Paradise Found on a Manzanilla Trail

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Today I found paradise on a point of rock overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It’s called Miss May point and its near the town of Manzanilla in the very far southeast of Costa Rica. It juts out from the rainforest, and looms over the massive waves that come crashing in below. The palm lined coast goes for miles and miles in each direction, and the mountains loom green in the distance.

And the waves crash and shoot spray 30 feet or more up in the air. Every single wave. It’s like I took a shower in the sea.

Naturally I stood near the edge to take pictures and feel the blast of the surf. The waves would curl in and depending on how they hit the cliff would either shoot a little, say, 15 feet up in the air. Or a lot… one of them rocketed a wall of water onto me that was probably 40 feet high. It was awesome! The Caribbean blue stretched to the horizon, as this was the first sunny day of the trip. And on top of that, it wasn’t that hot. It was a perfect temperature, with a perfect breeze, and a perfect partly cloudly sky, with perfect rainstorms on the horizon, and perfect waves and a perfect place at a perfect late afternoon time.

I got there by renting a bike for $5 in Porta Viejo and riding 15 km down the jungle lined coast. There are a lot of palm lined beaches. And a lot, I mean a LOT of tourist lodges and cabinas. Now most, if not all, blend in pretty well, and are also empty. I’m here in the low, low season for the southern Carib coast, but there are a few more folks than normal since the pacific and central regions are still rainy and flooding. I rode alone the paved street, and also took a detour into the dirt roads that led to the nature conservatory. Muddy trails on a 1 gear bike with a basket. Sweet.

The point is beyond the town of Manzanilla. On a trail that leads for 2 hours till you reach another town that has no roads. The good old Lonely Planet says that it’s like what the Caribbean coast looked like before the tourists came. And if that’s true… no wonder they did. The trail in the jungle, withing 20 feet of a beach and waves and coconuts washing ashore is amazing. And then of course there is paradise.

A few days ago, I left Tortugero in the north, and took a 3 hour water taxi through national forest, along a canel parallel to the Caribbean, surrounded by thick walls of jungle green. The boat sat about 10 people and was fast. Damn fast. It was great to slide along. Hear the howler monkeys (which is a surreal sound and not the shrieking monkey noises you might imagine. They are more like a creepy grunt of an orc in the Mines of Moria… yep, I just did an Lord Of The Rings reference.)

The boat ride was wonderful. Again, a perfect temperature and breeze. Occasionally our driver would slam on the brakes and show us an alligator or sloth or racoon that he somehow saw while we raced past at 20kph.

Then we ran out of gas… and he had to row us to a little town where the street was flooded and we boated into town and up to the gas pump. The lady brought us the pumper, knee deep in water, and we filled up and were on our way. There was a tourist bus parked in water half up it’s wheels that was collecting folks from another boat. It was pretty surreal.

I stayed a night in Cahuita. Its a pretty mellow town with a black sand beach that I found after trapsing across the rocky headlands and through woods. I could have just taken the road, but this seemed like a more exciting way to get there. It rained a lot at night, but then again, it pretty much always does.

The next day I hiked approx 11 km round trip through the national park. Along the coast, palm trees, river crossings, monkeys walking right next to the trail, (and also pissing on the trail from above. Missed that shower by about 10 feet!). Saw these awesome neon blue butterflies, and an Eyelash Viper: a snake that was about 10 inches long, and if it bites you you’ll be dead in 15 minutes. So naturally I grabbed it and played with it like a pet… kidding. The point was beautiful, the beaches serene.

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