San Jose to Manuel Antonio Quepos

From downtown San Jose to Manuel Antonio and from SJO Airport San Jose to Manuel Antonio and Quepos, we have Collective Shared Shuttles, Private Services. and most Wanted Tours from Manuel Antonio. We are including some Fantastic Videos of the area as well.

Please find right below complete information. You will be able to make reservations and pay online right away by clicking on the "BOOK NOW" button or if you have questions and comments please send them all by clicking on the "INQUIRE" button.

 

San Jose Airport to Manuel Antonio:

$47 adult / $35 child (under 12 year old)

Morning Departure: 8:15am

Afternoon Departure: 3:00pm

San Jose to Manuel Antonio San Jose to Manuel Antonio

 

Collective Shared Shuttle:

San Jose Hotels to Manuel Antonio:

$49 adult / $35 child (under 12 year old)

Morning Departure: 7:15am

Afternoon Departure: 2:00pm

San Jose to Manuel Antonio San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Service Description: (Shuttle San Jose to Manuel Antonio)

Shared Collective Shuttles have 2 departures per day, in the morning and in the afternoon from San Jose to Manuel Antonio. This is a 3.5 hours drive from San Jose area to Manuel Antonio.

 

 

Private VIP Service: (departing any time of your election)

Private Service Rate:

SPECIAL LOW SEASON RATES:

$170 for the service from 1 up to 6 passengers / 3.5 hrs drive

San Jose to Manuel Antonio San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Service Description: (Private Service San Jose to Manuel Antonio)

This is a private service with your own driver and own vehicle door to door. At the time of your election our driver will go to the location of your preference to pick you up from there you will be assisted. If needed we will stop in a restaurant, supermarket or drugstore.

Rate for the service, not person. from 1 up to 6 passengers. Rates vary depending on your drop off location and if the service is operated between 6pm and 6am.

You will be drop off directly at the location of your preference. Advance reservations required

 

 

 

Adventure Connections (from San Jose on the way to Manuel Antonio)

 

- Crocodile watching Boat Tour on Tarcoles River:

Transport & Adventure San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Details: Rate: $180 per person / Departs at 7am / Duration 7 hours /  Lunch Included


- Carara National Park Naturist Guided Hike:

Transport & Adventure San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

Details: Rate: $180 per person / Departs at 7am / Duration 7 hours /  Lunch Included

 
 

Tours & Adventures from Manuel Antonio

 

- Catamaran Snorkel & Sunset:

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

8am or 2pm

 

- Manuel Antonio Park Deluxe:

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

9:30am

 

- Savegre River Class II/III:

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

8am

 

- Zip Line & Canopy Tour:

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

7am / 10am & 2pm

 

- Ecological Excursion: Agro-Cultural Santa Juana:

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

7am

 

- Ecological Excursion: Rainmaker Rain Forest Hiking:

Inquire information about Adventure Connections San Jose to Manuel Antonio Book Now: Adventure Connection San Jose to Manuel Antonio

7am & 1pm

 

 

Other Popular Routes from San Jose:

San Jose to Arenal Volcano La Fortuna

San Jose to Jaco

San Jose to Tamarindo

San Jose to Cahuita

San Jose to Liberia

San Jose to Monteverde

San Jose to Puerto Viejo

San Jose to Santa Teresa

San Jose to Montezuma

San Jose to Papagayo

 

Other Popular Routes from Manuel Antonio:

Manuel Antonio to San Jose Airport

Manuel Antonio to Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio to Jaco

Manuel Antonio to Tamarindo

Manuel Antonio to Liberia

Manuel Antonio to Monteverde

Manuel Antonio to Santa Teresa

Manuel Antonio to Montezuma

Manuel Antonio to Papagayo

 

MANUEL ANTONIO: SnapshotManuel Antonio Map Costa Rica

PARQUE NACIONAL MANUEL ANTONIO & AROUND

As visitors find themselves along this small outcrop of land that juts into the Pacific, the air becomes heavy with humidity, scented with thick vegetation and alive with the call of birds and monkeys, making it suddenly apparent that this is the tropics. The reason to come here is the stunning Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, one of the most picturesque bits of tropical coast in Costa Rica.

If you get bored of cooing at the baby monkeys that scurry in the canopy and scanning for birds and sloths, the turquoise waves and perfect sand provide endless entertainment. However, there’s no pretending that Manuel Antonio is anyone’s secret (despite being the smallest of Costa Rica’s national parks, it’s also one of the most popular.)

