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Fauna & Flora – Chapter 2: The Beach almond tree

Fauna & Flora – Chapter 2: The Beach almond tree
You saw it many times, relaxing on the Manuel Antonio’s beach, or walking at Parador Nahomi, the beach almond tree is very recognizable & beautiful. From its scientific name “Terminalia catappa”, the beach almond tree is a common,  & always green found exclusively along the sandy coastline. It is an introduced species native to India that grows wild along many Costa Rican beaches. The tannins that are released from the foliage of the almond tree & fall to the ground, prevent the development of other plants under this tree. The wind, the sun and the salt of the sea cannot damage this robust tree. The beach almond tree is not found inside the forest because the darkness of the undergrowth does not seem to allow its survival. The flowers are pollinated by many insects. The “almond” of the tree that has little to do with almonds, as we know them. They are edible to humans, both in flesh and seed. Depending on the tree, the taste may vary and there are trees with excellent almonds. Experts see great potential for the development of an important food source for humans. The various macaws already use it as an important source of food, but also the two-toed sloths, bats & squirrels. In Manuel Antonio, it is a common tree to be able to observe the two-toed sloths resting during the day. The beach almond seems to have also medical benefits: The leaves have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic effects, scientifically proven. Now you know everything about this majestic tree, you may think of it differently while enjoying being in its shadow at the beach!
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10 Things to do in San Jose

10 Things to do in San Jose

If you’re coming to Costa Rica, chances are you have some time to spend in San Jose. Don’t worry, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in San Jose for everyone!

1. National Museum

The National Museum of Costa Rica has a butterfly house and a lot of information on the history and wildlife of the country! It’s a nice place to go to learn more about this beautiful country and a nice way to spend an afternoon.

2. Central market

The central market is popular among locals and tourists. It’s a little like a maze inside, with everything from souvenir shops to mini supermarkets, to some of the best traditional food in Costa Rica.

3. Jade Museum

The jade museum is a huge building located just one block away from the National Museum. It has five floors and shows seven different exhibits. It holds the world’s largest collection of, you guessed it, jade.

4. National Theater

The theater is located in the heart of San Jose and is filled with beautiful furnishings and architecture. There are generally free music programs throughout the week. You can go on your own or with a tour guide.

5. Children’s Museum

The children’s museum is fun for all ages! The museum offers about 40 different interactive rooms that teach about all different things like space, archeology, or different cultures.

6. Walk Downtown

Downtown San Jose there is a central avenue called Calle 0, it is always bustling with life. Take some time to walk along this street and see the local culture and maybe even do a little shopping!

7. Go Ziplining

One of the best things to do in Costa Rica is going ziplining, don’t let being in the city stop you! A little bit outside of the city there is a great zipline tour to go on and get your adrenaline flowing!

8. Do a City Tour

A popular thing to do downtown takes a city tour, there are bus tours, walking tours, and even beer tours, where you get to walk around and learn more about the heart of Costa Rica.

9. Go Out Dancing

From classics like salsa and bachata to modern EDM style music, there’s something for everyone in San Jose. Grab a few friends and dance your heart out!

10. Go to a Park

There are various parks all over San Jose and they are all beautiful. Take some time to rest after walking around downtown or shopping and enjoy the beautiful nature.

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Test: Which adventure is made for you?

Which adventure is for you?
In Costa Rica for a few days or more, you are looking for things to do during your stay. The thing is, there are so many options that you cannot decide which activity you should do. Here’s a test to help you find the perfect tour!
1- What would describe you most?
  • I love the local experience, discover the culture & the typical food. In my travel, I want to meet & share with other people & discover more about the country.

  • In that case, you should look at activities like chocolate tours, spice tours or coffee tour. Available for family, you can discover more about the Costa Rican culture while enjoying a great moment.

  • I am an adrenaline fan, I am always looking for exhilarating experiences. I am hardly afraid and I love to surpass myself.

  • There are many ways to get your adrenaline dose here in Costa Rica. Go to question 2 to get a more precise result.

  • I am an animal lover, I have a long checklist of species I want to see here. I love to chase them in their natural habitat & learn more about their habits.

  • Costa Rica has unique & amazing wildlife that you can discover during your stay here. There are many ways to discover the wildlife, if you are more attracted to marine life, go to question 3. If you are looking for if you prefer staying on the land, go to question 4.

  • I want to discover new things, live new experiences. I want to enjoy myself by doing something I couldn’t do normally where I live.

