Our third morning in Costa Rica we woke up on the Caribbean side of the country and traveled to the Pacific side. It’s only about 170 miles from Tortuguero to Quepos near Manual Antonio park, but without a major highway connecting the two points it would have taken us nearly all day to make the trip by bus. So we flew from Torgtuguero to San Jose and then drove from San Jose to Quepos.
Our day started very early! We met in our hotel lobby shortly before 6am to catch our boat to the airport for our 7:30am flight. Certainly, a fun way to travel to the airport!
We arrived at the airport as the sun was rising. To be honest, this was the one part of our trip that I was not looking forward to. I was nervous about the small 12-person passenger plane and the fact that each of our suitcases needed to be under 40-pounds. We have definitely become more efficient packers over the last year, but we still travel with many essentials that can be hard to come by especially when traveling abroad (like sunscreen, over the counter medicines, a first aid kit) and tend to add a bit of heft to our bags. I had carefully weighed out each bag before we left home, but each time we repacked the bags the contents would shift around and I worried my careful packing plan would be ruined. We usually travel with a portable luggage scale, but I had accidentally left that at home.
The Tortuguero airport was just a landing strip. The “airport” was the green building below which was abandoned. There was an airport employee sitting outside at a card table full of paperwork where we checked in. He had a small bathroom scale where he weighed each of our bags (they all passed!) and then he weighed each of us!
We were told to arrive early because sometimes the planes land earlier than scheduled and if so they turn around and depart quickly. If we weren’t there they might leave without us, even before our schedued departure time! Luckily the beach was just steps from the landing strip so the kids played there while we waited for our plane.
We were supposed to depart on the first of the three planes that arrived, but we ended up being assigned to the last plane to depart for San Jose. None of us was really sure how they were assigning the planes, but luckily they kept our whole group together! The flight was only about 20 minutes and it was extremely smooth which I was so thankful for. The views were amazing and we were able to track the road on which we had traveled through the mountains from San Jose to Tortuguero just days before.
Once back in San Jose, we boarded our bus and drove straight towards Manuel Antonio Park. Our first stop was a canopy tour just outside the park. This was a fun one with monkeys scurrying around in the trees above us and sloths hanging from branches. At the very end of the course, we got to do some repelling and then a free-fall swing. The swing was the highlight for our 11-year-old who snuck back for another turn and dazzled everyone by hanging upside down as she swung back & forth.
Next we headed into Manuel Antonio Park for a much needed lunch at Anaconda which had open air seating and beautiful views of the ocean. One of our favorite dishes in Costa Rica was Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken and vegetables mixed in) and this restaurant delivered! The best part about the restaurant was the large fuselage that sat perched in the trees right next to the outdoor dining area. The kids loved climbing up through the tail and exploring the empty fuselage. I found it to be a little bit eery, but the views were spectacular.
Finally, after a very long day, we checked in to our hotel where we got a chance to relax in the pool and enjoy the sunset over the Pacific Ocean before dinner.
On paper, our Thomson itinerary didn’t look like our days were packed, but in reality, we were always doing something and felt like we got the most out of our days. That’s not to say we were always running around doing an activity (though there was plenty of that) – there was definitely enough time to enjoy a quiet moment and really appreciate where we were!