Every day has been an adventure in Costa Rica and the day we drove to Manuel Antonio was no exception. We were some of the first guests to hit the breakfast buffet at our hotel and were catching a cab to San Jose while the sun was still shaking off its morning fog.
In San Jose we caught the first bus to Manuel Antonio. What looked like a short distance on the map turned out to be around 4 hours of driving over broken roads and narrowly missing cars racing in the other direction.
By the time we arrived in Manuel Antonio, both of us were tired and uncomfortable. The air was stuffy and the seats were small, so it was without hesitation that we yelled, “that’s our hotel” to the bus drive as we watched the sign for “Hotel La Colina” fading in the review mirror.
The bus driver informed us that he could not stop there and drove on a few blocks before letting us out. We donned our (excessively heavy) backpacks and began walking the way we’d come, certain we weren’t far from the hotel.
We were right—it was less than a 10 minute walk—but the entire walk was in a ditch on the side of a winding road full of traffic. And the sun was aggressively hot. We arrived drenched in sweat, our skin as slippery as seals.
When we got there the confusion ensued. They only had a reservation for one person, not two. Check-in wasn’t for another hour, so our room wasn’t ready.
It wasn’t their fault, but at this point we were hot, sweaty, tired, sore, hungry, and above all else, grumpy.
A cold shower and a good meal can change everything
An hour later we were both showered and sitting at a beachside restaurant, devouring our meal. It seemed as though the minute we bit into our lunches, Manuel Antonio transformed before our eyes. Suddenly it was a gorgeous beach surrounded by a lush jungle.
We ignored the 15-minute rule and ran into the ocean. We swam, we waded, we tanned, we laughed… we generally enjoyed the pure bliss that only a unplanned day at the beach can bring.
By the time we went back to Hotel La Colina that afternoon, we were ready to look at it with fresh eyes. We climbed to our top-floor, ocean-view room and realized what a paradise we had stumbled upon. Every inch of the property was covered in over-grown flora and the sapphire pool looked picturesque. Outside our window we could see the pink sky fading above the crashing waves. From the highest point at Hotel La Colina, life didn’t seem so bad.
More than just a place to rest your head
Chelsea and I had high ambitions. We were going to put our feet in the pool for a bit, then we would get cleaned up and go out to dinner and maybe even get a few drinks.
Well we got to the pool and I couldn’t resist. The water was warm, as was the outside air, and the kids practicing their cannonballs seemed to be having so much fun. Soon I was in the pool splashing around like a 6-year old.
The longer we enjoyed the fantastic pool area, the less we wanted to leave. Soon we were feeling droopy-eyed and our ambition was fading fast. We did manage to change out of our bathing suits, but we didn’t manage to fulfill any of our other plans. We decided to dine at Hotel La Colina instead.
We got ceviche, something we had both been craving for days, and one bite of it was enough to convince us we had made the right decision. The food was a little pricey for our budget (which, to be fair, is pretty low), but every bite was worth the cost. The ceviche was incredible and the atmosphere even better.
While the beds were comfortable and our sleep fine, the real draw of Hotel La Colina was everything outside of the bedroom.