A Weekend in Manuel Antonio Part III

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunset Catamaran Cruise with
Iguana Tours!

Manuel Antonio is famous for packing an incredible amount of beauty into a tiny little fishing village. The road to paradise is flanked by the turquoise, idyllic Pacific Ocean on one side and acres of jungle on the other. Wondering what the best way to take full advantage of all that blue is? It can be quite the conundrum with surf lessons, parasailing, snorkeling, and boat tours all so easily at hand.

But you can't visit Manuel Antonio without spending plenty of time on the water. A catamaran cruise with Iguana Tours is the perfect way to enjoy the ocean from all angles. There are two options for getting on board – a morning cruise and “sunset cruise.” Sunset-Manuel-AntonioBoth of these options feature snorkeling, but the sunset tour has the bonus of seeing the Costa Rican sunset in a way few travelers have.

I took the “sunset cruise” which includes four hours on the water,  endless snacks and cocktails (rum and punch, of course) to embrace the exotic vibe. Chefs dice up local fruits on site so there are plenty of opportunities to indulge on favorites and try some new delectable choices like cas and guanabana.

The staff picks guests up directly from hotels, so there’s no worry over how to get there. Once at the dock, there are some beautiful photo opportunities as well as a small store and bathroom for last minute necessities.catamaran-marina Take a look in the waters for koi-sized fish that often feed in the area. When it comes time to climb aboard, make sure to check both the upper and lower deck to find that ideal spot.

This cruise is all about you and exactly how you want to discover paradise. Choose to sit above deck where a slew of pillows, couches, and lawn chairs can be designed for ultimate comfort.  The view from the upper deck is unbeatable with stretches of white sand beaches, breaking waves, and uninterrupted miles of clear waters. Below deck offers a little more shade (and that’s where the food and drinks are). The cruise takes guests by two islands where it’s possible to spot some rare marine birds. Guides are happy to tell visitors about the history of Quepos, or for a catamaran-deck-sofacompletely leisurely afternoon simply spend the day munching on snacks while taking in the view. 

It’s well known that dolphins are keen to accompany small boats, and that’s certainly the case here. There are no guaranteed dolphin or whale sightings, but the captain knows exactly which areas are particularly popular. After an hour on the water – perhaps with a marine companion – it’s time to get a closer look at life under the sea. There is a secluded bay where dolphins are especially common, which means it’s ideal snorkeling territory.

Now is when that choice of day or sunset cruise comes into play. The trip is perfectly planned so that snorkeling will take place when the sky lights up with a rainbow of colors. There’s no better way to enjoy a Costa Rican sunset than in warm waterscatamaran-snorkelers with colorful fish darting below the surface. Manuel Antonio can get very hot, which is how some people like it. But for those wanting a slightly cooler experience, the sunset cruise is the way to go.

There’s no age limit for snorkeling, and children who might not be up to snuff on those swimming skills don’t need to worry. Life vests, and a variety of sizes for goggles and flippers, are readily on hand. The sun can really beat down on the beaches, so those who opted for the upper deck are likely feeling the heat by now. Once outfitted in flippers, a mask, and snorkel, catamaran-snorkeling-gearyou'll get to spend half an hour exploring the  underworld. Tiger fish are abundant and it’s easy to see to the bottom of the ocean in this picturesque area. 

There’s a more direct route back to the docks, and it only takes about 20 minutes after snorkeling. By now, people are really relaxed and perhaps feeling those cocktails, so it's the perfect time for a little impromptu jam session to keep the party going! Participation is required, but there’s no need to brush up on those maraca, cheese grater, or tambourine skills. Glowing-Orange-sunset

The concert is on the upper deck with one of the crew who is happy to take requests but specializes in Bob Marley, Santana, salsa, calypso, and “one American song.” Singing favorite songs with an island vibe, with a pink sky as a backdrop, is the perfect end to an afternoon on the waters. Start thinking about what request you’ll be putting in right now catamaran-banjo-musicto make sure your personal soundtrack is complete.

The sun has just finished setting when the catamaran docks. It’s right about dinner time and stomachs are starting to rumble. It only takes about 20 minutes to get dropped off back at the hotel, assuming it’s fairly local, so there’s a little time to get some local advice on where to indulge. Some favorites are Marlin’s, Cantina, and El Wagon. Many of the nearby restaurants have live music and salsa dancing every night, so there’s no reason to stop the party just because the concert is over.

Must have accessories for this trip?
A little preparation goes a long way. Make sure to wear swimsuits underneath clothes and bring a towel. Sun block, insect repellant, and waterproof cameras are other critical accessories. A change of clothes is a smart move, especially if there are dinner plans following the outing.

Did you remember that swimsuit? It’s ok if you didn’t (and don’t mind wearing borrowed gear). The crew keeps extra swimsuits on hand for just these situations.

Traveler Tip:  Make sure to spend plenty of time on foot walking down the main street in Quepos. The area is small and can easily be covered in a day or an afternoon. Make sure to check out side streets where guests can haggle the price of that handmade necklace. Stop in at one of the numerous happy hours for two for one drink specials (most restaurants offer this from 4 – 6 pm daily). For some great fare and live music, try Cantina. Manuel Antonio has a knack for packing a lot of punch in a very small package.





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