“If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then?”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The park itself is a large expanse of wilderness where the tropical rainforest meets the Pacific. It’s packed full of monkeys, sloth, exotic birds, butterflies and a huge array of other animals.
I followed a family of Raccoons (beach-coons, as we decided to call them) across the beach to a spot that they’d clearly smelt from a decent distance: a pile of somebody’s left over lunch at the edge of the forest.
Trying to cram as much of the food as possible into that little mouth of his!
What at first appears to be a beach full of moving rocks is actually herds of hermit crabs scuttling around. Here’s a particularly tiny one!
An adorable little squirrel monkey, playing about in the tree tops.
The town beside the park has an incredibly relaxed, mellow atmosphere; locals are dotted about with their boards in the surf whilst the tourists (yes, unfortunately there are a lots of them) soak up the hot Costa Rican sun. There are also numerous boards for hire. Perfect.
On our first night in this paradise, one of our group members was leaving the next morning so we decided to give her a send off on the beach, unsurprisingly involving copious amounts of alcohol. The inevitable swim which followed was so fantastic that I had to go back in the following night: not only is the idyllic beach entirely isolated and star-lit but the ocean is teaming with phosphorescent plankton so that when you swim it lights up specks of greenish light all around you. Absolutely stunning. The best night time swimming I’ve ever experienced.
The downside was that the $20 note I had been keeping in my bikini fell out into the water. As I’m on a very strict budget you can image that I was pretty cut up about this, so when my, rather intoxicated, self realised it was missing I went back down in the dark to try and find it – with a candle of all things! It was such a hilariously fantastic moment when I found it, washed up on shore with the shells.
The cherry on top of a perfect night was spotting a two-toed sloth making it’s way along the telephone wire a couple of metres above our heads on the walk back. We watched it’s slow voyage for about half an hour, particularly enjoying it pulling off leaves to eat from the nearby trees. Another lucky up-close viewing.