Have you ever been somewhere and felt like it was surreal? Like you were in a dream, and that there is no way this could be real life? Our trip to Manuel Antonio this past weekend was full of these experiences. If you’re considering a trip to Costa Rica, I would highly suggest adding a few nights in Quepos/Manuel Antonio to your “To Do” list.

We stayed at the Hotel Karahe, right next to the beach. While the rooms were a little dark and uninviting, the view and direct access to the beach were phenomenal. The hotel grounds are immaculate, flush with trees and wildlife. Monkeys swing from the trees right next to the pool. (Just make sure to stay far enough away that you don’t get pooped on, like one unlucky guy in our group.) And sloths cling to the branches.

The pool and hot tub are situated right next to the restaurant/bar, which looks out over the ocean. You can take the short, sandy path from the hotel grounds to the beach and catch a quick nap under the shade of the trees on the beach. Or you can play in the strong surf in the afternoons -there are plenty of boogie boards and other water sports for rent along the beach! Walking along the beach is an adventure itself, seeing the mixture of American and Tico families all splashing in the waves or laying in the sun.emily3

On Sunday, we went into Manuel Antonio National Park, only a short 10-minute drive from our hotel. The beach and inlet are decorated with trees and wildlife, like the iguanas that come running when you begin your picnic! A picnic is definitely the way to go if you’re going to be in the park during lunch. You can never go wrong with bocadillos (sandwiches), aguacate (avocado) and pan dulce! Make sure to look for sloths, monkeys and other animals hanging from the trees on your hike into the park.

While I’ve been on plenty of beach vacations in the United States, a trip to the Costa Rican beach takes the cake for the most scenic, wild experience. There’s nothing quite like splashing in the waves next to the Costa Rican mountains as monkeys swing from tree to tree!