The small coastal village of Manuel Antonio is one of the top destinations in Costa Rica thanks to its plethora of luxury hotels, abundance of wildlife and beautiful tropical nature.
For these reasons, Manuel Antonio holds many of the bests in Costa Rica: one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica, best beaches in Costa Rica, one of the best destinations for families and best beach towns in Costa Rica. If you’re planning on visiting, read our guide to help plan your trip.
Manuel Antonio Beaches
In the Central and South Pacific of Costa Rica, this area is the best for white sand beaches and bright blue waters. The main beaches in Manuel Antonio are Manuel Antonio, Biesanz, Espadilla Sur and Espadilla Norte.
To get to the beaches inside the national park, you have to pay the national park fee. Biesanz, Espadilla Norte and Playitas are free as they are outside the national park.
Playa Espadilla Norte is where all the action is. You can go parasailing, jet skiing, surfing and swimming there. If you would like to rent beach chairs and umbrellas in Manuel Antonio, you can find them on Playa Espadilla Norte. This beach is the most popular beach outside the national park for tourists since it is easily accessible and very beautiful.
Things to Do in Manuel Antonio
Here are some of our most recommended Manuel Antonio activities. Don’t forget to get our Manuel Antonio/Quepos tours discount if you’re interested in hiking, rafting, ziplining, catamaran cruises, kayaking through mangroves and more.
Manuel Antonio National Park
You can’t miss the the national park! Hike, see wildlife, swim, lay at the beach and enjoy the gorgeous views at the most visited national park in Costa Rica. We highly recommend walking some of the park trails to explore the rain forest.
The entrance fee is $16 USD + tax per adult and you have to purchase tickets in advance online to enter the park. Check out our guide to Manuel Antonio National Park for more information. If you’re interested in a tour to the park that includes roundtrip transportation, bilingual guide, national park ticket and refreshments included, click here to book this tour with our discount!
White Water Rafting
There are a couple of excellent rivers for rafting in the area. Raft through Class 2, 3 and 4 rapids surrounded by pristine rainforest! The Savegre and Naranjo rivers are the best for white water rafting in Manuel Antonio.
Go for a morning or sunset sail out of Quepos marina for snorkeling, beautiful ocean views and to see wildlife. Lots of fun for the whole family!
You can read our post things to do in Manuel Antonio for more ideas. Unfortunately snorkeling in Manuel Antonio is not the best and it really depends upon conditions. The best beach to try snorkeling is Playa Biesanz, but it is not consistent or always calm, especially in rainy season.
Animals in Manuel Antonio
If you want to get up close with wildlife in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see monkeys and sloths. Some of the most common animals in Manuel Antonio are 2 and 3 fingered sloths, white face, howler and squirrel monkeys, iguanas and raccoons.
A lot of hotels have wildlife on their property so you can see animals right from your balcony or the pool.
Manuel Antonio Hotel Recommendations
There are no shortages of hostels, resorts, apartments and hotels in Manuel Antonio. If you’re here for a romantic getaway or luxury vacation, you have many 5 star ocean view resorts to choose from. Likewise, there are plenty of budget and mid range options and hostels.
- Hotel La Mariposa: an upscale hotel with a great view of the national park and big pool.
- Arenas del Mar: beachfront luxury resort with 2 restaurants, pools, spa and on-site activities. Rooms have ocean view.
- Si Como No: beautiful ocean view resort with its own wildlife refuge, spa, 2 restaurants, pools, and a separate family and adult only section.
- Makanda by the Sea: adult only hotel with direct beach access, spa and pools.
- Parador: luxury modern hotel with ocean views, nature trails, fitness room, spa, restaurants and pools
- Gaia: adult only resort with their own private reserve, spa, pools and very spacious rooms. Lots of wildlife. Gay friendly.
- Hotel Costa Verde: ocean view rooms and a suite made from a refurbished 1965 Boeing 727. Has 4 restaurants.
