There’s no shortage of things to do in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. We’ve been wildlife-spotting on a walk through Manuel Antonio National Park, we’ve hiked in the forest for a spot of bird watching, we’ve strolled around a spice plantation, we’ve cruised through mangrove swamps, and Terence has dug his feet into the wax of a surfboard, sometimes several times a day. But the best thing to do is perfect the art of doing nothing.
Each day of our stay here, Susan, the concierge of Casa Elsa and The Beach House, continues to present us with even more possibilities for things we can do… canopy tours, kayaking, whale watching, white-water rafting, sunset catamaran cruises… the opportunities are endless.
“Are there times when guests just say, you know what, I just want to enjoy my surroundings,” we ask her. She smiles. “It’s great when people understand tico time,” she says, referring to the slow pace of life in Costa Rica and the lackadaisical attitude of the locals – it’s their version of the art of doing nothing.
Sometimes you do just want to do nothing. Do you know what I mean?
For us, it’s not because we’ve just completed our eighth month on the road for Grantourismo. Tired? Us? No! And sure we’re advocates of experiential travel – we absolutely love doing stuff and learning things when we travel. But we all travel differently at different times in our lives and different moments in time – which is one reason why we’ve never bought into the whole traveller versus tourist BS. There is no right or wrong way to travel.
Sometimes we want to go it alone, sometimes we don’t mind a bit of handholding. As long as we all move, why should it matter how we do it? And sometimes we just want to do nothing. At times, after periods of intensive and active travel, even the most adventurous travellers need time out. Others travel with the very intention of doing nothing. We have friends who have perfected the art of doing nothing while on holidays because they work so hard at their jobs. They book a beach resort, eat lots, have the occasional swim and read trashy novels. And they do it fully guilt-free.
Time out to lie on a beach with a book – not even read a book, but simply gaze up at the coconut palms (just don’t lie beneath them, okay?) – is good for us. Time to sit and take in the people and places around us. Time to ponder things – yes, to ponder, not necessarily Make Decisions – is restorative. Thinking time seems to have become a luxury in recent years, but it’s one that should be indulged in whenever possible.
And the opportunities for doing nothing at Manuel Antonio are countless – lying on the beach, collecting seashells, watching monkeys, listening to birds, lying by the pool, reading a book, throwing a Frisbee, patting a dog, drinking margaritas, having a kiss and cuddle, watching the sunset… aaahh…
While we did do a lot of activities at Manuel Antonio, we also had some downtime. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a glass of wine, click on the photos above, and soak up the atmosphere of a beach and a lifestyle that aren’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Unlike us. Because, sadly, it’s time to move on… pura vida.