Wild Life Series- Toucans

The largest toucan in Costa Rica, the black mandible toucan.

We haven’t forgotten about our wild friends that live in and around Arenas del Mar in the Manuel Antonio region of Costa Rica and today is the turn of a very famous type of bird thanks to certain fruity cereal, the Toucan.

Everyone knows that Costa Rica’s biodiversity is one of the greatest in the world and a prime destination for bird watcher, one of the incredible birds you can spot here is the Toucan.

Toucans are  brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills The family includes five genera and about forty different species.The name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, via Portuguese.

Toucans make their nests in tree hollows and holes excavated by other animals such as woodpeckers—the toucan bill has very limited use as an excavation tool. They are mainly fruit eating, but are opportunistically omnivorous and will take prey such as insects and small lizards.

Toucans are a constant sight at Arenas del Mar and it’s very probable you will get to see one on your very first day in the resort. Toucans are an endangered species due to deforestation but we at Arenas Del Mar and Costa Rica in general are working really hard to help this beautiful bird species thrive again.

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High Season Holidays in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica’s high season for tourism runs from late November to late April, which coincides almost perfectly with the chill of winter in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and includes Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and spring break The high tourism season is also the dry weather season for Costa Rica. This two factors mean that if you travel to Costa Rica during this months you will find more people sharing the great outdoors with you. However, this is no reason to worry, the dry season is perfect for surfing and trekking and some animals that are seldom seen during the green season ( wet months of the year, May to November)  can be spotted when the sun comes out.

Depending on your choice of activities and your budget it might be better for you to chose a vacation during the dry season, make sure however that you do it in advance as people from all over the world come to Costa Rica during our dry months to escape the chill from back home.

So if you are in the process of booking your Costa Rican Vacation the following breakdown might help you to choose the best time for your holiday.

January: the first true dry month of the Costa Rican dry season.  The second half of January is one of the best times for a Costa Rica vacation as crowds are not to big and the weather is fantastic.

February: February is the heart of the dry season for Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches & Central Valley, there is almost no rain in the western and central regions of Costa Rica.  Here visitors will experience sunny & hot weather – perfect for your mid-winter Costa Rica Escape to Manuel Antonio and Arenas del Mar.  When the rain comes, it typically showers in the afternoon, evening or overnight.

March: At the middle of the Costa Rican dry season March is also the month for Spring Break in the United States which means lots of family vacations & student group trips through Costa Rica including Manuel Antonio.

Enjoying the dry season

Enjoying the dry season

Feliz Navidad

 

T’is the season to be jolly and Costa Rica is a great place to spend this time of the year with your loved ones. The country has its special way of celebrating this time of the year  for example during Christmas people like to set up a a model of the nativity scence called the  Portal, or nacimiento with a little baby Jesus at  the center of the display. Varying from home to home the “Portal” is decorated with flowers, fruit or candy. The whole family is involved in creating the nativity scene and as well as traditional Christian figures people add different sorts of animals and miniature people.

Costa Ricans also love to creat Christmas Wreaths and decorate their houses with them. Most government and public buildings are also decorated with Christmas lights.

In Costa Rica gift giving is also a tradition and the bringer  is often ‘Niño dios’ (Child God, meaning Jesus) or ‘Colacho’ (another name for Santa Claus).

On Christmas Eve, everyone puts on their best clothes and goes to Midnight Mass. In Costa Rica it’s called the ‘Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster); a tradition in most countries where the Catholic religion is professed.

After Midnight Mass, Christmas dinner is served. It normally includes chicken and pork tamales that have been wrapped  in plantain leaves.

tama

After Christmas, and into January, there are lots of fiestas, parades, rodeos, street parties, bull runs and choral and dance festivals to celebrate the season, you can experience these activities while you are in Manuel Antonio.costa-rica-carnaval

What’s Costa Rica like?

One of the first things that people type into Google when looking for vacation spots is: “What’s Costa Rica like?”. While this can be a tough one to answer as our country is so diverse we can try and give it a shot.

Pura Vida

The simple answer is “Pura Vida”, a term that any Tico or traveller to Costa Rica is very familiar with. Literally translated it means “Pure Life” and can be used in many different cases. People will often ask how someone is doing with a response of “Pura vida”. The pure life is probably one reason that Costa Rica consistently ranks as one of the happiest places in the world.

Staff members at Arenas Del Mar showing their Costa Rica pride.

Staff members at Arenas Del Mar showing their Costa Rica pride.

