As one of the top 100 places to see before you die, Manuel Antonio combines natural primary and secondary forests, exuberant wildlife, and pristine beaches in one amazing location on Costa Rica's Pacific coast and stands to be one of Costa Rica's most valued destinations. Travelers fall deeply in love with the Manuel Antonio / Quepos area as they are dazzled by the
Manuel Antonio wildlife
abundant natural wildlife and the unlimited array of activities and attractions. Established in 1972 with an area enumerating 4,014 acres (the smallest of any Costa Rican national park), it is the destination of as many as 150,000 visitors annually and well known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails. In 2011, Manuel Antonio was listed by Forbes among the world's 12 most beautiful national parks.
Inside the park you will find a true ecosystem surrounded by rain forest and lush mountains that literally meet the ocean. Its great popularity is well deserved as it is one of the richest natural places in Costa Rica to enjoy wild life. Although Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's smallest national park, the diversity of wildlife in its 6.83 km2 is unequaled with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Both Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth and Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth are a major feature, as are three of Costa Rica's four monkey species — the Mantled Howler monkey, Central American Squirrel Monkey, and White-headed Capuchin monkey. Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Green Iguana, Common Basilisk, White-nosed Coati and many snake and bat species are also common in the park. Included in the 184
Manuel Antonio National Park
bird species are toucans, woodpeckers, potoos, motmots, tanagers, Turkey Vulture, parakeets and hawks. Dolphins can be observed there, as well as the occasional migrating whale. Scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking provide opportunities to experience the tropical wildlife that enriches Manuel Antonio.
Outside the park travelers find no shortage of modern convenience's that make up Manuel Antonio Hotels, Hostels, and bed and breakfasts. Along the 7km exciting bus ride between Quepos and the Manuel Antonio national park entrance, visitor find a wide assortment of Manuel Antonio Hotels and restaurants built to equal the pristine elegance and awe of the Manuel Antonio beach and views.
Open 7am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday
*park closed on mondays
Besides it's beautiful national park, Manuel Antonio and Quepos Costa Rica are extremely well know for their wide variety of hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and specialty lodging. Although not all hotels and hostels are known for their sustainable efforts, the area is still seen as a leader in Costa Rica's drive toward sustainability. Between the small town of Quepos and the 7km stretch that makes up Manuel Antonio, over 260 different types of hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and specialty lodgings can be found. Manuel Antonio and Quepos provide a wide variety of accommodations that ranges from luxury hotels and vacation rentals to budget hostels and cabinas. Although many of these establishments may be out of the budget of most travelers, most hotels, hostels, and bed and breakfasts allow outside visitors to enjoy the pool, bar, and lounges by simply ordering some kind of food or beverage while enjoying the amenities offered by the hotel. All hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and specialty lodging for this area can be easily found online or in one of many guide books that include Manuel Antonio and Puerto Quepos.
Villas Jacquelina -Quepos, Costa Rica
Villas Jacquelina is proud to provide a unique lodging option unlike anything else in the area. Villas Jacquelina is a family ran establishment geared toward positive guest relations and comfortable unique accommodations. Villas Jacquelina takes prides in separating itself from the pack by offering great room rates, spa and massage treatments at deeply discounted prices unequaled anywhere in Costa Rica, and the personal service and attention that makes guest feel at home and allows them to make the most out of their vacation.
If your visiting this area, the first thing you will need to decide is weather you want to stay in Manuel Antonio or Quepos. Manuel Antonio and Quepos are essentially the same location, seeing how both places inhabit an area less than 8 kilometers in distance. Although they are essentially the same location, they both are very different from one another and offer different benefits and downfalls.
Quepos is the main City of the area. Staying in the city is nice because you are close to everything you need or want and you will find more activities and events near the city. The City of Quepos is 3 meters under sea level yet sits directly on the pacific coast. The main city scape is flat and good for exploring by foot. The city has a few nice art galleries, souvenir shops, clothing stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and surf shops. On every Friday afternoon starts a beautiful outdoor market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, baked goods, and souvenirs most of which are made, grown, and fished locally. The outdoor market goes year round and starts Friday afternoon and extends through Saturday evening.
