Sunday 3/19: Monteverde to Manuel Antonio

Sunday, 3/19: Day 9 in Costa Rica

It was our last morning in Monteverde!! Sad!! And it was a most gorgeous, blue sky, sunny morning:

Sorry, more horse pics…. hehe.

Me, showered and no hat on!!! (Briefly… lol. It’s so warm and sunny in Costa Rica, plus being so close to the equator, = STRONG sun, so I basically lived in my hat to protect my face from the sun).

One last breakfast in our cute breakfast room:

Originally, the plan was to get up and go to see the Monteverde Waterfall Sunday morning. I really do enjoy a good waterfall, though the one in Monteverde is not really a “must see” waterfall I don’t think (though it looked nice in pics I saw).

My parents wanted more time to just pack up and stuff before check out and my mom said “no” to more stairs, so they were going to opt out. Then we ended up lingering at breakfast….and I also didn’t sleep great Saturday night and had “overslept” some, too, so the whole morning just got a later start in general.

Ultimately, Ivan and I decided it would be too rushed to squeeze in before check out and scratched it. The drive to our next destination (Manuel Antonio) would be almost 4 hours, so we wanted to hit the road at a decent time and allow time to stop for lunch.

We cleaned up our house and slowly packed and re-rolled our clothes. We had done a load of laundry at this place (for $10 we could leave a bag of clothes out and the maid would pick it up, wash and dry it and fold it and leave it for us! So nice!).

The boys’ room by day. The got some Spanish cartoon channel to come in on the TV…

MORE house pics…. I should reach out and see if they need any new promotional photos for their website. Hahaha!!

The boys hung out outside my parents’ cabin on the swings, waiting for us.

I didn’t want to go!!! It was such a beautiful day. I just wanted to stay on the porch all day.

Drive to Manuel Antonio

We checked out by noon. Ended up being a nice, probably needed, slow morning. We had been doing a lot! (Though I was a little bummed to miss the Monteverde Waterfall.)

The drive was winding and curvy for the first half, and then much flatter once we got closer to the coast.

Me in co-pilot mode

I didn’t have to do much. They use the Waze app primarily in Costa Rica for GPS/ map service. We also have a plan on our phones through AT&T that gives us full service in all of North and Central America, so we had our regular unlimited data available at all times. Our rental SUV had Car Play on it, so the map and directions showed up right on the screen. Made navigating very easy! And even the random unpaved, dirt roads seemed to show up in Waze.

The drive was interesting! Again through many small, rural areas. Saw horses in the back of a truck:

And also on the roads sometime. We saw a kid about Ethan’s age riding a horse down the side of the road. (not shown)

After a couple hours, we got our first glimpse of the OCEAN!! Wooo!!!

Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles

I wanted to stop at the “Crocodile Bridge” near Tarcoles. This is just a bridge that crosses the river, but it’s an area that tons of crocodiles like to gather to sun themselves on the mud below.

They have parking areas on both sides and little shops and restaurants, since so many people stop here as they pass by.

Sure enough, there were a bunch of big crocs down there!! It was HOT and many seemed to just be floating in the water actually.

There were some signs that said “NO SWIMMING”. Probably a good idea to have signs, but also… DUH?!

We didn’t stay long- just a quick look, and it was HOT OUTSIDE!! We were getting closer to Manuel Antonio, and man it was hot. It was pushing 90 degrees Fahrenheit everyday we were there and major humidity. It made me very grateful that we did most of our adventuring tours and hiking in La Fortuna (still plenty hot there, but not nearly as stifling) and cooler Monteverde. The plan for Manuel Antonio was to do more water based activities!

(I am not complaining about the heat. I want nice, hot weather on spring break! It is still winter mode in WI, so the warm weather felt pretty amazing.)

Lunch by the ocean:

We were still at least an hour and a half out from Manuel Antonio and hungry, so we decided to stop for some lunch. Found a place right along the ocean along the way! It was beautiful, minus the fact that we were dripping with sweat here. They really needed some overhead fans.

