It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica due to its beautiful beaches and rich wildlife. The area that is Manuel Antonio stretches from the town of Quepos and then along an approximately 8-km road up a mountain and then back down, finishing at the entrance of the Manuel Antonio National Park and the beautiful Playa Espadilla. The road to the beach and park is surrounded by hotels and restaurants.
From San José, Manuel Antonio can be reached by either bus or plane, via the airport (XQP IATA) 5 min outside of Quepos. Tracopa has several direct public buses daily from San José to Quepos and Manuel Antonio for US$8. A shuttle service can be hired for about US$170 for all the places in a mini-van one way. Duration of travel is 2½-4 hours.
- Aerobell Airlines runs two daily flights in between San José (Tobias Bolaños Airport in Pavas) and Quepos. From $60 per way.
- Sansa Airline runs several flights a day between Quepos and San Jose (SJO) airports. Price is about US$82 one way.
- Nature Air has two flights daily between San Jose (Pavas) and Quepos airports. Price is about US$94 one way.
Buses run up and down the mountain every 30 minutes during the day stopping at many places along the way. Cost is ₡315. Taxis are also readily available at about US$8 from Quepos to Manuel Antonio. Scooters and cars can also be rented by those who feel a little more adventurous.
Must-sees include the Manuel Antonio National Park and the beautiful beaches. Don't miss the monkeys crossing the road in the afternoons or the spectacular sunsets which can be seen from many of the restaurants and hotels along the road.
The list of activities in Manuel Antonio is endless. Some of the most popular activities include trips to the park and zip-lining and snorkeling.
- Park tours: Guides can be found very easily around the entrance to the park from early in the morning. Prices per person can be around US$25
- Scuba diving and snorkeling: There are around 15 local dive sites and offshore sites in the Manuel Antonio area. Sites vary in ability and wildlife and Try Dives for those that have never been before are also available.
- Snorkeling and coastal tours with whale watching are also available. Depending on the season humpback whales can be spotted near shore, and dolphins feeding is a regular occurrence during the afternoons.
- Avoid the sunset tour. They claim they sail on the sail boat and do snorkeling but they just run the engines and the water isn't clear. It's a huge rip off.
- Zip-lining. Canopy tours are available in this area. They involve zipping through the trees at high speed. Depending on the company, some tours also involve rappels and Tarzan swings so are not recommended for those that have an aversion to heights.
- La Selvita has 16 sequential lines, one being nearly 800 m (half a mile) long and 180 m (600 feet) off the ground. The guides are truly bilingual and very friendly. The pictures they take are a bit pricey but worth every penny.
- White Water Rafting: Two rivers are near Manuel Antonio, the Naranjo and the Savegre. Depending on the season the rivers will vary in strength and speed from a Class II - III during dry season up to a Class IV during wet season. The Naranjo tends to be the faster river with a particular stretch further upstream known as El Chorro sometimes reaching a class V even during the dryer months.
- Horse-back tours: Tours are available along the beach and to some of the local forest areas and waterfalls. Most companies provide a selection of different tours.
- Mangrove tours: Take a trip through the mangroves checking out some of the incredible wildlife.
- Spice Tour: Check out the local vanilla farm and get to sample some of the amazing products produced by Villa Vanilla.
Check out the large selection of souvenirs and gifts being sold along the beach and by the entrance to the park. The Regalameart gift shop offers the widest selection of higher end, but pricey souvenirs.
- El Wagon. Hebrew National hot dogs, burgers and wood-fired pizza.
- Salsipuedes. Tapas and beers.
- Barba Roja. Nachos and that famous view.
- El Avion. Good value and a large menu.
- El Gato Negro. Very tasty Italian cuisine.
- Dos Cocos El Meson. Great food and decent menu across the street from the Marlin.
- Billfish Sportsbar & Grill (Byblos Sportsbar at Billfish), Main Road to Manuel Antonio Park (3 km from Quepos on left), ☏ . 18:00-24:00. Billfish Sportsbar & Grill is a favorite for watching international sports are their large screen TVs. Offering the usual sportsbar fare, and dinner specialties off the grill. Located next to the Byblos Casino, it is one of the few places to enjoy nightlife in Manuel Antonio. Monday night is Ladies Night! US$3 & up.
- Arbol Restaurant (Makanda's Arbol Restaurant), Main Road to Manuel Antonio Park, Hotel Makanda (Turn right at Promerica Bank and follow down the road till Makanda Hotel), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 17:30 to 22:00. US$30 & up.
- Bistro Restaurant & Pizzeria (Byblos Bistro Pizzeria), Main Road to Manuel Antonio Park (3 km on left after Quepos), ☏ . 06:30-22:00. Bistro Restaurant offers Italian and international specialties in a poolside atmosphere. An excellent location for monkey sightings, with brick oven pizza. Take out orders accepted. $3 & up.
