MANUEL ANTONIO, COSTA RICA
I’ve been lucky enough to already have made some great friends here and we decided there was no better time to go on our first weekend trip than the first weekend! I had read about some must-sees in Costa Rica and one of them was Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. So we packed up our bags and got ready for a weekend of hiking and beach adventures!
We left right after class on Friday around 1pm, then made our way in the private Tico Viajero van, the travel company located inside Veritas which plans trips for international students (like me). The ride was around 3 hours but we stopped twice on our way, one time to see the crocodiles that live in the area right under the highway, and the other to catch our first glimpse of the Costa Rican ocean!! We knew the trip was off to a great start!
To get to our hotel in Manuel Antonio, we drove up and down these twisty curvy roads with gorgeous views of the ocean! Once we arrived and checked in, we immediately grabbed our bathing suits and walked the 5 minutes to the PLAYA! It was absolutely gorgeous, warm as bath water, and we were able to play in the ocean while we watched the sun set. We even bought coconuts which were opened for us with a machete so we could drink the water and then eat the coconut. Living the vegan dream, obviously!
When the tide came in so far that we had no place to put our bags or towels, we headed back to he hotel and scarfed down some food at the attached restaurant. We then spent the rest of the evening in the pool talking and laughing. Before going to sleep, we walked back down to the ocean to put our feet in the water and look up at the stars; it was magical.
We woke up at 7 on Saturday morning, grabbed our free breakfast at the hotel (gallo pinto, a rice-and-beans specialty in Costa Rica), and walked over to the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park where we hiked in the gorgeous jungle for a few hours to an incredible private beach. We saw all sorts of lizards and monkeys and a pesky raccoon. There was even one monkey on the beach that went through my friend’s bag and started pulling out all her clothes and towel! It was so funny! We ended up swimming for a while and laying in the water. I was excited because I got to use my GoPro (okay the GoPro I bought Tommy for Christmas) so much on this trip!
By the time we got to the exit, it was just about lunchtime and we were starving from a day of hiking and SWEATING in the humidity. We ditched our backpacks for beach bags, grabbed a bite to eat (and some very strong cocktails) at a restaurant next to the water, and then spent the rest of the evening at the beach before retiring to the pool. A few of us decided to go out that night so we took a cab to a local bar that had a GIANT jenga game, and where my friend Mike accidentally dropped money for the bartender down some crevice behind the bar and we got a free shot after finally getting it out. It was pretty funny!
We woke up early again on Sunday for breakfast and then spent a few last hours at the beach soaking up some sun before packing up to return to San Jose. It was nothing less than a wonderful weekend. I kept saying around “I am so happy” and I meant it 100%. Costa Ricans have this saying, PURA VIDA, which they use for a hello, goodbye, and everything in between. Directly translated, it means ‘pure life,’ and let me tell you, I am truly starting to feel the Pura Vida!