- Tulemar: a luxury vacation rental that has its own private beach access and offers an exclusive sloth walk to guests. You can rent 2-5 bedroom houses or 1 bedroom bungalows. Great for large groups, families or couples. Tons of wildlife.
- El Faro Beach Hotel and Hotel San Bada for the closest location to the national park. They’re literally right in front of the entrance.
- Jungle Beach Hotel: a comfortable “rustic” hotel very close to the beach.
- Plaza Yara: a boutique hotel and art gallery with apartments and suites.
- Tico Tico villas: Adult only fully furnished apartments, available for short and long term rent.
- Peace of Paradise: Petfriendly guesthouse with fully furnished apartments, studios and rooms.
- Vista Serena: a hostel not too far from the national park with a great view.
- Hotel Mandarina: small hotel with cozy rooms and a small pool.
- Hotel La Colina and Steak House: Good budget/mid-range option for rooms on the bottom floor, but rooms on top floor have ocean view and better furnishings. Has a pool, restaurant and parking lot. Tons of steps and no elevator
- Selina Manuel Antonio: a hostel chain. Has its own yoga deck and restaurant. Great backpacker/digital nomad atmosphere.
Lots of rentals available on Airbnb and VRBO. A good option if you’re visiting with a big group and want to have the comforts of a home. We stayed in a house in Quepos with my parents (2 bedroom, 2 bathroom) that I found on Airbnb for a good price as Quepos is normally cheaper than Manuel Antonio.
Manuel Antonio is 170 kilometers (105 miles) southeast from San Jose on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica in the Puntarenas province. The closest town is called Quepos and the area from Quepos to the national park is known as Manuel Antonio.
Click here to go to our interactive map and see where Manuel Antonio is.
How to get to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Click the link for more details on getting to Manuel Antonio from San Jose, Guanacaste and other destinations. Below is a brief summary.
Manuel Antonio is a 3 hour drive from San Jose Airport. This entire route is on a well paved highway.
Safety tip: The road from Quepos to Manuel Antonio National Park is super narrow and curvy. Make sure to drive carefully! Additionally, street parking is quite tight. You may need to have a passenger help you since cars drive fast. Whenever you park, make sure not to leave any valuables visible and to roll up windows and lock doors as majority of parking is street parking.
Quepos has its own local airport. It’s about a 10 minute flight from San Jose and costs around $75-$100 USD one way with Sansa Air. The local airport is 5 minutes outside of Quepos.
A lot of people don’t want to drive through San Jose all the way to Manuel Antonio. In this case, what they do is take a local flight to Quepos, rent a car in Quepos during their time there, return the car and then fly back to San Jose.
There is a daily direct bus from San Jose to Quepos with Terminal Transportes Tracopa at 530 AM and 12 PM. This takes about 4 hours and costs around 4500 colones (~$8 USD). T
From the Quepos bus station, there are buses go the national park entrance every half an hour or so starting at 530 AM and ending at 930 PM. Costs 380 CRC (~$.57 USD). It makes stops along the way to the park, so it’s a great option for those staying in Manuel Antonio to get to the park or to Quepos.
From Jaco, there is a direct bus to Quepos and then you’ll switch buses to get to the park. You can find more information in this guide to taking the bus from Jaco to Manuel Antonio.
You can take private or shared shuttles. A private shuttle from San Jose to Manuel Antonio is around $200 USD for 1-8 passengers and from Guanacaste, around $280 USD. Contact us if you’d like a private shuttle quote.
A shared shuttle is around $59 USD per passenger with companies like Interbus, Ride CR.
How to Get Around
If you do not plan to rent a car, you can easily get around via the public bus that runs between Quepos and the national park. You can also walk. However, the hill is very steep and doesn’t really have sidewalks or street lights. In the rainy season, you may need to rely more on taxis and Ubers to avoid getting drenched.
We recommend choosing a hotel that is within walking distances to restaurants, supermarkets, and other places if you do not plan to rent a car.
