After two nights in the dense clouds and chilly winds, we took a three-hour shuttle trip from Monteverde’s 1400 meter high cloud forest to the Pacific beach village of Manuel Antonio. We shucked coats, hats, and pants for bathing suits, sandals, and sunglasses. We were ready to get back to tropical adventures.
Our drive to Manuel Antonio took us along the 48,000 km Pan American Highway which starts in Alaska and goes all the way to the southern tip of South America with one break in southern Costa Rica. The PA highway is busy with trucks, buses, vans, and cars heading north and south through Central America. But the highway was quite good, widening to four lanes in areas, and road signs to major destinations on the Pacific coastline and to Costa Rica’s interior. Most roads and streets in Belize and Costa Rica had no signals, street signs, mileage markers, or destination markers making it difficult to know where you were or where you were going. Very confusing.
The Pacific coastline of Costa Rica includes a peninsula and Puntarenas province that include miles of beautiful beaches. Our last hour, we drove along the coast, often only a few meters away. There was no lack of resorts, hotels, open beaches, and villages. It was quite charming, watching gentle waves coming ashore and green waters of the Pacific Ocean. This is also a prime growing area for date palm trees which produce palm oil for cooking. Every few miles, we’d come to a village with a plant where date palms are processed. There was a distinctive odor emanating from the factories, a smell similar to fermented cabbage.
Our hotel, Verde Mar, was on the beach which we reached by walking through a small gate and over a wooden boardwalk. Ten minutes after we arrived , we were on the beach, digging our toes in hot sand, anxious to dive into the warm Pacific. It was wonderful, a welcome break from the chilly Monteverde weather.
We liked the ease of staying at Verde Mar. The hotel had a cafe, and we were only a ten minute walk from a village. We later discovered we could reach the village by walking barefoot along the beach.
The village was a little on the seedy side, open air restaurants, a pizza place, coffee shop, market, and souvenir shops. We walked there every day, sometimes just to see what was happening and watch what vendors were hawking. The entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park was in the village, but we didn’t enter. We’d visited several national parks already in Costa Rica and preferred to spend time on the beach and having other adventures. We never did learn the name of the village.
One evening we walked back on the sidewalk — the beach was too dark with no moonlight — and saw a couple ahead who were stopped, aiming cell phone cameras into a tree. But it was dark — what could they be looking at? We approached and looked up in the trees. We were surprised to see a sleeping sloth hanging on a cable. He was upside down, hands and feet clutching the cable, immobile. Not a muscle moved for five minutes or so as we gazed up at him. It was touching, seeing a sleeping sloth only a couple of meters above us.
Sunsets were amazing along the beach. We strolled out most evenings to admire the spectacle of the glowing sun dipping below the horizon in a blaze of purple, orange, and crimson. This became our favorite stroll as we headed along the beach to Village X for dinner and a walkabout.
We spent afternoons on the beach, but didn’t always have our camera with us — dashing out to swim, hot sun beating down, leaving our things under the umbrella — too busy to play photographer. But we took many photos during our time in Manuel Antonio, but too few of the beach unfortunately.
Follow us and see what else we did during our five nights in Manuel Antonio!
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