An Inside Guide To Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio, the emerald of Costa Rica where the color green was conceived. I first came here 20 years ago as a freelance wildlife photographer. Primates are my specialty and Costa Rica has 4 species. I’d photographed gorillas in Rwanda, chimps in Uganda and orangutans in Borneo and was looking for primates in a place that didn’t take 2 days to get there from Manhattan Beach, California.

My passion for apes and monkeys began when King Kong first stole my heart in the front row of the Jewel Theater before my feet could even reach the ground. From my very first trip to Costa Rica the dream to live on a beach with monkeys in my yard wrapped itself around my brain. I moved here 5 years ago and now enjoy daily visits from 3 species of monkeys.

I’ve embraced the road less traveled with enthusiasm for more than 30 years. By far my most memorable experiences have been at the side of a native or an expat. I’ve stayed in the home of my Sherpa guide in the Himalayas, slept in a hammock in an Amazon village, and shocked myself by eating toasted crickets and silk worms with my expat friend Bernie at a roadside stand in Thailand. Don’t ask me how they tasted. My only memory is textures; crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside.

Now, I’m not suggesting you eat bugs on your next vacation. This is merely to illustrate the very different travel experiences you can have. I was fortunate enough to have a friend or to make a friend in each of these places who delighted in showing me what lay hidden within the white space between the lines of the best guide books. My mission is to be that person for you – the one who leaves you feeling as if you’ve seen the �real� Manuel Antonio.

If you’ve never been to Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is the perfect introduction. It has its own national park, beautiful beaches, incredible views, gorgeous rain forest, abundant wildlife, a great selection of restaurants, live music, and enough tours, activities, and services to keep you entertained for a month. If you’re planning a return trip but have yet to visit Manuel Antonio, it’s a must-do. I love it here.

Part of that love is derived from the national motto, �Pura Vida.� It translates to mean live the pure life. In Bob Marley’s words, �Don’t worry, be happy.� Costa Rica is ranked the #1 Happiest Country on the Planet in a new report by a British nonprofit group, New Economics Foundation.

When visiting Manuel Antonio leave your tux and prom dress at home because it’s the epitome of laid back casual. Flip flops and shorts are the local attire. A sun dress or long pants are considered dressing up. This is also the perfect place for a vacation from stress, competition, struggle and drama. You can spend a week lounging on the beach and pampering yourself with spa and chef services or if you prefer to get in touch with your adventurous side you can dangle from a zip line in the forest canopy, repel off the side of a waterfall or go snorkeling on a sunset sail. The beauty of this paradise is we have it all – and it will be my privilege to share it with you.

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