The Rich Coast

Another answer could be found in our name “Costa Rica” or the “Rich Coast”. Originally the rich coast is how our country was described when explorers found huge amounts of gold here in the 1500s. However gold is only one thing that we’re rich in. Our rainforests are abundant, our parks are ever expanding, our oceans are full of life, our people have deep and interesting culture, and our food is delicious! When you ask what’s Costa Rica like, you could just say… it’s rich!

The rich coast

The rich coast

Costa Rican Weather

One of the first things that travellers will notice is the weather, it’s perfect. We have two seasons, the green season with a short stretch of rain everyday and the dry season where it can go months without rain. They are both beautiful times of year for different reasons.

 

In the green season the vegetation springs to life and the entire country is covered in a deep green shade. You really notice this from the air as you’re flying into the country.

Enjoying the dry season

Enjoying the dry season

The dry season is nice because it’s so consistent. You know exactly what the weather will be like everyday and planning what to pack for your trip is a breeze!

The Food

Our little country is blessed with fantastic farming land and the perfect weather to grow food. The abundance of local fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats ensures that your meals will be fresh and flavourful. Our restaurant at Arenas Del Mar is actually the top rated restaurant in all of Manuel Antonio! We also boast a large gluten free menu for guests will gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

The ingredients to Gallo Pinto in small individual bowls

Fresh ingredients for making a traditional gallo pinto

So…. what’s it like in Costa Rica? It’s amazing!

Family Adventures in Arenas del Mar

Getting painted up for the game!

Getting painted up for the game!

It is the season to be jolly and many families across North America get together over the Holidays and plan the next escape from the snow, rain and chilly winds of winter.

The beauty about family holidays is you get to experience the destination through your eyes and through the eyes of your children and elder relatives and Arenas del Mar is the perfect place for a family get away.

Only in a family vacation at Arenas del Mar would you be able to experience the wide eyes of children as they see their first live three toed sloth, monkey or dolphin and also relax in the afternoon with you significant other by having a delicious dinner in our restaurant El Mirador.

Arenas del Mar offers so many activities that bored kids will never be an issue, a few things you could do while staying with us are:

  1. Spend a day at the beach playing in the surf with your family.
  2. See wildlife up close at Manuel Antonio with one of our experienced local guides.
  3. Plant a tree in the nearby volunteer rainforest project to celebrate biodiversity and wildlife conservation.
  4. Take a break from the beach with an al-fresco lunch at Playitas Restaurant.
  5. Zoom through the forest on a canopy tour high above the treetops.
  1. Try horseback riding on the beach.
  2. Go whitewater rafting along the Savegre River.
  3. Learn to make tortillas with a local senora for breakfast.
  4. Make a wish, as the sun sets on a family sailing trip in the nearby Pacific Ocean.
  5. Take our rainforest night hike and watch the rainforest come alive in the evening.

Ps. A family holiday is always better when there is sharing and interaction between all members, this is what we believe at Arenas del Mar, and our cellphone and internet policy helps everyone stay engaged.

Nature viewing with the whole family in Costa Rica

Some of the experts are young

End of the green season, bring on the sea breeze!

Ocean Breeze

 

 

 

 

 

The green season in Costa Rica runs from May through November and this is when we expect most of the rains that keep our forests alive and green. However, in not more than two weeks, this season will be over and we will be entering our “Dry Season”. This period from November to May is when most of our guests arrive, wanting to escape the cold winters of North America and Europe, so it is good to make a reservation a few months in advance.

Costa Rica’s dry season is perfect for guests to book and stay at our Ocean Breeze suites which  face the Pacific Ocean, with views through the rain forest of our boutique resort in Costa Rica. Enjoy warm ocean breezes from your private deck with views. Our ten Ocean Breeze Suites are located on the first, second and third floors.

Our Ocean Breeze Suites have:

  • 330-square foot deck facing the Pacific Ocean with views through the rainforest
  • Private tiled hot tub and lounge chairs on the covered deck
  • 155-square foot bedroom
  • Spacious living area (some with full-sized pull out sofa bed for two small children or one adult)
  • Kitchenette with dining table and small refrigerator
  • Bathroom with tiled shower (some Ocean Breeze suites have two bathrooms)
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Accommodates up to three adults (most have a king-sized bed + full-sized pull out bed)
  • Recommended for those who want lots of time to relax in the comfort of your room facing the Pacific Ocean.

Arenas del Mar has something just perfect for every season and these suites are our recommendation for the upcoming months.

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More Wildlife at Arenas del Mar: Coatimundis

Continuing on with our wildlife profiles today we talk about a distinct inhabitant of Manuel Antonio and neighbor to Arenas del Mar: The Coatimundi.

