Resources

Here are some suggestions and resources. The listing below is by no means complete. We’ve just noted some of our favorites here.
 
We urge you to do some research yourself to better learn what you might like to experience on your visit to Costa Rica.  A great place to start is www.tripadvisor.com . We have had good luck and find these reviews to be quite accurate.  To get an up-to-the-minute list of current top-rated attractions in each area, go to the location of your choice in Trip Advisor, eg. Quepos, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, then click on Things to Do in the left hand column. Voilá! Your list will appear.

National Parks:

Manuel Antonio Park

Carara National Park
Marino Ballena National Park
 
Private Parks:
Rainmaker Conservation Park. River walk and canopy bridge tour. Also amphibians/reptiles and bird-watching. Hike a 4 km. loop, with or without a guide. There is quite a bit of altitude gain and you will hike through lush rainforest over suspension bridges, suspended platforms, and across waterfalls. Hiking attire recommended but not essential. Bug spray recommended. If you want to jump in the pools or stand under a waterfall, dress for that. It's irresistible.  Highly rated and convenient to the house. Entry fee, appx. $20. Watch for signs for the turnoff off Hwy 34 just west of Pocares, and drive 7 km on a well marked road to the park. For a small additional charge, they will also serve you lunch at the end of your hike. They have recently added a selection of craft beers for you to try, marketed with drawings of clever canines and named Perro Vida, a play on words on the Costa Rica's national saying, Pura Vida.  www.rainmakercostarica.org 506-2777-3565

 

Adventure Tours:
 
Manuel Antonio Tico Tours. Group or private tours of Manuel Antonio National Park, Mangrove tours, Canopy tours, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, catamaran trips. 

At Manuel Antonio, we have a couple of great guides to recommend there: You can request Minor Hidalgo or Ricardo Rodriguez, both with Tico Tours. Two more knowledgeable and capable guides of Manuel Antonio would be difficult to find. You can call Ricardo personally at 506-8557-5569 or the office 506-2777-5389. Minor can be reached at 506-8758-4991. Tell them you are staying with us. We strongly recommend having a guide with you at the park, as they are experts and know how to spot the wildlife. Success will be much more likely with a guide than without. The guides carry a spotting scope, and are able to locate the wildlife which is often at the top of a tall tree. You would never see it yourself in a million years. Personally, we prefer a private tour (~$50 per person) to a group tour (~$25 per person), since that way you don't have to wait for everyone in a large group to see each animal through the spotting scope. It is worth every penny. The guide fee is in addition to the entry fee to the park itself, (~$16 per person). Note: If you hire a guide, you do not need to wait in line to pay the entry fee. The guide will provide your entry ticket and charge you separately for that. When planning your visit, keep in mind that Manuel Antonio is closed on Mondays.

Carara National Park:
This national park is just east of the Tarcoles bridge on Hwy 34 and is a great place to see wildlife, most notably scarlet macaws. 150 of them nest and feed in the park, and can frequently be seen in the area. There are trails, some paved, some not, throughout the park, which is one of the best birding sites in the country, and hosts 50% of the species that call Costa Rica home. A great guide at Carara is  Freddie Villarreal. Contact him the day ahead, if possible, at 506-2637-0523 (H) or 506-8594-0807 (Cell)

Marino Ballena National Park:
This park consists of mostly water, and is the breeding grounds for a variety of whales. It is few hours drive southeast of the house, past Dominical and Uvita, and makes a great day trip. The highway is entirely paved. 
 

Estrella Tours, Puerto Quepos.

Tour operator in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area offering numerous adventure travel and eco-tourism options, including mountain biking, canyoning, horseback tours, kayak tours along the coast or in the mangrove, boat tours of the mangrove, including Isla Damas, whitewater river rafting, mangrove tours, mangrove fishing, Jet Ski tours, surfing lessons, as well as tours of Manuel Antonio. This place has been around a long time and gets good reviews. http://www.puertoquepos.com/ecotourism/

 

Iguana Tours:

Well respected tour operator offering adventure travel and eco tour options, including Damas Mangrove Ecological Boat or Kayak tours, whitewater rafting, guided hikes and tutorials, sea and river kayaking, horseback riding, botanical experiences, catamaran tours, ecological canopy tours. Wide geographical operating area including Osa, Dominical, Manuel Antonio/Quepos, Jacó.  http://www.iguanatours.com/ 


Costa Rica Waterfall Tours:
Canyoning, Waterfall hikes, Waterfall Rappelling and Zip lines. 800 acre property. Adventures at several levels are available, ranging from mild to moderate to pure adrenaline junkie. Trips range from a few hours to all day. Some require at least moderately good physical condition. Rappel down the face of 4 waterfalls from 60 to 90 feet, then zip line out. 15 minutes from Jacó. 506-2643-1834; in the US at 857-243-8938 or info@costaricawaterfalltours.com

