Located just 7km from the entrance to Manuel Antonio, the small, busy town of Quepos serves as the gateway to the national park, as well as a convenient port of call for travelers in need of goods and services. Although the Manuel Antonio area was rapidly and irreversibly transformed following the ecotourism boom, Quepos has largely retained an authentic Tico feel, particularly when you get out of the middle of town. Exuding an ineffable charm that is absent from so much of the central Pacific, Quepos still has glimmers of traditional Latin America, even while being a heavily traveled stop on the tourist-packed gringo trail.

While most visitors to the Manuel Antonio area prefer to stay outside Quepos, accommodations are generally cheaper and better in town, though you will need to organize transportation to both the national park and the beaches. Quepos can be an appealing place to stay, especially since it’s home to a burgeoning restaurant scene that belies its small size and one of the country's best hostels. Quepos is also gridded with easy-to-walk streets, which provides the opportunity to interact with the friendly locals, who have thus far weathered the storm of change with cheerfulness and optimism.

Downtown Quepos is a small checkerboard of dusty streets that are lined with a mix of local- and tourist-oriented shops, businesses, markets, restaurants and cafes. The town loses its well-ordered shape as it expands outward, but the sprawl is kept relatively in check by the mountains to the east and the water to the west.

Southeast of the town center is the brand-new Pez Vela Marina, a shimmering jewel of architectural prowess that – to be frank – seems a bit out of place in drowsy Quepos. In 2010 the marine slips opened up to the public with much fanfare, though it will still be a few years before the construction is fully complete. The next phase was supposed to include residential communities, shopping complexes and boutique hotels, which could eventually reshift the town’s orientation, but the Global Economic Crisis seems to have slowed development.

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