At 4:30AM this morning my iPhone alarm rang to remind me to get my behind out of my comfortable twin size bed. I rolled over, shut off the alarm and almost said screw Manuel Antonio, but then I remembered all the beautiful pictures I’ve seen online and dragged myself out! As much as I love sleep, I am in Costa Rica; I can’t be monkeying around with my time.
How I made my way to Manuel Antonio
- I caved in and re-downloaded Uber for convenience and safety (I deleted it after the company tried to profit from the Taxi strike in NYC). I left the house at 5:15AM this morning to make it to the bus station. Carlos, the driver, took about four minutes to arrive — much quicker than Uber in the states.
- Tracopa Bus Terminal is on Calle 5 y Avenida 18 in San Jose (you can look it up or ask your driver, they’ll know).
- Once there, purchase a 6:00AM ticket to Manuel Antonio at the window. Make sure you purchase a roundtrip ticket otherwise you’ll have to take a bus to Quepos from the beach to get to San Jose. I was given two tickets out of San Jose rather than a roundtrip so make sure you read your tickets and confirm that they are correct. Total: $16 // 8,730 colones.
- I have found the bus system quite efficient here. For example, the seating is assigned on your ticket and drivers arrive and leave on time.
- The trip from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Tracopa driver makes one 10-15 minute stop about halfway for food and bathroom. There is no wi-fi or toilet on the bus, but it does have AC and comfortable seating.
I’m at Manuel Antonio, now what
The ticket to get into the park is $16 and has to be purchased at a booth about 100 meters from the entrance gate.
Once you have purchased your ticket at that booth, you can enter the gate to get into the park where you will likely get heckled to buy a tour guide experience. The guy who approached me and another American (she and I became great friends, stay tuned!) said we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the park without a guide.
Well, the heckler was right. Once I entered there were groups of people in small circles with tour guides who spotted everything from tiny frogs, lizards, birds to monkeys way up in trees. Although, I did not have a tour guide, whenever I saw a group of people stop to stare at something, I stopped too. While looking for a brown bird in a tree, I ran into the American from the entrance gate, since we were both solas, we decided to become pals for the day.
Sarah and I walked the trails together, saw more monkeys and a big ol’ sloth trying to carry on with its afternoon nap. FYI: Do not go to the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. I looked it up and was shocked to read about how terribly the sloths are treated. Of course, have a look for yourself.
After spending about three and a half hours in Manuel Antonio, Sarah and I headed out to grab some lunch. Most of the restaurants in the area charge about a 20% tax on top of your meal.
Good to knows
- Wear comfortable shoes or sneakers
- There is water at Manuel Antonio, I filled up my bottle from the spigot there and my stomach was just fine but it might depend on you
- You can use credit, American cash or colones
- Drink lots of water
- Your hands might swell from the hike, don’t freak out, have something with a bit of salt at lunch
- The 5:00PM bus dropped off a little after 8:30PM –there are taxis available at the station or you can request an Uber — my cab ride cost 4,000 colones (which is a bit high, but I was too tired to bargain)
Tonight, I am going to bed with this question in mind… Why is Costa Rica considered a third world country? I understand that there is a percentage of poor here, but is that the only marker to measure development given developed countries like the U.S. have high poverty.
So far, I have found that Costa Rica has paved roads, is environmentally friendly although parts of San Jose remain spewed with garbage, education is important and the government invests in it, there has been an increase in employment, and technology is available and booming. Lastly, I have found Costa Rica to be relatively safe as well. This idea of third world countries is definitely something I want to think about some more because frankly Costa Rica is no Haiti.