Monkey Mangrove Tours: 
Just off Highway 34, 1.5 km south of Damas and 7 km north of Quepos, is Monkey Mangrove Tours. The last time we stopped by, we were able to see a troupe of capuchin monkeys and sloths in the nearby trees without even leaving the parking lot! The boats are clean and well maintained. Chino, the operator, is welcoming and bilingual. Watch for signs on the highway to identify the turnoff. 506-2777-0015, 506-8361-6201 or 506-8834-4504. Cash only.  www.monkeymangrovetour.com 

Esteban Silva Fernandez: Located 500 m from our house on Playa Bandera, Esteban can provide surf lessons on our beach, boat tours of the nearby mangrove in his small boat, and fishing adventures, also in the nearby mangrove. Great if you want something low key and close to home. 506-8495-6715. Usually, but not always, Spanish only.
 

Bike Tours/ Bike Rentals

Estrella Tours, see above http://www.puertoquepos.com/ecotourism/mountain-biking.html

Stefano@estrellatour.com or call 506-2777-1286.


Segway Tours:

Tours via Segway of Manuel Antonio and Quepos. The company's offerings include a Sunset Tour, a morning Nature Lover's Tour, and at tour of the town of Quepos to learn more about the town itself and where the hot spots are. They promise to have you riding like an expert within 15 minutes. They promise to have you riding like an expert within 15 minutes. Highly rated. Office located in Marina Pez Vela, Quepos, ground floor. www.segway-costa-rica.com info@sesgway-costa-rica.com 506-2643-3555 or 506-2777-5151.

Stand-Up Paddle Boards:
Segway Tours at Quepos can provide a stand up paddleboard lessons for you with their experienced bilingual instructors. They supply the board, leash, paddle, and life vest. They can also provide board rentals, ranging from hourly to weekly. See contact information above.

Surfing Lessons/Equipment:

At Villa La Fiaca:
We can provide a surf instructor who will come to the house and teach you to surf right on the beach in front of the house. Esteban lives close by and provides a guarantee: if you don't stand up or don't like your lesson, it's free!  Boards provided. Esteban Silva Fernandez 506-8495-6715 Cell. Also on Facebook. Esteban can also provide tours and fishing in the nearby mangrove by boat.

Nearby:
There are dozens of surf shops located in downtown Jacó  all along the main street. One that is particularly highly regarded is Chuck's W.O.W. Surf Shop, located near the west end of town. At Chuck's you can purchase or rent surfboards, boogie boards, and stand up paddle boards. You can also take a surf lesson with their in-house surf instructor, Alberto Baseas, who will teach you on either Jacó or Hermosa Beach, his hometown, who is himself highly rated on Trip Advisor. Alberto is serious about his surfing, and wants you to have a great time, regardless of your level of experience, beginner through experienced. Bilingual. Make sure to tell them we sent you for special attention. 506-2643-3844 or 2643-1108. www.wowsurf.com 


Nika Surfboards.- Tiny surf shop right on Highway 34 near Playa Hermosa. Watch for the sign and surfboards on the highway. 

About 25 km west of the turnoff to the house. They will rent boogie boards for $5 per day.  506-2643-2871

Surf Lessons with Brett 506-2778-7070


Canyoning

Quepo Canyoning, Quepos:  http://www.quepocanyoning.com/

#1 Rated attraction in Quepos by Trip Advisor

Costa Rica Waterfall Tours:  Tours depart from downtown Jaco. info@costaricawaterfalltours.com or http://costaricawaterfalltours.com 

 

Horseback Riding/Tours:

In addition to the operators named above, there are:

Brisas del Nara, Quepos: http://www.horsebacktour.com/

Discovery Horse Tours, Jacó  Highly-rated and award winning operation that uses rescued horses and natural horsemanship methods. Jungle and beach rides for beginners through experienced. htttp://www.horseridecostarica.com
Canopy Los Suenos, Herradura: In addition to their zip line, the company offers horseback riding in their 80 acre property, with rides to their waterfalls and swimming pools, plus stunning views. Lots of opportunity to see wildlife. info@canopyvistalossuenos.com, www.canopyvistalossuenos.com  506-2637-6020.

 

Diving:

Oceans Unlimited.   http://www.oceansunlimitedcr.com/

Mixed reviews for this dive operator that is the only game in town, but recent reviews are good.

 

Zip Lines/Trams:

Canopy Vista Los Sueños, Herradura: http://www.canopyvistalossuenos.com/
We have been impressed with this operator on each visit. The whole operation was clean, safe, well-constructed, and spoke "quality" all round. The staff was friendly and extremely competent. Very easy drive to the base station just a short way from the highway.

