Despite attracting hordes of travelers, Costa Rica has not compromised its natural beauty with bigger hotels or catered to large groups by widening country roads to pave the way for large motor coaches. Instead, the Central American paradise has retained an extremely high rate of return visitors and newcomers. Take advantage of these deals and you'll see why.
Vacations to Costa Rica (tel. 866/336-5276; www.vacationstocostarica.com) has inexpensive offers on three-day, land-only trips to the jungle to air inclusive eight-night beach and rainforest combination trips. An end of summer Costa Rica special that visits the beaches at Jaco, Arenal in the interior and the city of San Jose with travel good through October 18, 2006, costs $865 out of Miami, $912 out of Atlanta and Washington, D.C. and $927 from Los Angeles. The seven-night trip that starts in San Jose includes round-trip airfare, airport transfers to your hotel in San Jose, all transportation in Cost Rica, two nights accommodation in San Jose, two nights in Arenal, three nights on Jaco Beach, daily breakfast, and all hotel taxes. Itinerary highlights include hot springs in Arenal as well as horseback riding, rainforest sky trams and sky treks, a volcano hike, and mountain bike touring. By the beach in Jaco, expect waves big enough to body surf and beachside bars where the fun goes on all day and almost all night. Multi-sport vacations to Costa Rica specializing in white water rafting, kayaking and biking are also available through Vacation Costa Rica.
For discounted vacations to Costa Rica, head to Top Destination's LatinAmerica4Less (tel. 800/480-0707; www.latinamerica4less.com) has a six-night standard "Explore Costa Rica" budget tour of the country that includes air and hotel starting at the very low price of $689 out of Miami and just $439 for the land-onlyversion. The same trip out of New York starts at $828 with departures from Los Angeles going for one dollar more at $829. In addition to San Jose and the Arenal Volcano, this trip spends time away from the more hippy, touristy beach town of Jaco lodging instead at the Manuel Antonia National Park, a pristine untouched area known for its bio-diversity. If you want to add a trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, a 10,000 hectare biological reserve dedicated to the preservation of the area's fauna and flora life forms, then the trip costs $1,335 out of Miami and $1,474 out of New York for the additional three days in the eco-reserve.
To do Costa Rica by yourself, Intratours (tel. 800/334-8069; www.intratours.com) recently announced their Fall 2006 prices. Midweek round-trip airfare with a Saturday night stay and a limit of a 60 day stay to San Jose is available for $438 from Miami; $515 out of New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles; $521 out of Houston; $535 from Dallas; and $545 from Chicago. From Dallas and Los Angeles, however, round-trip to Liberia (near the beaches of Guanacaste) comes in slightly less expensive at $445 and $475 respectively.
For hotels, the town of Hermosa is just 15 minutes from Jaco but seems like a different world. It's quieter, and easier to maneuver with less bars and nightlife. The surfing around the area, known as the aforementioned Guanacaste, is some of the best on the Central America's Pacific coastline. For an affordable hotel right on the beach, Cabinas Los Olas (tel. 011 506-658-8315; www.amerisol.com) is a charming hotel with ten bedrooms, hammocks, laundry facilities, kayaking, game tables, private parking, snorkeling and fishing. The hotel also has a restaurant. The surfing, however, brings the tourists and locals here with serious waves breaking practically right in front of your hotel. Rates for a single room start at $50 during the low season from May 1 to November 30, 2006 with doubles going for $60 and triples for $70.
In the northern peninsula of Costa Rica near Nosara just a drive up from Hermosa and Jaco, expect to see big houses on cliffs overlooking water and land. It's a popular haven for U.S. celebrities looking for peace, quiet and adventure. The Casa Romantica (tel. 011 506-682-0272; www.casa-romantica.net) has rates starting at $55 per night with junior suites going for $75. The beachfront hotel has a pool, and the rooms are air conditioned. Beware, this isn't a big tourist area so gas stations and tourist services are limited. The food, however, is superlative. In addition to the hotel's excellent restaurant, the nearby Gilded Iguana (tel. 011 506-682-0259; www.gildediguana.com) serves a "snapper avocado," an entire red snapper filleted with an avocado cream sauce for approximately $10. The Gilded Iguana is also a waterfront hotel with 12 rooms starting at approximately $30 per night for a standard room during the off season from May through November going up to $45 from December through May. The hotel has a surf school and guides for all kinds of water activities such as kayaking and snorkeling.
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