Costa Rica may be small in geography, but it makes up for it in (bio)diversity. Manuel Antonio neighbors the small fishing town of Quepos along the Pacific coast. Most travelers come from San José, so it’s important to note that there (seems to be) two routes of travel. One is slightly shorter and a favorite of GPS systems that winds drivers across a mountain range. I highly suggest the alternate route, via Jaco Beach, which favors the National Highway. The “shorter” route is mostly a severely underdeveloped dirt path that many cars will not be able to navigate. Trust me, I found out the hard way – five hours later.
Editors Note: the writer took the road MUCH less traveled as she was misguided by her GPS. There are two main paved routes to Quepos / Manuel Antonio. One is along the new Del Sol Highway (about 3 hours to Quepos) which begins in San Jose near Parque Sabana and spits you out just north of Jaco and the other is the old route via ‘The Aguacate’ which is a very scenic road that winds thru the mountains and passes thru Atenas and is accessed by heading north towards San Ramon briefly once leaving the international airport (takes 3-4 hours to get to Quepos). Both routes become one and the same just north of Jaco as you then travel south on the coastal road Route 34 to Jaco and then further to Quepos and beyond if you wish.
This area is known for its incredible wildlife – and considered one of the most beautiful parks in the world by National Geographic. Much of Central America’s entire eco system is found in this relatively small park that features white sandy beaches and no shortage of exotic wildlife. Like any renowned region, there are plenty of hotel options to choose from - everything from “rent a hammock” for $5 per night to world class resorts. Most of us are looking for something in between that offers all of the convenience of home, a peppering of luxury, and still leaves us flush enough to actually enjoy the trip.
Hotel Villa Bosque perfectly strikes that middle ground. Arriving near Manuel Antonio, travelers are taken on a coastal road where the crash of the wives can be heard on one side and the call of howler monkeys and tropical birds on the other. Strolling along the street and shopping in the numerous souvenir shops is an excellent way to pick up some locally handcrafted keepsakes or pieces from area artists.
Villa Bosque is located at the end of a short side street by the famous Marlin Restaurant. The hacienda style welcomes guests with an outdoor restaurant, reception, and a quaint two stories. Take advantage of the second-floor level pool that encased in grand pillars and flanked by gatherings of outdoor furniture. The pool overlooks a leisure area with couches and handmade rocking chairs.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but definitely take advantage of the restaurant on site. Breakfast is included and guests can select from four options including traditional American fare, typical Costa Rican cuisine, and vegetarian omelettes. In lieu of more popular starters during lunch and dinner, guests are served a single perfectly fried piece of cheese that is beautifully presented. I recommend trying the “caprese chicken,” which is a dish of mozzarella and tomato stuffed chicken with a house pesto and basil sauce.
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