Costa Rica - Part 3 - Monkeys on the Beach & Strange Mangrove Tour
Everyone agreed that we should
dedicate today to relaxing and what better way than a trip to the beach. There
are three main beaches around Manuel Antonio – the Quepos public beach (which
is dirty and looks scary), the public beach near the entrance of the park and
the private beach (there are actually three small ones) inside the park. Since
we were going to the park the following day, we decided to try the public beach
called Playa Espadrilla.
Playa Espadrilla is a huge beach
with dark (almost black) soft sand and at low tide (before 2-3pm) the sand
strip is very wide and there is a large section of super shallow water
(ankle-deep) that goes for at least 50 feet in and is perfect for children to
The beach seemed deserted and there were only a few other small groups of
people besides us. We were offered an umbrella and two chairs for $10. The
offer also came with “a personal butler” in the form of the nearby restaurant
owner who was happy to deliver whatever we wanted to our chairs throughout the
So we indulged in lots of cerveza
(the local brew is called Imperial), pina coladas, ceviche (surprisingly good
and inexpensive at about $5 a plate), tacos and even whole coconuts filled with
coconut milk (not my thing to be honest). The weather was overcast for most of
the day but the water was warm and the kids played at water’s edge for hours.
You have to be careful though because only a few feet further, the water
becomes deeper and the waves stronger so someone should always supervise kids
if they are in the water, even if it seems shallow.
Around lunch time we saw a ton
of titi monkeys (the cute little orange ones) hanging in the trees at the
entrance of the beach looking for food. We were told this is their “feeding
route” and you can always see them around that time of the day. A few iguanas
were also lounging on the sand and the local guys showed us a cute three-toes
sloth sleeping on the tree above.
Soon the titi monkeys were gone and the
white-faced monkeys came in swinging in the vines above us. Apparently, there
two kinds of monkeys do not get along (and the white-faced ones are sometimes
known to eat the titi monkey babies) and they are never at the same place
together. I have to saw that we saw a lot more monkeys at the beach and at our
house (and I don’t mean our kids) than we saw at Manual Antonio park but more
on that later.
In the afternoon we took a walk
to the end of the beach and saw two local guys painting a rickety old boat on
the beach. They offered to take us into the mangroves of the park for $100 and
we thought it was a fair deal. Hmmm…we should have known better. So we boarded
two similarly rickety old boats and took off. The mangroves are basically
shallow swampy waters surrounded by thick shrubbery. They are supposed to
harbor lots of interesting wildlife so armed with our cameras we were on the
lookout. We saw a bunch of pretty orange crabs…and then more crabs…and more
crabs…and a raccoon.
And then after about 20 minutes on the water we got stuck.
And then I knew that there was a reason why the tour company I had contacted
about a mangrove tour said we need to start at 8 am or we can’t go – because at
low tide the water is super shallow and you get stuck.
The two local guys
jumped in the swampy water (thank God there were no crocodiles) and literally
pushed the boats for a bit but then it became clear that we can go no further
so they just took us back. And we now have hundreds of pictures of oranges
crabs to show for the $100 we paid.
On a positive note, as we were
getting off the boats we saw two white-faced monkeys raiding a large trash can
and we were able to get very close to them and take lots of pictures before
they suspected we may want to steal their prized trash and took off.
Disappointed by the high prices
in the Manuel Antonio area we had heard there is a local produce market in Quepos where
we could get cheap fruit and ceviche so we drove off in search of fresh local
food. Considering none of us knew where the market was, we kept asking
strangers on the street and getting the typical Costa Rican directions (past
the yellow house, you will see a sign, go left, go right) so after about 30
minutes you had three American families, carrying walkie-talkies and running
around the small downtown area like headless chickens. We finally found the
market, which was not the pretty open-air market that we had imagined but
rather an old building with no windows and several stalls inside. Most of them
were already closed… So we went back and ordered take-out chicken…not our first
choice but hey, they delivered and we were tired.