Canopy Safari, Quepos http://www.canopysafari.com/

Rainforest Adventures Aerial Trams, Jacó.  Offers zip lines, waterfall climbing, and a "Tranopy" (tram) tour in a 222 acre (90 hectares) rainforest. A great alternative for those who aren't quite up for the adrenaline rush of zip lining. Or... for those that do want the adrenaline rush, you can alternatively take the tram to the very top, exit the tram and return to the bottom via mountain bike. They also have a butterfly garden. Highly rated and award winning. Facility is top notch. Located just a short drive from the entrance, opposite Maxi Bodega on the highway in Jacó. Plenty of signage. 506-2257-5961

Sky Mountain Canopy, Parrita.  Located in the Parrita area, this is the closest zip line to the house. At 700 m, one section is billed as the longest zip line around. There are ten platforms with a waterfall and pools at the bottom. Those that have taken the ride say it is quite lovely, with expansive views of the entire Parrita area from the top. The "base station" is nearly at the top of the mountain, and your drive to it will be an adventure in itself. Steep dirt road with lots of bumps and potholes. 4WD definitely recommended for this drive. Signage is poor, and what signs there are, are faded badly, so pay attention. Take the Playon/Playon Sur exit (Hwy 609) off of Hwy 34 just west of the town of Parrita towards the mountains. Follow the mostly dirt road for 9 km. Turn left at the Sky Mountain/"Canopy" sign - the turn is very easy to miss, so watch carefully! - and follow the road for 2 km more up the steep mountain road. The facility will be on your left and, once again, the signage is poor and easy to miss, so watch for the large facility and parking lot. Trips are normally at 8 AM, 11 AM and 2 PM, but they can arrange for tours at other times if you call in advance. Inga is one of the owners. www.canopycostarica.com  506-8895-1313 for information in English. Or 505-2770-8325 or 506-8830-1699

Turtle Conservation & Release Program

You can ask if they are doing any baby turtle releases during your visit.

Cecelie, Playa Palo Seco cecelieab@hotmail.com 506-2779-8010 H, 506-8829-3507 C


Wildlife Tours:

Neofauna Butterfly Farm, Frog Gardens and Serpentarium. Small but earnest preserve showcasing reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies. 1 km west of Jacó up a side road. Lots of signs clearly marking the way. 506-2643-1904.

Crocodile Tours. Several companies offer crocodile tours by boat from Playa Azul, near Tarcoles, up the Rio Grande de Tarcoles. The tours are usually 1-2  hours in length. One of these is Crocodile Man Tours. Contact info@crocodilemantour.com. 506-2637-0771. Located at Playa Azul. Follow the road from Tarcoles Centro.

Birding:
Johan Fernandez is a highly rated birding guide, and is based locally near Quepos. He can provide private tours and handles trips all over the country. He can customize a trip for you which matches your birding goals. Birders from all over the world (...dare I say it?)... flock to Costa Rica to bird watch with Johan. Contact Johan at johanbirdingcr@gmail.com or at 506-8825-6323.

Roy Orozco is another great birding guide. orozco_roy@yahoo.com


Off Shore Fishing

Captain Josh Foster's Hooked on Costa Rica

Half day and full day charters starting at $450 providing both off shore and near shore experiences with experienced and devoted anglers. Check out the Fishing Calendar and Tournament schedule on his website. Located at Los Suenos, near Jacó. Toll free from US: 877-466-0653. In Costa Rica 506-8858-2333.  www.hookedoncostarica.com 

Los Suenos Marina - You can arrange a fishing charter out of Los Suenos at the charter office on the east end of the marina, or at the CR Luxury concierge office located in the marina village. 506-2637-7105

iFish Quepos- Full day or half day charters from Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. Office located in the marina. www.ifishquepos.com. info@ifishquepos.com. Toll free from US 866-740-4658. 506-2774-9006.

Contact us for additional off shore recommendations

Esteban Silva Fernandez, located near us on Playa Bandera, will take you fishing in the nearby mangrove by boat. 506-8495-6715

Yoga:
Try Zahary Roman at the Timarai Bamboo Resort at Playa Palo Seco, 506-2779-3200, or Anabel Miranda Yoga for private or group lessons. Anabel is located at at Playa Hermosa, but handles classes in the area between Jacó and Dominical, which includes the house. 506-8538-2234. You can also try the website, www.YogaFinder.com  for updated listings of local yoga practitioners, and different types of yoga practiced.

La Fiaca At-Home Manicure/Pedicure and Massage

You can enjoy your very own spa day at the house. We have an on-call aesthetician, Carmen, who will be pleased to come to the house and set up her massage table under the almond trees at the edge of the beach,  where there are breezes that will make it lovely and comfortable for you.  She can also provide manicures/pedicures. The cost is very reasonable, about $25 for a one hour massage. Bilingual. Carmen. 506-8712-9389.


