Secret Beaches and Accidental Trespassing: A Manuel Antonio Adventure

Please pardon my missing a post last week, I had just returned from Central America to the United States and there were many transitions to be made all at once. Firstly, I spent the night in the Mexico City airport, decidedly NOT sleeping, so I was tired. Secondly, I had not the use of a computer, and so my writing options were pretty much zero. Back in action this week, I´ll return to telling the last part of the Costa Rican story.

Paula decided to take me under her wing and welcomed me to accompany her back to her home in Manuel Antonio, on the western coast of Costa Rica. Paula is my friend who I met in my Permaculture class in the jungle. She is from Mexico and is probably one of the wisest people I have met. Excited to a) not spend money on a hotel and b) spend more time with an amazing person, I happily accepted her invitation.

We first went back to San José after spending the night in Manzanillo on the Carribean coast. There, we spent another night at the house of a young permaculturist who was very generous for showing us his urban site and house set up. I love meeting permaculturists from around the world, and we were all under the age of thirty, which is the youngest group of permaculturists that I have ever been a part of- it was a change, that´s for sure!

The next day we finally made it Manuel Antonio, the area on the west coast most known for itś amazing national park featuring many sloths (perezosos!) and other wonders of the Pacific ocean.

This area on the Pacific was very different for me in that it was hills and cliffs almost all the way to the ocean. In Tamarindo and Guanacaste, the land was fairly flat as it approached the sea, even though there were still hills around. In Manuel Antonio, the hilly-ness made the driving a challenge and the walking and even bigger challenge. The walking challenge was somewhat heightened in that there was absolutely zero walking infrastructure paired with a driving population that seems to have no concept of the reality of driving accidents. Luckily, there was a really great and cheap public bus that went regularly from my little place to the beach and back. If the bus took to long or just was not running, you could pretty much bet you would find a man in a car who would give you a ride for 500 colones (about $1).

Luckily Costa Rica is a pretty safe place, and Manuel Anotonio even more so, because there are very few situations in which a solo blonde woman should get into a stranger´s car wearing a bikini top. Regular sexual harassment on the street aside, I felt overall very safe.

The beaches in Manuel Antonio are something to write home about, but I heard there were some ¨secret beaches¨ that one could walk to if one was so motivated. Being rather motivated in general, I found this idea quite enticing and asked Paula´s roommate how to find the trail. He gave me pretty basic directions, and I packed up and made my way do to the first beach.

It required a walk past a Ylang Ylang tree (which reminded me of my stomach bug everytime I walked by it- so there goes any need or desire to invest in ylang ylang essential oil in the future), and then down a hill by a mansion. Hop over the gate and walk by the cattle, down the hill and you will find Playa de Vaca (Cow Beach). From there you should be able to easily find the trail south along the coast to the other beaches.


Being a rather good trail finder if I do say so (thanks to many harrowing experiences in which my capacity to trail find was built extremely quickly) I found the trail to the south and I followed it.

It became clear after about half an hour, however, that this was not the correct trail. Eyeing a fence at the top of a hill, I decided to bush wack my way up to it and see what was on the other side. Guess what was on the other side of the barbed wire fence? The trail.

So, I quickly located a handy mango tree and used it to climb over the fence. I landed on the trail to the other side with great apblomb, if I do say so, and sauntered off in the direction I knew was south. I found a road very quickly, which let to another road, which I figured would eventually lead to a beach. It did lead to a beach. A beach that was a part of a resort. The kind of resort where people add beach beers to their tab and stay ¨Villa number 412.” The kind of resort where waiters in pressed which shirts ask you if you need a towel or a water as you lie on your beach lounger.

I somehow got away with just being present on this beach, despite the fact that I so clearly did not belong there. Do wealthy resort villa goers bring dingy backpacks to the beach whilst wearing sneakers and sport bra swimsuits? They do not. They bring airy beach wraps and white pleather purses. Still, my appearance as a white woman does wonders, I will tell you.

I enjoyed an hour on this beach, after all, there are no private beaches on Costa Rica, so I had every right to be there. But then I tried to quietly make my way back to the main road and found that I was most likely accidentally trespassing. I got out of there as quickly as I could walking up a steep hill. I passed through a reception desk saying thank you and was out into the free air again in twenty minutes. 10/10 would recommend to a friend.

Thus ended my first adventure in Manuel Antonio.



Photo Credit: Dietrich McGaffey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: