Monkeyin’ Around In Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park
I’m going to be honest. There are a LOT of monkeys in this post. Like…a lot.
If you have a fear of monkeys, this is potentially not the post for you. For anyone else, this is 100% the post for you.
This was my inaugural annual girls’ trip with @sjems5, and we began a tradition of awesome that is still going strong a few years later. We decided that we both needed a little R&R, and that Costa Rica was where we were going to find it.
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Some notes on planning our trip:
I desperately wanted to fit both Arenal and Manuel Antonio into our trip, but with only four full days I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t possible without losing almost a full day to travel. We would have been too rushed and it increased our transportation costs quite a bit. If we’d had one more day, probably could have made it work.
So I sadly waved goodbye to the idea of visiting the volcano, and planned us an awesome trip to Manuel Antonio National Park. We flew into San Jose and had a private driver take us out to the park. He stopped at the famous crocodile bridge along the way, and we grabbed some local food as well.
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We stayed at a cute little hotel called La Posada. It is literally at the entrance of the park, so it’s super convenient. The staff is very nice, it includes breakfast, and Bruno became our mascot the entire trip. He followed us everywhere!
If I were to go back, I’d definitely consider splurging a bit and staying at Tulemar Resort, which gets amazing reviews (it was on TripAdvisor’s 2023 best hotels in the world list), has private beach access, and awesome views from the bungalows.
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We decided that we wanted a nice balance of chill and adventure on this trip, and Costa Rica is perfect for that. You could chill at the beach the whole time, but with all the hiking, ziplining, and other activities on offer, you’d be crazy not to try something new. So Sarai and I quickly settled into a little routine that was perfect for us.
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Mornings meant (for me) a run through the town and along the ocean.
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Followed by copious amounts of coffee and hammock time. Can you believe this was my first hammock experience?!
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And then monkeys. All the monkeys. Our breakfast area was open-air, so they’d just hang out and watch us, and occasionally steal food from the table when we weren’t looking.
CAN YOU EVEN???
He literally took it from my hand. And look at those hand feet! Weird and awesome.
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Wildlife is not something that Manuel Antonio lacks. Our first morning there, we paid our entrance fee and went into the park but took a guided tour first. He helped us spot a lot of the animals, like this sloth (seen through a mini telescope lens). We saw a bunch of bats, a couple sloths, some frogs, and a ton of monkeys as well.
There are also tons of these raccoon (or raccoon-like??) creatures, who are HELLA aggressive. They literally pickpocketed a banana out of the bottom of my backpack while it was lying right next to me.
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There are monkeys all over the place at the park, particularly at the beach. That guy there on the left looks like he’s about to be up to something. And the one on the right looks like he needs to be punched in the face.
We walked across to the beach, then hiked around the little peninsula back to our original position (and sweated our FACES off).
The main beach is really pretty. I believe there are a couple other beaches that are further out and more remote, but this was really nice and an easy walk.
We just parked ourselves on the sand and chilled. One thing to make sure you know is that there aren’t any vendors inside the park so make sure you bring in any food and drink you want.
This beach was our happy spot. We spent two different half days here during our trip, and it was idyllic.
In the little town right outside the park, there are a lot of different restaurants you can choose from (like 75 different ones, so it’s hard to know where to start).
We went to this one a couple times, it’s impossible to miss right across from the beach on the main street (with an upstairs as well, it’s a huge place). Their ceviche was delicious (the first time I’ve had it!) and the drinks were solid (and two-for-one at the time).
I was also introduced to the glory of fresh cold coconuts on this trip—so many firsts! We ran up a tab with the coconut vendor that sat outside the hotel, getting at least one or two a day. He got a big tip at the end!
We did go out for a nicer dinner one night in Manuel Antonio, got showered up and slapped some makeup on. We were looking for a view, and boy did we find one at Agua Azul. We were graced with the most a gorgeous sunset while we ate our fish and drank cold, crisp wine and congratulated ourselves on our awesome life choices.
So, suffice to say our first girls’ trip was a smashing success…enough that it actually *became* an annual trip (that was never our original design). We adored Costa Rica and were sad that we couldn’t explore more different areas. But I suppose that just means we are honor-bound to return!
Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park:
- Stay at: La Posada, right at the mouth of the park, can’t ask for a better location
- Eat at: Agua Azul – great views, good food and decent drinks (go at sunset and ask for a table at the edge of the patio)
- To do: chill on the beach (obvs), take a guided tour of the park, go horseback riding to Naucaya falls, ziplining
- Manuel Antonio National Park is open 7am-4pm, closed Mondays (but always check the website for updated hours); as of publication, admission for adults was around $16 USD
What are your favorite places to eat in Manuel Antonio?? Let me know in the comments!
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