Cody and I spent a week in the beautiful country of Costa Rica, celebrating our college diplomas and a break from the grey weather at home. We planed the trip ourselves, reading countless blogs, guide books and hotel reviews. We ended up splitting our time between the capital city of San José and the coastal town of Manuel Antonio.
San Jose is a bustling city, and it deserved the full day we gave it. Our hotel was near both the beautiful Parque Metropolitano La Sabana and a bus stop. We took the bus downtown (we decided not to rent a car, thank goodness!) and wandered the car-free Avenida Central before spending time at the Museo del Oro Precolombino. Our favorite part was The Numismatic Museum, an exhibit on the history of the Costa Rican monetary system.
Our second day started with a Nature Air flight to Quepos, a small town on the Pacific Coast. The flight over the mountains was bumpy, but beautiful, emerging out of the clouds into a sunny ocean view. The plane landed on a driveway-sized strip of blacktop in the middle of a field of palm trees and we had arrived at the Quepos Airport, a building the size of our garage. We traveled by taxi and bus to our Airbnb in Manuel Antonio in the 85° heat, which we welcomed.
Our apartment was in the perfect spot, in the hills with a beautiful view of the National Park. We loved the nearby restaurants, and when we opened our windows at night, we could hear music and laughter, and chants of “Green Bay, Green Bay” from the sports bar full of Americans. We could walk to the National Park and the beautiful public beach, and shared our view with monkeys, toucans and a giant iguana.
In Manuel Antonio, our days started with the sun and we were sound asleep, tired from a day in the sun, before 10 pm every night. This is without a doubt my favorite sleep schedule and I felt so rested by the end of our trip.
Our day in Manuel Antonio National Park was hot and sweaty, but also really cool. We saw spider, white-faced and howler monkeys, deer, raccoon and a sloth! While in the park we swam at every beach: Playa Manuel Antonio, Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Las Gemelas. The next day, we followed questionable instructions to Playa Biesanz that actually worked really well (turn off the road after Shana Hotel – there’s a gap in the fence) and were treated to incredible views and delicious drinks.
We read a lot about what our weekend in Manuel Antonio was going to be like, but we were so pleasantly surprised by so many things. Firstly, the humidity is high, but not suffocating, and it didn’t rain at all! The ocean water was the same temperature as the air, and in the cove beaches (Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Biesanz) the water was incredibly calm. Everywhere we went, but especially in the beautiful beach town, people are so kind and so willing to help you get wherever you need to go!
Manuel Antonio was incredible, mesmerizing us so fully that we attempted to change our flight to have one more night there. It didn’t work out, but that was okay, because our last night in San Jose changed my perception of the city. Our first day was fun, but I was still wary in this big Central American city. After a long weekend on the beach, I was more able to enjoy the details that make San José a beautiful place.
It didn’t hurt that our dinner at Tenedor Argentina was delicious. Frozen yogurt in San José isn’t the same as home though, which was slightly disappointing. The traditional Costa Rican breakfast at our hotel and two hours by the pool before heading to the airport the next morning more than made up for the frozen yogurt.
We arrived at home refreshed and sunburned, with a new stamp in our passports and the burning desire for even more. We even dared to talk about where to next (after our bank accounts recover). Possible upcoming trips: the Pacific Northwest, Yellowstone National Park, Germany and Italy!
Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? I highly recommend these resources: Nomadic Matt, Lonely Planet, Two Weeks in Costa Rica and our Airbnb in Manuel Antonio.