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Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

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Seattle, Washington
posts: 500
reviews: 82
Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Going to do my best to do Manuel Antonio the justice it deserves.

We started our journey late at night on the 22nd, flying from Seattle to Orlando then a hopper from Orlando to Miami. On the runway in Miami we had to sit on the runway for an hour because they located some sort of problem with the plane, ended up having to go back to the gate and sit for about another 30 minutes. They luckily fixed the problem and we were on our way. Sitting in first class was sure nice, first and possibly the last time ever in our lives but so worth the extra miles. We landed in San Jose and had only about 1.5 hours before our flight to Quepos. We opted not to rent a car this time around and spend the whole time in Manuel Antonio. I will say up front that I am not sure there is too much time in this city, I read many times on the forum before people saying that you will run out of things to do after about 4-5 days. We did not run out of things to do, how can you when there are about 5 beaches to frequent within walking distance. Back to it.

We landed in Quepos after a flight with Sansa which was a great decision. Cheap and took about 20 minutes. The planes are small and you are packed in but for 20 minutes you can survive. We caught a taxi from the airport to our condo. We opted to rent a condo off of vrbo called Casa Voladora. The cost of hotels in this area is quite steep and this house was nothing short of amazing and way cheaper than 8 nights in a hotel. Kitchen, two separate sitting areas, wildlife right outside the windows, quiet. It is the only set of houses that we saw while we were there that were in the ideal setting, sitting up on top of a hill with an amazing panoramic view, a care takers who takes amazing care and is beyond knowledgeable about the area, within walking distance of everything that the Manuel Antonio area has to offer. We will for sure be going back again another day purely for this house.

All of the days sort of mesh together so I will just tell about what we did the whole time we were there. We explored all of the beaches in Manuel Antonio. They do get busy and at times do not have any shade and that Costa Rican sun gets hot, hot, hot. So go in as soon as the park opens and enjoy them for a few hours before the huge tour groups show up. We also took the time to hike all of the trails in the park. Get off the main path with all the tour groups and you will see more. We elected not to do a guided tour and I am very happy we didn't. We hiked up all of the trails and saw more monkeys and sloths than any of those tours did. The trails are not crowded and you can take your time looking around. Bring water and a lunch as there is nothing in the park for sale, the water in the park is potable as long as you have a water bottle.

We did do a couple of tours. The first was through Si Como No hotel. They have a private reserve across the street from their hotel, we chose to see the night tour because we knew we would be in the park during the day. The tours leave at 5:30pm and the first half an hour or so seems to be a bit boring but then out of no where there is tons of wildlife, the sun just needs to be down all the way and they come out in full force, we saw snakes, bugs, tons of frogs, they have crocs and caimans in a separate area that they take in to keep them safe and then release them into the right areas. The tour guide was beyond knowledgeable, a biology student in the area and he knew more than we could have asked for. Stopped for every question and found insects to describe to us. Worth every penny this tour was.

Second tour that we did was by far our favorite, and I will go to say the best tour I have ever been on. We went on a kayak tour through the mangrove with Manuel Antonio Expeditions. We called one day and just asked when they had an opening and signed up. They came to our house and picked us up, took us to have an authentic Costa Rican meal, then off to the Mangroves we went. We ended up getting a private tour from Juan because no one else signed up for that day. Bring sunscreen, it was hot out there, but so worth it. Juan was very helpful and knew a massive amount about the area and habitat. We saw many different species of birds and of course more monkeys. I will say that Manuel Antonio Expeditions is one of the companies that do NOT feed the animals, this is very important. Many of the tours we saw going by were giving the monkeys food to come closer, this is horrible for the animals and you are going to see them either way. Just call and Juan will help you out, they all speak perfect English and know the area.

We went down to Quepos one day to walk around, the town is very very small and doesn't have a tremendous amount to offer. Still nice to see the little city and buy some trinkets to bring home for friends. Cafe Milagro does have a roasting room with some great coffee options.

Lastly about the area: FOOD. I will say we walked away from the area a bit disappointed about the food. The only traditional meals we ate were one in Quepos at a place called Soda Sanchez, a tiny little place with a huge punch of traditional meal. Worth the bus ride into the city. Huge plate of food for 4 US $. Beyond that we really enjoyed Cafe Milagro, although it is a bit Americanized they do have their own twist on food that has a carribean/latin feel. The rest of the restaurants along the strip from Quepos to Manuel Antonio are all very american. We stopped into Cafe Agua Azul the first night out of pure hunger and were disappointed by the service and the food was just like eating at a Red Robin or something similar. Salsipuedes has a very friendly atmosphere and a great happy hour but the Tapas are american food as well. If you do like sushi they get it fresh day of, which is nice to know.

