Monkeys will take your bag from the beach
Someone mentioned losing their bag/backpack on the beach and I wanted to say that when I was there last year, at the Beach at the park at Manuel Antonio, the same almost happened to me and my friends, but luckily didn't. Those adorable monkeys swinging through the trees are great fun, til you see them going for your bag on the beach! You see, they've become accustomed to the tourists, and they know that we carry all kinds of yummy foods and fruits in those bags and backpacks. They also know we'll come after them when we see them. So, they know to run and get the bags and take them to the tops of trees and empty them out. While awfully funny if it's your friend's bag, not so funny if your friend is carrying your camera in there! So, you really do have to watch your bags very closely. Those monkeys are fast!
Unique Suggestions: Keep your bags closeby all the time you're at the beach.
Fun Alternatives: It's a good idea to have one person stay on the beach with the bags while the others take a swim.
The La Cantina BBQ restaurant has an old train waggon in front of the restaurant where you can access the internet. However, this will cost you 4 USD per hour.
Fun Alternatives: Go a little bit further down the hill. In the curve stands a red building, this is the Hotel Arboledo. They have an air-conditioned room with 4 computers where you can access the internet for 500 colones (1 USD) per hour.
Avoid Quepos and Manuel Antonio
City of Quepos has no soul or sense of city vibe. Traffic flow is confusing. Street paving seems random. It was an uncomfortable city.
QUEPOS to MANUEL ANTONIO:
The narrow and dead-end road to Manuel Antonio park is lined with the nicer hotels and restaurants. This road cuts up a hill and then along the side of the hill so all of these hotels/restaurants have no direct beach access. The road drops back to beach level at the end of road at Manuel Antonio park entrance. We were there in low season and it was still a zoo.
As you drive in, there are guys in the street blowing whistles and trying to direct you into thier parking lots (costs around 1000colones). The beach before entering the park gets lined with umbrellas and chairs and I heard becomes quite the Daytona beach party scene in high season. There is a river before you can enter the park. Boat men all try to get you into their boat for a push across the water (waist deep at one place) and expect tips. Park is now USD$7. Park itself is okay but nothing spectacular. I saw as good or better monkeys, beaches, and views elsewhere.
Unique Suggestions: Pay more for a nice hotel with restaurant (less trips out) and pre-arrange/plan transportation to and from the park.
Take a bus there... Driving to Quepos can be interesting at the two one-lane bridges. These bridges have no traffic flow control. One side goes for a while then the other side. We ended up in a car to car stand-off with a taxi driver who wanted us to back up 3/4 of the bridge to let him through. He was wrong and the police encouraged him to back up his 1/4. Skip Quepos/Manual Antonio altogether. You'll enjoy the rest of Costa Rica much more!
Fun Alternatives: Head to carribean side and Puerto Viejo. Great snorkeling right off the beach. Town has a great soul/vibe. Live music every night at Parqueue. DVD's on big-screen 4 times a day at Hot-Rocks (tastey pizza). Fantastic organic breakfast/lunch fare at "Bread and Chocolate". Excellent coffee's at Cafe Rico (free with laundry service).
The park at Cahuaita is much more beautiful than Manual Antonio. A 9km trail goes right along the coast line and is a beautiful walk with monkeys and sloth(s).
- National/State Park
IF you don't have a car!
IF you don't have a car, any hotel between Villa Romantica (Quepos) and Costa Verde (Manuel Antonio) could become a tourist trap... Nothing personnal! It's just that before our trip, when we were trying to book a hotel in the region, we didn't really knew that the two cities are separated by a hill. Only that there was about 5km between them. So picking any hotel in the middle would allow us to make the trip by foot... Mistake!
We either ended up standed in our hotel, missing out on the cities and activities, or paying 2-5$ a taxi trip every time. So our decision to choose our hotel by price range (there was so many good choice, we had to make our minds!) was oblivious to the fact that one day would cost around 10$ more because we were on the hill...
Unique Suggestions: If you want an hotel in this region, and there are many really good ones, rent a car or forsee taxi fares in extra.
Fun Alternatives: Or choose an hotel downtown either one of the cities. Quepos is more the fisherman kind, Manuel Antonio the beachman kind!
And again, I'm not badmouthing anyone. Those hotels are more than nice. It's just that no one told us before, so I wanted you to know! It's one of the thing I wish I had done different for the trip, because I'm sure we missed out on so many things!!
Same thing later happened in the Santa Elena / Monteverde region, but this time I had nothing to do with it! It's just that there's no real downtown there, nothing is close to anything. Choose your hotel carefully (so they'll be close to what interest you), rent a car (but roads are horrible to drive there) or lavish on taxis and shuttles.
- Budget Travel
Don't leave stuff on the beach unattended
It didn't happen to us, but while we were in Quepas on the beach, a poor tourist couple were looking everywhere for their backpack with his wallet and tickets. He apparently had left it down to go in the water and .. well it was gone when he came out of the water.
I guess the point is that if you are a tourist you are a mark and you need to be on guard, but not paranoid, all of the time.
Coconuts and more
Be careful of the men sitting on the beach selling coconuts. Half the time they will stare at the ladies and offer more than their coconuts. Plus, once they leave their spot on the beach in the evening you can walk up to the tree and take any coconut you want.