Things You Need to Know About Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
- Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular destinations for gay travelers in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is quite accepting of all people, particularly touristic destinations.
- It is expensive! You can still travel on a budget but you’ll have to research a bit to cut your spending. Our tip: Eat at local places or bakeries, avoid the touristic restaurants.
- There are many local hawkers near the national park. You will also find lots of “parking guards” who will stop your car and try to steer you into their parking lot. Do not stop, keep driving all the way to the park entrance for the closest parking. For the national park, the best places to park are marked on Google Maps as “Parqueo Privado Manuel Antonio – $5” or “Parking Manuel Antonio (Prive) – 4000 CRC).
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Weather
Manuel Antonio weather is hot and humid with year round average day time temperatures in the mid to high 80s F (29-30 C). Average nighttime temperatures are around mid 70s (23 C). This area experiences typical tropical weather so you have the normal dry season from roughly beginning of December – end of April and rainy season from beginning of May to end of November.
February and March are generally the driest months in Manuel Antonio. September, October and November are the rainiest months.
In rainy season, daytime and nighttime temperatures stay about the same. Mornings are usually sunny and clear and it can start raining on and off in the afternoons and nights.
Best Time to Visit Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio is beautiful any time of year. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about visiting this national park.
Manuel Antonio Crowds
It is very crowded mid December – end of April. This is high season and this area gets incredibly busy. You will have the best weather but the most people and more expensive prices. July is also a busy month.
September – November are best times for less people. May and the first half of June are not too busy as it is the start of rainy season and before the summer vacation travel. For less crowds, this is another great time of year to visit Manuel Antonio.
Where to Eat in Manuel Antonio
- Cafe Agua Azul: Nice ocean view, yummy smoothies, good sandwiches and burgers. Great place for happy hour and ocean view. $$
- Cafe Milagro: Best place for coffee and cake. Also has good dinner and a really nice patio with live music. They have their own coffee. $$-$$$ For just coffee, they have a small coffee shop in Quepos (Cafe Milagro Coffee Roasters, no food).
- Emilio’s Cafe: Nice place with a beautiful view for a fancy dinner. $$$
- Restaurant El Arado. Good place for typical Costa Rican. $$
- En TODAS: Beachside “food struck” from a school bus, serves burgers on Playa Espadilla $$
- Rafaeles Las Terrazas (Raphael’s Terrazas): Beautiful view, great place for sunset happy hour, has great sushi.
- Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar. Healthy, delicious wraps and falafel. $-$$
- Colina Steak House: Go for the pizza, not steak. Their pizza is one of the best in the area
- Barba Roja. Nice ocean view restaurant with burgers, wraps. $$
- Z Poolside Bistro. Steakhouse, seafood, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. $$
- Sancho’s. Mexican place with good tacos and fun vibe. $$
- El Chante Soda (Costa Rican restaurant). Cheap traditional Costa Rican restaurant right by the national park office behind the Coopealianza office.
- Musmanni: Cheap bakery with pastries, sandwiches, etc.
- Soda Angel: A cheap Costa Rican restaurant.
We also recommend to go down to Quepos or Marina Pez Vela which has great options too. We like Soda Sanchez, Tiquicia Delicias, Mira Olas and Jardin de Mar in Quepos. In Marina Pez Vela, Doublehook has a fun bar atmosphere and nice view of the sunset and marina.
There are a bunch of souvenir stores near the entrance of the park where you can find typical Costa Rican souvenirs like shirts, dresses, clothes, and little trinkets.
For more variety, there are some nice stores like Jungle AV Artesanal, Cafe Milagro gift shop, Yara art gallery, Besos Locos, BamBamBoo, Modern Primitive living, Altair and Mariposa gift shop and gallery.
Home Base or Stay for a Few Days?
You can definitely use Manuel Antonio as your home base. There are plenty of things to do and see in the area. All services are available such as hospitals, clinics, supermarkets, laundromats, pharmacies, banks and gas stations.
