps down and back up. Also really like the Cano Negro tour to see wildlife, a covered boat tour where you can see monkeys, sloths, caimans, and water birds. It's an all day tour. If you want something closer, the Penas Blancas safari float is fun; we've seen monkeys when we did it, and one time we saw a croc. We did canyoneering with La Roca and rafting with Rios Tropicales. Both very good. Love Desafio and have used them a lot. The companies you suggested always get good reviews too. We always book everything on our own. Have stayed at The Springs and liked it. They have their Club Rio activities too if that interests you. We went tubing, and it was really fun. We were the only ones on our tour when we did it and had two guides with us. There's also ziplining at Sky Trek if that interests you. We also like Proyecot Asis and Rio Celeste that daisy mentioned.

Destination Expert
for Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos
Level Contributor
7,647 posts
267 reviews
3. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

Regarding the allergies, we met someone on one of our trips who had lots of food allergies. He had written out on a card in Spanish, "I'm allergic to wheat, nuts, etc." He would show the card to the waiter, the person running the buffet, or ask them to show it to the cook. They would tell him if they used any of those ingredients, had cross contamination, etc. He found it helpful. I haven't seen a lot of peanuts or tree nuts when we've been there, but you never know.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
232 posts
33 reviews
4. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

We did white water rafting with Wave Expeditions. They are 2/3 rapids, but I do think they leaned to 3+ class when we went (April 2017). We actually had a guy flip out of our raft during one set of rapids. The guides were really good and really interacted with our kids. It was one my favorite days of the trip. I reviewed Wave Expeditions last year: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

I think someone else mentioned zip lining with Sky Trek. That would be great with teenagers. My kids loved it (although I was scared out of my gourd - the zip lines are 600+ off the ground). It's a cool way to see Arenal, too. Sky Trek was extremely professional and, I felt, very safety conscious. https://skyadventures.travel/arenal/

Another fun thing we did was night hike at Arenal Oasis. Finding frogs in the dark doesn't sound that exciting - but it was so cool. Our kids really enjoyed it. And it was fun experiencing the rainforest at night. Again, we had a terrific guide. http://www.arenaloasis.com/frog-watching

We booked most of our tours with our travel agent. That said, it would have been easy to book them with our hotel, as well. Good luck with your plans!

Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
232 posts
33 reviews
5. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

Also, if you like, you can do a combo of zip lining and a hike/hanging bridges at Sky Trek (this is what we did). We had a guide for the hike who was very knowledgable. Also, we were a very small group - my family of 4 plus one single woman. We were able to see tons of wildlife that I think we would have missed if we went on our own. Also, for what it's worth, the restaurant at Sky Trek was surprisingly good and had beautiful views of Arenal. It was a good break between the two activities.

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
9,783 posts
70 reviews
6. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

There are ready made, free to download Allergy cards in different languages, incl. Spanish, on line. E.g., https://www.brokerfish.com/assets/Translatio… .

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
1,459 posts
155 reviews
7. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

For rafting I highly recommend Dinghy Expeditions. Small company that will give you private rafting. If you need Class 111/1V they will do it for you. Email and let them know what you are looking for. Sarapiqui is a beautiful river I recommend, it's a lovely area and they will take you to a small soda where I ate the best casado to date.


Sloth tour


Since our breakfast is not free at the springs you will appreciate the breakfast included. It's at Arenal Oasis and very good. The frog tour there is great as previous poster mentioned.

Club Rio is alot of fun. Tubing and I really enjoyed the horseback riding. The grounds are amazing to ride the horses. They even do a short swim through the river.

Level Contributor
150 posts
4 reviews
8. Re: 3.5 day itinerary with teenagers

Following as I also will be spending a few days in Arenal with teenage boys, one of whom has a peanut and tree nut allergy. I am planning to bring allergy cards that I can hand to the wait staff, and my kids and I speak rudimentary Spanish--so will go over how to talk about his allergies, too. I don't think a lot of nuts are typically used in the cuisine, so I'm not too worried. We also always carry Epi Pens and Benadryl.

We are staying at El Silencio Del Campo (with hot springs on site) and will be arriving from Manuel Antonio. So probably will also spend Day 1 relaxing in the springs. Our Day 2 might be: combination tour at Sky Adventures--the Sky Trek zipline and the hanging bridges there. I know some poeple like Mistico bridges better, but without a car, I am thinking it will be easier (and more cost-effective) to do both in one place. Day 3: take a taxi to the La Fortuna waterfall. Then another cab to the chocolate farm nearby for a chocolate tour. I'd love to do a coffee tour as well, but I know chocolate will make everyone happy. Desafio offers a combination tour for these two attractions, but it's quite costly, and I think we can do it on our own with cabs for less. Day 4: Whitewater rafting with Desafio. They have a class 3 tour on the Sarapiqui which sounds like it might be a slightly more interesting river than the Balso where they do their class 2&3 tours. The real benfit of the class 3 tour is that it is the only white water rafting tour that I have seen that starts at noon! My kids and I are not morning people, and it's vacation! The next morning we get up super early to make it back to the airport.

I haven't booked anything yet--this is just a rough plan. I was interested in Canyoning/Waterfall rapelling, too, but I'm not sure what we are doing in Manuel Antonio. Also, my younger son had a serious hand injury that requried surgery, so it's wait and see on how much he'll be able to use the hand on vacation this June.

Other ideas I've thought about: Proyecto Asis. Not sure as they like animals but aren't absolutely animal lovers. Also some kind of evening/in the dark tour? Maybe the frogs? Worried they might get a bit bored at night? We will have the hot springs. Wonder also about another hike--they aren't super big into hiking (without a purpose). Like hiking to a waterfall or climbing up a lighthouse=cool. Hiking just to hike. Not so much.

Hope sharing my plan is somewhat helpful, and I'll be following yours as it develops, too.

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