Are you looking for a “Monkey Island Adventure?”
Visit Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica experience monkeys, surf, coconuts, rainforests and more.
Manuel Antonio is in the Puntarenas Province, Quepos, Costa Rica. It is known for its lush rainforest, beautiful surf, stealthy Reese monkeys and friendly locals. I was traveling in the Spring- during the dry season. It was apparent in San Jose, but not when I arrived at the tropical destination in Manuel Antonio.
I began my trip on a bus leaving from San Jose.
FUN FACT: They often change their bus pick up locations, so make sure you ask someone near a bus station where the bus is for Manuel Antonio.
The bus was full. I was glad I got to the station early enough to be on my coach, but if you don’t make it on the bus, don’t fret there will be another one. They run every hour.
The bus journey was hot, no air condition, no bathrooms. But they do have two stops so you can purchase, food and cold drinks along the way. Make sure you go to the bathroom even if you don’t want to.
It took 3 hours to get to Manuel Antonio. It feels longer due to the heat. Pack water and dress light.
Hostels and Hotels
I booked a hostel online, using hotels.com – my go to booking site for last minute cheap deals.
The Beachpacker Hostel was a few feet from the beach, it’s rancher style and has patio decks around a lush succulent garden. There is wifi, and free breakfast cooked by local women. It’s usually pancakes with pineapple, but very tasty.
The Beachpacker Hostel was expanding when I was there, that’s why it was only ten dollars American a night. (The cost would be more now, but not too high) The two lovely American owners who own the hostel greeted me, showed me around and gave me a towel.
FUN FACT: Bring Costa Rican colónes it comes out cheaper than using American dollars. The towel has a deposit that they will give it back to you when you return it.
The travelers were from all over the world, Germany, Venezuela, Canada, India, etc. I met two doctors from Venezuela who were backpacking up the Pacific Coast of Coast Rica and then back down the Atlantic Coast.
I thought I booked a single suite at the Beachpacker Hostel, but I ended up sharing a room with about ten travelers. I had my bed. But there was no air conditioning and my night was hot, loud and brutal. Snoring on my left, and a lively beach party that lasted all thru the night.
I didn’t want to end my stay at the Hostel as I liked that the location was near the beach. So I utilized my space and would walk to the hostel as needed – like a shower after a swim in the warm ocean.
El Faro Beach Hotel is on top of a reasonably competent size hill, but they do have a small golf cart that they use to help lift you and your luggage up.
They have a nice pool that faces the ocean; the view is breathtaking. My room also had the same lookout, and it had air conditioning.
Walking back down to the ocean was easy, but back up was a workout, I jumped into the pool several times.
I walked up and down the beach, back and forth from the hotel and the hostel. I spotted many local and exciting places one could stay, a bed and breakfast, a hostel up in the rainforest, even a campsite location along the beach.
So if you want variety, Manuel Antonio offers many options. I would also suggest just booking a few nights in the rainforest, and then a place near the beach.
When I first arrived, it was just after lunch. I left all my belongings at the Hostel, and I walked to the small city center. It’s about a 10 min walk along the beach from the Beachpackers Hostel. I passed a local beach campsite, another place you could stay and save some money.
The small city center offers a clothing shop, a restaurant called El Sol, and a little grocery store.
I went to El Sol for a local meal; it was a satay of chicken and some local vegetables. It was delicious and filling. I paid about 15 USD for the meal, expensive but good.
Then I went to the grocery store and purchased a few snacks for the beach.
The locals are friendly and kind. As a single white female, you will get hit on by the staff, and the locals that are outside selling goods, such as the usual coconuts or ice slushies.
They even like it when you negotiate lower prices. But they are smart, and they have raised there prices for this very reason. One coconut is two mill but in San Jose its 500 colonies.
The currency is a bit confusing as it says million on the bills. Your not a millionaire but you feel like one, holding colorful, plastic, water and sweat proof monies.
FUN FACT: I was warned by some of the American women to be wary of some of the locals. The men apparently tell you they are a guide for the rainforest and then surprise- private parts on display.
I was thankful for this tip as I had a young man tell me he wanted to show me an iguana, yeah I’m sure he did.
Wildlife and Nature
The tropical rainforest is gorgeous, filled with wildlife, and fantastic fauna. You have to pay to go into Manual Antonio Regional Park. A guide is assigned, and you go in a group. Its only open during the day, and you can get fined if you travel on your own.
But even if you cant manage to get into the park, you are surrounded by the rainforest and will run into many creatures like an iguana, Reese monkeys, parrots, and some strange looking bird life.
FUN FACT: Cover your belongings and food when you’re on the beach, and hide your backpack, the monkeys are smart thieves. And they travel in huge packs, about 10 to 20 monkeys in one group.
Sports and Leisure
You have everything right in front of you in Manual Antonio. You can surf, ride horses, parasail, hang glide; you name your adventure it’s yours. All available at the main beach across from the El Sol restaurant.
I did not have the pleasure to partake in any of these activities, but the two Venezuelan doctors went parasailing, and they said the view was spectacular.
It’s a relaxed town to maneuver in, and you won’t get lost. Everyone is happy to help you, and offer advice if needed.
I didn’t bring a good enough camera- I had my outdated cell phone, so next time I will bring my Nikon, or purchase a better phone with a exceptional camera.