Our third stop on the great Costa Rican tour was Manuel Antonio. After spending a few days in the chilly Cloud Forest of Monteverde, the beachy Manuel Antonio was definitely a welcome change.
View from our hotel, Gaia, in Manuel Antonio
We chose to stay at Gaia Hotel & Reserve in Manuel Antonio and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The hotel was on top of a massive hill surrounded by a nature reserve funded by the hotel owner. To get to the hotel, you have to take a golf cart up the hill. The hotel rooms are all around the outside of a few different buildings on different levels. In the center there is a magnificent infinity pool and an open air restaurant with a fantastic view (see above). At night, the sunset was so beautiful. Unfortunately my crap camera never did capture its full beauty, but I tried every night about 100 times.
I recently spent some time traveling around Costa Rica and hit up three major destinations within the country. You can read about my first stop in Costa Rica here — this blog picks up as we headed out of La Fortuna towards our second destination of Monteverde.
While Monteverde is well traveled by tourists, it definitely felt like the most remote place we visited. That largely had to do with the roads — which were unpaved the majority of the way there. Obviously, this is another drive I would not recommend doing at night.
The main “highway” to Monteverde
That being said, the drive itself is part of the experience so it is a must, even if you choose to hire a driver rather than do it yourself (if you do do it yourself, get a GPS — there are no questions). On a map, it doesn’t look like it’s very far from Arenal to Monteverde, but it takes at least 3 hours on the twisty-turney roads all the way around Lake Arenal. Give yourself at least half a day though to do the drive, so you can stop at some of the very interesting local spots along the way.
This month I’ve been on a bit of a travel binge (I know — how very unlike me!), but now I’m back home and ready to report. First on the agenda: United Airlines’ planes are kind of gross. I made the horrendous mistake of visiting the “lavatories” with my shoes off, and my feet may never feel clean ever again. I recognize that common sense should have told me better, but I was mid-way through a five hour flight and obviously a bit discombobulated.
More importantly, this dirty-bathroomed plane was carrying me to Costa Rica for a week of adventure and rain sun with J. We spread our 8 days across three popular Costa Rican destinations, so to ensure that I cover each in adequate detail, I’ll discuss each separately (so look out for future blog posts….I knowwww how exciting!).
Arenal Volcano — far more impressive when not shrouded by clouds
Our three destinations were Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio National Park. Costa Rica is a great baby step into Central and South America. It’s super easy to travel around and almost everyone speaks English. Basically, the infrastructure for tourism is very advanced. The downside of the built up tourism industry in Costa Rica is that it’s not as cheap as you might expect. That being said, it still such an amazing place to visit.