Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

For years, I’ve listened to friends gush about visiting Costa Rica. The beautiful trees, the amazing sunsets, and the perfect weather. So, for our first anniversary I decided I would plan a trip that would be sure to make my husband want to visit again and again for  years to come. 

The hardest part about the initial stages of planning had to do with figuring out which airport to fly into, and then arranging an airport transport to the resort. Apparently I picked a place that was far away from both airports. That’s what I get for googling “best Costa Rican resorts.”  Best does not mean most accessible. But…alas the room and flights were booked and we were sure to have the best anniversary ever!

After our very long night out in NYC, we boarded a plane at 6 am in Newark and took the flight to San Jose. We landed, and our airport transfer was waiting to take us to the resort. We hadn’t ate in well over 15 hours but the excitement of a week off of responsibilities  and our anniversary was enough to hold us over. We slept the majority of the 3 hour transfer to the resort. When you read blogs about the roads being super sketchy- believe them. There were plenty of times I woke up because I thought we had crashed, and much to my disbelief, all of us were still in one piece.

When we arrived at Arenas Del Mar, they had a guest check in at the bottom of a hill. You have to take a golf cart everywhere on the resort to get where you’re going- which was completely fine with us! This meant we were as secluded as we thought we would be. They had the cutest sign that said Happy Anniversary waiting by our chosen golf cart to take us up to our room. This basically won me over. 

After getting into our room, we quickly realized we had the best ocean view they offered. It was literally jaw dropping. Our balcony wrapped around the room, making it super easy to soak in the majestic views of the ocean and the rainforest all at once. 

We spent most of our mornings with the monkeys at breakfast time (which was included in our stay!!)  and reading a book by the infinity pool. The afternoons were spent on the beach + in the water and trying to find sloths sleeping in the trees.  It was one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever been to, much different than our Jersey shore beaches (although I love those too!) We used this vacation to recharge and connect without the distraction of work and office emails. Our only excursion involved hiking through Manuel Antonio’s National Park. We happened to have a private tour guide from the national park, who pointed out all of the unique animals through a telescope. Half way through the tour, it started to rain, which felt surreal. The end of the tour led to a secret, secluded beach where the tour guide left us to spend time by ourselves in the ocean, in the rain, in the middle of Costa Rica. Can you imagine?! It felt like we were in a movie!

As if Costa Rica wasn’t romantic enough, Kyle had arranged for a surprise photoshoot on the beach to celebrate our first anniversary. Luckily I had a few dresses packed for the trip! I will cherish these pictures forever.  

It usually takes us a day or two to wind down before we really get into vacation mode. The first day involved lots of resting but soon enough we were ready to check out the local spots! Like any other trip we go on, I always like to research the best restaurants with the best views in the area. For the other half of the trip I like to go where the locals tell us (less touristy). Knowing we would be in Manuel Antonio, we had to go to El Avion. El Avion was a plane that crashed, that was later converted into a bar and restaurant.  It’s been on multiple travel channels as a MUST SEE.

As far as killer views go, at the top of that list was The Gaia Hotel for its amazing sunset view. It’s also a nature reserve, which we didn’t have a chance to check out. If we were to visit Manuel Antonio again, we would definitely stay here for a few days.

For less touristy places, we visited a few local dive bars and a couple of places that were tucked away in the trees. You really can’t go wrong with the views in Manuel Antonio. Almost every place we went had an amazing view of the ocean. There is nothing quite like a Costa Rican sunset.  While Manuel Antonio is less touristy than other towns, I’m so happy that our first Costa Rican experience was this one. We can’t wait to go back and check out what else Costa Rica has to offer.