  • As we said, so many activities are available for the people coming here. Find the one that suits you best by going to question 5.
2- What do you like most?

Ocean & beaches

Rent a jet ski for few hours or a paddle or surfboard, these are the best activities for ocean & adventure lovers. Of course, you can also take a scuba diving tour (if you have a license) and discover the world under the waves.

Fly

Did you try skydiving already? Free Falling with a stunning view of the sea and the jungle is really an amazing experience. You can also try parasailing, up to 3 people, you will be flying over the Manuel Antonio Park and the beautiful blue ocean!

Jungle & forest

We just talked about flying, what about flying over the treetops and between the highest trees of a primary rainforest? Try Zip Lining, and discover the jungle from above.

Mountains, rivers & waterfall
The best way to get adrenaline shots: canyoning, rafting, waterfall rappelling… The list is long but we are sure you will love them all!

3- What is your favorite way to see marine wildlife?

By boat or kayak

By taking a whale watching tour or a Damas Mangrove experience you will certainly see a lot of animals and also live great moments!

Snorkeling

Many tours offer snorkeling as it is the easiest way to see the underwater wildlife. You may meet colorful fishes, corals & maybe even a turtle if you are lucky!

Scuba diving

If you have a license, scuba diving is an awesome way to see the marine wildlife up close. You may even see incredible things you couldn’t discover otherwise: sharks, huge shoals of fishes and breathtaking seabeds.

4- How do you want to see wildlife?

In their natural habitats, in a National Park or in a protected area.
In that case, you might probably want to take a guided tour to increase your chances to see wildlife even more. You can visit many places like Manuel Antonio, Corcovado & even the jungle at night!

In a specific area where you can see them up close and discover the work of a local association helping wildlife.
Animal sanctuaries would be a perfect solution for you to get close to awesome animals like sloths or monkeys. Associations rescue injured & endangered animals, they keep them in the sanctuary until they can eventually be released to the wild. You can visit those sanctuaries & discover the backstages of this rescue while seeing the animals from very close.

5- What do you like the most?

Learning to do new things

You can try to learn surf, the Pacific Coast is perfect for surfing & the area of Manuel Antonio is great for beginners! You can also enjoy the ocean while paddle boarding and try to keep your balance. Never drive an ATV before? It’s really easy, don’t worry about it and let’s drive to a beautiful waterfall, crossing local villages and beautiful landscapes.

Discovering Costa Rica while enjoying a fun activity

Horse Riding is a nice way to discover new places & live an unforgettable experience. Zip Lining, as it is available for almost all ages, is one of the best activity to see the forest from a unique point of view. Fly through the treetops, you may even spot some monkeys from there!

Enjoy your time here with your friends, family or companion

The catamaran tour is a perfect mix of relaxation & adventure. You will get drinks on the boat, a delicious meal, a place to relax & to perfect your tan. But you will also get to snorkel and enjoy the slides. You can also book the afternoon tour & admire the beautiful sunset from the catamaran, sounds great right? If you want to pamper yourself, you can also take a treatment at the spa, a nice way to recharge the batteries.

We hope you found the perfect tour for you after this post. If you need more information, please feel free to send us a message at info@manuelantoniopark.com and we will be glad to give you more information.

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Things To Do When it Rains

Things To Do When it Rains

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, you may have noticed it rains, sometimes a lot. Don’t let that stop you from the vacation of your life! Here are some suggestions for what to do when it rains.

1. ATV or White Water Rafting

Go on an adventurous tour! Going on an ATV tour is very fun and you usually end up wet and muddy by the end anyway, so don’t let a little rain stop you. Another option is white water rafting, go flying down a river going around rapids with your closest friends and have the time of your life! Book the ATV Tour here.

2. Go to the Spa

What’s a better way to relax than to get an amazing massage, facial, or even a yoga class at the Raindrop Spa right here inside Manuel Antonio Estates! The massage rooms open up to a beautiful view of the rainforest so you can relax even more listening to the melodic sounds of the animals and the rain. You can check out all the spa has to offer here.

3. Read a Book

Another great thing to do during the rain is to catch up on some reading. It’s a great way to relax and unwind while looking out into the beautiful rainforest.

4. Find a New Cafe and Sip some Java

There are so many charming coffee shops around Costa Rica, find one and enjoy a yummy, warm coffee while waiting out the rain. Emilio’s Cafe in Manuel Antonio is a great place. It’s located in the plaza right next to the Playa Biesanz road.

