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Manuel Antonio National Park

Destination: Manuel Antonio

We got up early this morning so we could get to Manuel Antonio National Park to see some animals stirring before the day warmed up too much. Before hopping in the car for the short drive to the Park, Rayna and I got breakfast at El Byblos. A typical breakfast of eggs, gallo pinto (rice and beans) and coffee has become my favorite way to start the day, especially when I know I am going hiking.

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Just a five minute car ride from our hotel, Rayna found parking for the Park. A small admittance fee got us in and within ten minutes of walking on the main path we were lucky enough to spot a few white-faced capuchins, and one even had a baby in tow -- absolutely adorable!

There are a few different paths through the park which offer lovely views of the ocean and surrounding small islands. Since it had rained the night before, the path Rayna and I chose was a bit slippery, to say the least. I only had one close call which would have landed me face first in the thick mud, but luckily I caught myself. No doubt, many of the purple and orange land crabs were amused by the fact that I continually slipped. The slippery hike was well worth the effort, however, because we came upon a beautiful little beach to catch some rays.

We had a light lunch of ceviche at El Byblos before heading to Spa Shangri-La. With every step we took up to the spa (it sits nestled into the side of a hill overlooking the Pacific) it became apparent that this is the place to go if you want to pamper yourself. Offering a variety of different messages, body wraps, hot tub experiences, as well as manicures and pedicures, this spa will surely be as amazing an experience for you as it was for me. For example, couples can choose to have their message in the same or separate rooms. Further, what is most unique about Spa Shangri-la is the fact that they only use fresh fruits and herbs for their body wraps, as well as the fact that patrons are able to experience the 180 degree views.

This afternoon I got a pedicure while Rayna got a full-body, deep tissue massage. Sitting in a large leather rocking chair overlooking the ocean, I was able to completely relax and enjoy the rain storm which began to blow in just as I sat down. I felt like I was one with the storm, in a sense. Since the air conditioner broke down earlier in the day, I truly got a rare treat. With the windows open I was able to feel the breeze, smell the rain and I even watch some hummingbirds bathing themselves in the light rain outside the window.

Dinnertime found us at the Byblos once again, wherein we decided to try their pizza. Splitting a large pie with fresh tomatoes and garlic hit the spot and the atmosphere in the restaurant was festive - after all, it is Friday! Near the end of dinner we inquired after the hot spots in the area. Our waitress told us that Bamboo Jam had live music and would be a good place to check out. We took her advice and didn't look back.

With pop American hits emanating from the establishment as we approached, Bamboo Jam was swinging when we arrived. Making friends fast, Rayna and I soon made plans to go dancing in Quepos at a discotheque called Arco Iris. After about two hours at Bamboo Jam, we followed our new friends to the night spot, and were, in the end, very glad we did.

Manuel Antonio National Park in Pictures

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