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 - Costa Rica

This cute mammal makes its home of the lowland rainforest that surrounds arenas del mar and is one of Costa Rica’s 200 mammal species. The Caotimundi,  is sometimes mistaken for a raccoon as it is similar in size and appearance. Coati fur is typically reddish-brown to dark brown in color. Their heads are long and slender with a pointed snout well-adapted to rooting in the ground for insects.

Coatimundis are diurnal, meaning they are usually most active during the day and seek the refuge of trees at night. You can find them during one of our Manuel Antonio National Park’s group tours.A wildlife guide from Arenas del Mar will help you spot them and avoid confusions. This tour is a daily activity at our resort, and on it our experienced tour guide will teach you not only about the Coati, but also about the park’s distinctive plant life and point out some of the resident fauna, which include 109 mammal species, including 3 species of monkeys, three-toed sloth, and more than 300 species of birds.

What are you waiting for?

Map of hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Seabass Ceviche

One of the many pleasures at  Arenas del Mar is to enjoy the delicious food prepared and served at El Mirador Restaurant.

Chef prepares fish in Arena Del Mar kitchen

Preparing a ceviche

El Mirador is famous for creating beautiful dishes from local ingredients, here you will  start your day with our complimentary breakfast comprising fresh fruits, homemade granola, warm muffins and breads, eggs, pancakes and, of course, Costa Rican coffee roasted to perfection. Our dinner menu includes highlights such as locally caught fish and other delicacies at this authentic full-service Costa Rican restaurant. One of our most popular dishes is the Seabass Ceviche.

The ingredients to Gallo Pinto in small individual bowls

Fresh ingredients

 

Many guests leave wanting to take our Chef home.This is why, in the interest of your palate, we will give you a simple recipe to make your own Ceviche at home, just to hold you up until you come to Arenas del Mar.

Ingredients:
1 pound of raw corvina (white sea bass or other firm white fish), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup fresh lime juice (enough juice to completely cover and “cook” the fish)
2 medium red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup of club soda
salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the fish to “cook” in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Tastes best after at least 6-8 hours; phenomenally good on the second day.

2. Serve with on a bed of lettuce with sliced avocado, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, and, if you like to, a splash of Lizano Sauce.

 

 

The best activites to do while in Manuel Antonio

Some of the top attractions in Costa Rica are located right here in Manuel Antonio. Located just 132 km from San Jose, Manuel Antonio is easily accessible after an international flight.

There are many reasons why Manuel Antonio is a treasured area of Costa Rica. Here are some of the great things you can do while visiting us.

  1. Go on a tour of Manuel Antonio National Park.The park has a huge amount of land and marine biodiversity with beautiful coral reefs.

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    There’s so much to see in the national park!

  2. Hang out on the beach! The long Manuel Antonio beach makes the perfect spot to setup for the day and take in the sun.

    Sometimes you've got the whole beach to yourself!

    Sometimes you’ve got the whole beach to yourself!

  3. Go wildlife viewing or bird watching. With so much biodiversity there is a lot to see. Make sure you meet with one of our guides to get the most out of this experience.

    Nature viewing with the whole family in Costa Rica

    Some of the experts are young

  4. Go surfing! Just down the steps from Arenas Del Mar you can rent a surfboard and learn how to catch some waves! There’s also boogie boards available to rent or you can even body surf.

    Boogie boarding

    Boogie boarding

  5. Look at the forest from the top down… on a zipline! One of the most popular attractions is the amazing ziplining through the rainforest.

    Ziplining through the rainforest with Arenas Del Mar

    Ziplining through the rainforest with Arenas Del Mar

Arenas Del Mar WildLife: Sloths

Brown toed tree sloth chews on a leafCosta Rica’s rain forest is know for it’s biodiversity and beauty, with several species sharing a relatively small space. Among the animals that call Arenas Del Mar and the Manuel Antonio reserve in Costa Rica home are the two and three toed sloths.

These cute, peaceful, and slow moving animals make their home all over the rainforest of Costa Rica, they are arboreal, medium sized mammals and they eat buds, tender leaves and shoots.

Sloths are not aggressive animals and they also serve as hosts for other species like beetles, moths, cockroaches and ciliates.

Back in prehistoric times there used to be  Ground sloths the size of elephants! However, today they are all extinct and only arboreal sloths survive in Central and South America.

In the past Sloths have been endangered due to habitat destruction. However, Costa Rica makes a great and sustained effort in protecting this species and thanks to the measures taken by the Costa Rica government and private reserves like the Arenas Del Mar their numbers have climbed over the last few years.

You can spot this funny and peaceful animals during your stay at Arenas Del Mar or in our Manuel Antonio National Park Group or Private Tours.3 toed Sloth at Arenas del Mar, Manuel Antonio