Monday, July 25, 2016

Costa Rica Recap : Post 6 : Manuel Antonio

Check out my other posts about our trip to Costa Rica! Everything from penny-pinching flights ($250 round trip from MN!) to Car Rental, to our Accommodations, to the places we visited. Scroll to the Costa Rica Section of this page for more!

After having an awesome time fishing & relaxing in the quiet town of Nosara, our next stop was the famous Manuel Antonio. I picked this destination because I Googled "best beach in Costa Rica" before the trip, & Manuel Antonio was always mentioned. 

Because, duh, don't you base your trips on the best beaches?

Manuel Antonio is a fun little town on the ocean, next to it's own National Park. 

We did not actually do anything in the National Park, although our "home" was literally right next to it. Why not? Because it was CROWDED. The line to even get in was ridiculous. Plus, we read some reviews on it, & people wrote a lot about how crowded the place was & how it didn't even feel very nature-y. Do we regret it? No. The less crowds, the better! 

We spotted this church on the way to MA. The churches in Costa Rica were stunning. It's amazing to see how well decorated their worship buildings are!

And this was our home during our 2-night stay in Manuel Antonio! We got the bottom left apartment. It took us a bit to find... There are a lot of men that try directing traffic in the area & it gets very confusing when you don't speak Spanish. One man did not care at all where we were staying. He just wanted us to park with him so he could get paid. Not cool. Another guy was nice enough to take our phone & speak Spanish to our host, Maria. She was able to tell him where we needed to go. 
If you stay here, just check out this map I made:

You'll be coming in along the beach, past "Restaurante and Sports Bar El Sol." You'll take the left, going uphill. You'll pass "Hotel Costa Linda Backpackers," (blue star) which will have (probably) two blue signs out front for breakfast. You'll cross a small bridge, some more hotels, & some jewelry/craft stands. You see on the map where it says "Parking for Manuel Antonio National Park?" That's where they will try to stop you to park, as the road ends at the entrance of the park. Tell them your hotel is ahead, & keep going, or just don't tell them anything & keep going. You will see the entrance to the park. You will be turning right down a gravel alley road (the yellow line on the map). It's very small, & there is a store that sells dresses on the corner. Head down that path, & it will be the last driveway on the left, with a gate. I circled it in red. You won't be able to drive any further on that road, as it turns into a walking trail. This walking trail will be your savior, as it leads right to the main road & the beach!
And this is our place! We LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was so clean, quiet, off the busy road, & Maria was the cherry on the sundae. She doesn't speak English well, but her laugh & joy will brighten your day.

If you can, download the DuoLingo app on your phone. It will help you with your Spanish. You can also use Google to speak & translate words. I can speak, in English, something into my phone, & it will translate it out loud in Spanish for Maria to understand, & vice versa. Check that out!
We loved how much thought & care Maria put into the place. The owner is actually Paolo, & he does all the booking work, but Maria is the caretaker.

Bathroom pic! Whoo! (This toilet sucked, by the way. It was a pain to get it to flush. Cause you needed to know that, right?)

Okay, bird-shaped towels? My heart melted for Maria's creativity.

If we go back ever, we will definitely stay here! Don't you just love where James kicks his shoes off? As you can tell, the bathroom door is closed. I wonder where he had to be in such a hurry...

The sunsets in MA were stunning.

No wonder people talk about MA's sunsets.

Remember above, in my directions to our stay, I mentioned the Backpackers place? It's the blue star on the Google Earth map I made. This place saved our wallets in MA. You get this plate above... this plate for a very affordable price. And the owner is so sweet! We ate here both mornings.
Here are the blue signs I mentioned in the directions, too! Check out that price!

Big tree by the bridge.

Here is the gravel alley that our "home" was down.

We kept seeing signs for a Canopy Bike & a Roller Coaster Zip Line. We had to make a stop at the roadside Manuel Antonio Adventure Park. We each rode on one of these Canopy Bikes. It's a slow ride over the trees of MA, where you can see monkeys & sloths! (Although we didn't see any on our ride. There was a sloth in the trees, but we couldn't see it.)

