Moving south from Guanacaste, me and Alle drove towards Manuel Antonio National Park that we didn’t want to miss at any cost.
On the way, we stopped on the bridge by Rio Tarcoles to observe some crocodiles from above… Funny enough, parking is free from one side of the bridge (southern bit) but not the other.
We arrived in Quepos in the evening and driving through I must admit I was glad we decided to stay at Manuel Antonio after all. On top of that, our airbnb was like no other! Our room was part of few small buildings that made the property, owned by an American lady who moved to Costa Rica forty years ago. It’s just like in a movie, with fabulous vintage interiors and a patio facing the jungle perfect for evening talks with the other guests.
Honestly wished I could stay there much longer.
In the morning we went to the National Park to spend the day, leaving the car safe at the garage and going on a quick bus journey which took us just down the hill (and cost less than $1). Armed with our cameras and swimming suits, we paid our $16 each entrance fee and made the decision not to go for one of the guides (which would have cost another $25 each).
This is a very expensive park, but I could see why: plenty of trails, all very well paved and of various intensity, it’s perfect for everyone. At the end of the main trail, you end up on a magnificent beach with sea at both sides and lots of racoons in the middle – so be careful of your belongings!
We finally saw plenty of sloths here, two- and three-toed, our beloved racoons, various types of monkeys, don’t even know how many spiders and so on.
Our next stop was Dominical, just south of Quepos. This is a hippy village like no other, completely enclosed in a tropical forest and a beach with the roughest of seas. Perfect for surfers, I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone else as the beach is made up of rocky pebbles. There’s a great vibe there however, and I got why it’s so popular among travellers.
During the day we visited Nauyaca Waterfalls which I found really intense… It’s a long uphill hike, and because there was a massive storm the night before, the path was completely muddy. Wearing flip flops wasn’t such a good idea in the end. The pricey entrance fee of $8 made me seriously question what I was doing there, but because the ‘checkpoint’ (the home of the owner of the land) was two thirds through I couldn’t go back… We were indeed rewarded with some magnificent waterfalls by the end of it.
Lastly, it was time for Uvita. Like in Dominical, we didn’t have anywhere booked here and struggled a bit to find somewhere decent with a decent price. We finally did, though it took a bit of bargaining, and ended up in a really clean campsite with a double room for $35.
We spent the day at Marino Ballena National Park (free!), which is basically a magic beach. Everyday at around midday on high tide, the waters ‘open’ and you are suddenly connected to a small islands some 500m away. This phenomenon takes the form of a whale’s tail, hence the name of the park.
Once we were on the other side, we noticed the sky getting a bit crazy and all the locals going back to the beach, so we decided it was a good idea to follow them. Luckily we did, as as soon as we made it back on the beach a massive storm came by, don’t think I have ever seen one so strong!
And so our journey through the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica came to an end, as by then we had decided we did want to check out the Caribbean Coast after all. No, not Tortuguero. We wanted to go to Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, we heard too many stories about them and wanted to see for ourselves… (and we weren’t disappointed)