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farbster Aug 15, 14 2:41 pm

Costa Rica with daughter trip help!
I am looking to go with my 13.5 year old daughter to Costa Rica in October. The earliest we can leave is Sunday 10/12 and we must return by the next Sunday 10/19.

We are flying out of Baltimore.

I was looking at the Andaz because of points. It seems that there are some things to do near there (and relax of course).

We should also go to the Arenal area right? See the volcano? The lake?

She wants to do some ziplining and maybe whitewater rafting. Scuba at Andaz?

The different weather patterns of course makes this trip challenging.

How would you break the trip up between the two areas? Are these even the right areas?

I'm open to not going to the Andaz if someone says it's definitely going to be a washout. Mostly, I think I've seen that it should be nice in the morning and will likely rain in the afternoon (Andaz). It think that Arenal is dry at that time of year.

Any thoughts? I think we would not rent a car and would have shuttles/transfers between the airports and the hotels etc. We can fly into either LIR or SJO or a mixture of both.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

SJOGuy Aug 15, 14 3:53 pm

October is the rainiest month of the year. Even though the Andaz Papagayo is in the driest part of the country, it still gets a lot of rain in October. Arenal usually gets a lot of rain in October too. This is the way it is in a typical year. Not that you can't still come here and have a great time. Here's what I always tell people: Nature-themed activities usually go on rain or shine, although a zipline tour will be cancelled if there's lightning. But if you have your heart set on beach activities, which do require some sun, then October is a risky month to come to Costa Rica.

The Arenal volcano has settled into a less-active phase these days. The nighttime show is nowhere near as spectacular as it was a couple of years ago. There is still a lot to do in the area that doesn't involve volcano viewing.

farbster Aug 15, 14 5:07 pm

Thanks! I am sure if we get wet some it would add to the fun.

How would you split up the time between the two areas?

I'm not stuck on the Andaz, just liked the idea of a nice hotel on points.

SJOGuy Aug 16, 14 8:50 am

A word of warning: October can mean a LOT of rain. There's always the possibility of it raining 24/7 for days at a time. It won't necessarily happen that way, but it is a risk you take visiting that time of year.

If those are your two destinations, you could divide your time equally between the two. Andaz is close to LIR; Arenal is equidistant between LIR and SJO. It would make sense to fly in and out of LIR.

farbster Aug 16, 14 9:36 am

So would you do this:

Sunday - fly USA to LIR
Monday - stuff near Andaz
Tuesday - stuff near Andaz
Wednesday - transfer to Arenal area
Thur - stuff near Arenal
Friday - stuff near Arenal
Saturday - stuff near Arenal and transfer to LIR airport hotel
Sunday - fly back to USA from LIR

SJOGuy Aug 16, 14 11:41 am

That sounds like a good plan. I would at least start looking now into tours you can do while staying at Andaz Papagayo. While it is physically not far from LIR airport, your transportation options from the hotel are limited if you don't have your own vehicle.

An alternative for your last two days could be:

Saturday - stuff near Arenal and transfer to SJO airport hotel
Sunday - fly back to USA from SJO
... depending on where you decide to fly out of.

farbster Aug 16, 14 1:08 pm

would you think to get a car? i have heard it's difficult driving on the roads and that you have to be careful with the insurance etc...

Are tours or transfers likely to sell out at that time of year?

I wouldn't care which airport. We'll be on one free ticket and one paid, so if one was much less. Is one airport more convenient/easier than the other?

I thought to go to Andaz first, but would there be a reason to go there last?

Jaimito Cartero Aug 16, 14 1:24 pm

I think flying into SJO if you're mostly doing Guanacaste is a mistake. Much longer distance, and traffic through SJO sucks.

Driving can be a pain, but you're giving up a lot of freedom without it. If you do rent a car, just inspect it carefully, take pictures, including inspecting underneath the car.

I wouldn't recommend driving long distances at night if you're not familiar with the road.

I recall a decade ago, when driving through Guanacaste, there was an unmarked speed bump outside of a small cluster of houses. No signs, not painted bright yellow. I was going 90-100 kph, locked up my brakes, and hit it going 50 kph. Luckily no damage. This was during the day, if it had been nighttime I might be dead.

Keep in mind the petty theft on beaches and other tourist areas. If you rent a car, don't leave valuables inside, or left unattended. In SJO, jewelry and valuable grabs on the street happen way too often.

bluefive5 Aug 16, 14 2:21 pm

I took two 14 year old daughters and a 12 year old son to Costa Rica. I highly recommend that you skip the volcano and other popular tourist destinations. Does your so daughter like monkeys? If yes, head to Montezuma for 3-4 days. You will wake to howler monkeys outside your hotel room each morning along with lots of other wildlife. Nice restaurants and lots of excursion choices such as zip lines and snorkel trips to turtle island. The best white water rafting is on the eastern side of the country. An easy day trip where they pick you up in San Jose. Pictures can be found at

farbster Aug 16, 14 3:55 pm

what will the weather be like in Montezuma in mid-October?

Jaimito Cartero Aug 16, 14 6:39 pm

I've had howler monkeys outside my hotel room on the same trip I mentioned. My daughter was 12-13 at the time, and neither of us were impressed.

SJOGuy Aug 16, 14 8:30 pm

It'll be October, the lowest of the low season. Tours and transfers won't sell out, but you should arrange things at least the day before.

My reason for mentioning making plans before you get to Andaz is that you're a bit isolated there and the things you'd like to do are quite spread out. You should map out a plan rather than arrive there and say, OK, what are we going to do? You'd need to make arrangements with the front desk at least the day before.

Things are a lot closer in the Arenal area. It's easier to be more "spur of the moment" there, although with just two full days, you'd also want to have some advance ideas.

Although the distances are approximately the same, it's easier to get from Arenal to SJO than to LIR.

farbster Aug 16, 14 8:45 pm

Thanks for the awesome advice. I'm going to try and get a plan together and will be back for some more advice.

Anyone have any pointers as to the rental car and the insurance? I think there is probably something on TA...

Jaimito Cartero Aug 16, 14 11:49 pm

Originally Posted by farbster (Post 23375594)
Thanks for the awesome advice. I'm going to try and get a plan together and will be back for some more advice.

Anyone have any pointers as to the rental car and the insurance? I think there is probably something on TA...

Some of the car rental agencies are flakey. It's been 25 years since I've rented there, as I usually had my own car. I've heard a lot of people have had problems with insurance up charge.

farbster Sep 22, 14 3:49 pm

I have booked my airfare. We're flying BWI-LIR and returning SJO-BWI.

I reserved 2 nights in beginning at Andaz and last night at Courtyard by SJO. Gotta figure out how many nights for Arenal, in case my daughter wants to do more than 2 nights at Andaz.

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