A couple of random tips that we picked up while we were there. Bring a flash light, we walked everywhere but there are zero sidewalks which at night makes it a bit dangerous, nice to have a light to flash at cars so they know you are there. Taxis: we only took two while we were there but we did barter with them, do so, if not you pay about 7$ to go from the beaches to the main strip. The sun is hot, and I know that sounds silly but really it is. We got burnt through an umbrella we had rented down at the beach, make sure you are wearing sun screen at all times or you will get fried. If you are down at the main beach there is a Super Joseth grocery store, buy your water or beer there and bring it down to the beach, you will save money this way.

Hope this was helpful for someone, I enjoy this Trip Advisor community and find great value here. Keep on keeping on friends.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 7,638
reviews: 57
1. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Nicco, thanks for your helpful and detailed report about Manuel Antonio.

posts: 935
reviews: 6
2. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Great TR - thanks for taking the time!

Eagle, Colorado
posts: 59
reviews: 2
3. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Thanks for the great report! I am headed there this weekend with a group of 20. I've been to Costa Rica before with my husband and we travelled all over CR for 3 weeks. It is a bit odd for me to be in a planned group going to a touristy area; it's not usually the way I travel. While I'm very excited for this break, I don't usually do the group tour thing. I've been reading reviews of MA and trying not to have any preconceived ideas, but I'm amazed that people are spending $140 for dinner and griping about their overcooked fish because it wasn't prepared by an Iron Chef. I will probably do a few things on my own-glad you told us about Quepos. I like to eat where the locals eat (if they went out) so the plate of the day is good for me. I'm also bringing some snacks from home to have in the room, but I've been trying to find out about a market for beers and fruit to bring with me-thanks for that tip. I also have been concerned about environmental damage; I'm glad you mentioned the mangrove tour where they DON'T feed the monkeys. That's the one I'll be taking. I don't believe in tricking wildlife to entertain thousands of tourists-there's all kinds of problems with that. And yes, I will probably go to the park on my own. I find that I usually get photos that the crowd doesn't get. If it doesn't work for me, then I'll do the tour. And I'm not used to heat and humidity and last time I was in CR it was faintingly hot and humid. I'm glad I'm not the only one. I will pack accordingly. Did you wear hiking boots, zip-off pants and long sleeved shirts in the rainforest - for protection from bugs and plants? Last time I did bring a rain jacket which was a horrible idea-I was sopping wet with sweat inside. I was going to bring a tiny travel umbrella, OTW, lean back and let the rain drench me. Did you do a zip-line? Again, that seems environmentally threatening, but if I were to do it anywhere, this would probably be the place. Thanks!

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 7,638
reviews: 57
4. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Good luck with that group tour thing. Locals usually eats in sodas where the prices are geared toward them (i.e. very reasonable). Hard to find any near the park or beaches you will need to take the bus to Quepos. You will find there also open market and supermarkets.

For hiking / walking in the park (and elsewhere but the beach) I have used long sleeved shirt and long pants, both quick dry materials. If the rain comes ... well, they are supposed to be quick dried materials !! And proper hiking boots for me.

Eagle, Colorado
posts: 59
reviews: 2
5. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Awesome!! I have many pairs of boots so I'll take an old pair that I can discard if they get trashed. I was thinking of the company that zips down the waterfall - that looks like fun. I'm I am SOOOO excited! ;D

Durango, Colorado
posts: 735
reviews: 41
6. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Great Report! I have a question about the Kayak tour....You never felt as if a croc was going to get your boat?

Your so low to the water & it looks pretty slow moving. Seems the same price as the "Boat tour" I guess I am asking if you felt safe from predators in the Kayak? We are white water rafters so not afraid of much--but then again we have no Croc's in our waters :)



South Florida...
posts: 54
reviews: 28
7. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Great report!

Quick questions: how was your connection between international and local flight? Did you worry about not having enough time to get to Sansa flight? I'm planning to do the same this weekend.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 500
reviews: 82
8. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Sansa is never on time. The terminal is literally outside of the main airport. We don't check baggage so gettin off the plane and through customs was all we had to do. Took about 30 minutes.

As far as the mangrove tours go. We didn't go on the boat because they feed the animals and I am very very against that. I also don't understand the point of someone driving you fast through a mangrove to point to you quickly what something is and then be done. We were out there at our pace and never felt threatened. The guides know where animals hang out. I can only speak for the tour we went on but it was great.

posts: 155
reviews: 99
9. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Awesome trip report! We are headed that way in 3 weeks, can't contain our excitement!! Should we bring some disposable rain poncho's?

Grecia, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Province of Alajuela
posts: 6,547
reviews: 39
10. Re: Trip Report March 22-30, bring a drink and pull up a seat.

Great reporting, thanks for letting folks know about your travels. Cool you found Soda Sanchez, I dig that place and it is totally worth it.