Little Quepos, the once sleepy fishing and banana village on the park’s perimeter, has ballooned with this tourism-based economy (although it is, admirably, clinging to its roots despite ongoing socioeconomic transformation), and the road leading from Quepos to the park is overdeveloped. However, the rain forested hills sweeping down to the sea and the blissful beaches make the park a stunning destination worthy of the tourist hype.

Note that, for purposes of clarity, we’ve divided our coverage into four sections: Quepos proper (the area’s only proper small city), the road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio, the tiny Manuel Antonio Village and the national park itself.

Quepos

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.

History

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.

Activities

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.

Diving

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.

Tours

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.

Planet 
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.

Sleeping

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.

Eating

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.

Orientation

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.

Sleeping

The Quepos–Manuel Antonio road is heavily skewed towards ultra-top-end hotels, but plenty of noteworthy midrange accommodations and excellent budget hostels are hidden along the way. High-season rates are provided throughout this section, though – as elsewhere in the region – low-season rates can be as much as 40Tel lower. Reservations are an absolute must for busy weekends and holiday seasons.

Although the sleeping options along the Quepos–Manuel Antonio road are closer to the park than those in Quepos, many of them will still require a taxi or a long walk along the busy road to reach the park.

Vista Serena Hostel (Tel 2777-5162;. www.vistaserena.com;. incl. breakfast. dm. Us$10-16,. bungalows. without. bathroom Us$45-60;. p i W ) In an area that is hopelessly overpriced, it’s a relief to find such a great budget hostel. Perched scenically on a quiet hillside, this memorable spot allows guests to enjoy spectacular ocean sunsets from a hammock-filled terrace and strum the communal guitar. The spick-and-span white-tiled dorms have shared bathrooms, a communal kitchen and a TV lounge.

For those who want a bit more privacy, there are also bungalows and a house that sleeps up to eight. Super-friendly owners Sonia, Conrad and Alex speak fluent English, and are commendable for their efforts in assisting countless travelers. To top it off, a short trail hike through local farmland leads to a remote wilderness beach.

Backpackers Manuel Antonio (Tel 2777-2507;. www.backpackersmanuelantonio . com;. dm/d. incl. breakfast. Us$12/35;. p i W s ) This locally owned hostel has a very sociable vibe and a good location – relatively near the entrance of the park and walking distance from a good grocery store and bakery. The dorms are clean and secure and there’s a grill and pool out back. Larger rooms, with a bunk and double bed, are good for families.

Hotel Mono Azul (Tel 2777-2572;. www.monoazul.com;. r. Us$55-85,. ste. from. Us$115,. child. under. 12yr. free;. p a i8 W s ) The Mono Azul represents terrific value as well as being a great family option – nestled in a tropical garden and decorated throughout in a rainforest theme, rooms are arranged around three pools and a game room. Ten percent of hotel receipts are donated to Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR), founded here by two local schoolchildren in 1999.

The girls were concerned about the endangered mono tití (Central American squirrel monkey). Many of these adorable critters were run over on the narrow road to the national park or electrocuted on overhanging electrical cables, so KSTR purchased and erected monkey ‘bridges’ across the road (you can see them, often in use, as you head to the park). All proceeds from the hotel’s onsite souvenir shop also go directly to KSTR.

Mimo’s Hotel (Tel 2777-0054;. www.mimoshotel.com;. d/ste. from. Us$73/119;.paiWs) Run by a delightful Italian couple, this whitewashed and wood-trimmed hotel has spacious, clean, terra-cotta-tiled rooms. The property is connected by lovely stone paths, bringing guests to two palm-fringed swimming pools, a glowing Jacuzzi and a restaurant serving Italian-influenced dishes. The owners speak half a dozen languages, and have a wealth of knowledge about Costa Rica.

Hotel Tres Banderas

(Tel 2777-1871;. www.hoteltresbanderas.com;. d/ ste. incl. breakfast. Us$90/113;. p a i W s ) This welcoming roadside inn is owned by a Polish-born US citizen who lives in Costa Rica – hence the very appropriate moniker, tres banderas (three flags). Fourteen doubles and three suites are spacious affairs with imported tiles and local woods and, while some could use a bit of air, all come with jungle-facing terraces furnished with leather rocking chairs.

Dinner is often prepared on an outdoor grill and guests congregate to dine together around the deep central pool, which lends a communal flourish to the property.

