Stories From The Costa Rican Jungle

Costa Rica is one crazy place! Overflowing with naughty monkeys, lovely locals and more natural wonders than you could poke a stick at, there is absolutely something for everyone and it was also a wonderful honeymoon destination!

Our days in Costa Rica were pretty jam packed with activities and full day tours, but here are some of the more random stories and helpful hints we picked up along our travels through the Central American country.

monkey on the telephone linesfruit stand in costa rica

sloth through a telescopic lensTelescopic lenses will help you find the hiding wildlife

While Costa Rica is overflowing with wildlife, being the home to exotic animals such as toucans, sloths and many different monkey species, there are two things everyone (including me) forgets about.

One, animals like to sleep and two, animals like to hide! Sloths for example, sleep for 20+ hours a day, and they sleep high up and camouflaged into the trees for protection from predators.

Many of the guides working in Costa Rica carry telescopic lenses with them, to help their travellers spot the hiding wildlife. They are amazing and allow you to see things up close that you might not even be able to see with your eyes – like this hiding, sleeping sloth.

The best thing about these telescopic lenses is that you can take a photo through the lens with your iPhone, and they’re not too bad quality either! Without this function we would have never came home with a photo of a toucan!

monkey in a restaurant

The monkeys have no fear, and they will steal everything

The beautiful humid nature of Costa Rica means that heaps of the restaurants and cafes are quite open air, with very few walls and windows keeping the wildlife outside. The monkeys in the jungle around Manuel Antonio are so used to people that they have absolutely no fear.

This little guy popped into one of the restaurants while we were having dinner. He sat up there on that perch for a while, watching all the waitresses and chefs in the kitchen, and when he thought he had a clear path he made a mad dash for a hot dogs!

It was so funny to us because it’s something that would never happen to us at home, but these monkeys were swinging all over the roof and squealing at each other through our whole meal. I loved it!

Explore all of the tours and experiences you can take within Manuel Antonio National Park

manuel antonio market

All the souvenirs can be found between the National Park and the beach

Manuel Antonio National Park is just a short walk from the main beach in the area in Manuel Antonio (that’s not in the National Park) – Playa Espadilla. Along the walk from the park to the beach strip is where you will find heaps of market stalls selling souvenirs, gifts and local crafts.

The stalls offer all of the regular tourist stuff – t-shirts, towels, bags with Costa Rica plastered all over them, but they also offer some really beautiful and unique clay crafts made by the locals; especially on the Playa Espadilla beachfront.

I really regret not buying more of these gifts for our house, especially a painted wine bottle with hand crafted clay monkeys and frogs decorating it. My advice – if you like it, buy it! You won’t find it anywhere else.

Check out the best places to stay around Manuel Antonio

raccoon stealing food on the beachThe hungry raccoons in Playa Manuel Antonio will steal your food

After our swim at Playa Manuel Antonio, we were just relaxing on the sand and cooling down before making our way back through the National Park.

All of a sudden this naughty little raccoon came out of the jungle, weaving his way through the crowds of the beach, and beelined for this what looked like some bags covered by a towel. The owners of the bags were close to the water and not paying attention, and before anyone knew it, this guy found their lunch bag and absolutely ripped into it!

One of the girls came running back and tried to stop him, but this little guy had locked on to a loaf of bread and wouldn’t even let go when the girl pulled him up into the air! He was so attached to this loaf and aggressively growling that she just had to give him the whole thing and let him run off with it back into the jungle!

READ MORE:
An Essential Guide To Manuel Antonio

baby cloth holding onto it's mothermother and baby sloth

You can never see too many sloths!

Spotting sloths in the wild was absolutely one of our most memorable experiences in Costa Rica. Ever since we booked our trip my dream was to get the perfect photo of an awake sloth, preferably with a baby. I could not believe we found one!

We honestly watched these guys for so long and took SO many photos, trying to get the perfect photo of the baby’s face. Doing some research about sloths I found out that when the mothers come down from their branches to take their one weekly trip to the toilet, they dig their baby a little hole in the dirt to sit in until they’re done!

READ MORE:
Finding Sloths In Manuel Antonio

Unfortunately after watching them come down from their tree for about 45 minutes we didn’t have time to stay and watch what happened next, but it would have been interesting to see if that’s true!

ziplining in costa rica

Take a thrill ride or a relaxing canopy tour through the jungle

Looking to get even closer to the wildlife? Why not try a relaxing canopy tour on a motorized bike or a thrilling zip line through the jungle!

With an afternoon to spare we thought we would take a tour through the jungle. I wasn’t feeling the best that day, so I thought maybe a bike tour might be a better option. The best time to spot wildlife on the canopy tours is during the early morning hours, when the jungle inhabitants are just waking up and the most active.

Manuel Antonio Adevnture Park || Manuel Antonio Road, below El Avion and El Wagon Restaurants || Ph: +506 4000 1379

sunset in costa rica

Playa Espadilla is the perfect place to watch the sunset at the end of the day

There are a few different bars and restaurants along the main beach strip of Playa Espadilla, to have some happy hour drinks and grab dinner when the sun goes down, but while it’s setting make sure you grab yourself a spot on the beach. It’s beautiful.

READ MORE:
Where You'd Rather Be: Makanda By The Sea

Do you have any funny stories, tips or tricks for visiting Costa Rica? Leave us a comment below!

Read more about our adventures around Costa Rica

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STORIES FROM THE COSTA RICAN JUNGLE

Happy travels,



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Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started Explore Shaw to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

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Just two twenty-something married Aussies, visiting as many places as we can in between normal life, and hoping to inspire and offer advice for your travel planning.

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