The boys got fruit smoothies at literally every single meal in Costa Rica. They were OBSESSED, and very sad this is not always an option at restaurants in Wisconsin (and if it is, they are not nearly as fresh or good).
I had a cold Corona with lime! This hit the spot, because I was soooo hot! And I guzzled some water.

Now in the coastal region of Costa Rica, the menu was full of seafood and ceviche options. I got a very good shrimp ceviche with chips and fresh avocado.

I also walked down to the adjacent beach for a peek! Yay, we were by the beach! The beach is always very exciting to this Midwesterner.

This was just some random local beach area- not a tourist hotspot, more just a place people stop on the way driving by- so it wasn’t a groomed or manicured beach or anything. Quite rocky on the shore, too, but very, very pretty:

After lunch, we continued on…..

Finally, we saw the sign for Quepos, which is the fishing village just before Manuel Antonio, where we would be staying.


In Manuel Antonio, I opted to book a 3 bedroom/ 2 bath Airbnb instead of a hotel for all 6 of us to stay together. I looked at both options, and just felt this looked like the best fit for us here. In Manuel Antonio there are actually very few “beachfront” properties, which is different from many other beach towns. A majority of the coastline is either public beach, or protected land inside the Manuel Antonio National Park.

This was fine- I didn’t need to be right by the beach. This wasn’t a traditional “beach trip” for us where we would just be hanging out at the hotel all day, every day for a week type thing. We were just a very short drive (like, 3 minutes maybe?) by car to the beach, anyway. I think I actually preferred our more rainforesty feeling Airbnb, actually! It had a lot of charm and a beautiful private garden/ pool area.

Arriving to the Airbnb

The property manager was there to meet us, and we got set up with garage openers and key code passes etc for the place. My mom went around and took a bunch of photos of the property.

This was a “Villa” that had 3 total units. We had the entire upper level, the “Penthouse Suite”.

Grilling/ outdoor eating area
Outdoor hallway to our door around the corner
Our living room
Cool kitchen table!
Nice fully stocked kitchen
Master bedroom and bathroom
3rd bedroom

I guess I don’t have pics of the boys’ room, but it had a full bed plus a bunk bed! So four people would have fit in that room.

Looking down from our balcony at the property
private pool. Not huge, but nice!
Hammocks were strung all over
This was really a pretty place
Ivan and Ethan in the parking area with our rental SUV.
We had access to this cool observation tower on the property.

The Airbnb was located just down the main drag in Manuel Antonio where most of the restaurants, etc were, but also kind of on the edge of just a regular part of town. It bordered this soccer field which got a LOT of use. It was fun to look down and see the boys practicing, scrimmaging, etc.

If you look hard on the right hand side of the picture, you can see the ocean in the distance.

We sat up there (table and chairs provided) for quite a while. It was almost sunset time, by the time we arrived and checked in and talked with the (chatty) American property manager from Virginia. He is in his late 30’s and has been living in Costa Rica for 6 years now. Apparently, he used to work in sales, and lived in the “rat race” for too long before traveling to Costa Rica on vacation one year. Fell in love with it and though he was supposed to stay for 2 weeks, he somehow stayed for 9 months! Then he decided to go home, sell everything and move there for good! He prides himself on basically never having to wear shoes, due to the hot weather year-round. (And it was true- every time we saw him, he was barefoot. hahaha! Pura vida.)

Watched a soccer game going on

On the other side of the soccer field, there was a big group of youth practicing some kind of band performance! This was super cool. It was not a regular band, like you’d normally envision with trumpets and stuff. Instead, they were playing some kind of percussion drums with tambourines and some kind of flutes… almost like they were drumming on garbage can lids or something! It was really neat to sit up there on this warm evening, listening to that. Felt like we were experiencing something really authentic, since this was not being done for tourists but rather just on the curb on the side of the field. They practiced for a full hour!

Oh, and we had monkeys in the trees right there at the Airbnb!! I looked out our window and one was just waking down the fence railing.