Babaloo Inn (Tel 2777-3461;. www.babalooinn.com;. d. standard/ king. Us$90/202;. p a W s ) Standard rooms at the Babaloo Inn come with private balcony overlooking a lush tropical garden. However, we’re partial to the larger king rooms featuring dramatic ocean views, comfortable sitting area, oversized beds and shower, small kitchenette and enough space for a family of four. All rooms come with fully stocked minibar and DVD player, perfect for a rainy day.

Makanda by the Sea (Tel 2777-0442;. www.makanda.com;. studios/villas. incl. breakfast. from. Us$299/452;. p a i W s ) Comprising just six villas and five studios, Makanda has an unmatched air of intimacy and complete privacy. Villa 1 (the largest) will take your breath away – one entire wall is open to the rainforest and the ocean. The other villas and studios are air-conditioned and enclosed, though they draw upon the same minimalistic, Eastern-infused design schemes.

The grounds are also home to a beautiful infinity pool and Jacuzzi, both offering superb views out to sea, as well as a series of flawless Japanese gardens in which you can stroll and reflect on the beauty of your surroundings. And, if you’re still not impressed, you can access a private beach by taking the 552 steps down the side of the mountain – bliss! Note that guests must be 16 or older.

Hotel Costa Verde (Tel 2777-0584;. www.costaverde.com;. efficiency. units/studios. from. Us$130/168,. Boeing. 727. fuselage.home.Us$565;.p a i W s ) The collection of comfortable rooms and studios at Costa Verde occupy a verdant setting frequented by troops of monkeys. Efficiency units incorporating teak trim and furnishings are attractively tiled and face the encroaching forest, while more expensive studios have full ocean views. But the most coveted accommodation is the airplane-tree-house hybrid made out of a decommissioned Boeing 727 fuselage.

The 727, which juts out of the jungle in the most surreal way, has two bedrooms with three queen-sized beds, two bathrooms, kitchenette and private terrace. The owners of Costa Verde are also the masterminds behind several eateries along the road to Manuel Antonio, including El Avión (p385) , which was also fashioned from a retired fuselage.

Arenas del Mar (Tel 2777-2777;.www.arenasdelmar.com;.r.incl.breakfast. Us$350-825;. p a i W s ) S This visually arresting hotel and resort complex is consistently shortlisted among Costa Rica’s finest upscale hotels. Despite the extent and breadth of the grounds, there are only 40 rooms, which ensures an unmatched degree of personal service and privacy. It has won numerous ecotourism awards since its establishment and was designed to incorporate the beauty of the natural landscape.

In short, the overall effect is breathtaking, especially when you’re staring down the coastline from the lofty heights of your private open-air Jacuzzi.

Hotel Sí Como No (Tel 2777-0777;. www.sicomono.com;. r. Us$260328,. ste. Us$401-424,. child. under. 6yr. free;. p a i8 W s ) S The flawless design of this hotel is an example of how to build a resort while maintaining environmental sensibility. Ecofriendliness aside, the hotel is also gorgeous and packed full of family-friendly amenities. The rooms themselves are accented by rich woods and bold splashes of tropical colors, and they feature enormous picture windows and sweeping balconies.

The hotel has two pools (one with a slide for kids, one for adults only, both with swimup bars), two solar-heated Jacuzzis, a health spa, a THX movie theater and two excellent restaurants. Sustainable construction and practices include energy-efficient air-con units, recycling its water for landscaping use and solar-powered water heaters. No surprise, then, that Sí Como No is one of the 30-odd hotels in the country to have been awarded five out of five leaves by the government-run Certified Sustainable Tourism (CST) campaign.

Hotel La Mariposa (Tel 2777-0355;. www.lamariposa.com;. r. Us$243475,. ste. Us$531;. p a i W s ) This internationally acclaimed hotel was the area’s first luxury accommodations option, so unsurprisingly it snatched up the best view of the coastline. Fifty-plus pristine rooms of various sizes are elegantly decorated with handcarved furniture. This hotel was listed in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, principally for the immaculate gardens and world-class views from every corner.

Hotel Casitas Eclipse (Tel 2777-0408;. www.hotelcasitaseclipse.com;. r/ ste/casitas. from. Us$158/215/373;. p a i W s ) Casitas Eclipse consists of nine attractive, bright-white houses spread around three swimming pools. The bottom floor of each house is an enormous junior suite, while the upper floor is a standard room with private terrace. These have a separate entrance, but a staircase (with lockable door) combines the two and, voilà, you have a sumptuous casita sleeping five.

