Waking up to the sound of the air conditioning machine humming in the early morning may not seem like much fun to some but after three and a half long weeks of constant backpacking, sweating under the sheets and sleeping in lumpy beds I was in heaven.
We only had 3 more days left of our amazing trip through Costa Rica so we decided it was time to live the last few days in luxury by staying at one of the higher end hotels in Costa Rica…and when I say high end, I mean like $50 USD a night! As I rolled out of bed I glanced over to see my friend still asleep so decided to step out and see what beautiful weather we could expect from Central America today.
The Manzinillo Beach is rated #1 in Costa Rica!
As expected, the skies were crystal clear with the ocean gleaming her calming beauty. Enjoying the sand under my toes, I just couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a vacation then waking up in the morning to walk down a pristine and nearly deserted beach listening to the howler monkeys and variety of tropical birds in the background singing to each other. All the while hearing gentle ocean waves rolling against the shoreline not even 10 feet away.
Oh paradise…How much I love you!
After spending a good while strolling along the beach, I made my way back to the hostel where I met the caretakers preparing breakfast for their 5 residents. Chatting them up a bit and getting some brekkie myself, I found out from a couple of Canadian friends I met in Manuel Antonio that there was a local by the name of Omar who lived in the area and gave spectacular tours. To find out, he actually lived directly one block behind the current hostel that we were in now!
Having this newfound knowledge, I hurriedly finished my breakfast and ran back up to the room to find Trevor just waking up. Shortly thereafter, we were both walking out the door to find this infamous guide by the name of Omar…
Making our way down the road and turning down this well kept tunnel-like walkway where red flowers were surrounding us and the moist dirt beneath our feet gave a cooling touch to our skins, Trevor and I walked up to a two story apartment where we found an older couple sitting in a set of lounge chairs chatting.
Asking them if they knew this Omar that we were searching for, the older man just looked at me and my companion, smiled, then kindly directed us just right around the corner where I heard a thick Jamaican accent talking to what I presume was his little girl. Gently yelling up to his cabin, I asked if Omar was available for a tour this afternoon.
Coming down to greet us, I introduced ourselves and we all agreed to meet in one hour at his place for a mere $35 USD per person to go on this nature tour. One hour later after getting a few small snacks, my backpack, and my camera we then took off on one of the greatest tours of my travel career with this thick blooded Jamaican guide and his machete leading the way!
After about the first 5 minutes of the tour, there was no doubt in my mind that Omar knew these lands that he called home like the back of his hand. He introduced Trevor and I to a number of odd trees, tropical fruits, twigs and all sorts of things that, if he hadn’t said otherwise, I would have presumed they were inedible and dangerous to your health. To my surprise, some of the things Trev and I smelt/tasted were actually used in many antiseptics nowadays for modern medicine!
Continuing on from his clearly visible signs of expertise in botany, Omar then proceeded to point out the numerous amounts of wildlife that were all around us that previously weren’t even visible to the untrained eye. From two and tree toed sloths munching and napping in the trees not even 20 feet above us to the howler monkey mothers that were clinging onto their babies as they watched the three of us on our private tour walk by, it was quite clear that this tour was well worth what we were paying for!
Turning over leaves, rolling over logs and reaching down into dark hidden homes of some wild bats, Omar never ceased to amaze me as we cruised on down the road in search of other forms of wildlife. There never seemed to be a dull moment as he continued spreading his knowledge of Manzanillo’s history, culture and habitat.
About 2 flying hours into the tour as we approached the end of the road, our guide and newfound friend brought us to a trail where we made our way deeper into the jungle for an even more exotic experience of Costa Rica. We had already seen so much at this point and I didn’t know what else he could show us but, to my surprise, there was always something new around every corner!
From Iguanas, Jesus Lizards, Wasps and Bull Ants to Pit Vipers, Howler Monkeys, Dart Frogs and Geckos there was always something new to see. I always knew that Costa Rica had a very large variety of wildlife in the world but even as open minded as I am I had no idea that there was literally some form of life around every corner.
After spending some quality time in the jungle, we all noticed the sun starting to recede over the horizon so made our way out onto the coastline where Omar showed us yet another really cool feature along a beautiful and deserted beach…a cave!
Climbing up onto some of the rocks and even jumping over a small cliff, we were careful to watch our footing as we walk into this massive cavern that seemed to echo the waves crashing underneath our very feet. To the top was a hole little more than the size of a basketball hoop and to the bottom just right of the entrance you could see the ocean eating its way into the mainland.
Such a remarkable thing nature is!
Even in this dark cave that would seem like a labyrinth to mankind, Omar continued pointing out small hints of wildlife here and there such as crabs and spiders. Wondering what he was doing as he picked up a rock and threw it to the side of the cave walls, we immediately saw a number of bats fly out of their hiding spaces and start circling us as we stared in awe at this amazing little creatures!
Reaching the end of our tour and receding out of the cave, Omar began walking with us down the beach as we made our way back to the small town of Manzanillo. He even topped off the tour by finding a coconut and delicately capping the end off for us to enjoy a nice treat. Watching the sun settle and parting ways after our long 4-5 hour tour through the jungle, Trevor and I went back to the room where we dropped off our gear and went out for some dinner before bed.
If I say so myself, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a day in Costa Rica. This was by far the high end of our trip in both of our eyes in Manzanillo and dinner that night just made it even better!
Ronald Robbins is the Founder of Active Planet Travels adventure travel blog and Clicta Digital, a digital marketing agency based out of Denver, Colorado. He has found most of his professional interests in being an adventure travel blogger, photographer & bizarre food enthusiast.