Staying in Manuel Antonio is appealing because the dense, beautiful, jungle is full of life and engulfs everything in its ways. In Manuel Antonio wildlife is everywhere. It is common to see monkeys and sloths throughout the area and sometime you can spot them right from the car or on the public bus as you travel through the area. Manuel Antonio's Ocean and coastal views are truly breathtaking but only visible form select locations along the 7 kilometer stretch that makes up this beautiful mountainous area. Nightlife restaurants, shops, and activities are easy to find in the area but are spread out throughout the area, making it difficult to enjoy more than one of two places at a time. Currently there is a noise ordinance in Manuel Antonio that prevents noisy activities from happening in the area after 12pm. The noise ordinance is nice for hotels trying to keep a peaceful environment but it means that the main late night fun gets pushed to the city of Quepos at around Midnight.
Click here for more information about Hostels Quepos Costa RicaClick here for more information about Hotels Quepos Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio Costa Rica -getting around
On foot - Not recommended
Walking in Manuel Antonio is not the best idea unless your traveling very short distances. This very mountainous road extends from the city of Quepos all the way to the Manuel Antonio national park. Most of the 7km stretch winds up and down large jungle hills as the road hugs the mountainside which does not have a sidewalk or pedestrian passway .
On bike - Not recommended
Walking this road is not safe, therefore biking this road is even less safe. If the road was not packed with cars, it would make an amazing yet very difficult biking trail.
By public bus - Easy
The Bus system is great in this area. Buses circle from Quepos to Manuel Antonio and back all day long. Buses leave from central Quepos every 15 minutes during high season and every half hour during low season. The bus system is perfect because Manuel Antonio is just one extra long road that takes you past most everything the area has to offer.
By taxi - Easy
The taxi system is as good as it can be in this mountainous area. Taxi's can be easily called, waved down, or found during regular business hours and like to hang out in popular central locations along the Manuel Antonio road. Trusted cabs are usually painted red and are easy to find. Watch out for pirate taxis (unmarked taxis) as these can be more dangerous.
Our tour begins with an amazing drive through the rainforest out to our canopy site in Quepos. During the ride there are many stops for everyone to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. Our local bilingual guides have a vast knowledge of the area and love to share the many secrets that the rainforest holds with our clients. The canopy site is located approximately forty-five minutes from Manuel Antonio Park, in an area called Paso Real. Here we have a brand new ranch house with full facilities, located next to a pristine river, this is where we serve a full breakfast or lunch (depending on tour time). A spectacular river is the backdrop for these platforms carefully built in the canopy of the rainforest in Costa Rica. Clients are able to traverse from tree to tree and platform to platform using pulleys on horizontal traverse cables, as they sail through the treetops of the tropical rainforest canopy, and over the trails far below.
- Travel deep into the rainforest for a full day adventure on one of the cleanest rivers in Central America. This trip includes a short hike to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the area. In the rainy season (May thru December), you will encounter big-water Class III rapids with roller coaster type waves. In the dry season, (May thru December) you can raft with a guide, or challenge the rapids one on one in your own inflatable kayak (ducky). Expert guides will be there to help you navigate the rapids.
Sail aboard the Tom Cat, Tom Cat II or the Spanish Dancer. Join us as we explore the Manuel Antonio Marine Preserve and watch dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, whales and birds in their natural habitat. Observe many species of colorful tropical fish while snorkeling within a protected bay. Relax while sailing the open sea and enjoy the compliantly mixed alcoholic beverages. Enjoy a feast of grilled fish brochettes, pasta salad, fresh local fruits, natural drinks, all accompanied by the hospitality of our Costa Rican crew.
All three of these tours pick you up directly from your hotel in Manuel Antonio or Quepos. They all provide all necessary equipment, snacks and refreshments as well as lunch or dinner. The sunset cruise even includes alcoholic beverages. If you decide to visit this area be sure to try one of these amazing tours.
