Costa Rica Adventure: Exploring Manuel Antonio

Updated on April 8, 2019
Traci Wilson profile image

This year for our 20th anniversary, my husband and I set our sights on the exotic jungles of Costa Rica for a once-in-a-lifetime tour!

Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park

January is right in the heart of the high season in Costa Rica, which is a good time to visit because it’s not so wet. During our two-week tour of the country, we visited four different provinces—Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde (The Cloud Forest) and Manuel Antonio. In this article, I will be focusing on Manuel Antonio, the final location on our big adventure.

Community Beach At Sunset In Manuel Antonio
Community Beach At Sunset In Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio, The Community

Just outside of Manuel Antonio National Park is the tiny village of Manuel Antonio. There’s not much here besides a couple of markets, a few shops and outdoor cafés. What you will find is an abundance of hotels, hostels and rental homes. The community of Manuel Antonio is the gateway to the national park.

We did enjoy a short walk around this quaint little community and were so excited to see an entire troupe of squirrel monkeys up close and personal. They use the phone and electrical wires to cross from one side of the street to the other, which is precisely what they were doing when we encountered them. So cute!

One really nice thing about Manuel Antonio is the bus service—very clean and inexpensive buses that will take you to the larger town of Quepos where you will find many more options for shopping, dining and lodging.

Squirrel Monkeys Arial Highway
Squirrel Monkeys Arial Highway
Our Hotel In Manuel Antonio, the Hotel Playa Espadilla
Our Hotel In Manuel Antonio, the Hotel Playa Espadilla

Our Hotel

We stayed at the Hotel Playa Espadilla, just steps from the entrance to the national park. The hotel itself was a bit dated and the bed not too comfortable but the location couldn’t be beat. Also, the open-air restaurant at the hotel was very good and included a free buffet breakfast every morning. It had two bars, one adjacent to the restaurant that also had a swim-up feature attached to the pool. The other featured an open patio decorated with tiny white lights that created a magical feel after dark. We enjoyed live guitar music after 8 p.m. that lent to the romantic and cozy feel of the place, and the staff was very friendly and helpful.

Hotel Patio Bar
Hotel Patio Bar
Beach Inside Manuel Antonio National Park
Beach Inside Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park

The main draw to this area, as I’ve already indicated, is the national park. Since January is the heart of the high season, we encountered long lines entering the park both of the days we went. For our first time through the park, we were with a tour group on a guided hike. The pace was painfully slow in the beginning as our group navigated through the crowds. There were many different tours going on at the same time, and people were gathering in large groups to view the wildlife through the various guide’s spotting scopes. It was especially difficult at the onset, as we went down a boardwalk path that tended to bottleneck with all the people. After the initial slowdown, the pace picked up some and then ebbed and flowed after that.

By 8:00 a.m., it was sunny and already getting hot and humid. This area gets very humid this time of year and with temperatures in the mid-80s or higher, it can be miserable in the sun. Be prepared to take lots of rest breaks, drink plenty of water and look for shady spots whenever possible! A hat and sunscreen are also “must have” items.

Hiking In Manuel Antonio National Park
Hiking In Manuel Antonio National Park

The forest was dense and beautiful as giant tropical plants with huge leaves and tiny orchids smaller than a fingernail coexisted here side by side. It was also cooler under the protected canopy of the jungle, which we very much appreciated. There are many elevated walkways in the park due to flooding in the rainy season, which added their own beauty to the surrounding landscape.

We saw an abundance of creatures including: a yellow-throated toucan, a leaf-nosed bat, a blue-capped mot mot (it’s a bird), a white-capped parrot, a brown basilisk lizard (a.k.a. Jesus Christ lizard), an hourglass frog (he made himself known by jumping on my arm!), a white-necked puffbird, a two-toed sloth, a common night hawk, a scaly-breasted hummingbird, several deer and lots of white-faced monkeys. Wow, what a mouthful!

White-Faced Monkeys Playing In The Water Fountain
White-Faced Monkeys Playing In The Water Fountain

At the conclusion of the hike, our guide took us to the beach where we could spend about a half hour before heading back to the bus. Since my husband and I were staying just outside the park and could easily walk to our hotel, we opted to stay longer without the group. We had lunch (box lunch provided by our hotel) on a log overlooking the beautiful surf as the waves hypnotically caressed the white sand beach.

Dozens upon dozens of people peppered the coastline, laying on the beach or playing in the warm water. I wished we had brought swimsuits so we could join them. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the beach and watching the many white-faced monkeys as they tried to steal people’s food or played in the water fountains. I swear I’ve never seen such a concentration of monkeys in my life!

Our second trip into the park was spent hiking on our own, going on several trails that we missed on the guided hike. We also brought our swimsuits this time so we were able to play in the surf for a couple of hours. Instead of getting a boxed lunch from our hotel, we opted to buy lunch in the park. They have a concession area with sandwiches, various local offerings both hot and cold, pastries and cold drinks, all at a reasonable price. They also rent lockers so you can go swimming without having to worry about your stuff.

Kayaking In The Mangrove Swamp
Kayaking In The Mangrove Swamp

Mangrove Swamp Tour

The area offers other tours outside of the national park as well. One that caught our eye in particular was the guided kayak tour through the mangrove swamp. You can also take a motorboat tour if you’re not feeling as adventurous. It was very enjoyable experiencing these waterways at the level of the canals and the slow speed of a kayak.

Our guide pointed out interesting native plants and flowers along the way as well as wildlife that we came across as we meandered through the swamps. On our tour we saw: bats sleeping under a bridge, a tiger heron, a hawk and kingfishers as well as basilisk lizards and iguanas. Of course, there were lots of white-faced monkeys!

In the national park people are not allowed to feed the wildlife, but outside the park, the guide had no problem giving the monkeys bananas to get them to come closer to the boats and visitors. This just made the monkeys behave badly. They jumped on a lady in a kayak next to us and got muddy paw prints all over her, including the white shorts she was wearing. Another monkey jumped in a motorboat that was next to us (also feeding the monkeys) and ripped a woman’s shiny gold earring out of her ear. We were able to see first hand why they say not to feed the monkeys!

It was an enjoyable and memorable experience overall, and as part of the tour, we were given a delicious tuna lunch at a restaurant in Quepos before being returned to our hotel.

Our Guide Feeding The Monkeys
Our Guide Feeding The Monkeys
Monkey Jumping On Lady In Kayak
Monkey Jumping On Lady In Kayak

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Manuel Antonio—and all of Costa Rica for that matter—despite the humidity. It was a whirlwind two weeks and we visited several magical places along our tour of this majestic country. I’m sure we will return to visit again one day, but for now, it's time to head back to San Jose for one more night before flying home to Oregon. Adios Costa Rica!

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Traci Wilson

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        6 weeks ago from UK

        This is an excellent travelogue. I am enjoying reading about your trip and seeing the great photos.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://wanderwisdom.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)