Eating & Drinking

Many hotels listed previously have good restaurants open to the public. As with sleeping venues, eating and drinking establishments along this stretch are skewed upmarket. Reservations are recommended on weekends and holidays and during the busy dry season.

There are more eating options in the surrounding area in Quepos and Manuel Antonio Village.

Falafel Bar (Tel 2777-4135;. mains. Us$5-9;. h 11am-7pm;. v c ) Adding to the diversity of cuisine to be found along the road, this new falafel spot dishes up authentic Isareli favorites. You’ll also find plenty of vegetarian options, including couscous, fresh salads, stuffed grape leaves and even french fries for the picky little ones.

Super Joseth (Tel 2777-1095;.h 7am-10pm;.p ) Although it’s a godsend for self-caterers, Super Joseth is a grocery stop that’s reflective of its location – a bit pricey, stocked for foreign travelers and very busy. It has a full selection of booze (Campari?), sunblock and upscale picnic goods.

oCafé Milagro (Tel 2777-0794;.www.cafemilagro.com;.mains.Us$619;. h 7am-9:30pm;. p W v ) With a menu full of vibrant, refreshing delectables – like gazpacho, or salads tossed with mango and chayote squash in passionfruit dressing, or fish tacos with chunky guacamole, or banana-macadamia pancakes – this appealing cafe is worth a stop morning, noon or night. Like its sister cafe in Quepos, it also serves a mean cuppa joe.

Agua Azul (Tel 2777-5280;. www.cafeaguaazul.com;. meals. Us$7-18;.h 11am-10pm.thu-tue) Perched on the 2nd floor with uninterrupted ocean views, Agua Azul is a killer lunch spot on this stretch of road – perfect for early-morning park visitors who are heading back to their hotel. The breezy, unpretentious open-air restaurant, renowned for its ‘big-ass burger’, also serves up excellent fajitas, panko crusted tuna and smoked-trout salad.

Claro Que Sí (Tel 2777-0777;. Hotel. sí. Como. No;. meals. Us$8-20) S A casual, family-friendly restaurant that passes on pretension without sacrificing quality, Claro Que Sí proudly serves organic and locally sourced food items that are in line with the philosophy of its parent hotel, Sí Como No. Guilt-free meats and fish are expertly complemented with fresh produce, resulting in flavorful dishes typical of both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Restaurante Barba Roja (Tel 2777-0331;.www.barbarojarestaurant.com;.meals. Us$7-20;. h 10am-10pm. tue-sun) A Manuel Antonio area institution, the Barba Roja has morphed into a seafood-and-steak spot with an unexpected but respectable sushi menu. The terrace affords fantastic ocean views, best enjoyed with a local Libertas y La Segua craft brew (pints are US$5) and some edamame (steamed soybeans) as you contemplate your dining options.

Kapi Kapi Restaurant (Tel 2777-5049;.www.restaurantekapikapi.com;.meals. Us$15-40;.h 4-10pm) While there is some stiff competition for the title of best restaurant in the area, this Californian creation certainly raises the bar on both quality and class. The menu at Kapi Kapi (kapi kapi is a traditional greeting of the indigenous Maleku people) spans the globe from America to Asia. PanAsian-style seafood features prominently, brought to life with rich continental-inspired sauces.

South American wines and Costa Rican coffees complete this globetrotting culinary extravaganza. True to its name, Kapi Kapi welcomes diners with soft lights, earthy tones and soothing natural decor, which perfectly frame the dense forest lying just beyond the perimeter.

La Luna (Tel 2777-9797;. mains. Us$8-55;. h 7am-11pm;. v ) Unpretentious, friendly and first rate, La Luna makes a lovely spot for a specialoccasion dinner, with a spectacular backdrop of jungle and ocean. An international menu offers everything from pizza to lobster tails, with a Tico-style twist – such as grouper baked en papillote, with plantain purée and coconut milk. Or enjoy the inexpensive tapas menu from 4pm to 6pm.

Salsipuedes (Tel 2777-5019;. tapas. Us$6-8;. h 7am-10pm. WedMon) With fantastic views at sunset, Salsipuedes (‘leave if you can’) is a great place for tapas and beer – or for the more adventurous, cocktails made with guaro (a local firewater made with sugarcane). Quesadillas, ceviche, and white bean and chicken stew are some of the tasty tapas on offer.

Ronny’s Place (Tel 2777-5120;.www.ronnysplace.com;.mains.Us$614;. h noon-10pm) The insane views at Ronny’s Place, of two pristine bays and jungle on all sides, make it worth a detour (just for a drink; don’t bother eating here). While plenty of places along this stretch of road boast similar views, the off-the-beaten-path location makes it feel like a secret find. Look for the well-marked dirt road off the main drag.

El Avión (Tel 2777-3378;. mains. Us$6-14;. W c ) This unforgettable bar-restaurant was constructed from a 1954 Fairchild C-123. Allegedly, the plane was purchased by the US government in the ’80s for the Nicaraguan Contras, but it never made it out of its hangar in San José because of the Iran-Contra scandal that embroiled Oliver North and his cohorts. (The plane is lovingly referred to as ‘Ollie’s Folly’.)

In 2000 the enterprising owners of El Avión purchased it for the surprisingly reasonable sum of US$3000 and proceeded to cart it piece by piece to Manuel Antonio. It now sits on the side of the main road, where it looks as if it had crash-landed into the side of the hill. It’s a great spot for a beer, guacamole and a Pacific sunset, and in the evenings during the dry season there are regular live-music performances.

Entertainment

Sí Como No Cinema (Tel 2777-0777;. www.sicomono.com;. Hotel. sí. Como. No;. h 8:30pm) This 45-seat theater shows a fun rotation of popular American movies. If you spend US$10 at the hotel’s restaurant or bar, admission is free.

GAY GUIDE TO MANUEL ANTONIO

For jet-setting gay and lesbian travelers the world over, Manuel Antonio has long been regarded as a dream destination. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in Costa Rica since the 1970s – a rarity in all-too-often machismo-fueled, conservative Central America – and a well-established gay scene blossomed in Manuel Antonio soon after. Gay and lesbian travelers will find that it’s unlike any other destination in the country.

It’s not hard to understand why Manuel Antonio first started attracting gay travelers. Not only is the area stunningly beautiful but also it’s long attracted liberal-minded individuals. There is a burgeoning artist community and a sophisticated restaurant scene.

Sights & Activities

During daylight hours, the epicenter of gay Manuel Antonio is the famous La Playita,
a beach with a long history of nude sunbathing for gay men. Alas, the days when you could sun in the buff are gone, but La Playita is still widely regarded as a playful pick-up scene for gay men.

Sleeping

A significant number of hotels in the Manuel Antonio area advertise themselves as being gay-friendly and even the ones that don’t are unlikely to discriminate. If you want
to enjoy the freedom and peace of mind that comes with staying at exclusively gay accommodations, book a room at the gay-owned and -operated Hotel Villa Roca
(Tel 2777-1349;.www.villaroca.com;.d/apt.incl.breakfast.from.Us$113/192;.p i W s ), a collection of brightly whitewashed rooms and apartments situated around a central pool and sundeck. The expansive view from the pool takes in an uninterrupted view of the water and rocky offshore islands. This is also the place to catch incredible sunsets.

Eating & Drinking

The Manuel Antonio area has always been proud to host one of the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan restaurant scenes on the central Pacific coast. A few venues have particularly good gay-oriented events. Bar Mogambo (Tel 2777-6310;.h 4pm-midnight. tue-sun) is a friendly spot with an excellent happy hour, and Liquid (Tel 2777-5158;.

h 9pm-3am.tue-sun), a club near the bottom of the hill, is a good place for young gay guys to party. After enough deceptively strong, colorful cocktails the dance floor is a blast. It has theme parties every night of the week and a raucous annual ‘Mr Liquid’ competition.

 

Manuel Antonio Village

As you travel the road between Quepos and Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, the din from roaring buses, packs of tourists and locals hunting foreign dollars becomes increasingly loud, reaching its somewhat chaotic climax at Manuel Antonio Village, whose beer advertisements and barkers have inched right up to the gates of the park. Hordes descend on this tiny oceanside village at the entrance to one of the country’s most celebrated tourist destinations. Don’t show up all bright-eyed and bushytailed, expecting deserted beaches and untouched tropical paradise. Higher primates tend to be the most frequently sighted species, especially during the congested dry season, when tour groups arrive en masse.

While it can be difficult at times to have a quiet moment to collect your thoughts, the environs here really do look as glossy and polished as the travel brochures suggest. And, when troops of monkeys climb down from the forest canopy to the tropical sands, you can get up close and personal with some marvelous wildlife. The moral is to arrive in Manuel Antonio with some realistic expectations, though you’re likely going to have a memorable visit.

Sights & Activities

Body boards and kayaks can be rented all along the beach at Playa Espadilla. Whitewater rafting and sea kayaking are also popular in this area. Don’t worry about finding a place to rent equipment; they’ll find you. The possibility of good snorkeling in the area is nearly nonexistent due to crowded waters and low visibility.

Also, don’t be fooled – you do not need to pay to use the beaches, as they’re outside the park.

Playa Espadilla There’s a good beach, Playa Espadilla, near the entrance to the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, though you need to be wary of rip currents. There are some lifeguards working at this beach, though not at the other beaches in the area. For years Playa Espadilla was one of Costa Rica’s only nude beaches, but the nearby construction of a big hotel seems to have ended that tradition, and those who bathe in the buff have been known to suffer police harassment.

La Playita At the far western end of Playa Espadilla, beyond a rocky headland (wear sandals), is one of Costa Rica’s most famous gay beaches and a particular draw for young men. The beach is inaccessible one hour before and after the high tide, so time your walk well.

Sleeping & Eating

The village of Manuel Antonio is the closest base for exploring the national park, though the selection of eating and sleeping options is not as varied as in Quepos proper or the Quepos to Manuel Antonio stretch of road. It’s also completely overrun with foreigners.

Backpackers Paradise 
Costa Linda (Tel 2777-0304;. www.costalindabackpackers.com;. r. per. person. from. Us$12;. p a i W ) Calling this backpacker pad a paradise is most definitely a stretch, but you can’t really beat the price when you can amble out to the beach or the national park in just a few minutes. While the staff is a bit harried, and the shared bathrooms could be cleaner, the food is good and the place eminently budget-friendly.

Hotel Playa & 
Cabinas Espadilla (Tel 2777-0903,. 2777-2113;. www.espadilla.com;. cabinas/r. from. Us$120/189;. p a W s ) Two favorably located properties in one: the hotel is centered on a large swimming pool and tennis courts, and the more affordable cabinas across the road are slightly closer to the beach. While the accommodations are fairly bland for the price, compared to swisher properties up the road, you do have extremely convenient access to park and playa from here.

La Posada (Tel 2777-1446;. www.laposadajungle.com;. bungalows. incl. breakfast. Us$141-266;. p a i W s ) These private jungle bungalows each sleep four to six guests, and all come equipped with kitchenette, TV with DVD player, safe and terrace. But the real beauty of staying here is the location right next to the park – from your bungalow you’ll see squirrel monkeys and other wildlife crisscrossing the trees and rooftops.

Hotel Vela Bar & Restaurant (Tel 2777-0413;. www.velabar.com;. meals. Us$6-13,. s/d.Us$49/64;.p a W ) Hotel Vela is primarily known for its justifiably famous thatchedroof bar and restaurant, which serves up some of the freshest seafood in the area. However, the attractive little hotel is also surprisingly affordable – rooms here are fairly basic, but it’s hard to beat the price, considering that you can stroll over to the park entrance in two minutes.

MONKEY BUSINESS

There are a number of stands on the beach that cater to hungry tourists, though everything is exuberantly overpriced and of dubious quality. Plus, all the food scraps have negatively impacted the monkey population. Before you offer a monkey your scraps, consider the following risks to their health:

Monkeys are susceptible to bacteria transmitted from human hands.

Irregular feeding will lead to aggressive behavior as well as create a dangerous dependency (picnickers in Manuel Antonio suffer downright intimidating mobs of them sometimes).

Bananas are not their preferred food, and can cause serious digestive problems. Increased exposure to humans facilitates illegal poaching as well as attacks from dogs.

It should go without saying: don’t feed the monkeys. And, if you do happen to come across someone doing so, take the initiative and ask them politely to stop.

 

Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

A place of swaying palms and playful monkeys, sparkling blue water and riotous tropical birds, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (Tel 2777-0644;. park. entrance. Us$10,. parking. Us$3;. h 7am-4pm. tue-sun) embodies Costa Rica’s postcard charms. It was declared a national park in 1972, preserving it (with just minutes to spare) from being bulldozed and razed to make room for a coastal development project.

Although Manuel Antonio was enlarged to its present-day size of 19.83 sq km in 2000, it is still the country’s smallest national park. Space remains at a premium, and as this is one of Central America’s top tourist destinations, you’re going to have to break free from the camera-clicking tour groups and actively seek out your own idyllic spot of sand.

That said, Manuel Antonio is absolutely stunning, and on a good day, at the right time, it’s easy to convince yourself that you’ve died and gone to a coconut-filled paradise. The park’s clearly marked trail system winds through rainforest-backed tropical beaches and rocky headlands, and the views across the bay to the pristine outer islands are unforgettable. As if this wasn’t enough, add a ubiquitous population of iguanas, howlers, capuchins, sloths and squirrel monkeys.

Sights & Activities

Hiking & Swimming


After the park entrance, it’s about a 30-minute hike to Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio, the park’s idyllic beaches, which is where most people spend a good part of their time in the park. There will be numerous guides leading clusters of groups along the flat hike, so a bit of eavesdropping will provide solo shoestring travelers an informal lesson on the many birds, sloths and monkeys along the way. Eventually, the obvious, well-trodden trail veers right and through forest to an isthmus separating Playas Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio. This is also where there’s a park ranger station and information center (its hours are random, but we’ve yet to see it open, so be pleasantly surprised if it is staffed).

Geography fun fact: this isthmus is called a tombolo and was formed by the accumulation of sand between the mainland and the peninsula beyond, which was once an island. Along this bridge are the park’s two amazing beaches, Playa Manuel Antonio, on the ocean side, and the slightly less visited (and occasionally rough) Playa Espadilla Sur, which faces Manuel Antonio Village. With their turquoise waters, shaded hideouts and continual aerial show of brown pelicans, these beaches are dreamy.

At its end, the isthmus widens into a rocky peninsula, with thick forest in the middle. Several informal trails lead down the peninsula to near the center of it, the Punta Catedral. If you bushwhack your way through, there are good views of the Pacific Ocean and various rocky islets that are bird reserves and form part of the national park. Brown boobies and pelicans nest on these islands.

At the western end of Playa Manuel Antonio you can see a semicircle of rocks at low tide. Archaeologists believe that these were arranged by pre-Columbian indigenous people to function as a turtle trap. (Turtles would swim in during high tide, but when they tried to swim out after the tide started receding, they’d be trapped by the wall.) The beach itself is an attractive one of white sand and is popular for swimming. It’s protected and safer than the Espadilla beaches.

Beyond Playa Manuel Antonio, if visitors return towards the trail from the entrance of the park, the trail divides and leads deeper into the park. The lower trail is steep and slippery during the wet months and leads to the quiet Playa Puerto Escondido. This beach can be more or less completely covered by high tides, so be careful not to get cut off. The upper trail climbs to a lookout on a bluff overlooking Puerto Escondido and Punta Serrucho beyond – a stunning vista. Rangers reportedly limit the number of hikers on this trail to 45.

The trails in Manuel Antonio are well marked and heavily traversed, though there are some quiet corners near the ends of the trails. Off-trail hiking is not permitted without prior consent from the park service.

Watch out for the manzanillo tree (Hippomane mancinella) – it has poisonous fruits that look like little crab apples, and the sap exuded by the bark and leaves is toxic, causing the skin to itch and burn. Warning signs are prominently displayed beside examples of this tree near the park entrance.

Wildlife-Watching

Increased tourist traffic has taken its toll on the park’s wildlife, as animals are frequently driven away or – worse still – taught to scavenge for tourist handouts. To its credit, the park service has reacted by closing the park on Monday and limiting the number of visitors to 600 per day during the week and 800 per day on weekends and holidays.

Even though visitors are funneled along the main access road, you should have no problem seeing animals here, even as you line up at the gate. White-faced capuchins are very used to people, and normally troops feed and interact within a short distance of visitors; they can be encountered anywhere along the main access road and around Playa Manuel Antonio.

You’ll probably also hear mantled howler monkeys soon after sunrise. Like capuchins, they can be seen virtually anywhere inside the park and even along the road to Quepos – watch for them crossing the monkey bridges that were erected by several local conservation groups.

Coatis can be seen darting across various paths and can get aggressive on the beach if you’re eating. Three-toed and two-toed sloths are also common in the park. Guides are extremely helpful in spotting sloths, as they tend not to move around all that much.

However, the movements of the park’s star animal and Central America’s rarest primate, namely the Central American squirrel monkey, are far less predictable. These adorable monkeys are more retiring than capuchins, and though they are occasionally seen near the park entrance in the early morning, they usually melt into the forest well before opening time. With luck, however, a troop could be encountered during a morning’s walk, and they often reappear in beachside trees and on the fringes of Manuel Antonio Village in the early evening.

Offshore, keep your eyes peeled for pantropical spotted and bottle-nosed dolphins, as well as humpback whales passing by on their regular migration routes. Other possibilities include orcas (killer whales), false killers and rough-toothed dolphins.

Big lizards are also a featured sighting at Manuel Antonio – it’s hard to miss the large ctenosaurs and green iguanas that bask along the beach at Playa Manuel Antonio and in the vegetation behind Playa Espadilla Sur. To spot the well-camouflaged basilisk, listen for the rustle of leaves along the edges of the trails, especially near the lagoon.

Manuel Antonio is not usually on the serious bird-watchers’ trail of Costa Rica, though the bird list is respectable. The usual suspects include the blue-gray and palm tanagers, great-tailed grackles, banana quits, blue dacnises and at least 15 species of hummingbird. Among the regional endemics you should look out for are the fiery-billed aracaris, black-hooded antshrikes, Baird’s trogons, black-bellied whistling ducks, yellow-crowned night herons, brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds, brown boobies, spotted sandpipers, green herons and ringed kingfishers.

White-Water Rafting & Kayaking

While not as popular as Turrialba, Manuel Antonio is emerging as a white-water rafting and sea-kayaking center. Although you shouldn’t expect the same level of worldclass runs here as in other parts of the country, there are certainly some adrenaline kicks to be had.

Tours

Hiring a guide costs US$25 per person for a two-hour tour. The only guides allowed in the park are members of Aguila (a local association governed by the park service), who have official ID badges, and recognized guides from tour agencies or hotels. This is to prevent visitors from getting ripped off and to ensure a good-quality guide. Aguila guides are well trained and multilingual (French-, Germanor English-speaking guides can be requested). Visitors report that hiring a guide virtually guarantees wildlife sightings.

Information

visitors who drive themselves will be accosted with parking touts as they approach Manuel Antonio village; the charge is usually Us$3   there have been reader reports of break-ins and thefts, so, as anywhere in the country, never leave anything in your car   Note that the road here is also very narrow and congested, so it’s suggested that you leave your car at your hotel and take an early-morning bus to the park entrance instead, then simply walk in  

the park entrance is at the end of the road that forks northeast before you arrive at the beach roundabout   the ticket window is on the left side of the road; count your change carefully to ensure you’ve been given the right amount back   Here you can hire naturalist guides to take you into the park  

the ranger station and national park information center (Tel 2777-0644) is just before Playa Manuel Antonio   Drinking water is available, and there are toilets, beach showers, picnic tables and a refreshment stand   there is no camping and guards will come around in the evening to make sure that no one has remained behind   the information center keeps woefully unpredictable hours  

the beaches are often numbered – most people call Playa Espadilla (outside the park) ‘1st beach’, Playa Espadilla sur ‘2nd beach’, Playa Manuel Antonio ‘3rd beach’, Playa Puerto escondido ‘4th beach’ and Playa Playitas ‘5th beach’   some people begin counting at Espadilla sur, which is the first beach in the park, so it can be a bit confusing trying to figure out which beach people may be talking about   regardless, they’re all equally pristine, and provide ample opportunities for swimming or restful sunbathing  

the average daily temperature is 27°C (80°f) and average annual rainfall is 3875mm   the dry season is not entirely dry, merely less wet, so you should be prepared for rain (although it can also be dry for days on end)   Make sure you carry plenty of drinking water, sun protection and insect repellent   Pack a picnic lunch if you’re spending the day  

to exit the park, you can either backtrack to the entrance or follow the trail along Playa Espadilla sur to the Camaronera estuary, which can be anywhere from ankle to thigh deep, depending on the tides and the season   A small trail leads to the shallowest spot to cross   However, in an impressive display of opportunism, there are boaters here to transport you 100m for the small fee of about Us$1  

 

QUEPOS TO UVITA

South of Quepos, the well-trodden central Pacific tourist trail begins to taper off, evoking the feel of the Costa Rica of yesteryear – surf shacks and empty beaches, roadside ceviche vendors and a little more space. Intrepid travelers can have their pick of any number of deserted beaches and great surf spots. The region is also home to the bulk of Costa Rica’s African-palm-oil industry, which should be immediately obvious after the few dozen kilometers of endless plantations lining the sides of the Costanera.

Known as the Costa Ballena, the beauteous length of coastline between Dominical and Ojochal is more accessible than ever since the completion of the Costanera Sur. For the time being, the area retains an easygoing, unjaded allure despite the growing numbers discovering its appeal.

 

Preferred partners & suppliers