Full Service Spas:

Alma del Pacifico Resort, 15 minutes from the house at Esterillos Este. The spa is located in a separate building located on the grounds of the resort.  http://www.almadelpacifico.com/spa.aspx 

Sibö Rainforest Spa & Retreat, Los Sueños Marriott Resort, Herradura


Raindrop Spa, Manuel Antonio. Located just after you leave Quepos and start climbing the hill towards Manuel Antonio. Lovely Bali style rooms open onto lush rainforest as you enjoy your treatments  http://www.raindropspa.com/mam/default.asp

 

Rip Currents:

This 5 minute video is from Australia, but does an excellent job of explaining about rip currents

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hCZuYzNujI , how to recognize and avoid them, and what to do if you do get caught in one.

People are drowned regularly on Costa Rica beaches when they are unprepared. We don’t want you to be the next statistic.
Please be prepared or don’t go in the water.

Staying overnight in the San Jose area:
If your flight arrives late or you have an early departure, you may find that you need to stay overnight in the San Jose area. We have a few suggestions of places to stay if you need to do this:

Terrazas de Golf - Our friends recommend this place and say it is a "wonderful, boutique hotel", converted from a formerly private residence. It is close to the airport and Highway 27, so is very convenient. The proprietor's name is Cecelia Esquivel Jimenez. Our friends loved it. The hotel even has a car & driver service with an English speaking driver that they used between this hotel and Jaco, for a charge of only $35. This is far below the going rate, so quite a good deal. www.terrazasdegolf.com 

Xandari Resort and Spa - Stunning boutique hotel with 24 detached private villas perched on a hillside with panoramic views of the central valley. Gorgeous place. Full spa. Located on the site of former coffee plantation. You can take a hike down a canyon with a waterfall at the bottom without leaving the property.  www.xandari.com

Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Cariari - Pleasant hotel just off Hwy 1, a 10 minute drive from the airport in Ciudad Cariari. Once inside the hotel, it feels like an oasis, and you won't even be aware that you are in the middle of the city. Ask for a poolside room. 

Hotel Grano de Oro - Located in downtown San Jose. Try this place if you want to get a little of the San Jose experience, visit the Gold Museum, or other museums in town. This is an elegant highly-rated smallish 40-room hotel in a converted tropical Victorian mansion on a quiet street, near many shops, restaurants and theatres. It's an easy walk to the city center. Elegant, superb service, and exceptional food. Magnificent hotel. Reasonably priced. Remodeled completely recently. www.hotelgranodeoro.com. Avenida 2 y 4 Calle 30 (west side) San Jose 1000. 506-2255-3322

Rental Cars:
If you are comforable driving yourself, the best rates and the greatest selection of vehicles will be available at the Alajuela airport. Check a site such as www.Kayak.com  to comparison shop and find the perfect vehicle for your party. We encourage to make your arrangements well in advance, to avoid disappointment, especially if you are requesting a large or specialized vehicle. These go fast. 

Some of our guests prefer to rent a vehicle for only a portion of their stay for a variety of reasons. Rental vehiclels are available at offices of major rental agencies such as Hertz, Budget, Avis, etc. in Quepos and Jaco, but for even more convenience, a few rental car agencies will even provide pick up and drop off service at the house, making things even easier.

Adobe Rent a Car - This is a Costa Rican rental agency that we have had very positive experiences with. Patrick Egan has a small satellite location that he runs out of his  residence at Villa las Flores, a development in nearby Palo Seco. He will be pleased to provide pick up & drop off service at our house for no additional charge, and promises very attractive rates - better than what is posted on the Adobe website, he says - if you contact him directly. The vehicles we've seen are nearly new and in excellent condition. 506-2779-9758 or fax 506-2779-9681 or villaslasfloresrentals@gmail.com 

Budget Rent a Car is the only other agency that we are aware of that is willing to provide pick up & drop off service at the house. Contact their Quepos office, which is the closest. They will charge an additional fee for this service. 

Other than this, you can always pick up a drop off a vehicle at established offices of the major rental agencies in Quepos or Jaco. 

Private Driver
Jose Valverde, nicknamed "Rooster", will be happy to provide transportation services to and from the airport. He can also drive you to and from the attractions you wish to visit. If you would prefer to have a full time driver during your stay, he can provide that service as well. Just let him know the size of your party and he can quote you a price. Depending upon how many people and how much luggage you have, he will pick you up in his Lexus or a larger vehicle. Bilingual. Contact him at americanatravelcr@yahoo.com or 506-8844-2109 to make arrangements. Make sure to mention that you are staying at Villa La Fiaca. He knows the way!



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