We highly recommend renting a car if you’re staying for more than a couple nights to get around and explore. That way you can visit other great places like Dominical, Uvita, Jaco and Ojochal.
Most people stay an average of 3 nights in Manuel Antonio if they are not using it as a home base.
Here are some sample itineraries we’ve made that include this destination.
- One week Costa Rica itinerary: San Jose, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Uvita
- 10 day itinerary: San Jose, Puerto Viejo and Manuel Antonio
- 10 days chasing waterfalls: Liberia, Rincon de la Vieja, Bijagua, Bajos del Toro, Manuel Antonio, San Jose
- 1 month road trip: San Jose, Puerto Viejo, La Fortuna, Monteverde, Playa Hermosa, Samara, Manuel Antonio, Uvita, Drake Bay
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Love your post! So helpful!
I am having a hard time choosing which activities to do as far as getting a tour guide. We want to zip line in monte verde, do the hanging bridges at la fortuna, go to a few hikes and waterfalls, a horse ride, and Manuel Antonio National Park. But seeing all the prices for tour guides is breaking my bank account!! Just to go on a bike ride to the volcano is $80! Kayaking is about $120, horse ride is about $100,…. Ouch! My husband suggests to just get a tour guide there on the spot because maybe we could get someone with reasonable prices? What do you suggest?
If you have your own transportation, you can drive yourself to the places and then purchase tickets (like to the hanging bridges or zipline) there at the park. But if you don’t have your own transportation then you should book a tour.
For Manuel Antonio National Park, you can arrive at the park directly on your own and hire one of the guides at the front offering their services and it’s easy to get to that park without a car (there’s a bus every 30 minutes or you can Uber/walk).
Hi there! This guide is so helpful – thank you! My boyfriend and I will be visiting costa rica for the first time either start of Dec or end of Jan. Planning to stay in Manuel Antonio. The only thing is I prefer not to drive when I am on holidays, is it easy enough to get around without hiring a car? Are things walkable? Any help appreciated! Thanks!
Yes, there is a public bus that goes up and down the hill from quepos to the national park about every 30 minutes during daylight hours but Manuel Antonio is very hilly so do be prepared to walk some steep hills and things are a bit spread out. Also Dec is the transition month to dry season so it may still rain in Manuel Antonio, particularly late afternoons, evenings and nights. There are taxis in Manuel Antonio and some Ubers.
Your blog and follow up with me have been so helpful in planning our trip! We are in CR now and are so happy with our itinerary. We are staying in Dominical and flying out of Quepos next week. We will have time for a trip on our last morning to visit Manuel Antonio. Trouble is, we will have checked out of our house and will have all of our luggage. Is there any option in Quepos to store our belongings for a few hours?
I would ask your hotel to see, some hotels don’t have problems storing luggage for clients
First off, I’m loving your blog and find it incredibly helpful in our vacation planning. Yay! Thank you.
Secondly, we are a family of 6 that would like to enjoy Manuel Antonio National Park (1 day) and a quiet beach (1 day), but aren’t exactly excited about the crowded touristy area. Is there another place you might recommend to stay in the area so we won’t be bombarded with the crowds? We are going in June.
Quepos, which is the main local town near Manuel Antonio has some nice vacation rentals that are in the quieter part of this area but it’s still close to the national park.
Such great info on your site! We are traveling to CR in July and manual antonio will be one of our stops for 5 days. We found an airbnb which is right on the main road, above a restaurant and very near entrance of the park. The beach is just across the street, but we wanted to know if that’s a safe area in general or if the neighborhoods just north of the park and higher in jungle are a safer option.
Manuel Antonio is very touristic so there is always a lot of traffic going in and out, in general the area is safe and you can walk outside, no problem. We don’t recommend walking outside very late at night though, if you go out at night, take a taxi back to your place instead of walking, Manuel Antonio is also super hilly so it’s quite a trek from Manuel Antonio to the entrance of the park. There are no sidewalks on the road either so be careful if you walk since cars drive fast and curves are narrow.
could you recommend a tour guide company to help us navigate and see all of the best things to see in Manuel Antonio Park?
