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  • khdeutmeyer


Costa Rica never disappoints...from the beautiful beaches, sunsets, monkeys, sloth, and toucans, there is always something to watch and photograph!

Toucan near Jaco up the mountainside near the condo

This was our third time to Costa Rica. We flew from the Galapagos Islands to Costa Rica. This trip was all about the animals and Costa Rica is all about the birds, sloth and monkeys! We flew into the Juan Santamaría International Airport, which is the primary airport serving San José, the capital of Costa Rica. We had our resort pick us up at the airport and drive 90 minutes south to Jaco to our resort, Club Del Mar Resort and Condos. We rented a car in Jaco the following day after we arrived. Jaco is located on the central pacific coast and is known for its beach, nightlife and beautiful coastline.

We visited Jaco during our first trip to Costa Rica about eight years ago. The City has changed tremendously! Jaco has been discovered by tourists but also appeared to have grown with local residents. Jaco has a bustling downtown area and a beautiful beach. The beach is busier than years ago but definitely worth the visit and shouldn't be missed.

During this trip, we intentionally avoided the hustle and bustle of Jaco. This trip was all

about finding the monkeys, sloth and birds. We enjoy driving and seeing as much as we can of the area. We enjoy the Manual Antonio area and the drive from Jaco to Manual Antonio. We also like to drive the mountainsides looking for birds and animals.

Hotel Club Del Mar is located on the south end of Jaco Beach. The resort has hotel rooms and privately owned condos. We stayed in two bedroom condo overlooking Jaco Beach. The pool area is wonderful, food was excellent, attentive staff, grounds well maintained with beautiful landscaping and convenient location. The pool area had a couple of large iguanas that wondered and sat under the lawn chairs and hung out in the bushes. They were fun to watch. They were pretty aggressive on a couple of occasions, even climbing up on the the lawn chairs with people sitting in them! That was a little too close for my liking! We were also fortunate to see a toucan in a tree in the parkin lot!

View of the beach from Jaco looking toward Hotel Club Del Mar

The best toucan location was up the road on the mountainside where we saw numerous toucans several mornings. It was 10 minute drive from the hotel or a 45 minute hike up the mountainside. We drove since I am not a hiker. To find the Toucans, take the highway to the right out of Club Del Mar heading south. Take a left opposite Playa Hermosa and head up the hillside. You will most likely hear the Toucans before you see them. They are loud and love the fruit trees especially. We saw them flying from tree to tree many times in pairs. We used Club Del Mar as our base for our vacation and made several trips to the Manual Antonio area to find monkeys, sloth, and Scarlet Macaw birds. We were fortunate to see at least a dozen Scarlett Macaws in Quepos near the beach. It was a beautiful site!

Views of Jaco and Hotel Club Del Mar resort. Sunsets are from our patio at Hotel Club Del Mar.

With being to Costa Rica on two other occasions, we have our locations we like to look for monkeys, sloth and birds. We have been to the Parque Nacional Manual Antonio three times and I would recommend hiring a guide. The guides can spot the animals much quicker than seeing them on your own walking through the park. We noticed the park was much busier on this trip with many more tourists with guides. They also no longer allow people to bring food into the park and we thought this was to deter people from feeding the monkeys. The two previous times in the park we saw plenty of monkeys but this

Two-toed Sloth in Manual Antonio outside the park

time, we didn't see one White-faced monkey in the park. We were shocked and disappointed. We saw several sloth but no monkeys! On the way out of the park, that is where we finally saw the monkeys. Plenty of monkeys near the parking area outside the park and the Manual Antonio public beach. We also were fortunate to see our first two-toed sloth at the end of the public street at the turn around near the Manual Antonio public beach. It was just above our heads eating leaves from a tree. An amazing sight! More photos of sloth and monkeys can be found later in this post.

“We have had the best luck finding sloth and monkeys in Manual Antonio both in the park and along the main road, Highway 618. It takes patience but we have never been disappointed."


On our other two trips to Cost Rica, we were not as fortunate to see so many birds! This time we hit the jackpot with seeing so many Toucans! They love fruit trees and have a distinct humming/buzzing sound when they fly overhead. The Toucans tend to fly in pairs and usually if there are two or three, there could be more in the area. The Scarlet Macaw were a little more elusive this trip but we were lucky to find them our first evening in Costa Rica in Quepos near the beach. There were at least a dozen of the Macaws in the area. They also tend to fly in pairs and we saw several pairs flying across Highway 34 on our way to Manual Antonio a few days. The unusual yellow colored bird below with the big bill and dark eyes is the Boat-Billed Heron. We saw the Boat-Billed Heron on our chocolate tour in the jungle area all by itself sitting in a tree. The guide told us this is a hard to spot so it was our lucky day! Click on the photos below to see an expanded view.


The region where the Manual Antonio Nation Park is located is my favorite are of Costa Rica! It is tropical, lush and green. Manuel Antonio National Park, in Spanish the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, is a small national park in the Central Pacific Conservation Area located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, just south of the city of Quepos, Puntarenas, and 132 km (82 miles) from the capital of San José.

We were fortunate this trip to run into a couple of people that told us to turn at the Igloo Beach Lodge before arriving at the Manual Antonio beach area. We parked at the end of the road near the beach hotels and restaurants on Espadilla Beach, a beautiful public beach. If you ask the local wait staff, they can tell you where sloth have been spotted that day. It seemed easy but not as easy as you would think. We had to look carefully and ask several people before we spotted a sloth. We went back a couple of times and were fortunate to see a few sloth each time. But again, we had to look closely, have a good zoom camera, and be patient! Pictured below are the two and three-toed sloth. The two-toed sloth are the caramel color and the three-toed sloth are the grayish color. Click on the photos to expand to a larger view.