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Summer visit

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4/3/2014 22:38 EST

Hello, My husband and I will be coming for a first visit this summer for a couple weeks. We plan to start in the San Jose area. Some of the places we thought of seeing are Monte Verde, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo and some other beaches on the Pacific side. Beaches that have been recommended to us are Conchal, Flamingo, Playa Grande, and Samara. What we're looking for in the visit is to see beautiful places, animals such as sloths and sea turtles, and we prefer to be around friendly people instead of being more isolated. What would you all suggest for places to visit? Are there places in different areas where groups of Americans or other English-speaking people typically hang out such as coffee shops? We're not really looking for night-life activities. Thanks for your help.

4/4/2014 12:01 EST

Unless you go to a sloth sanctuary, the chances of seeing one is quite low... .although Manual Antonio would be a good choice where you will see lots of other wild life, too. Seeing turtles, will depend on whether or not you arrive at the 'right time'.
Most 'expats' do their 'thing' and don't hang out at coffee shops. Although you will find other tourists doing so, as well as the bars at night.

Two 'eating places' I know expats do visit are Jalapenos in Alajuela and 'Kay's Gringo Postres' in Atenas

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4/4/2014 12:34 EST

Thanks, Kohl.

How about the places we want to visit? Are we trying to do too much in a short time? Would you recommend others as well? We would like to be able to swim in the ocean, too.

4/4/2014 16:54 EST

Don't 'sight see' then drive to your next destination, after dark...which here is just after 6pm.
Most of the beaches are better for surfing, but Playas Carrillo & Samara beautiful and are deemed 'good for swimming', as is Manual Antonio but check with your hotel or locals at the beach as they are the ones who will know the correct conditions as the riptides are very strong and usually no lifeguards on duty, with only a few exceptions.
What takes time is that there isn't a 'beach road' but you have to continue 'zig-zaging'

Monteverde could be quite wet during the 'summer' months, so make sure to visit as early in the day as possible and make sure you rent a 4x4 for this road and if you intend to head into Nosara not far from Playas Samara &Carrillo.
I think you should be able to do this as long as you're here for longer than a week-end!
Have fun!

4/4/2014 17:38 EST

Expect to spend several hours of driving between destinations (and as Kohl said, it's best not to drive at night do to narrow roads and people/ animals along the side of the road).

My wife and I live in Tamarindo - it has a very nice beach with many restaurants close to the beach. The sand drops off very gradually into the ocean, so you can play in the waves in the shallow water, and perhaps body surf or rent a boogie board (if not a surfer). Just find a stretch where you will not be run over by the numerous surfers coming in from deeper water.

Playa Grande shares the same bay with Tamarindo but they are separated by an estuary. Playa Grande is less populated with less development near the beach since the beach is protected for turtles. (Turtles lay and hatch eggs between October and February here.) If you park next to the Tortuga Hotel in Playa Grande, it is a nice walk up the beach to the north to connect to Playa Ventanas, the next beach over - another nice beach that is relatively deserted. (You can then hike over a small hill to the next beach to the north that has some black sand.)

Playa Conchal is interesting to see but not great for swimming.

There are many expats in Tamarindo, but there's no real "meeting places". Breakfast at Nogui's on the beach is sometimes popular with expats. Tamarindo has about 80 restaurants, so it is a good place to find a variety of choices for eating.

Monte Verde: It is a slow drive on a rough dirt mountain road to get there, but the roads in town are paved and there are a variety of activities there. Stay at least 2-3 nights to do some of the activities.

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