5. Embrace the Rain

Grab your umbrella and rain-boots and don’t let the rain stop your exploring! There are lots of critters that come out in the rain and you can have a fun time spotting different types of frogs and more!

6. Take a Nap

Being on vacation can be hard work! Usually, it rains in the afternoon here so that might mean you are getting up early and adventuring all morning! We like to use the afternoon rains to take a well-deserved snooze.

The rainy season usually goes from about May-November with the heaviest months being September and October, but there is still plenty to do during that time! Don’t let the rainy season hinder your vacation!

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Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park

Description

Tortuguero National Park is located on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Its beaches are famous for the turtles nesting season (in August), including endangered green and leatherback turtles. The area is unique, you can only navigate by boat or canoe as it is only lagoons & creeks. The weather is unpredictable, there is no real defined season there as it can rain any time of the year. Yes, it is a very humid place. The greenery you will see all around will attest to it! However, when the sun is out, the landscape is (even more) outstanding!

The Tortuguero town is a small and nice place, the Caribbean chill vibe is really present there and when wandering the street you will enjoy the cool way of life there. You can buy locally handmade souvenirs in one of the few shops there and try to spot the green macaws while sipping the fresh coconut water.

How to get there

From Manuel Antonio, you have to go first to San José, then, or you have your own car and you can drive all the way to the dock (Moín), or you can take a public bus from the Capital (The public bus from San José stops in downtown Limón and you’ll have to catch a cab to the Muelle/dock Moín).

Many Hotels have their own shuttle service, don’t forget to ask them directly when you book your stay. They can come to pick you up at your hotel in San Jose and they take charge of the entire journey to the destination (bus+boat).

Boats “Collectivos” are also an option, they will pick you at your place or at the town and will drop you off to one of the small docks, where you can make the connection with the public bus. Collectivo boats to/from Tortuguero are scheduled to reach port the same time as the bus. You can also take a taxi boat from the dock if you prefer.

Where to stay

There are many places to stay in Tortuguero and its surroundings. From hostels downtown to luxury hotels. Some of the places offer an all-inclusive package with full pension & activities every day. You can stay directly.

It depends on your budget, and what you are looking for.

The Park

The park entrance costs 15$. The best way to visit the park is by boat or kayak. You can rent a kayak or book a guided tour by boat.

During this tour, you might see caimans, green Jesus lizards, green iguanas, toucans, green macaws, cormorants, many species of birds, and if you are lucky, manatees. It is a very unique experience going through the canals, with your boat or kayak, floating and being surrounded by the green tree & luxurious vegetation. The calm atmosphere reigning in there is incredible.

What to do

Apart of taking a boat or kayak tour through the canals of the park, you can also walk around in the jungle and try to spot animals by your own (if your hotel has a specific trail for example). You can also book a canopy/zip line tour, jet ski expedition, or a fishing adventure. The best thing to do is seeing the turtle nesting, as there are different species, they come to the beach at different time. The peak season for the green sea turtle would be July to October for example. But these months are also the peak season for the tourists, so you might find it very crowded too…

As the leatherback turtles are a very rare species, when one individual is spotted on one part of the beach, the guides cannot go there, so you will be very lucky if you get the chance to see one!

For who?

Tortuguero is a wonderful place for those who love green scenery, specific animals like turtles, green macaws, manatees, and caimans. It is a very calm & peaceful place and if you are looking for party & long walks you might not find what you want here… But it is definitely a place to go, just for the uniqueness of the area and the amazing Caribbean vibe!

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Fauna & Flora – Chapter 1 The Leafcutter Ant

Fauna & Flora – Chapter 1 The Leafcutter Ant

You will see them a lot here in Costa Rica and in the Manuel Antonio Park. The leaf-cutter ants are more amazing than you can even imagine!

Organization

They are following a very specific social organization, ruled by the Queen Ant. There are four castes established in the colony: minims, minors, workers & warriors. A mature colony is composed of 7 million ants, mostly sterile female workers. All the ants in the colony are daughters to the Queen Ant. The Queen leaf and is one of the largest in the world and can be 2 inches in size & can live for 20 years. During her life, the Queen and will put on millions of eggs & every year. But she will lay only once a year, about 50 000 at once (from May to June in Costa Rica).

