Quepos Quepos Map Costa Rica

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 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, as well as one of the country’s best hostels. Quepos is also gridded with easy-to-walk streets, which provide the opportunity to interact with the friendly locals, who have thus far weathered the storm of change with cheerfulness and optimism.


The town’s name was derived from the indigenous Quepoa, a subgroup of the Brunka (Boruca), who inhabited the area at the time of the Spanish conquest. As with many indigenous populations across the region, the Quepoa were quickly decimated by newly introduced European diseases. By the end of the 19th century no pureblooded Quepoa were left, and the area proceeded to be colonized by farmers from the highlands.

Quepos first came to prominence as a banana-exporting port in the early 20th century, though a huge bout of banana blight in the mid-20th century obliterated the industry. African oil palms, which currently stretch toward the horizon in dizzying rows around Quepos, soon replaced bananas as the major local crop, though unfortunately they generated a lot less employment for the locals.

The future, on the other hand, is looking bright for locals, as foreign visitors are coming to the Manuel Antonio area by the boatload, and more people means more jobs in the area’s rapidly expanding tourism industry. The opening of the Marina Pez Vela may also have profound effects on this humble town, though questions of sustainability and the need for balanced growth continue to be fiercely debated in the local media.


Titi Canopy Tours (Tel 2777-3130; www.titicanopytour.com; Costanera. sur; daytime/nighttime. tours. Us$65/80; h tours. 7:30am, 11am. &. 2:30pm) Offering zip-lining adventures during the day and night, this outfit has friendly, professional guides and a convenient location just outside of central Quepos (150m south of the hospital). Tour rates include drinks, snacks and local transportation; group discounts are available.

H2O Adventures rafting (Rios Tropicales; Tel 2777-4092;. www.h2ocr.com) The venerable Costa Rican rafting company Ríos Tropicales has a franchise in Quepos called H2O Adventures. Rates for Class II to IV rapids start at US$67 in low season. In summer they are US$82.


The dive sites are still being developed in the Quepos and Manuel Antonio area, though readers have recommended the following operator. The dive sites are away from the contaminated beaches, so water pollution is not a problem when diving.

Oceans Unlimited Diving (Tel 2777-3171; www.scubadivingcostarica.com; 2-tank.dive.Us$98) S This shop takes its diving very seriously, and runs most of its excursions out to Isla Larga and Isla del Caño, which is south in Bahía Drake (connected via a two-hour bus trip). It also has a range of specialized PADI certifications, and regular environmental-awareness projects that make it stand out from the pack. It’s located 400m up the road to Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.

Sport fishing

Sport fishing is big here, and offshore ventures are said to be best from December to April, when sailfish are being hooked. By and large this is a high-dollar activity and you can expect to pay upwards of US$1000 to hire a boat for the day. If you want to shop around a bit, visit the office of Marina Pez Vela (Tel 2774-9000; www.marinapezvela.com), 500m south of the town center, which can connect you with captains of boats best suited to your needs.

Quepos Sail fishing Charters fishing (Tel 2777-2025 www. queposfishing.com) This Quepos-based outfitter gets good reviews from travelers and offers charters on a fleet of variously sized boats. Rates vary significantly depending on season, number of people and size of boat. It also offers packages that include accommodations and transfers.


There are numerous reputable tour operators in the Quepos area, but the scene can be a bit tricky because of the abundance of third-party booking agents who work on commission. The best way to arrange a tour is through your hotel or hostel. Travelers also give glowing reviews of tours booked out of foreign-language bookstore Jaime Peligro

Iguana Tours Adventure (Tel 2777-2052; www.iguanatours.com; h 6:30am9pm) S With tours that leave for destinations all over the central Pacific coast, this adventure-travel shop offers reputable river rafting, sea kayaking, horseback riding, mangrove tours and dolphin-watching excursions. It’s no fly-by-night operation – it’s been around since 1989 – and has a proven commitment to ecotourism principles.

Dolphin (Tel 2777-1647, toll. free. 800-943-9161; www.planetdolphin.com) Steve Wofford at Planet Dolphin offers dolphin and whale-watching tours; starlight sailing cruises are also available. The cruises include lunch and transfers to your hotel, and depart from Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. Prices vary depending on the size of your group and the itinerary.


Staying in Quepos offers a cheaper alternative to the sky-high prices at many lodges on the road to Manuel Antonio. It can also be more convenient, as all the banks, supermarkets and bus stops are in Quepos. Still, those who save a bit here on a room may have to spend it on taxi rides to the park. Reservations are recommended during high-season weekends and are necessary during Easter and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Wide Mouth Frog Backpackers (Tel 2777-2798;.www.widemouthfrog.org; .dm.Us$12,. r.with/without.bathroom.Us$50/40;.p a i W s ) Friendly, secure and ideally outfitted for travelers of all stripes – this backpacker outpost is one of the best hostels in the country. Brightly tiled rooms and dorms with clean-shared bathrooms are situated around the pool, which is fenced for children’s safety but also attractively landscaped. The communal kitchen is fully equipped and has a spacious, open-air dining area.

