Trip report for Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
My bf and I spent the second week of May in MA. We had flight problems and ended up coming in over 3 hours late and tried to leave a message for our limo service once we missed our connection telling them since this was the originating flight not the flight info that I gave them that we would now miss. I got an answering machine and left the msg and hoped for the best. When we arrived at San Jose at 9:30 p.m. I got a text from Eric, our driver from Tucan Limo services that he was waiting outside the doors for us. We were really impressed that they had come back for us. We hadn’t even paid them yet. He waited for us at the original time for quite a while and then eventually the message got to him with our new info and he came back. I can’t say enough about how great that was. We made the almost 3 hour trip to MA in the dark and sprinkling rain and didn’t arrive until after midnight. We checked in to the Hotel Parador and a golf cart took us to our suite. The suite was really spacious with high ceilings and had a great balcony overlooking the Pacific with a couple of chairs, a table and a jaccuzzi tub. We were on that balcony every day. Sunsets, rainstorms, glass of wine and a soak, we saw it all from that balcony. Definitely worth the extra expense. I wrote a separate review for the hotel itself because I thought it was so wonderful.
Day 1 - Our first day we strolled around the wonderful grounds and went to the main pool (there are 3 pool areas) and had some delicious drinks at the swim up bar. We visited Roberto the tour guide and signed up for the white water rafting trip on the Naranjo river first thing in the morning. We ate at Mar Luna, a $10 cab ride (all the cab rides to the area restaurants or Quepos are $10). This restaurant was recommended to us by several locals. It was really nice open air seating area with a view of the ocean which we could not see because it was dark and rainy. We had a delicious meal there with local seafood. I had mahi mahi with a garlic sauce and my bf had a combination of fish and giant shrimp that was also fantastic. A nightcap at the Don Juan with Gary tending bar and listening to the musician there ended our first night.
Day 2 - The van came to pick us up for the white water rafting from Iguana Tours and they offered us an upgrade to the longer ride on the Sevenge? River for the same price but no one wanted to do it. The ride out there was very pretty and the guys gave us lots of info about everything we passed (the Palm Oil Plantation). Once we got there we walked down a path and our guide pointed out lots of spices and interesting facts. We got our safety instructions and then we had the most awesome time of our whole trip. We were in very good hands with Eduardo. He could commandeer our raft between rocks like nothing I’ve ever seen. We had a BLAST on this trip and I highly recommend doing it. It was our favorite. We stopped for a break and had the sweetest most delicious pineapple I have ever had along with some water and cookies and crackers. We bought the cd with pictures of us during the trip for $40 and the photographer did a fabulous job with the pics. When we got back to the hotel we walked around the trails there and then down the road a bit there was a trail to Beizan Beach which was very nice. That night we were kind of beat so we ate at the hotel and had sushi which was very good.
Day 3 - Next day was ziplining with Canopy Safari. Once again the tour bus picked us up at our hotel and we drove about 45 minutes out into the hills. We saw such pretty scenery. The bark on the Eucalyptus trees looks fake it's so colorful. We had breakfast at the pavillion at the start of the first zip line. Breakfast was very good, juices, eggs, toast, coffee. The guides were very good and we felt very safe the whole time. They pointed out various flora and fauna as we walked in between several of the zip lines. We saw a poison dart frog and a sloth. There was a suspension bridge that we walked over, a tarzan swing which was a lot of fun and 2 rappels which were my favorites along with lots of long zip lines. You can't be afraid of heights and do this but other than that it wasn't too scary and we always felt safe and in very capable hands. There is also a butterfly garden and Serpentarium that you can tour afterwards that was very interesting. That afternoon we saw a group of howler monkeys in the back of our building from the 4th floor balcony. Then about 4 am we heard them from our hotel room and we went outside to look for them. It sounded like a house of horrors to hear them howling in the dark. It sounds like a cross between a gorilla an da dog. It's so loud. My bf saw the male sitting in the tree shaking the branch while he howled. That was really cool to witness. That night we ate at La Luna (at the Gaia Hotel) and had another really great meal with sea bass ceviche for appetizer and Ginger and Panko Crusted Tuna for my bf and Plantain and Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi for me. It was pouring rain, which it did most days at around 5:00. There was a way to walk to the lobby that was covered (that we didn't discover until the day before we left :)) and then when we got to the restaurant they took us to the door in a golf cart so we never had to get wet.
Day 4 - We lounged around the pool for a while since it was a beautiful day. Then we took the shuttle over to MA park. There were quite a few people hawking tours and souvenirs when we got off the bus at the first beach but nothing too aggresive. It made me kind of sad because i know that it was probably hard for them once the season drops and they don't get as many tourists there. The park was pretty and then went to the beach and went swimming and then we walked around the town of MA. Dinner that night was at Agua Azul. It was an area close to our hotel that we hadn't discovered yet. The food was really good and the atmosphere was very casual open air almost like you were sitting on a deck. Then we went over to Byblos Casino and Bar and played pool and foos ball and had a few drinks. They had salsa lessons earlier and there were lots of tourists dancing but there was a good mix of locals and tourists and we had a lot of fun.
Day 5 - More lounging around the pool and dinner at Kapi Kapi. This was probably my favorite place of all the places we had dinner. The atmosphere was polynesian like and the food was delicious. Plus I loved the chocolate souffle...
Last day :( - We got up early to take the Kayak tour of the Mangroves. They picked us up at 7 and it was very close. The tour was very pretty and informative. It was very relaxing to paddle through the mangroves. We got up close to a Garden Tree Boa and that was scary. We didn't see any monkeys but we have heard they are usually seen on the morning kayak tour so I guess it's just the luck of the draw. After kayaking for a couple of hours they gave us a typical breakfast of plantain, pico gallo, eggs, tomato, queso and coffee and juice. After that we packed and checked out and took a cab over to Nature Air to catch a flight to San Jose so that we could spend the night there and get the early morning flight back to Newark. The flight was very nice in a teeny plane. There is a weight restriction of 40 lbs per bag and they actually weight the people too (much to my chagrin - lol). You get to weigh yourself with your shoes and purse too so you can blame it on the heavy purse :). The flight was only 20 minutes to San Jose and only $66 per person so it was about the same price as it would have been to get a driver ($160 + tip).
So that's it, our wonderful week in Costa Rica!!