Manuel Antonio is the Prom Queen of Costa Rica.
With over 465,000 visitors annually to the park alone, it is quite clearly the most popular vacation spot in the country.
When visiting you can expect the best of both the jungle and ocean worlds. Hiking to waterfalls and scoping out sloths in the morning and then relaxing on a white sand beach in the afternoon- there is no better combo!
The Manuel Antonio Low Down
- How to Keep Busy
- Let's Talk Money
- Crash Pads
- Tips from Mary
- Related Articles
- Booking Resources
How to Keep Busy
- Manuel Antonio National Park: An absolute must while you are in M.A. This national park is super user friendly and can be an all day activity. Up to you on going with a tour guide or not- I have done it both ways and enjoyed the freedom to go at my own pace on my own and loved all the interesting facts and information that came with having a guide with us!
- Playa Besantz: Also known as "Secret Beach" is one of my favorite beach spots. It is tucked away in a little cove so the waves are super gentle and it is the perfect spot to kayak and snorkel. The beach itself is quite far from the main road, although still walkable for the true adventurer. If you want to skip out on the hour or so long walk, grab a taxi to take you down to the entrance. From there, you will have a small hike from the trail head down to the shore. Side note: BYOB as once you are down there you will not want to leave!
- Happy Hour with a Sunset View: Down by the main drag of Playa Espadilla you will find tons of cute little beachfront restaurants offering happy hour specials. Grab a seat and a fancy drink around 5pm to get the best sunset views!
Let's Talk Money
- Transportation Prices: Manuel Antonio is not the most walkable beach city- there is one main road that begins in Quepos and dead ends into Manuel Antonio National Park. All along that road are restaurants, hotels, shops... truly everything you could possibly need. I would not recommend walking along this winding road- especially at night. The cheapest way to get around is the public bus which runs this main route all day and costs about a quarter on way. Your other options would be to call taxis whenever needed or rent a car to have at your disposal.
- Food: If you enjoy good food, this is not a bad place to be. There are so many types of food and levels of fancy to choose from. In general, food is much more expensive in M.A. than other beach towns in Costa, so pad your budget a bit for the days spent here, your tummy will thank you! Some of my favorites are:
- Crash Pads: There is such a range of accommodations in M.A. You can expect to spend between $12-20 USD for a bed in a hostel, low end hotels are about $80-120 USD a night, and modern/ new hotels are closer to $200-300 a night. Because M.A. is strictly a tourist paradise, you can expect to pay more for everything- including places to crash at.
- Hostels: While there are many hotels in M.A, there are only 2 that I recommend- check them out below.
- Hotels: What do you want? Privacy! And when do you want it? NOW. Trust me I hear ya and you will have no trouble at all in M.A. Check out my favs below- the good thing is, that you can't really go wrong!
- Hotel Mandarina- Simple and cute. This sweet spot is prime location close to good restaurants and smack dab in the middle of quepos town and the national park. This is def the most cost effective option on my list.
- Parador Resort and Spa- She's beauty and she's grace. This place makes everything else melt away.
- Si Como No Resort - Eco-Resort surrounded by nature, including its own wildlife refuge.
- Tulemar Bungalows & Villas- In my humble opinion the most epic of the options. It comes with a price tag,
Tips from Mary
1. Wake up early and get to Manuel Antonio National Park before it opens at 7am. The National Park only sells a certain number of tickets each day and most days they do sell out. Getting in line early will secure your ticket to ride and seriously heighten your chances of seeing a wider variety of animals.
2. Rule of thumb for pretty much everything- the farther you walk into town away from the beach the less expensive things will be. If you are not trying to break the bank opt for eating/ staying off the main drag.
3. Enjoy every sunset. (Need I say more?)
4. Enjoy a fresh coconut on the beach. You can buy a "pipa fria" from the comfort of your beach towel. You will see people walking up and down the beach with coolers of these bad boys. Not only are they super yummy but will help keep you hydrated in the heat!
5. While M.A is not known as a party beach, there are some spots to grab brews and dance. A chill spot to hang out in the evening is the restaurant and pool bar at Selina Hostel. For a more rowdy and local crowd, you can taxi into Quepos town center, were there are tons of local discotecas.
6. Pick your tours wisely. While most people are super pura vida, everyone is trying to make a buck. When booking (even through your hotel) ask them for discounts.