Costa Rican Christmas in Quepos
So Manuel Antonio is the big, famous national park you’ve likely heard of if looking into a trip to Costa Rica. Quepos is merely the adjoining town. It’s bigger and much closer than Google Maps would have you believe.
We had a swell airBNB we stayed at with a kitchen, pool, enough A/C to keep us some semblance of cool and in short walking distance to local restaurants and a supermarket.
The town itself had a lot going on, fantastic lodgings to hostels, lots of interesting places to eat or grab a beer for a great view of the Sun setting over the Ocean.
Quepos + Rental Car also made for great opportunities to spend our first couple days driving 30-40 minutes out of town for our His & Hers travel routine of hike (in Costa Rica, now with waterfalls and swimming!) followed by craft beer.
Maybe 30 minutes out of town, this is a fairly short loop hike that cuts through a forest, providing you with many walkway bridges of questionable structural integrity to cross or explore, a little bit of a hike up a hill to the trees giving way to a fantastic view before descending down and getting a chance to cool off from the humid march by taking in (or jumping in) a small waterfall and swimming hole. Was fun. Cold, but fun.
If you go in the morning, when you pay entry at what amounts to a small, open restaurant, you can pay in advance for lunch as well (I believe you must do in advance) – so while the hike had a price tag to it, the total cost of hike, swim and lunch was less than lunch would have been in Quepos.
Next up and a farther drive from Quepos was Nauyaca Falls. Was a longer hike in, chunks of it uphill (not an issue compared to the Andean perches of Bogota) but also segments without shade. Was a little bit more than anticipated. Not hard, but I thought it would be more leisurely.
The reward for busting hump up a hill while being cooked by the CR Sun was a massive waterfall split into upper and lower segments. The upper was far more visually astonishing/impressive, the bottom more crowded, but with some swimming to help cool off.
Enjoyed the hike – and was more of a hike than the prior stroll – and also definitely and with the largest of thumbs up can recommend somewhat nearby Fuego Brewing in Dominical. Bar/restaurant is on the second floor of what looks almost like a Swiss Family Robinson tree house. They have around 10 taps and if you find something you really like, they have Crowler Technology and you can have a couple big cans to take back to your hotel/resort/airBNB with you.
Parque Manuel Antonio
The Parque was conveniently open on Christmas Day so we got up bright and early and headed out. Bring snacks, drinks with, but not containers that are not biodegradable. They will pull those from your packs (they inspected ours like the TSA).
We got there early, so the line wasn’t too bad. We also made the smart tactical decision when taking the trail in to NOT take the first right, which leads to the big, popular beach, but instead pressed on at a good clip to distance ourselves from slow walkers. The end result is we got to a couple of the more remote beaches in the park before the crowds arrived, allowing us to take them in with only a few other people vaguely nearby.
Lots of wildlife. A rough accounting of the day’s observed wildlife I provided my dad that evening via email:
8-10 monkeys – white face monkeys, spider monkeys. This was before the dumbass tourist on the trail started to feed one… and found himself facing 8-10 at once all trying to steal his stuff or get hand-outs. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS.
5-6 raccoons – a couple from the trail, two trying to steal our stuff. We chased them off. 30 feet down the beach they snuck up on some poor woman causing her to freak out, jump about four feet in the air. She grabbed her pack, they grabbed a brown paper bag and took off. THE ANIMALS WILL FEED THEMSELVES.
2 “Big Lizards” – not sure if iguanas, mighty similar if not. Were brown, not the green we are used to. One was sunning on a log 20 ft from our beach fortress. Watched us repel raccoons
2 “Rodents” – not sure what they were. Oreta? and another similar one with a larger head. Not Capys/capybaras
2 Three-Toed Sloths – no good pics, too high up, phone camera is great for landscapes, not great at a distance, particularly for sloths with tons of camouflage. They can be difficult enough to spot with the naked eye.
1 Two-toed Sloth – normally nocturnal, got to watch him near a beach. Might have a shot or two not too blurry when I try to digitally zoom and enhance
All in all enjoyed the area, was recommending it to my pops in the notes above, so if you are reading this because you somehow stumbled upon my meandering site while searching the park, go for it. Do it.
Having enjoyed our stay, shortly after Christmas we packed up and headed out for La Fortuna, some 225km and 5-hour drive north.