We only did a little of Costa Rica --
Arenal volcano -- The clouds clear away from the top of the volcano about once every 4 days for a good view. We were there for 3 days and
sometimes couldn't see across the street, much less the top of any volcano.
Monteverde -- The topic that comes up for travelers is almost always the roads into/out of the Monteverde area. Depending on the season, dusty or
muddy but always "challenging." Nevertheless once in the Monteverde area, there are some nice rain- and cloud-forest hikes.
We split between guided and self guided walks.
Manuel Antonio -- The closest town to this national park, Quepos is a dump. But there are dozens of hotels between it and the park. And the
beach is nice. 'course it is in the tropics so it is hot, hot, hot, and humid, humid, humid. (The mountains, on the other hand were actually
cool. We needed jackets.)
Probably the smartest thing I did was decide not to drive. Instead, we booked a "tour" through International Expeditions out of Alabama
(http://www.ietravel.com/). It is the exclusive reseller in the US for Costa Rica Expeditions. But we didn't travel with a tour group. Instead
Costa Rica Expeditions has a taxi take us from locations to location. Except for one of the rides, the two of us were the only one in the van
with the driver. Costa Rica Expeditions was phenomenally professional and on the ball. Can't say enough good things about it.
Now did I miss driving. Not really. Occasionally we would take a taxi but driving between our destinations was brutal. The roads can be, as I
said, challenging. But even more disconcerting for the tourist is how poorly they are marked. Often a fork in the road with no signage. We
heard of people who took 8 hours driving themselves where our trip took half that.
Ya oughta go.