The exotic jungle is home to over 100 species of mammals and over 200 species of birds placing you right in the middle of nature. Throughout the region, capuchin monkeys wreak havoc in the trees above, the three -toed sloths’ lazy smiles follow you as you stroll past, coatis rob you for your snacks on the beach, and iguanas are constantly found worshiping the Sun Gods. A little research can lead you to isolated beaches that are completely hidden by high tides, lesser known trails leave you at the edge of a rock with no choice but to jump into the water hole below, and reggae music softly plays in the background as you gaze up into a sky lighting the little dipper with tiny twinkles.
2. Expat Community
The magic of this region has tempted many visitors to extend their stays and join the expat movement, so you find a number of international residents living their day to day lives. It’s likely you bump into someone with a familiar accent working in one of the many establishments or attending the Maximo Nivel TEFL or Spanish program. Most have adapted to the laid-back lifestyle and live among the locals, but a few of the wealthier expats have opted to rent or buy one of the multi-million dollar mansions that sit high up in the hills. Take a self-guided tour and “stumbleupon” luxury private properties for an up-close look. You never know, you may get invited to a lavish party.
3. Food & Chillin’
You can always find the typical dish of Costa Rica, a casado–rice, beans, plantains, salad, and a protein–for approximately $5USD. But there are plenty of options available if you’re missing the comfort food of home. One of the cooler places to eat is called Avion. Just as the name suggests, one of its most attractive features is that you’re literally eating in an airplane. The restaurant is known for their seafood dishes, but they also offer salads, pastas, and fajita options, along with a sweet sunset view. Try Sancho’s if you’re craving Mexican. The restaurant is usually filled with backpackers and expats and therefore makes it a great place to meet people. There’s a bar with pool tables that sits just below the Maximo Nivel Institute which draws a mixed crowd. The pool at the bar is owned by the backpackers hostel but jump in for a midnight swim, anyway. Pura vida!
A short bus ride away gets you into the city of Quepos if you start missing some concrete and urbanization. Here you can find supermarkets, one-stop shops, clothing stores, and a booming nightlife. The farmer’s market on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings sell fresh fruits and vegetables and unique Costa Rican handicrafts. If you want to rub elbows with the elite, stop by the luxurious marina which is recognized for its World Cup sport fishing competitions.
Manuel Antonio sits on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, just two hours from the capital of San Jose. It’s a top tourist destination in the country boasting the famous Manuel Antonio National Park. The park was named one of the best in the world by Forbes magazine in 2011 and hosts approximately 150,000 visitors every year. It’s also just 45 minutes from the famous Jaco and Dominical beaches, Manuel Antonio is the perfect location for fun in the sun, nature, and relaxation.