Breakfast is available for only US$3, and there’s a TV lounge with a free DVD rental library and wi-fi, a couple of lazy dogs padding around and a security guard watching the place and cars (street parking only) after hours. WMF is a perfect staging area for Manuel Antonio.

Hotel Sirena (Tel 2777-0572;. www.lasirenahotel.com;. s/d/tr. incl. breakfast. from. Us$82/94/105;. p a i W s ) This intimate boutique hotel is a welcome and warm addition to the Quepos scene, and is easily the best midrange option in town. The Sirena’s whitewashed walls, blue trim and aromatherapy offer a slice of breezy Mediterranean serenity. In their rooms, guests enjoy crisp white linens, air-conditioning, cable TV and a minifridge. Rooms upstairs get much better light.

Best Western Hotel Kamuk HOtel. $$$ (Tel 2777-0379;. www.kamuk.co.cr;. r. incl. breakfast. from. Us$80-147;. pnaiWs) While the Best Western standard ensures professional service, the Hotel Kamuk is all Costa Rican, from the bones of its historic building to the colonial decorative elements. Rooms are on the small side but have all of the modern conveniences, as well as a pool and open-air restaurant overlooking the waterfront. Check the internet for discounts.

Hotel Villa Romántica HOtel. $$$ (Tel 2777-0037;. www.villaromantica.com;. s/d. incl. breakfast.from.Us$77/111;.paiWs) A short walk southeast from the town center brings you to this peaceful garden oasis, which is overflowing with verdant greens and tropical flowers; rooms are bright and open. If you’re looking for a compromise between the convenience of staying in Quepos and the intimate proximity to nature found in Manuel Antonio, this is an excellent choice.


One benefit of staying in Quepos proper is the accessibility of a wide range of dining opportunities – from cheap local sodas to the best sushi on the central Pacific coast – all within a short stroll. The mercado central (Central. Market;. h hours. vary) is packed with produce vendors and good sodas too numerous to list, so follow your nose and the locals. Self-caterers should also check out the farmers market (h 4pm.fri-noon.sat) near the waterfront, where you can buy directly from farmers, fisher folk, bakers and other food producers.

Soda Come Bien (Tel 2777-2550;. mains. Us$3-6;. h 6am-5pm. Mon Sat,. to. 11am. sun) The daily rotation of delicious cafeteria options might include fish in tomato sauce, olla de carne (beef soup with rice) or chicken soup, but everything is fresh, the ladies behind the counter are friendly and the burly portions are a dream come true for hungry shoe stringers. Or, pick up a fresh empanada (savory turnover) before or after a long bus ride.

Super Mas (Tel 2777-1162;. h 8am-8pm. Mon-sat,. to. 1pm. sun;. W) Don’t mistake this market for your average supermarket: the wondrous aisles of Super Mas have an astonishing array of imported goods, fresh bread and liquor.

Tropical Sushi (Tel 2777-1710;. meals. Us$10-27,. all-you-can-eat. sushi. Us$26;. h 4-10:30pm) This is without doubt the best sushi on the central Pacific coast. Chef Fuji (originally from Japan, and a resident of Costa Rica for 15 years) serves up delicious sushi and other authentic Japanese cuisine in this cozy little spot. As he’s the only one manning the kitchen, expect to have a leisurely dining experience.

Although the sushi is a sure bet, the other menu offerings are also worth a try, such as the donburi (pork or chicken and egg over rice), steamed dumplings and tempura.

Gran Inca (Tel 2777-4347;. mains. Us$7-15;. h 5-10pm. tue-sun) The no-frills look of this Peruvian-run spot belies the excellent food you’ll find here. The menu encompasses a variety of traditional dishes, ranging from Peruvian-style ceviche to steak sautéed with peppers and onions. While the dishes might sound similar to Tico fare found everywhere, the flavors are lively and distinctive, and a welcome change of pace.

Escalofrío (Tel 2777-1902;. gelato. $2,. mains. Us$9-20;. h 2:3010:30pm. tue-sun;. W) Gelato lovers should make a point of stopping here, to choose from more than 20 flavors of the heavenly stuff. This spacious alfresco restaurant may also be the only game in town on Sunday night during slow season, a godsend especially if you enjoy wood-fired pizza, pasta and gnocchi.

Across the street, its deli makes excellent sandwiches with imported Italian meats and cheeses, perfect for toting on excursions to Manuel Antonio.

Monchados CAriBBeAN.$$ (Tel 2777-1972;. dishes. Us$8-15;. h 5pm-midnight) Although the food is inconsistent, this counts as a Quepos institution among gringos. The long-standing Mex-Carib spot offers traditional Limón-style dishes and Mexican standards. Food here is eclectic, innovative and never bland, a theme that’s also reflected in the vibrant decorations and fairly regular live music.

Drinking & Nightlife

Nightlife in Quepos has a good blend of locals and travelers, and it’s cheaper than anything you’ll find in the Manuel Antonio area. If you are looking for something a bit more sophisticated, however, it’s easy enough to jump in a taxi. Keep in mind that the action won’t start warming up until around 10pm.