Manuel Antonio Costa Rica - Things to do
Jungle Creek Waterfall -
The Jungle creek waterfall is one of Manuel Antonio’s hidden treasures. This 45 minute waterfall hike takes you through the dense Manuel Antonio Jungle to an amazing waterfall just kilometers away from hotels and vacation rentals. On this hike you may encounter monkeys, snakes, frogs, fish, sloths, and all sorts of other insects and animals. When you reach the waterfall you will arrive at the top and will need to jump from the rock down into the water basin to cool off. There is also a small yet steep trail that will lead you around if you choose not to cliff jump. Pack a lunch and be prepared to be amazing by nature at its best. A true must see in Manuel Antonio.
Secluded Beach hike –
The secluded beach hike is one of Manuel Antonio’s hidden treasures. This 1 hour hike takes you through the dense Manuel Antonio Jungle to an amazing secluded beach off the pacific coast of Quepos. (Quick note)- Make sure you check the tide scheduled because this beach only exists during low tide. The best time to go to this beach is during the lowest tide of the day. On the hike to the beach you may encounter monkeys, snakes, frogs, fish, sloths, and all sorts of other insects and animals. This secluded beach is great for snorkeling and fun in the sun. Pack a lunch and be prepared to be amazing by nature at its best. A true must see in Manuel Antonio.
National park hike and Rainmaker park-
The Manuel Antonio national park and Rainmaker park are two national reserves in the Manuel Antonio / Quepos area that are truly unmatched. Both have amazing hiking trails and dense jungle throughout. Manuel Antonio National Park has amazing beaches and an abundance of wildlife while Rainmaker park has amazing waterfalls, suspension bridges, and powerful flowing rivers. Pack a lunch and be prepared to be amazing by nature at its best. A true must see in Manuel Antonio and Quepos.
Manuel Antonio Costa Rica - Where to eat
Manuel Antonio and Quepos have a huge amount of restaurants and sodas (local typical food restaurants). In the Manuel Antonio and Quepos you can find great seafood, amazing BBQ and spectacular Peruvian food.
Here are a few Manuel Antonio favorites:
Gran Inca- Quepos-
Grand Inca is hands down the best place to eat in the area. This hole in the wall Peruvian establishment makes up for it's basic atmosphere with extremely high food quality and friendly menu prices. The Chef is from Peru where he learned to cook. He continued his career working as a head chef in a very nice Peruvian restaurant in San Joe and has recently made the move to Quepos to open his own restaurant. Their specialty is their seafood, delivering mouthwatering fish filets smothered in fresh shrimp and calamari (Pacific style fish) but everything on the menu will make your taste buds fly off their handles. Another popular favorite is the seafood skillet that comes to your table hot off the grill and costs only $10. $9-$15 per person.
Soda Solo Bueno-
Quepos- Soda Solo Bueno is a central located local Soda. A Soda is a restaurant that does not serve alcohol. Typically Sodas most often serve local typical food and keep prices relative. This soda serves up great food at a cheap price.
Disfrutas / Cosechas-
Quepos- These two juice bars serve great real fruit smothies and juices at a cheap price of around $2 per drink.
Agua Azul is easily has the best food in all of Manuel Antonio and the food is only amplified by the truly amazing and breathtaking views that overlook the jungle below and the amazing Costa Rican coastline. Agua Azul is owned by some local ex pats and therefore has great service and high food quality. Their menu specializes in mouthwatering fish entrees and some uniquely amazing appetizers. The sired Ahi Tuna Margarita will make your taste-buds explode and the Plantain stack will bring you back for more. The Owners, Rob and Page keep a high standard and make sure guest get whatever they need. This is a must eat in Manuel Antonio. $10-$25 per person.
Barba Roja has on of Manuel Antonio's best locations, sitting directly in the middle of Manuel Antonio's 7Km stretch to the national park. Barba Roja has an amazing happy hour with a sunset deck that is truly unmatched. They specialize in beautiful fish entrees and mouthwatering BBQ but also have a very respectable sushi bar that serves fresh fish and seafood rolls. Barba Roja is well known for its frequent live music as well as its spectacular ambiance and ominous sunsets. A true must visit. $10-$25 per person
Honorable mentions: Sancho's, Marlins, Mar Luna, Moncha Pizza, Ronnie’s place.