It’s crazy to think that for all the times I’ve traveled to or been in Costa Rica (I used to live there), I’ve only been to the beaches a handful of times. For this trip I made sure we found an opportunity to go, even if just for a day or two. Luckily, we managed to plan a quick trip to Manuel Antonio. I had heard great things about the park and the beaches inside, so I was extremely happy when we found an affordable hotel to stay at!
Getting there was relatively easy – about a 4-5 hour bus ride from San Jose. We left late during the day, but I’d recommend trying to arrive before sunset so that you can see your surroundings during the bus ride. We arrived around 8pm and it was extremely dark. Fortunately, our hotel was just up the hill from the bus stop and easy to get to. We checked in fairly quickly and came back down to the main beach street and found a place to eat.
Something to note about Manuel Antonio is that it’s not technically a city; it’s actually the name of the national park, so many people tend to call that area Manuel Antonio. Because of this, most of the restaurants and hotels are scattered along the beach road that winds between Quepos and the park entrance. We stayed almost at the end of the road, within walking distance of the park entrance. This made it extremely easy to walk over in the morning.
We opted out of a guide the next day at the park, choosing instead to go at our own pace. Luckily this meant plenty of time for photos! 🙂
We walked for about 45 minutes when we heard the sound of waves – finally the beach! As the trail opened up and we caught a glimpse of the ocean peeking through the trees, a group of monkeys appeared in front of us. I turned to my friend and we both jumped for our cameras. It was my first time seeing wild monkeys – I definitely had a moment.
Honestly, it was a bit of sensory overload; we had wild monkeys in front of us and beautiful Manuel Antonio Beach behind us. Everything was so spectacular that we didn’t know which way to look. Towering palm trees and dense jungle surrounded us on all sides, except for the small pocket of water that stretched out into infinity. It was pure paradise.
We meandered around for a while, taking photos and soaking in the beauty of everything. There are two sides to the beach, on opposite sides of the small peninsula, so we tried to spend an equal amount of time at both. We were only snapped back to reality when my friend was stung by a small jellyfish. It was tiny – almost invisible – but it left a rash on her hand and we took that as our cue to leave.
Needless to say, I was sad to go; aside from the jellyfish incident we had a wonderful time. Manuel Antonio definitely tops my favorite beaches list. It’s not free ($16 USD for park admission), but the entrance fee means less crowds and no beach vendors. Oh and plenty of monkeys 🙂
Hope you enjoyed!