Café Milagro CAfe (Tel 2777-1707;. www.cafemilagro.com;. drinks. Us$36;. h 7am-5pm. Mon-sat) Café Milagro sources its coffee beans from all over Costa Rica and produces a variety of estate, single-origin and blended roasts to suit any coffee fiend’s palate. Aside from the glorious caffeine buzz, you can feel good about purchasing its bagged beans, as it donates 1Tel of its profits to environmental causes via international nonprofit 1Tel for the Planet.

Dos Locos BAr (Tel 2777-1526;. h 7am-11pm. Mon-sat,. 11am-10pm. sun) This popular Mexican restaurant is the regular watering hole for the local expat community, and serves as a venue for the occasional live band. Opening onto the central cross streets of town, it’s fun for peoplewatching (and cheap Imperials). There’s an English-language trivia night every Thursday. Added bonus: breakfast is served here all day.

El Gran Escape BAr (Tel 2777-0395;.h 6am-11pm) This longstanding pub, formerly located in central Quepos, had moved to a swish new location at Marina Pez Vela at the time of writing. Sportsfishers can disembark to find cold beers and pub grub awaiting them right at the marina (a short taxi ride from town).

Cuban Republik Disco Lounge ClUB (Tel 8345-9922;.cover.Us$4;.h 9pm-3am.thu-sun) Cuban Republik hosts the most reliable party in central Quepos, and it has some kind of drink special nearly every night if you arrive early (before 10:30pm or 11pm). Later, the volume gets loud, the drinks get more pricey and things tend to careen out of control. Women get in for free before 11pm on Friday night.

Musik ClUB (Tel 2777-7060;. h 4pm-2am. Mon-sat) The decor of this futuristically themed place (white plastic furniture and lasers) is a bit heavy-handed, but the centrally located club has theme nights, requisite (dangerously cheap) ladies’ specials and a molar-rattling sound system.

Casino CAsiNO (h slot. machines. 11am-6pm,. all. games. 6pm-4am) If you feel like putting your cash on the line, there’s a small but suitable casino at the Best Western Hotel Kamuk, but the scene gets a bit seedy.


Downtown Quepos is a small checkerboard of dusty streets that are lined with a mix of localand 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 Marina Pez vela, whose marine slips opened to much fanfare in 2010   though the global economic crisis slowed development somewhat, the next phase of shops and restaurants debuted in late 2013, with longtime Quepos bar el gran escape relocating to a shiny new spot in the marina’s commercial hub  

Quepos to Manuel Antonio

From the Quepos waterfront, the road swings inland for 7km before reaching the beaches of Manuel Antonio Village and the entrance to the national park. This route passes over a number of hills awash with picturesque views of forested slopes leading down to the palm-fringed coastline.

This area is home to some of Costa Rica’s finest hotels and restaurants, though navigating the area without a car is challenging. While shoestringers and budget travelers are catered for, this is one part of the country where those with deep pockets can bed down and dine out in the lap of luxury.

Note that the road to Manuel Antonio is steep, winding and very narrow. Worse, local bus drivers love to careen through at high velocities, and there are almost no places to pull over in the event of an emergency. At all times, you should exercise caution and drive and walk with care, especially at night. Be particularly aware of pedestrians.

Sights & Activities

Manuel Antonio Nature Park & Wildlife Refuge WilDlife.reserve (Tel 2777-0850;. www.wildliferefugecr.com;. adult/ child. Us$15/8;. h 8am-4pm;. c ) Formerly known as Fincas Naturales, this private rainforest preserve and butterfly garden breeds about three dozen species of butterfly – a delicate population compared to the menagerie of lizards, reptiles and frogs that inspire gleefully grossed-out squeals from the little ones. A jungle night tour (US$39 for adults, US$29 for children) showcases the colorful local frogs and their songs.

Amigos del Río (Tel 2777-0082;. www.adradventurepark.com;. tours. Us$130;.h tours.depart.6:45am,.8:30am.&.10:30am) Pack all of your canopy-tour jungle fantasies into one day on Amigos del Ríos’ ‘10-in-One Adventure’, featuring zip lining, a Tarzan swing, rappelling down a waterfall and more. The seven-hour adventure tour includes a free transfer from the Quepos and Manuel Antonio area as well as breakfast and lunch. Amigos del Río is also a reliable outfit for white-water rafting trips.

Cala Spa (Tel 2777-0777,. ext. 220;. www.sicomono.com;. Hotel. sí.Como.No;.treatments.Us$65-140;.h 10am-7pm) If you’re sunburned and sore from exploring Manuel Antonio – even better if you’re not – the Cala Spa offers aloe body wraps, citrus salt scrubs and various types of massage to restore body and spirit. Open daily by appointment only.

Manuel Antonio Surf School (MAss;. Tel 2777-1955,. 2777-4842;. www.manuelantoniosurfschool.com;.group.lessons.Us$65) MASS offers friendly, safe and fun small-group lessons daily, lasting for three hours and with a three-to-one student-instructor ratio. Find its stand about 500m up the Manuel Antonio road south of Quepos.

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