Manuel Antonio – Quepos – Jaco

It was 3 weeks ago, I decided to go to Manuel Antonio with a cool Oz (Australian) met at the hostel in San Jose.

We took the 9 am bus to Manuel Antonio (roughly 4 hours trip), and had the chance to meet two very nice girls from San Jose and decided on the way to spend part of the week end together.

On the way to Manuel Antonio, we will pass on a bridge, and by surprise we will see 6 to 8 big crocodiles on the side of the below river. Quite impressive!

I would have loved to share with you tons of pictures of this excursion, but still didn’t get my camera. So, you will have to work a bit more with your imagination and read :-)

As i remembered it, Manuel Antonio was the hidden gem of Costa Rica back 14 years ago. Since then, the amount of hotel has developped up to 80%, and the number of tourists as well.

My aim was not only to see the natural park and the beach, as well to party a bit, but more importantly to see a school in Quepos where I would potentially spend a month to do a TEFL Certification.

We stayed in hostel on the hill along the road which links Quepos to Manuel Antonio, quite a good option as the restaurants around are cheaper than in Manuel Antonio itself.

manuel_antonio

Manuel Antonio beach

Manuel Antonio’s attraction is the beach as you can see up here, but more importantly it’s national park. The ideal would be to arrive at 7 am at the entrance of the national park in order to avoid too much heat during the hike and spot as much animal as possible before the crowd of tourists arrives. I didn’t do that well, but still entered the park at around 8.30 am. After paying my 10 dollars entry fee, I had to avoid all guides in order to go on my own. I am not a very patient person and like to spot animals on my own, not with 20 other tourists ;-)

On the first part of the track I could spot a few sloths on the height of the trees, and also avoided about..200 tourists, mostly americans, all in groups with a guide in order to spot every little animal around there. These group were so loud that you may wonder how animals do not run away….

After hiking quickly I managed to be almost alone on a nice path, where I could see a few monkeys who were absolutely not afraid and actually didn’t even take me into consideration while they were jumping from low trees, and running on the ground. That was a really nice moment! I also spotted a few different lizards, from Iguanas to smaller ones, eventually I also saw a snake, but that was just a second before it disappeared in a hole.

Monkey

The park is a really nice jungle next to the beach, so it gets quite warm and humid, the 2-3 liters of water I had with me were not useless. I got really sweaty, but happy of walking almost alone in the nature.

I then headed to one of the beach (still in the national park) and completed all the walking tracks and spotted a few otheranimals such as Coatis, Raskoon, small deer and other Iguanas.

I realized that the park was quite full of tourists especially on the beach areas, whereas 14 years ago we would be the only ones in the park (almost).

I ended up on the beach in Manuel Antonio, having a drink with my Oz mate. Even in this very nice place, we got suggested drugs. Which I get quite annoyed, it’s not because we are tourists that we want to consume drugs, that just paints a sad picture for such a lovely natural environment. The sunset was quite impressive. But you will have to imagine it ;-)

On Friday night we will hit a couple of places between Manuel Antonio and Quepos, but we would be quite disappointed as there are mainly Americans, and the few locals are the ones suggesting drugs. Ending at La Republika in Quepos was just expensive and didn’t bring any value to the night, we will be suggested 5 times some cocaine, and the locals in the club would rather try to steal what you have in your pockets. Not the best place in the world.

To sum up, Manuel Antonio is still beautiful to see for it’s national park. The School in Quepos didn’t convince me and neither did the place itself.

On saturday I decided to go to Jaco, which is on the beach, on the way back to San Jose. It’s mainly a party-beach town, quite developped and very touristy. But this night it will not be the drug that will shock me, but more the working ladies, it became almost impossible to chat to a “non prostitute”, in the Orange Pub it was half and half, and in the LOFT there were only prostitutes. So if Jaco sounds fun to you, don’t go there for the nightlife, unless you want to be a potential client. It’s a sad and dirty sex-tourism destination.

Here is an interesting article : http://news.co.cr/the-not-so-underground-world-of-sexual-tourism-in-jaco-costa-rica/9849/