Off Season Jungle
You wake up in the morning and are already over the day you haven’t even had yet. You think about the places you’ll go, the things you’ll do, the people you’ll see, and none of it sounds fresh. You just want to crawl back under the covers and dream of unfamiliar lands. When you need a change of everything familiar, head to the jungle! I’m not saying leave it all behind and go Tarzan. I’m saying a short exotic excursion to completely foreign surroundings to reset your mindset, a little break from the routine…with some monkeys and waterfalls in it.
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is an amazing jungle getaway you can do in the off-season inexpensively, for just as much fun as the inseason. It’s always a little rainy all year anyway so why not save on airfare, hotels, food, and activities by going around October. The rain comes in short waves and the sun comes back out. Get big discounts for just a few more showers. I promise getting a little wet won’t
ruin your time at all. It’s the jungle, it’s always a little damp, but sloths hang out year-round!
Just a few hours by car or bus or a 20-minute plane ride from San Jose lays Manuel Antonio. Easy to get to, but secluded from the world, this jungle gem is the perfect escape for wilderness and animal life far from the makings of man. The city is a tropical paradise of outdoor adventure, restaurants, beaches, and culture.
But just because you’re on the outskirts of nature doesn’t mean you have to live like an animal. How do you feel about 5 stars in the jungle? That’s what you get at the Gaia Hotel & Reserve. This amazing property perched atop a hill has all the luxuries of a top resort in Paris with the privacy of a remote bed and breakfast. You’re more likely to be disturbed by the sounds of a toucan than a noisy neighbor, and more likely to catch the stare or chatter of a cute local monkey than a nosey nuisance. Their La Luna restaurant is one of the very best in town and the views are breathtaking. The included à la carte breakfast is also excellent.
After a long day of hiking or surfing take a visit to their first class spa for one of their rejuvenating massages. While most spas have to play relaxing nature soundtracks, you can fade into bliss to the real-life sounds of the nature reserve just outside. The suites are also impressive. Offering various sizes and layouts, all are spacious and include high-end amenities. You could spend a whole day just ordering room service and sitting on the balcony taking in the overwhelming views. When it comes to service, long time owner Boris Marchegiani delivers, with an attentive and enjoyable staff. They really make you feel like you are staying with them at their exclusive, tropical paradise home. Quick to take you to the restaurant by golf cart or get you extra pillows, they attend to your every need, and by the time you leave will feel like new friends. All this for a fraction of the price it would run you during their busy season.
If you’re able to tear yourself away from the resort for some outdoor activities there are two I definitely recommend. No better way to get an overview of your jungle wonderland than from the very top. Soar through the treetops on the El
Santuario Canopy Adventure. This exhilarating zip line tour takes you over the jungle through a variety of zip lines, culminating in the longest zip line in Central America and the 4th longest in the world. It even offers duel lines so you can race your friends. The views are amazing and the experience is one not to be missed. Their system is very safe and the guides are extremely helpful so book this one, with a seasonal discount, for sure.
If you really want to see what lies out there below the canopies take the Rainmaker Tour from Jade Tours. This hiking tour takes you up a mountain only recently explored by man, to see nature at its most untouched. You will make your way up and over jungle terrain through a series of hanging bridges and waterfalls assisted by a guide. Bath in the falls and take in the sights. The animals you come across would make a national geographic host jealous.
If you decide to step out for dinner in the evening why not head to another of the city’s best restaurants for food and ambiance, the only beachfront Resort Restaurant in Manuel Antonio, Arenas Del Mar. As you make your way through the resort you weave through wildlife until you hit the stunning beach and restaurant. The menu is all local and organic so you get a real taste of Costa Rica. The fresh fish selection is fantastic and they even offer the delicious and often hard to find snook. Enjoy the sunset over the water while enjoying friendly service and a meal you are sure to remember.
With so many destinations offering similar experiences and sights, this is a refreshing alternative. It’s such a change of scenery for most people that you really come back feeling like you were on vacation. There is so much to do there for anyone, whether you like to take on the thrill of outdoor adventure, or just marvel at it from the balcony of your suite. Next time you see “rainy season” don’t shy away, schedule off. The locals will be happy to see you and their gratitude will be reflected in the kindness of your wallet.