Manuel Antonio Costa Rica is one of our top recommended destinations a great location to experience the best rainforests, white sand beaches and adventure activities that Costa Rica has to offer. About 4 hours away from the capital, San Jose, it is located on the Central Pacific Coastand home to the fantastic Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio is a magical combination of rainforest, beaches, hills, and coral reefs, making it one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and one of the most visited in Costa Rica. Whether you want to relax on white sandy beaches or trek through the jungles looking for wildlife, Manuel Antonio is sure to please all types of travelers.
Flora and Fauna
Despite being one of the smaller national parks in Costa Rica, there are still 184 species of birds and 109 species of mammals within the park and almost 80 species of fish in the surrounding water. The diversity of rainforest plants and animals you will find walking through the Manuel Antonio national park is unparalleled anywhere else in Costa Rica.
Quepos is in the Northern part of Puntarenas and it’s most famous for big-game sport fishing. It’s a great place for both novice and expert anglers. Popular fish you can catch off the coast include big eye tuna, marlin, snapper, wahoo and yellow fin. Quepos is also popular because it is located so close Manuel Antonio, meaning you’re only minutes away from some of the best wildlife in Costa Rica!
Fly through Manuel Antonio National Park on some of the best ziplining tours in the world! You’ll hike up to the cables with with certified bilingual guides who will help you have a safe and amazing time. Enjoy the view of native Costa Rican trees and the Pacific ocean while you glide through the rainforest.
Tour the rainforest on horseback for a truly unique experience! Tours are available for children as young as five and can last half or full days. You can ride through the forest while you watch for monkeys, sloths and toucans and then end your tour with a swim under thundering waterfalls!
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. Hire a guide to help you spot monkeys, birds, sloths, iguanas, and more. The guides know the best places to find hiding animals and use special telescopes to see up into the trees. Don’t forget your camera!
White Water Rafting
Just 30 minutes to an hour away from Manuel Antonio and Quepos you’ll find excellent white water rafting. A rafting trip can include both hiking and rafting and last a half or full day. Manuel Antonio visitors will get their blood pumping on the adventurous rapids while they see Costa Rica’s natural beauty from a different perspective.
There are five fantastic beaches to visit in Manuel Antonio, Playa Espadilla, Playa Manuel Antonio, Playa Gemelas, Puerto Escondido and Playa Biesanz. All of the beaches offer various activities including swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Make sure to pack your sunscreen because these stunning beaches are incredibly sunny.
Discover the aquatic life off the coast with a private or public tours, or with a catamaran tour that includes a stop for snorkeling and a chance to see the beautiful Costa Rican sunset on the sea. You can also dive down to 60 feet below the surface with an expert guide and discover a mesmerizing world of marine life. Manuel Antonio is a great place to see a huge variety of marine life, including Starfish, Sea Turtles, and White Tip Reef Sharks. Whale watching is another popular option.
Don’t forget to plan a morning or afternoon for surfing on the Manuel Antonio beaches. The gentle but regular waves are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers looking to practice their new skills. There are also surf schools and surfing lessons available for those just starting out. Plan your vacation between May and November for the best breaks.
Catamaran tours are a great way to tour Manuel Antonio waters! You’ll ride the waves while you look for dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. Then you will get the chance to snorkel, paddle board or swim in the sparkling water. Many offer a traditional lunch on the boat and tropical cocktails, which you can enjoy while you soak up the sun with your family and friends.
Are you ready to see Manuel Antonio from 600 feet above? Parasailing lets you get a bird’s eye view of the Manuel Antonio beaches and National Park and it is an experience you won’t want to miss. Some parasailing tours also come with 30-60 minutes of jet ski time as well.
Kids Saving the rainforest was founded by two 9 year olds on a mission to save the planet’s natural resources. Their serve as a rescue and rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned wildlife and are also very well known for their reforestation projects. Visit them and help plant trees or maybe even sponsor a sloth!
Get to the park early: Try to arrive by 7am. It is the best time to see the animals. Also avoid the crowds and the heat!
Find a licensed expert: Look for uniformed tour guides at the entrance of the park. Avoid paying tour guides who are not in uniform and outside of the park.
Beware of snakes: Sometimes snakes are mistaken for jungle vines. Hike with a licensed guide to see the wildlife from a safe and enjoyable distance.
Bring your camera: The tour guides have special telescopes to get a closer look at the wildlife and you can take pictures of the animals through the telescope.
Don’t use flash: The monkeys can sometimes react aggressively to flashing cameras. Follow the guides instructions at all times to have a great, safe, time.
Seal your food: Pack your food and belongings in tightly sealed bags. Monkeys, raccoons and iguanas are very curious on the beach and they know you have food! Don’t worry though, they are not aggressive, they’re just hoping you will share some snacks! That being said…
Don’t feed the animals: It is bad for them and only teaches them to rely on tourists for food.
Bring lots of water and sunscreen! The beaches are stunning and SUNNY. Stay hydrated and covered in sunscreen to have a relaxed, incredible vacation, free of dehydration or sunburn.
Getting to Manuel Antonio is easier than ever. For the fastest and most convenient transportation, rent a car right from the airport upon your arrival. You will drive through Quepos to get to the national park. There are also shuttle services available from San Jose or Guanacaste. Private transfers are a little more expensive, from $200-$300, but won’t have to make extra stops. Shared shuttles, however, are more affordable from $50-$100. Finally, you can fly there. You can use Sansa Air to fly to Quepos from San Jose. The flight costs about $75 dollars and takes approximately 10 minutes.
Staying in Manuel Antonio
There are many hotels in Manuel Antonio to choose from, so you are sure to find the perfect accommodations for a visit to this beautiful area. They range from the super luxurious like Arenas del Mar, to vacation rentals like Tulemar Resort, to the Mid-Range Hotels like Hotel Costa Verde, the Falls Resort, the Hotel Karahe Manuel Antonio. They all offer excellent service, views and food. Enjoy the sounds of the white-faced capuchin monkeys from your king size bed or private balconies!
Manuel Antonio has a variety of restaurants and cafes to choose from. It is also home to the notorious El Avion. An old Fairchild C-123 airplane was refurbished and turned into one of the coolest bars and restaurants in Manuel Antonio. Also visit the Shana Restaurant Lounge Pool Bar for high-end Italian food, the Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar for Mediterranean food or El Mirador for fantastic Costa Rican food like the traditional casado and gallo pinto, all served with a beautiful view.
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Manuel Antonio is located 4 hours from San Jose on the Central Pacific Coast. It is easily accessible by rental car, private transfer or plane!