Hi Tricia, we work with Tucanes Tours who is a tour operator in Manuel Antonio and Quepos, they run guided tours of the national park and we also have a small discount with them. You can get more info about it Manuel Antonio Tours discount
We’re from Arizona so we know our sensitivity to the sun. Yesterday we got very burnt near Manuel Antonio park entrance under an umbrella completely in shade in t shirts and shorts. My spouse even had a long sleeve shirt on. We had to cancel our catamaran tour today because he hurts too bad. I had on 100 sun screen because I was already burnt but he didn’t. I never thought we would burn through our clothing but we did. Costa Rican sun is fierce. Glad today is last day of trip although the trip was great.
Sharon Entsminger says
Really enjoy the blog. Great information in an easy-to-follow format.
Coming to Costa Rica in July. Want to spend one morning in Manuel Antonio on the ATV tour, then catch a guided tour at the national park at 1 pm. Based on the times offered, we should be able to complete the ATV tour and lunch by noon. Will this schedule work?
Hi Sharon, I would assume so since ATV tours are usually a couple of hours but I would check with the tour company you booked with and ask for the times.
Tracey Garrett says
Hi! I love your blog. It is so helpful! We used it so much to plan our trip to Tamarindo last January and this January to Belize (Placencia). I used everything from your rental car to bug spray suggestions! We are now planning for January 2021 and are headed to Manuel Antonio. We went 14 years ago (pre child) and stayed at The Mariposa, which was amazing. We are trying to decide between El Parador, Si Como No or possibly the least expensive bungalows in Tulemar. It is three of us (an 11 year old son). Included breakfast would be a huge bonus. A great pool is important, access to the beach, great views, and restaurants and lots of nature with possibility of seeing animals on the property. I have read about all 3 places on your blog, but am wondering if you would choose one over another and why. Any insight would be so much appreciated! Keep up the amazing blog!
Hi Tracey, to be 100% honest I would not be able to say which one is best with a child since we don’t have kids, so my recommendation would be to read reviews on TripAdvisor or booking sites to see what people say and recommend for guests with kids. The Tulemar bungalows are very nice but they don’t include breakfast and the bungalows are 1 bedroom, they do have a ton of wildlife (most of the properties do) and their own beach access.
Just wanted to mention a restaurant we ate at: El Avion. Great food – I didn’t think it was too expensive. My husband had the Avion Burger and said it was one of the best he’d ever eaten. Our table had a great view of a beautiful sunset. The decorations are interesting, especially the bar in the airplane. My husband’s an aviation nut, so that was another plus.
Hi Karen, thanks for your feedback and glad you had a good meal there! We ate there a few years ago but our food was pretty bad which I didn’t include it in the guide. Hopefully they got a new chef, or at least sounds like they improved.
Thank you very much for your recommendations!
This is regarding Where to eat in Manuel Antonio. The name of the soda behind Coopealianza is “El Chante.”
My partner and I went there today, 5 October 2019. It’s 3,500 colones for a combo with fish fillet; but only 2,800 if one prefers a combo with chicken or pork. We also had a big, whole fish with fries and salad for ~$10. The food over there are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
We barely spoke any Spanish word, and the ladies at the soda didn’t speak English; but everything went well.
“El Chante” is highly recommended!
Thank you Beam! I was kicking myself for not taking down the name of the place so that’s super helpful.