On the bike.

On the bike. Hello, T-Rex arm.

I was feeling ultra-adventurous, so I did the Roller Coaster Zip Line. It's a single rail zip line, that you ride really fast & go up & down on. It was wild!

This was right after he took a "bad" handlebar set off the line. Apparently, that did not stop me from doing this. Maybe it should have, but I was just too excited. For $12 I get to zip line? Sign my niave-self up! But it all went safely.

"Uh huh, sure, yup, whatever you're saying, let's just get going! I wanna ride this beast."

This is about where I wanted to crap my pants.

But I couldn't stop screaming with excitement. I probably sounded like a little kid. "Weeeeeeeeee! Heheheheheehe!"

James did his best to get a bunch of action shots. Maybe it was so he could say "This is the last photo of Ashley before she passed away" to my mother, after she drills him about how I died in Costa Rica. "She wanted to do this zip line," he'd say. "She didn't care about the safety part of it. She just got on there & went. Yes, she really wanted to ride the $12 zip line. No, I don't think she questioned the $12 part. She's your daughter! I couldn't control that woman. She wouldn't let me tell her no. You can't tell her no. She didn't listen! She did seem to be enjoying herself, up until her fall..."

But I survived, yay!

He's probably thinking "Tourists. They'll do anything you want, as long as you slap a cheap price tag on it!"

I would definitely do this again!!! And I almost did, but told myself I'd do it again someday.
We went back into the actual town of MA & found a pizza stand with cheap slices of pizza. We ate at the one closer to the water.

The slices were huge & so good. Jim had 2 slices of pepperoni, while I had 1 slice of salami.

The next day was a day to spend on the beach.

We swam in the water a lot. We spent a good hour or two just getting slammed by the waves. We had a blast! The waves would build & build & slam into us. We'd get pulled under water with them & tossed around pretty violently. It was intense. We were not being very safe, but we had fun. It all ended when I got hit by a huge wave that pulled me under & slammed me into the ocean floor. This had been happening the entire time, but this time, I got hurt. I'm not sure what even happened but I remember my head throbbing & my hearing was pretty shot. I think my body was just telling me to chill out now! My hearing didn't come back for a few hours, but this was probably the highlight of MA for us. We just had a blast together, doing something free & exciting. Again, my mother would have had a field day with me.

So I laid on the beach & watched people para-sail while I recovered.

When we got back to our "hotel," there were monkeys across the parking lot!

Now, I know you're not supposed to feed them, but we couldn't help it. Do I ever listen?! We fed them watermelon rinds. (Side note, if you go to Costa Rica, find a fruit stand that will cut up a watermelon for you. BEST WATERMELON OF MY LIFE.)

This guy seen the crackers in Maria's pocket & would not leave her alone til he got them!

Enough monkey pictures? No? Well, there's more.

Of course, when we fed one monkey, a bunch more came over!

Maria even joined us!

Right about here is when I made the silly mistake of reaching out to pet the monkey. I touched his back & he freaked. He hissed at me, lunged at me, then ran off. Don't touch the monkeys! Boy, I make some super wise decisions, don't I?

We ended our MA stay with dinner at the Backpackers place. I had this monster yummy chicken salad.

And we shared a plate of chicken fajitas & fries. The dinner was even better than breakfast!! We whole-heartedly recommend that place.

Even this guy joined us! Thank goodness for the crop feature. I cropped out his pile of poo he treated us with. Thank you, Mr. Lizard, for killing my appetite.
Just like La Fortuna, Tamarindo, & Nosara, Manuel Antonio didn't disappoint. We loved the beach, our "home," the monkey's, the Adventure Park, the Backpackers Restaurant, & the waves! Each town we visited was great for its own reasons. We truly enjoyed our time in MA! 

Stay tuned for my next Costa Rica post as we travel to Atirro to rest before heading over to the Caribbean coast to Punta Uva! 


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