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A 36 Hour Weekend Getaway in Manuel Antonio

One of my favourite things about living in Costa Rica is that we can take impromptu trips to places like Manuel Antonio and hang on beautiful beaches and spot sloths and monkeys.

We originally planned to have a low key weekend, maybe go for a short hike around San José, hit up a market. BUT when someone offers you an opportunity to go to the beach, you say “yes!”.

Rob and I were at his office for a typical Friday night social when his colleague suggested we come with a group of people to Manuel Antonio. We booked a last minute hotel room and they sorted out rides all within 10 minutes. So, at 9pm on Friday night, we made plans for 6am the next morning. We were headed to Manuel Antonio.

Early Rising

We woke up at 5:15, not long after the rising sun, with the birds. After all, early birds catch the worm, or something like that. We met up with Nelson, Robs colleague and our own local tour guide, at his place and by 6:30, we were on the road to the coast, trying to beat the city traffic with all the other beach-goers.

This was our first time heading west out of the city, so we were taking in all the views along the drive. Once you get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the views are quite majestic. The mountains, the valleys, the bridges, and then, when we reached the coast, the ocean, the palm trees, and the cutest little beach towns.

We made a bit stop for breakfast (somewhere, I don’t really know where!) where we had some typical Costa Rica food before heading to our hotel to check-in. Overall, it took us about 3.5 hours to get to where we were heading.

Finding Our Little Oasis

We were all staying at The Falls at Manuel Antonio, the cutest little hotel with an incredible pool and property. Because we booked it last minute, we didn’t really know what to expect, nor did we look into it. They had a room. The room was reasonably priced. Those were our key criteria before booking. To our surprise, it was a perfect little slice of paradise.

The Falls at Manuel Antonio hotel pool and property

Once we checked out the hotel, we put on our binky suits and headed to Manuel Antonio National Park. We got to the park entrance, only to discover they were confiscating snacks and non-water beverages. Given our bags were 90% filled with our own snacks, we had to go back to the car and empty our stash. Noted for next time. Then, we got our tickets and entered the park and immediately started to look for sloths (easier said than done!).

Exploring Manuel Antonio National Park

The trail into Manuel Antonio National Park where you can see wildlife including sloths.

The first little critter we found, the rat-rabbit-guinea pig-pig creature (as Rob coined it), was being observed by a tour group. That is, until I accidentally took a photo with my flash on and then got yelled at (in Spanish) by the tour guide. Whoops! Ah, well..there were plenty of those little guys around to spot later.

Manuel Antonio wildlife

Along the little hike to the beach, we saw a herd of humans standing in one spot, pointing to the trees. Ah HA! A sloth! They are stealthy little dudes, but our sloth search was a success!

sloth in manuel antonio

Once we were done fawning over the sloths in the trees, we headed to the beach. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in water that was the exact perfect temperature. I could have floated there for hours. And I may have.

Manual Antonio national Park Beach

After spending some time at the beach, we decided to do a little hike throughout the park to check out some lookout points. The views did not disappoint. But by the time we finished the hike, we were all pretty sweaty so we took the opportunity to have another dip in the ocean.

Play Hard, Rest Hard

After spending all afternoon in the sun without our snack stash, we were pretty hungry and went searching for lunch. After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to enjoy the magical pool. The pool session was followed by a much needed nap-session.

After dinner at our hotel, we headed next door to Selina, a popular hostel chain that has quite the nightlife. And this is how I know I am getting old: the music was loud, the people were young, and everything and everyone was sweaty. None of my favourite things. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the people watching. Rob and I stayed for a drink and swayed to the reggaeton music, and then we bailed and headed back to our room, as boring 30-something year olds do [sorry, not sorry!].

Journeying Back to San José

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then took it easy, chillin’ by the pool, swimming, and walking around the lush hotel property looking at all the lizards, butterflies and bugs. We stayed until we had to check out and then we hit the road to head home.

We did, however, make a pit stop in Jaco for some lunch and to check out the town. And because we are in the rainy season, we of course found ourselves caught in the rain.

Jaco beach town

After lunch, we headed home and of course, got to experience San José traffic on a Sunday afternoon. Admittedly, it wasn’t terrible, but also, I wasn’t driving. We made it home around 6pm, just in time to get ready to start another week in San José.

I love me some spontaneity and this most certainly was spontaneous and marvellous and wonderful. And on top of it, we got to share it with some new friends: the robe clüb, if you will.

Life was meant for good friends and great adventures.

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