Friday was our fifth full day at the resort, or the sixth day if you count our first afternoon. By this time, we felt totally "in the swing" of the luxurious life at a Costa Rican five-star resort. God must have wanted to balance out all this luxury and fine dining with some gritty rainforest adventure, because we finally decided to make the trek to the national park to see some wildlife! We had heard people at our resort raving about seeing monkeys up close and personal at Manuel Antonio National Park, so we decided to get in on the action.
We hired a driver to take us to Manuel Antonio National Park, which was about an hour to hour and a half drive down the coast of the country. We drove through towns, palmolive tree farms, and mountains. Occasionally, our driver would hear us cooing over how beautiful the scenery was, and he would just pull over and tell us to go ahead and get out and take a picture.
Once we got to the park, we debated whether or not to hire a guide or take a group tour. My husband pointed out that if we didn't have a guide, we could move entirely at our own place. Plus, call me ignorant if you must, but I am simply not that interested in knowing each individual species of plant. Truth be told, I WAS JUST THERE TO SEE THE MONKEYS!
We wandered around, guideless, for a while and started wondering if we had made the wrong choice. Despite keeping our eyes peeled and being in a rainforest, all we had seen in that first hour was a pair of monkeys that was extremely far away (and not picture-worthy because they were hiding) and a large red bird.
Eventually, we got to a somewhat secluded beach. The water was gorgeous and clear, and a few other people had found the spot. We decided to lay out for a bit, take a rest, and enjoy the view.
Ultimately, though, we were there for adventure. So, when my husband spotted some awesome rock formations that went out into the water, we decided to do some rock climbing.
It sprinkled a bit as we were scrambling around the rocks, but my husband was determined to get to a certain point in the rock formation, so we continued onward. I was surprised by how tiring it was!
After rock climbing, we saw a small bridge that was somewhat hidden, and decided to take that path. It lead into the rainforest, and I was still determined to get some monkey pictures, so we decided to do it.
This picture was taken in the rainforest just before we rounded a corner and came face to face with... you guessed it... monkeys!
We were extremely close to them. By that, I mean that if I would have reached my hand out, I could have touched it. A group of monkeys was making its way across the trail, crossing from one side to the other, directly in front of us.
To our surprise, they actually hung around for quite a while and let us take pictures of them. My husband got really into it and even took some video on my phone. It's neat to see the way the monkeys were working together to make sure everyone was safe from the humans.
After seeing the monkeys, we continued down the path and crossed a small river (on foot!) before meeting back up with our driver. We had mentioned a restaurant we found online called El Avion, which was literally an airplane that had been connected to the side of a cliff, and he took us there for some post-hike refueling.
Told you it was an airplane! A B-52, to be exact. Even inside, the historical integrity of the airplane had been preserved.
We wanted to eat outside, so we were seated at a table under one of the airplane wings. It had a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean.
We ordered a round of drinks and recapped our hike, gushing over various wildlife and details.
And then we had another round of drinks... and some delicious Mahi Mahi.
We soon left and began the drive back to Villas Caletas. It poured rain the entire time, so I went ahead and passed out (a special talent to make the time pass) and woke up when we were arriving at a souvenir shop close to our hotel. My husband contends that my nap time missed me some decent views, but I saw them on the way down, and I had three drinks with lunch, so I'm going to go ahead and give myself a pass on that one!
It took us almost an hour in the souvenir shop to find a few mementos to bring home as well as a few small gifts for our parents. Eventually, we headed back to the resort for some R&R (Rest and Room Service!).
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
- Do you get excited about seeing wildlife on vacation?
- Have you ever seen monkeys up close and personal?