Perks of Manual Antonio Park:
- Rugged rainforest
- White-sand beaches & coral reefs
- Tiny raccoons that will steal your snacks on the beach
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How to take the bus from Jaco to Manuel Antonio Park:
You need to take two buses. One from Jaco to Quepos and then another from Quepos to the park. There is a bus stop across from the Mas x Menos grocery store on Jaco’s Main Street. The bus comes by here everyday at:
The cost for the first bus is 1300 colones and it takes about an 1.5hr on an air conditioned bus. When I arrived at the bus stop, I met these two interesting fellows from the UK who had already been travelling for six months so they shared their stories over the course of the bus ride – it made the time fly by! You can follow them on instagram at dadsontour.
Once you arrive in Quepos, there are buses that run every 15-20 minutes that take you into town. It’s 300 colones and it’s about a 15 minute ride.
Casa Carpe Diem:
Diana gave me clear instructions to get to her place called Casa Carpe Diem. I left Jaco on the 830AM bus and was at Diana’s place by 1030AM – it was very easy to navigate on my own! Diana and her family rented a beautiful villa and they showed me around. My favourite part of the villa was the pool that looked out onto the jungle.
On the first day I arrived, we went to a local beach outside of Manuel Antonio Park called Playa Espadilla. It’s a dark sand beach with a rough tide, that I’d argue is great for beginner surfers but less so for swimming. It’s the most accessible beach to get to because there is no entrance fee, it’s right off the road, and there is lots in the area for food and drink options.
Tips for Playa Espadilla:
1. Don’t worry about carrying all your food and water – there are vendors very close and on the beach where you can get water and food
2. It’s less busy furthest from Manuel Antonio Park and there is more opportunity for shade
3. You can rent chairs on the beach and you can use the bathrooms in the restaurants
For dinner we checked out El Avion which had a great view of the sunset! Within the restaurant, they had an old Cold War plane that was shot down in Nicaragua from the US. They’ve turned the inside into a bar/club in the evening. I’d say check out the restaurant for a drink for sunset but move onto a better restaurant for dinner.
Manuel Antonio Park:
On Friday we did a guided tour of Manuel Antonio Park and then stayed at Playa Manuel Antonio for the mid day sun. I would highly recommend getting a guide for the park because they are knowledgable about the plants and animals and bring a telescope to help take close up pictures of all the animals. The guided tour included entrance into the park and came to $55USD for a 3 hour tour. Entrance to the park without a guide is $17USD. I was very excited to see monkeys and sloths!
Roy, our tour guide, gave us fun stories about the plants, trees, and animals we saw. Here are a few of my favourites:
These ants work together to cut out tree leaves and can carry up to 5000x their body weight. The queen directs her working slaves to bring her the leaves so they can process it into nutrition for the colony.
There are three types of monkeys in the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica – howling, spider, and capuchin. We saw all three in the park and by the beach there were so many capuchin monkeys around that you had to be careful that they wouldn’t snatch your bag!
I didn’t get a photo of these little rascals but I will say that you need to be diligent about watching your things on the beach. These animals have no fear and I saw them take a woman’s shawl out of her bag as they were looking for food!
I didn’t except to see so many animals in the park but it was all thanks to our tour guide Roy! Playa Manuel Antonio was great for swimming and had whiter sand that didn’t get as hot in the heat. My favourite area of the beach was the huge rock face that was very picturesque.
Tips for Playa Manuel Antonio:
1. You must bring in your own food and water
2. Bring your stuff for the beach because it’s worth it to stay at Playa Manuel Antonio for a bit after your tour
3. Watch out for raccoons and monkeys near the beach – they are fearless and will take your things
On Saturday, Paul made us a breakfast I’ve never tried before called Shahuka. It’s a middle eastern egg breakfast dish with tomatoes, onion and garlic and made in a skillet. It was delicious and a great option to make when you have larger groups ! I will have to try to recreate it when I head home in the summer.
After breakfast we headed to Playa Biesanz, a beach that is accessible after a 7 minute walk down a very rocky and unstable path (take your time!). Once down the path, the beach opens up and you are placed in a beautiful white sand beach that looks out over the hills of Costa Rica. We spent the day here relaxing, reading, and Sandra fixing my yoga postures.
Tips for Playa Biesanz:
- Depending on where you are staying, I’d recommend taking a taxi to the entrance of the path of the beach and then walk slowly and carefully down the rocky path to the beach
- Bring food & drinks! There are drinks available for purchase (including alcoholic), however no food vendors.
- The tide can come up pretty high on the beach so before you set up your towels, ask the local guys where the best place is to set up your area so your stuff won’t be taken by the ocean
Diana chose a perfect place to end our few days together – Cafe Emilio’s. This local restaurant had amazing food and drinks – I ordered the tuna with soy and honey and I’ll dream about it for months it was so good! A Cuban band played music all night and we eventually got up and danced for the last songs until the placed closed down! It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Diana and her family exploring this area and am excited to head back to School of the World today.