I also potentially saved the life of this little lizard guy:

I was clearing some garbage out of the SUV and almost carried it with me into the apartment, but at the last second I noticed this garbage can in the parking area. So I walked over there instead to toss it, and saw him stuck in there!! And it was so hot out!! We tipped it over and he scurried out like a bat out of hell. “Gracias!”, he said. “Pura vida, amigo“, I replied.

More pics of the area:

I spent quite a lot of time in this particular hammock.

I had thought maybe we’d try to make it down to the beach for sunset, but we didn’t want to rush. Anyway, it was nice just checking out our new place and we had pleasant views from there, too from the patio and porches.

Eventually it got dark, so we went to walk down the street to check out the neighborhood and see if we could find a restaurant.

The band kids were STILL practicing as we walked by!

This area is really not great for walking at night. Not because it’s dangerous crime-wise, but because the sidewalks are pretty iffy (sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right, or sometimes…. no sidewalk). And cars and motorcycles go zooming by very close on the narrow roads. But we managed, and we found a few places not too far away.

This place advertised Live Music, so that sounded nice.
Street view- there was a sidewalk on this part!

It looked cute, and we didn’t want to walk all night, so we tried it.

Well, the cute atmosphere, live music and games for the kids were about all it had going for it. I’d say this was our one restaurant of the whole trip that I feel like was really a bust. The food was BAD. We ordered two orders of nachos to share between me, Ivan and my parents, and yuck. They were prepared in a really weird way, and just not good at all.

I guess whatever the kids got- quesadaillas, I think- were good, but ours were a thumbs down.

At least the kids had fun playing connect 4 and pool:

And the live music was nice to have in the background:

We walked back to the Airbnb and I swung in the hammock for a while by the pool. I think I was working on a blog post on my phone. This was lovely!

View from the hammock

This was a bit of a different day, because we didn’t technically “do” anything besides check out of one hotel, drive, and eat a few meals. But it was still a nice day! I’d call it a “transition day”.

On longer trips like this, it’s important to have some slower paced days built in, and with the 4 hour drive from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio, well, that obviously just took up a lot of time, too!

7 thoughts on “Sunday 3/19: Monteverde to Manuel Antonio”

  1. Yes! No swimming with crocodiles! Haha – a very helpful signage suggestion.

    That AirBnB looks AMAZING, Kae. I love all the research you put into this trip and it looks like things went so, so smoothly. And that weather. The blue sky is amazing!!! And how cool to just be sitting eating a meal and see monkeys?

    I hate footwear, so that sounds very appealing with the year-round warm weather.


  2. your new place looks so cool, and I love that you got the so called “penthouse” hahaha….
    I like slow days like this to absorb the new place, relax and chill, which makes it more like a holiday. Costa Rica has this low back vibe, need to visit when I move to Latin American region, hopefully in a couple of years. Looks like a cool place for me..a. lot of nature/greens.


    1. I was wondering about this- you seemed to hint in one post, are you considering moving to Argentina?? How long is your “stint” in Jakarta? Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t get the feeling from your posts that you absolutely LOVE it there as much as you loved Manila (though you seem well settled in and happy in Indonesia, too!).


  3. You did such a great job with the Air BnBs!! You must tell us all your secrets! I always end up in places that looked great in photos, but end up having all sorts of issues when I rent an Air BnB.


    1. I’m not sure I have any major tricks, but mostly just reading lots of reviews and really trying to study the photos, and attempt to get a feel for the general area it’s in!! On this trip we just did one Airbnb and the other two were technically both hotels, but I’d say on most trips (if we visit multiple locations), we usually do a mix of Airbnbs/ VRBOs and hotels. I feel like on the whole we’ve never had any serious issues in our rentals! Occasionally maybe a little thing here or there, but generally, I’m always really happy with them. Fingers crossed our luck continues in the future. 🙂


      1. hahah… you read it right, I am fine here in Jakarta but not my favorite posting work wise, although life wise is better than manila.
        moving to latin America (not argentina as I am Argentinian citizen and cannot work in my home country) would be my ideal next post. finger crossed.


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