Traveling to Manuel Antonio

photoWe started traveling early to get to Manuel Antonio…the taxi picked us up just after 6am to get to the little airport near Tamarindo, and catch our flight at 7am straight to San Jose first.  Then we had to take another one from San Jose to Arenal, and finally from Arenal to Quepos.  It was a really fun ride in the plane because it was my first time flying, so I was really excited about it.  When the plane took off we flew all over Tamarindo and Langosta, and wow what a great view.  It’s amazing how wonderful and nice the landscape looks from the sky, especially around the shore.  It was just spectacular to be able to see all those beautiful views from that angle, even when it’s just mountains that you’re looking at beneath you, it’s still really nice to see.

The part of the flight that I enjoyed the most was when we were coming from Arenal to Quepos because we literally flew over my mom’s house, which was my childhood home, so that was just incredible.  I just looked through the window and I said to myself “Oh shoot” that looks just like my home town, San Ramon, and it was, and the first thing I saw was my neighborhood. I took the camera and I couldn’t believe it, I shot my mom’s house and our entire community from the airplane.  Then I shot our beautiful church and central park, it was great.  I never expected something like that, it was super funny.

Continuing the flight, after a few more minutes, the African palm tree plantations that are all around the Quepos area came into view so we knew we were really close to our destination.  Once at the airport, our driver and good friend now, Mr. Berny, from Arenas del Mar picked us up there to take us to the hotel.  We passed by some towns in the area like Quepos City, and we made a little stop there to buy some tasty and cold beers.  Perfect for the moment because it was really hot at that point.  Arriving at the entrance to the hotel, Mr. Berny pointed out several sloths sleeping in the trees.  It was really fun to watch how they lay on the branches just like they were in the most comfortable hammock, so so funny.

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Once at the outdoor reception area of the hotel, we got a golf cart to take us to the main lobby.  It is just beautiful going through the paths on the golf cart, enjoying the jungle views where you can see a lot of wildlife like monkeys, sloths, lizards, birds, and more.  They have a huge green reserve around the hotel, you’re really in the middle of the jungle and next to the beach, which creates an environment for all kinds of animals to come and hang out.  You can see them all day, you even have to be careful about some of these little friends because if you leave your door open on your balcony you will definitely have some visitors trying to steal and eat your food.  These are the monkeys and they’re pretty curious about the food that they can find in the rooms, and they can be really messy too, so make sure to close – and lock – your doors after you go out, just to avoid these little troublemakers. There are also the other most common visitors around the hotel where there’s food, those are the raccoons who show up at the restaurant at dinner time to see what tasty and free food they can get from humans (although feeding the animals is discouraged).  So all these situations make for such a fun stay.

Capuchin caught in the act of breaking in

Capuchin caught in the act of breaking in

And so many other factors also made the stay at Arenas del Mar unforgettable…the people, food, architecture, activities and wildlife. The people because they are amazing…the most social, friendly, funny and kind team you can get in a hotel.  I became really good friends with a lot of them;  they make you feel like you are a part of the big Arenas del Mar family.  They make you feel really special all the time in the way they treat you.  And then the food – they serve the best and most delicious food in the area.  You can find on the menu a lot of appetizing dishes for lunch at Playitas Restaurant and dinner at El Mirador.  You have all kinds of options to choose…even if you are vegetarian, they have really good dishes.

Another big thing I enjoyed were the tours around the area.  Like the Rainmaker Reserve for a hike to see and check out the different regions of the Rainforest like the primary forest and secondary forest.  The big difference I could find was that it’s hotter and the trees have to grow up quite more to get the sunlight in the primary forest because it’s lower than the secondary.  Another tour we did and the one I probably enjoyed the most was the zipline canopy tour north of Quepos.  They also have a serpentarium and  a butterfly garden with really nice specimens.  So after we checked out the butterflies and snakes, we went for the next adventure, the zip lines, some hikes and a couple rappelling lines.  It was so fun, I enjoyed it fully.  After, they served us a delicious typical casado.

On one of the mornings, I had some time to go surfing and try for the first time Manuel Antonio waves.  Once at the beach, the waves looked pretty heavy and powerful in the way they were breaking because it was kind of shallow.  I started catching some fun and really fast waves but then I caught this huge close out that became pretty choppy because the wind was onshore.  I had bad timing on the wave which made me stay right on top of it and it broke with me on top. I thought I could still do the drop but the wave didn’t help me in that way, it just kept me on the top so I had to jump off the board so as to not break it if I were to fall on it pretty hard.  But even so, the heavy lip ended up doing that for me and broke the board in two pieces.  That was the saddest part of the trip.  Fortunately, one of the local surf instructors let me borrow one of his boards to use on another day.

Anyway I really enjoyed all my time at Arenas del Mar, and for me it was one of the best hotel experiences I’ve ever had.

Enjoy the slideshow…

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Kevin