Attention all study abroad students! Do you like clear blue ocean waves and sandy beaches? What about monkeys, sloths, and iguanas? What about both, together in one place? Lucky for you, Costa Rica has it all, located in the beautiful town of Manuel Antonio. The combination of the beach and wildlife made the decision to visit Manuel Antonio an easy one, and it’s a trip I would highly recommend to anyone studying abroad in Costa Rica!

At first, it seemed daunting to my friends and I to plan our own excursion, as there were numerous things to figure out before leaving. Transportation, where to stay, what to do, where to go, and for how many people were our primary concerns. To our surprise, the entire process was much easier than it seemed, with minor bumps along the road.

The public bus from San José to Manuel Antonio was about three and a half hours long for roughly $9 each way, and was a relatively easy trip to make. We decided to stay at a hostel, as it was much more cost efficient compared to the price of a hotel. Using http://www.hostelworld.com, we compared the prices and features of different hostels to find the best one. (Pro tip: check to make sure linens are provided at the hostel – no one wants to bring their own sheets!) The hostel we spent the weekend at is called Beach Packers Hostel (only $15 per night) and is located extremely close to the public beach, Playa Espadilla. The owner and staff were incredibly friendly, and the hostel itself was very pretty.manu1

On Saturday morning, after a delicious breakfast of pancakes and fresh pineapple, we walked to the Manuel Antonio National Park. The entrance to the park is $16, but is absolutely worth the cost. When entering the park, you walk through the jungle where you are able to see all kinds of animals and plants in their natural habitats. Eventually, the forest gives way to the beach. The beach is still Playa Espadilla, but is much less crowded, and the water is even bluer! My friends and I decided to pay for a private walking tour through the park with a guide, only $10 per person! A guide isn’t necessary to enjoy the park, but we never would have seen all of the wildlife without his help. My favorites were the monkeys!

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After the tour, we spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the beach and town. Between the animals, the ocean, and the chance to bond with new friends, Manuel Antonio is an experience I’ll never forget. If you’re looking to make the most of your time in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is the place for you!

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