Updated on June 22, 2015
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Bean LOVES the beach. If there is a beach somewhere, Bean wants to go. I’m not quite the opposite, but if there is a beach around, I do not NEED to see it. Manuel Antonio is said to be a national park and the ocean front, so I decided it was necessary to take Bean.
Though it was a trip we were told we could organize ourselves, once again, I opted to use the tour company. With the company, we were able to sit back and relax and not worry about getting every bus right and finding places to eat and sleep within our budget.
The tour bus driver picked us up from our guesthouse before 7AM and we continued to pick up others from the surrounding San Jose area for the next hour or so. Unfortunately, the bus we were on began to have trouble and we needed to wait for a replacement. The driver and the guide were very apologetic and did their best to answer any questions.
Once we were back on the road, we headed straight to breakfast! The drivers and guide explained the scenery and the route that we would be taking to Manuel Antonio and back. Maybe all tours do this, and all tour guides, but since I do not normally choose tours, I found the explanation of the days activities very reassuring.
I was also pleased by the way that the guides stopped on the side of the road and let us view the crocodiles in the river. It was not just one or two crocodiles, but about 12 or 15. It was amazing to see them lounging in the water. Once Bean was reassured that this was not our final destination and we would be moving on, she was able to relax and watch the crocodiles go about their activities, which she found fascinating.
We arrived at Manuel Antonio about an hour and a half later. The guides were kind enough to point out some of the sites along the way and allow us a couple of restroom breaks. Even though it was still a little before noon when we arrived at Manuel Antonio, the beach front and the little community was full of activity. The guides handed out sack lunches and told us the program for the rest of our time at the national park.
We followed along with most of our group for a little (and I mean little) hike through the forest to the beach. I suppose I expected something much grander, because of all of the animals we were told we could see. The main word was COULD. We looked and looked and walked, and there was nothing out but a few lizards and a sloth high up in the trees barely in eyesight. Bean was ready for the beach.
Before we were left on our own for free time at the beach, the guides told us that we needed to watch out for the monkeys and the raccoons who like to steal unattended bags and run into the forest with them. I listened, but didn’t take them very seriously because we hadn’t seen any animals.
Bean and I took off our cover-ups and headed to the Atlantic Ocean. Though I am not a fan of lounging at the beach, as I said before, it was truly beautiful. Bean doesn’t know how to swim so I had to follow her immediately out to the water. The currents and waves were so strong if I didn’t watch her closely I felt she could wash out to sea. Not an adventure I would like on any vacation.
I happened to look up and there was a lady waving and yelling back where we had laid our bags. I knew something was wrong. I told Bean to wait and took off running. There were at least six raccoons running of into the woods with our sack lunches and my bag with our extra clothes!
I began to yell and wave my arms. I ran after them for our stuff. I didn’t care about the lunch, but I certainly was not going to ride all the way back to San Jose in a bathing suit. Even though people turned and stared and laughed, I kept running until I got our STUFF!
We returned to the water for a short time and then went up to shower. That was a very nice feature of the national park, showers not too far from the ocean. Soap is not allowed as it will wash out to sea, but it is nice to get all of the sand off of your body before dinner.
We walked back down the hill and through some of the town where locals lined the street selling their wares and coconut water. We walked a ways to the hotel where we were to meet the rest of our tour group.
The hotel was to provide us with a late lunch/ early dinner. From the menu, the selections look pretty good. There was a pasta option, a chicken option and a seafood option. I hoped for a lunch like the day before where everything was well prepared. I don’t know if it was the time of day or the hotel trying to put on a show, but the food was simply not very good. They put forth a small effort to appear gourmet, but failed miserably. I would have preferred simple food, simply prepared. The portions were either too large (pasta) or too small (chicken and vegetables). It was tasteless and the waiter was irritable. Maybe he wished he was hanging at the beach.
After dinner, we piled into the van and headed back to San Jose. The ride back was uneventful and peaceful. It was nice to sit back and look out at the scenery. Expeditions Tropical was kind enough to split up the tour group before we came to the outskirts of town. Doing so allowed us to get back to the guesthouse at a decent hour instead of the dead of night.
All together, the trip to Manuel Antonio was a pleasant day trip to the beach. I feel that the tour was well thought out and executed. Bean enjoyed herself and I did as well. We were not left searching for a place to eat or rest and we could luxuriate in Pura Vida!