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First Time Visit to Costa Rica

Terre Haute, Indiana
2 posts
First Time Visit to Costa Rica

My husband and I are planning a trip, and we will be in the country for 5 days. We are debating about whether to spend the time at Arenal and Manuel Antonio OR spend the entire time at Drake Bay and Corcovado. The concern with Arenal/Manuel Antonio is that it will be too touristy and crowded (we prefer to have a litle more privacy). On the other hand, the concern with Drake Bay/Corcovado is that we will be visiting in mid-December and I am a little concerned about the weather (from what I have read, this is considered the rainy season) - will it be rainy the whole trip and will we not be able to hike because the trails are impassable? Also, we wouldn't have the opportunity to see a volcano. We would also LOVE to see some sea turtles....

Any suggestions/advice for first time visitors???

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
3,528 posts
1. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

Well your 2 choices are good choices now the Drake Bay Area requires a full day drive to get there on arrival and on departure or you can also fly from San Jose to Drake Bay which would be my prefered option to avoid wasting 2 days driving there, the flights have set times so depending on your arrival and departure times you might need to sepnd your first and last night in San Jose. Given all the above and the sort time you have I would go to the Arenal Volcano Area for 2 nights and then spend 3 nights in Manuel Antonio. It would be a better experience for you.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
51,553 posts
102 reviews
2. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

HI Nicole...

I love your question since I own a farm in Drakes Bay and I go there at least once a month... lovely area.

If you really like to enjoy Drakes fully...maybe the best is fly In and OUT...driving time can be 7 hours each way...during rainy season hard to even tell you how long since it gest bad around there...

Driving to Drakes is not waisting any time is just the best...you will see a lot of our great country...I can drive there any day any time...just love it!

If you are looking for privacy...DRAKES bay...for some reason Sir Francis Drake choose the bay to hide from others pirates!

Try to dealt with companies or individuals that are certified by ICT...no ICT you can be looking for trouble..with your vacation and your money

Mauel Antonio is great check...Buena Vista Villas and Casas...Tulemar bungalows...SUU..Los Altos...Si Como NO...Mariposa..Sanbada...ISSIMO..:Arenas del Mar...

I just call a friend of mine that is around Drake and he toll me that the weather around there is getting better by the minute!

You can fly to Drakes...then by boat and car get to Manuel Antonio...then to San Jose!


Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
7,515 posts
149 reviews
3. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

If you're up to the logistical challenge, Drake Bay/Corcovado by a landslide.

It's much more difficult to plan a trip out there, but it's genuine wilderness, with some really awesome wildlife.

Best option is to fly into/out of Drake Bay from San Jose, and then by boat visit the Sirena station inside Corcovado as either a boat tour or an overnight stay at the station (requires separate booking, best done via the Sol de Osa website)..

There will be rain, but there will be rain in Arenal too. But, no cheesy tourist traps!

We saw a sea turtles in the water twice--we saw one during a whale watching trip, and another on the boat ride back from Sirena.

Here's our trip report:


Uvita, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
2,649 posts
44 reviews
4. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

Drake bay by far, Manuel Antonio has become very touristy in the last years. If you are after nature Osa is wonderful. Arenal is taking a nap at the moment so you will probably not see any lava or activity.

I have seen turtles at sea going from Uvita to Corcovado by boat not far from Drake. Also might get to see whales in December, we are in November now and the weather has changed to summer, you will of course get some afternoon rain in the rainforest but its what keeps things green.

To get to drake you can either fly Sansa or Nature Air from San Jose or drive, maybe with a stop in Dominical uvita area for the Marine park.

1 post
5. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

What is the consensus on taking malaria pills? Is it necessary.

thank you

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
7,515 posts
149 reviews
6. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

We didn't even bother look into taking them.

Grand Rapids...
Level Contributor
45 posts
233 reviews
7. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

We just returned and each place we emailed before hand told us no need to use malaria pills. There is a remote possibility of Dengue fever but Costa Rica has worked hard to reduce those issues and we were actually told there are tiny pockets in remote villages but not in the touristy areas. Our friends decided to use their malaria pills and both got sick from the pills in the second week and quit using them. I just got back from CR this morning.

8. Re: First Time Visit to Costa Rica

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