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Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

February 22nd, 2006

Upon review of my blog entries, I realized that I’ve been sounding pretty negative lately. Lest that mislead anyone, I’m actually having a really great time. This is especially evident any time I have a few drinks in me, as I’m prone to loudly declaring how much I love this country over a plate of pinto at 1 in the morning. (Where else can you buy a huge plate of pinto and eggs for $1.50 at 1 in the morning?)

Case in point, I spent the weekend relaxing on the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen!

Manuel Antonio lies around the middle of the Pacific Coast, just outside of the town of Quepos. We passed the weekend on the public beach, Playa Espadilla Norte, or North Espadilla Beach. Playa Espadilla Norte lies just outside of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, which features a forested reserve and more pristine beaches. We decided to hold off a visit to the park until another weekend when we could devote an entire day to exploring its trails, beaches, and lookouts.

Getting there was relatively easy compared to getting to Dominical. We were lucky enough to get the last seats on the direct bus to Quepos from San José, which shaved about 2 hours off of an otherwise 5 and a half hour long trip. This bus only leaves twice a day, so be sure to check the schedules and buy your tickets the day before or you will be left to take the longer ride on the other bus. This bus first stops in Quepos and then continues along to Manuel Antonio, which is about half an hour past Quepos. Once you’re in Manuel Antonio, there is a bus which runs to Quepos every 20 minutes, making an afternoon of shopping quick and easy.

For those of you who are interested, Costa Rica’s only official nude beach lies just north of Playa Espadilla Norte. It is inaccessible an hour before or after high tide, so make sure to plan accordingly. It lies on the other side of some nasty looking rocks, so take some shoes. It is also frequented mostly by gay men, and so is recommended only for the open-minded.

My friends and I stuck to Playa Espadilla for the entire weekend, which was more than beautiful enough to hold our fascination. Since it faces the Pacific, we saw spectacular sunsets over the horizon each evening. There are plenty of open-air restaurants near the shore, and if you pick the right table you can watch the sunset over a plate of delicious fresh-caught fish. Manuel Antonio is an expensive area relative to the rest of Costa Rica, so don’t expect to find the afore-mentioned $1.50 pinto deal.

My favorite detail about the beaches of Costa Rica is that the Ticos don’t play beach volleyball- they play beach soccer! Bring a ball or a frisbee if you come to visit.