- Playitas Restaurant and Bar, Arenas del Mar Beach and Nature Resort (Manuel Antonio), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Situated next to Playitas beach, guests can choose their favorite drink or cocktail of the day. Has light but elegant foods.
- Cafe Milagro, firstname.lastname@example.org. Cafe Milagro offers breakfast, lunch or dinner with dishes such as a typical Tico breakfast, the BLT & avocado sandwich, as well as an excellent wine and cocktail selection. Sit outside on the back garden under a starry night for dinner or regroup on the front patio.
- Quepos. The disco is open most nights until about 05:00.
- The Marlin. Excellent 2-for-1 happy hour right by the beach.
- El Mirador Bar, Arenas del Mar Beach and Nature Resort (Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Serves a great variety of natural and Costa Rican style drinks such as horchata made with rice, milk, cinnamon and peanuts or a refreshing agua de sapo that combines the flavors of lime, ginger and cane syrup. Or try a guaro mojito prepared with aguardiente, typical Costa Rican liquor made with sugarcane. Also has a long wine list and organic shade grown coffee.
Manuel Antonio area stretches from the town of Quepos and then along a 6 km serpentine road uphill and then back down to the beautiful Playa Espadilla and the entrance of the Manuel Antonio National Park. The road to the beach and park is surrounded by a large number of hotels and restaurants, offering the visitor a selection of places to stay and eat.
The road is rather busy and lacks sidewalks in some parts. If you plan to visit Manuel Antonio National Park or go to the beach, the accommodation options located near the Manuel Antonio National Park entrance might serve you best. The beach is 200 meters away from the park entrance. From the hills you can enjoy cooling sea breeze and ocean views.
Around the Easter and New Year period, vacancies can be hard to find so it is wise to book ahead. A lot of houses and apartments are also available to rent and many come with personal chefs as well.
- Mono Azul.
- Los Altos Beach Resort & Spa.
- Arenas del Mar Hotel, Manuel Antonio (Road to Manuel Antonio National Park take right at Hotel Mariposa), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Rooms with views of Manuel Antonio National Park, a spa, two restaurants featuring local, Costa Rican-fusion cuisine, access to two pristine beaches, a private reserve and a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and community development. Located in 11 acres of primary and secondary rain forest home to wildlife such as White Face Monkeys and sloth. Sustainable features of the hotel include the use of electric cars on property, a private reserve, solar panels to heat hot water, and the use of biodegradable cleaning products.
- 1 Brunxu Apartments, Between Manuel Antonio and Quepos, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Apartments for rent surrounded by exotic vegetation that characterize the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
- Casa Mono Congo (Modern Rental Villa), Pacific Canyon Dr (Main road to Manuel Antonio turn after Villas el Parque, 320 m turn down drive to home), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Four-bedroom modern home with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Six baths, private pool. Handicapped accessible. Zero-carbon footprint - solar and wind powered home. Stay in the only home that has lights when the daily electric outage happens. Free Wi-Fi internet with computer. Free safes in all rooms for you to leave your things when you go on tours and to the beach. US$75 per person/night.
- Casa Mono Titi (Squirrel Monkey House 3 story Spanish-style home), Pacific Canyon Dr (Main road to Manuel Antonio turn after Villas el Parque, 320 m turn down drive to home), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Enveloped in a horseshoe curve of the land, look out into the deep blue water of the Pacific Ocean while relaxing in the private pool. Watch the daily arrival of the playful endangered squirrel monkeys, the white-face monkeys, howler monkeys and sloths. Four bedrooms, three baths, an in-door waterfall and tub to enjoy. Fully stocked kitchen with free Wi-Fi and computer. Safes are free to use. Chef available. US$50 per person per night.
- 2 Hotel Makanda by the Sea, Main Road to Manuel Antonio Park (Turn right at Cafe Milagro, follow signs), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hotel Makanda By the Sea has 12 acres of wildlife sanctuary, 100 meters above the ocean. Villas and studios are located throughout botanical rainforest gardens with views over the 100-km (60-mile) coastline. Adults only. Offering all the amenities expected of a 4-star hotel. US$200 night.
- 3 Parador Resort & Spa, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An eco-conscious, luxury destination high above the Pacific coastline on Punta Quepos, which has ocean views and is set on more than 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of wildlife-rich tropical rainforest.
- Jungle Vista Inn.
Do not leave anything unattended on the beach, even for a short time, especially after dark. There have been recent opportunistic thefts on Manuel Antonio beach. Take the same safety precautions you would in other parts of Latin America.
- San José. See the "Get in" section for flight information.