This past weekend I went on my first excursion with my study abroad program. They took our group to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, and its beautiful Manuel Antonio beach. It was a shorter journey than most places in Costa Rica –it only took about 4 hours. On the way over we stopped at the Río Tárcoles bridge, which has over 500 crocodiles! It was super cool to see the crocodiles so close!
By the time we arrived at our hotel in Manuel Antonio, it was about 5 o’clock and we were all hungry for dinner. We grabbed some food at a restaurant in a hostel across the street from our hotel (traveler’s tip: restaurants in hostels in big tourist places such as Manuel Antonio will be much cheaper than most restaurants in the area).
We woke up super early the next morning, around 7am to eat breakfast before our scheduled tour in a catamaran. A catamaran is a boat tour that generally lasts 3 hours and includes unlimited alcoholic/nonalcoholic drinks, lunch, snorkeling, a water slide into the ocean, and great music and fun. The catamaran was definitely one of my favorite things I have done in Costa Rica so far. It was basically like a day-long cruise and included so many things that are ridiculously fun!
Saturday afternoon we had free time, which we spent lying by the pool and soaking up more sun than we all could handle after spending the entire morning on the catamaran. As much as I absolutely love the ocean and beach, hanging by a relaxing pool was a nice change because I didn’t have to worry about all the sand everywhere or the hot sun constantly; there were shaded areas with nice lawn chairs.
Sunday morning we woke up early again for a tour of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. This tour was so cool! We saw howler monkeys, squirrel monkeys, a toucan, and even spotted a sloth from a far. I forgot to bring my camera, but I really wish I would have in order to take awesome pictures for myself (the pictures below were taken by my friend Nicole).
At the end of the tour we found the private Playa Manuel Antonio. It was beautiful, with perfect swimming capabilities and without waves that would make it hard to swim peacefully. We left Manuel Antonio around 1pm, but I wish we would have had more time than one day and a half! I definitely want to go back if I can during my study abroad trip here in Costa Rica. My recommendation: When in Costa Rica, go to Manuel Antonio!