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El Castillo instead of Arenal or Tenorio?

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3 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
El Castillo instead of Arenal or Tenorio?

My husband and I are traveling to Costa Rica for 8 nights in March.

We are seeking to avoid some of the super touristy things. We don't have too much interest in most of the tours and would generally prefer hiking and doing things on our own. Interested in the hanging bridges near El Castillo, though, because we won't be seeing Monteverde.

I had been thinking about going to Tenorio NP for 3 of our nights to get something more authentic/less touristy, but to still see beautiful things in a NP. But I am worried that there wouldn't be enough to do for 3 nights at Tenorio, with the main attraction being the one Rio Celeste waterfall hike. Now I am thinking El Castillo might give us many more options, as I see that is close to the national park.

So, is there enough nearby exploring we could do from El Castillo to spend 3 nights there? Will be be able to easily access the National Park and some good hikes (how far away will the Cerro Chato trail be from here)?

Our plan then would be: 1 night Liberia, 3 nights El Castillo, 3 nights Tamarindo area (probably a smaller beach), 1 night Playa Hermosa to be able to drive to the plane the next day. Does this seem like a feasible itinerary? Also, will we find any hiking around Tamarindo area, or can someone recommend another nearby beach with good access to nature?

Thank you so much! :)

1 reply
Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
11,447 posts
23 reviews
50 helpful votes
1. Re: El Castillo instead of Arenal or Tenorio?

El Castillo sits in the shadow of Arenal volcano but because of unpaved roads leading to it, it might not be the best choice to use as a base if you want to hike Cerro Chato, visit Mistico Hanging Bridges and Arenal National Park I would suggest staying in 1 of the lodges closer to the main road or ideally Arenal Observatory Lodge with its onsite trails. Take a look at the map at www.arenal.net/arenal-costa-rica-map.htm. IMO there are lots if small lodges in very scenic settings that would work and not fell like you're in tourist central. In fact the readon why we often recommend a car in the Arenal area is that things are really spread out and low density with tons of lushly wooded areas.

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