As you travel the road between Quepos and Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, the din from roaring buses, packs of tourists and locals hunting foreign dollars becomes increasingly loud, reaching its somewhat chaotic climax at Manuel Antonio Village, whose beer advertisements and barkers have inched right up to the gates of the park. Hordes descend on this tiny oceanside village at the entrance to one of the country’s most celebrated tourist destinations. Don't show up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, expecting deserted beaches and untouched tropical paradise. Higher primates tend to be the most frequently sighted species, especially during the congested dry season when tour groups arrive en masse.

While it can be difficult at times to have a quiet moment to collect your thoughts, the environs here really do look as glossy and polished as the travel brochures suggest. And, when troops of monkeys climb down from the forest canopy to the tropical sands, you really can get up close and personal with some marvelous wildlife. So in short, the moral is to arrive in Manuel Antonio with some realistic expectations, though, more often than not, you’re going to have a memorable visit.

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