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Manta, Ecuador and Caldera, Costa Rica DIY?


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We jumped onto a S American cruise last minute and are trying to see what ports are DIY and what we actually need some sort of excursion for. 


We understand that sometimes when you DIY you run the risk of missing some things and we are ok with that. We actually enjoy strolling through markets and streets over a crowded bus....again, the bus is necessary at times and everyone vacations differently.


Are Manta, Ecuador and/or Caldera, Costa Rica DIY ports? Are there cabs? Are there HOHO busses? Is it safe to DIY? Suggestions? Recommendations?


Thanks in advance 

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I've been to both recently, MANTA has a newer pier, but nothing one can walk to. You will be shuttled downtown, I call it a working Port city, other people may love it's 'local colour' fish market and boat builders, but nothing I saw for miles and miles of any import.. Puerto Caldera , CostaRica is unique because it has 2 piers.., Puerto Caldera and Puntaarenas town, that are many miles apart.  Occasionally, because of low tide, cruiseships have to relocate, making for confusion for all. Unfortunately, it's a 3/hr drive 1-way to see a nice Volcano. To stay closer to the ship maybe go as far into the jungle on a ship's tour as you can so as to get a smidgen of what it's like? Perhaps watch a crocodile feeding thing? Otherwise it's T-shirts and beer along a nice Promenade.

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I appreciate the info. We were able to get a private tour in Manta. It's always nice to know what you're walking into. Sometimes you can find a nice little bar mixed in with those tshirts for a quiet afternoon of people watching.


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Are you on the eclipse?  If yes, attend the port lectures.  I am the destination expert on board and will give lectures on all the ports ahead of time and should assist with ideas on what to do.  Also i am available on board for answering questions. 


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  • 2 years later...
  • 4 months later...

No cruise ships DO NOT have excursions to the Galapagos Islands.  They are very well protected from being ruined by mass tourism.  Firstly they are 600 miles off the coastal mainland.  Entry is restricted by a National Park Fee, and it requires a National Guide for guidance through the Park.  It is well worth the visit - just set aside a full week for the adventure of a lifetime.  For more detailed info & photos http://www.pachamama-spectrum-of-treasures.com/2016/01/galapagos-islands.html



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Actually, the Seabourn Quest does offer a side trip to the Galapagos departing from the stop in Manta Ecuador.  I think if you go to their website and look for the Quest sailing(s) that depart from MIA on January 6, '23; check itinerary & scroll to Manta - click on more information (or something to that effect on the right side of the pg) it may list the excursions and descriptions so you can read about it. 

bear in mind  - doing it this way you stay in a hotel on one of the few islands in the Galapagos that allow limited people to live on it.  From there you do day trips to nearby islands.  We took a Galapagos trip using Silversea in April and loved it as there is no time consumed in the back and forth of a day trip.  Trade offs to everything.  It is a pricey extension, but a Galapagos trip is that way no matter what.  And yes it is showing as sold out.  I have no idea how many slots were available.  They also offer side trips to Quito and to Machu Picchu.  Obviously for all of these you miss some of the ports of call since you will be away. 

As for Manta we booked a tour with Manta Tour Guides who seem very professional and easy to work with.  Sounds like it should be good.  There are at least a couple companies there that offer tours akin to the ship excursions, so do your research and decide what appeals to you.  I did read that it is best to stay to the southern end of town as it can be dodgier to the north from the pier.  Double check that to be sure I have the directions correct. 

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We booked 2 Manta tours as we will be there 2 days.  Seem to be good companies although Manta Tour Guides is the easiest and most straight forward to work with.  We will be taking their tour to the Pacoche Rain Forest and Montecristi (Panama hats) as well as a couple other stops.  

We are also booked for a day trip to go up river to Isla Corazon with Manta SOS.  They also seem very pleasant however they only take payment through Western Union which ended up being quite an ordeal as it kept getting rejected by WU as they saw it as a possible scam ie paying in advance for a tour.  Manta SOS is inconsistent with what they tell people booking as some are told to pay the day of - cash in a sealed envelope.  We will be part of a "private small group" of 8 so are charged $27 p.p. more for that as opposed to a "small group tour" that can be up to 14.  Some in the group of 8 were paid to pay up front while others of us were told to pay in advance but through WU as they don't take credit cards.  Go figure.  I'm sure both tours will be nicely done and both companies get high ratings on TA.  Google them and see what they offer.  Minimum of 2 people.

Our cruise doesn't stop in Costa Rica so I'm no help there.  

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