Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Sunset at the beach 
Nickle Tour:  Manuel Antonio is an a-mazing national park in Costa Rica and you should go.  Albeit, “when I was there 10 years ago things were different!” you should still go.  You’ll see a wide array of wildlife, gorgeous beach and won’t be disappointed.  However, if you’re looking for solitude, go elsewhere.  The secret is out and the area is crowded.

Travel Tip:  While you can stay in Quepos and take a $.50 bus to and from the beach or through the main (only) road, I’d recommend staying along the main road.  If you do, you can walk to restuarants, bars, the beach, etc.  You’ll feel kind of isolated in Quepos, even though it’s only 7km to the beach.  But, you came to see Manuel Antonio, not Quepos so stay close to the park.

Also, hire a guide to tour Manuel Antonio – it’s well worth your money to have a trained eye pointing out camouflaged wildlife, and isn’t that why you came?

See: In addition to the Park (more later), we took a sunset cruise which shoved off at 3pm, included drinks, snacks and snorkeling before settling in to dinner and the beautiful sunset.  At $70 pp, it’s a splurge (for backpackers) but otherwise a great deal.

The Park, of course, is a must-see

That dark spot is an agouti

No joke!
Capuchins rule the beach

Alligators on the drive to Manuel Antonio
Mapaches (racoons) checking out tourist loot
An Ibis in the park and Pelicans on the beach

A three-toed sloth hangs out

Across from the Avion bar (the giant plane sticking out of the mountain), there is an Italian place we stopped in because it had half-priced food on Sundays.  Check out this bacon-wrapped shrimp!

El Avion Restaurant & Bar

Sleep: There are an overwhelming number of hotels along the main stretch ranging from hostels to 4-star resorts.  So, look around and you’re sure to find something that suits your tastes. But, once again, I’d recommend staying closer to the beach than in Quepos.