Farming

They farm a special type of fungus in the anthill underground, mulch chewed from leaves bits stripped from specific plants & trees. They use freshly cut plants, saliva & feces to grow the fungus, and protect it from pests & mold which could damage their precious food. You may think they feed on the leaf they bring but they actually eat certain parts of that fungus! And they have been cultivating this fungus for a long time: at least 23 million years. There is a mutual symbiosis between the two species: they cannot live without each other. The two are so connected that every colony starts with a fungus and an ant. The new Queen will take a piece of fungus from where she was born and use it to starts her own colony.

Oldest society of the planet

Leaf-cutter ants are really easy to spot: they trace large & clean trails through the tropical rainforest ground, carrying cargo. These ants are very useful for humans too. Indeed, the ant hill formed by the accumulation of material extracted from internal cavities, and the waste area is a high-quality organic fertilizer that can be used for human farming! Their society & way of leaving has survived during tens of millions of years, the ants are one of the most evolutionary of the planet. Next time you will walk around in the jungle, don’t forget to look down to one of the most exciting & interesting species of the planet!

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Top Best Meals in Costa Rica

Top Best Meals in Costa Rica

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, you may already be aware of some of the traditional dishes here. This article outlines some of the best Pura Vida dishes that you NEED to try on your next vacay in CR.

1. Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is a traditional breakfast dish that consists of rice, beans, cilantro, onion, and sweet peppers mixed and fried together to make a delicious combination. It is often served with sweet plantains, scrambled eggs, and sausage.

2. Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Arroz con pollo is served in almost every restaurant and little soda across the country, this flavorful dish is made with, you guessed it, rice and chicken, but also different vegetables are chopped and added in different variations along with delicious seasonings. It’s a go-to dish for locals when it comes to reunions, parties, or celebrations.

3. Patacones (fried plantains)

Patacones are almost like chips, basically, you take plantains and chop them up and then fry them, after you fry them, you squish them down so they are flat like a chip, then fry them again, add salt and eat with guacamole, salsa, refried beans, or by themselves! They are a great appetizer or great after an afternoon at the beach!

4. Arroz con Leche (Rice with milk)

Arroz con Leche is a delicious dessert. It’s made with rice, milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and more depending on whose recipe you use! Raisins are also commonly put in this dish!

Now that you know everything, you just have to try them all!

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Why “Pura Vida”?

Pura Vida!

If you already have visited Costa Rica or maybe if you are currently in the country, you’ve already heard this expression more than once. If you are planning to visit, be sure you will hear it a lot! But what does it mean? Where does it come from?

Actually, “Pura Vida” has a lot of meaning: “I’m doing well”, “everything’s cool”, “that’s great”, “you’re welcome” and even “no worries”. It is used as a greeting & as a farewell. More globally, the phrase “Pura Vida” represents the whole Costa Rican’s way of life & culture. The literary translation would be “Pure life”, which stands for a tendency to focus on and appreciate simple things. Tico’s (people from Costa Rica) avoid unnecessary stress on things that don’t matter that much. It’s a great way to find out what is really important in life.

It seems that the origins of this saying came from an eponymous old Mexican movie where the main character (Melquiades Ledezma, played by comedian Antonio Espino, or “Clavillazo) used the phrase to describe things, actions & people. He endures many unfortunate events, but still remains optimistic & sees things in a good & nice way.

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Get your Uber for the beach!

Get your Uber for the beach!
Uber has arrived on the Pacific Coast, destinations as Liberia, Nicoya, Manuel Antonio & Jaco are now Uber friendly! You can go to the beach easily and at a cheap price. Now, because it is a very new destination, the driver/customer ratio will not be as high as in San Jose, but it is just a question of time and more will show up to the area. For Manuel Antonio, public transportation is still well developed, and you can take the bus that comes every 20 minutes and takes you from Quepos to Manuel Antonio Park, with many other stops along the way! The ride is very cheap (335 colones or less than $1).
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1940s COSTA RICA Videos

Manuel Antonio National Park

See Costa Rica back in the 1940s in these two archive videos.

Discover San Jose back then, all the main crops of the country: coffee, bananas, cacao… See how it was grown and collected. Enjoy the time travel!

Costa Rica has a long past with the United Fruit Company, an American corporation that traded in tropical fruits (mainly bananas). It has maintained a virtual monopoly in certain regions in Central America, some of which came to be called the Banana Republic. Costa Rica was one of them. The Company acquired strong political & economical power, the activity employed many Costa Ricans and was almost an integral part of the country’s culture. The last video showed you how it looked like back then, an authentic piece of local history.