Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio
One of the most scenic drives we enjoyed in Costa Rica was traveling south inland and then down the coast from our ocean-view condo in Playas del Coco to stunningly beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park.

The first thing we notice along the way was the increasing heat and humidity as we left the relative comfort of the northern climate in Guanacaste. It's perfect that the drive allowed us to climatized as we went. And don't be fooled, the 365-km journey took us a good day to drive. Read: Driving and Car Rentals in Costa Rica
Gaia Hotel & Reserve

When we visited Manuel Antonio, we were lucky enough to stay at the chic, boutique Gaia Hotel & Reserve, an amazing eco-friendly 5-star boutique hotel experience. This gorgeous terraced property offers gourmet dining and 24/7 room service, as well as a spa, a gym and an inviting outdoor pool, which we had to ourselves every evening. Heavenly! And since award-winning Gaia is located on a private nature reserve, we also took the complimentary guided tour to explore the properties trails while viewing orchids and wildlife.

Gaia Hotel & Reserve Studio 
We left the resort and followed our GPS map of Costa Rica while driving to the Manuel Antonio National Park entrance. Here we were bombarded by ticos (locals) yelling at us to 'Park here! Park here!', and as it was a little confusing as to where the road did actually end, we parked in one of theses lots with the yellers. In the end it was safe and secure, which is all that really mattered to us.

Although Manuel Antonio National Park is the country's smallest national park, it packs a big punch into a small space of 1,983 hectares (7.66 square miles). It's rugged natural beauty and 4 beaches tucked beneath the lush green mangroves is as about at pristine and gorgeous as it gets. The only thing that really got to me was the incredible heat after having been in the north and then in an air-conditioned vehicle for hours on end. There were families having picnics, hikers everywhere and just a few people actually enjoying the ocean waters including a handful of surfers

Manuel Antonio National Park

Surrounded by tropical rainforest, Manuel Antonio National Park is home to 4 species of monkeys, 109 species of mammals and 184 bird species. It's important to note that the park is open from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and is closed on Mondays. The admission fee is USD $16 per adult, while children 11 and under are free. The park offers swimming areas, lookout points and washrooms/showers. Local guides are available for tours at a cost of $51 per adult and $35 per child. Oh, and once you've left the park, you're ticket becomes invalid. So in other words, don't leave the park to have lunch and expect to get back in without paying another entrance fee. Read: Wildlife Viewing in Costa Rica.

Quepos is a bustling, former banana-driven town that's a seaside neighbor to Manuel Antonio. It's streets are full of restaurants, including popular sodas, along with shops and casinos. There's also a new marina full of huge to-die-for yachts. The only tricky part we experienced was consistently finding the turn off road to get to our hotel on the hillside, which took more than a few attempts on one occasion but of course, was more than worth our temporary confusion.

For more information or to make your reservation at Gaia, visit Gaia Hotel & Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park

Pura vida!
Ed & Connie


Corcovado National Park

From our ocean-view condo in Playas del Coco, Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, is approximately 600 km south, or more than a good days drive. Read: Driving and Car Rentals in Costa Rica.

As one of the top tourist attractions in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is known as one of the most tropical biodiverse areas in the world, and is the largest national park in the country.

"If you visit only one place in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park should probably be it." -

Why? Because tthis beautiful 48,000-hectare park (185-square miles) offers everything quintessential when you think of Costa Rica: mountain rainforests; jungles; beaches; mangrove swamps; hiking trails; and wildlife including jaguars and tapirs, as well as squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws and giant anteaters. You may even glimpse an elusive electric blue morpho butterfly as it passes by... Be sure to read: Wildlife Viewing in Costa Rica.

Costa Rican President Guillermo Solis recently traveled to Corcovado to inaugurate new buildings within the park which will include a new visitor's center, new bathrooms, along with picnic areas and camping improvements. 

For more information on Corcovado National Park, visit Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion Costa Rica (SINAC).

Pura vida!

Ed & Connie