Your blog is so amazing. Too good in fact, as we now want to see everything lol. Obviously that’s not possible, but we are trying to fit as much in as possible, so I hope you don’t mind a couple of questions. We are flying into San Jose airport and staying around the area of Monteverde. There is a Lodge we want to stay at that is about 1/2 hour away. We are looking for something different, not just a hotel or B&B and this place was perfect. However, the tour company is suggesting we pick lodging closer to the area. In your opinion, do you think 1/2 hour is too far? It would just be at the beginning and end of the day we’d need to get there and back. Also, we really want to sleep behind the waterfalls at the Diamante Falls and then go to Manuel Antonio Park. Of course, it is too far south by car, so do you know anything about a local flight. I know Sansa flies, but just wondered if you think that would be too much of a hassle, or worth it? We might not ever get back to Costa Rica, so really want to try and make it work if possible… is that too crazy to try? We appreciate your feedback so much.
If you guys are renting a car, then distance is not really a problem but if you aren’t renting a car and need transportation, then usually tour companies will charge an extra fee or they won’t pick up at places far away. There are no domestic airports at Monteverde so if you’re going from Monteverde – Manuel Antonio, the only way is by land. There is a local airport in Quepos so you could fly there and then pick up your rental car there if you decide to rent a car.
Liza Bisaillon says
This is by far the best site for planning a trip to Costa Rica. Thanks for the great tips, videos and beautiful pictures !
We are a family of 4 ( two adults and two teenagers) and we have 6 days to plan for a beach vacation, after having stayed at La Fortuna and Monteverde. We enjoy surfing, snorkeling, as well as swimming on calm beautiful beaches. Should we stay 6 nights in the Quepos area ( Playa Hermosa) or Uvita ( Parque Ballena) , or spend 3 nights at each ? We would prefer to stay in one place the whole time, but are afraid of missing out on a beautiful spot. Thanks for your help!
I would personally stay 3 nights at each and it’s not a far drive between the two places but if you prefer to stay in one place, it will depend. Quepos is much more lively, more tourists, Uvita is quieter, more laid back and not as many restaurants and things like that. With active teenagers, I’d recommend Quepos if they want to have more of a nightlife as Uvita is pretty quiet and 6 nights in Uvita would be a lot of quiet for teens.
Wow, this blog is incredibly complete ! It helps us a lot planning our trip:)
We are going to visit Costa Rica end of October till mid November. Hope it will not be too rainy and too muddy but Im sure that we will have an amazing luxurious flora !
Is there anything we should really be carefull during this period concerning the hiking ?
Make sure to bring lots of bug spray and don’t go off the path! And bring a waterproof backpack or rain cover because it can (and will during that time of year) unexpectedly rain and it can rain very hard so keep your belongings protected.
Thanks for all those info! Just a few questions and clarifications if you could help please!
1. There’s an entrance fee to the park. Is there one for the beach?
2. If you only go to the beach, is there an entrance fee?
3. How long do you need to visit the park?
4. Are the restaurants/ bars on the beach?
There is a public free beach outside the national park, that’s free. If you want to go to the beaches inside the national park, then you need to pay the national park fee. There are restaurants/bars by the beach outside the park, none inside. You could spend anywhere from 1 hour to all day at the national park, it just depends on what you want to do (hike, relax, beach)
Thanks so much! Your blog is so helpful! I keep reading about monkey stealing! Are there lockers or a place we can leave our bag filled with extra clothes. What about important belongings like passports etc.
There aren’t any lockers or storage areas in the park. Don’t bring your passports, leave those in a safe place in your hotel room, you won’t need your passports for the park (unless you are driving, then the driver must have their original passport with them when they are driving).
Hinika Harpavat says
Love your site, it is so helpful in planning our trip. Couple of questions:
We only have 6 days, we are going to Arenal Volcano National Park.
1) Would you recommend going to Monteverde Cloud reserve or Playa Hermosa.
2) How crowded will it be to visit Manuel Antonio National Park around May 14th?
If you want to go to a beach, then Hermosa. Monteverde is a cloud forest so has good hiking, birdwatching etc. May is generally not too busy of a month so shouldn’t be as packed.
Hi Kara, I don’t think so. Even though there’s a hill going from Quepos to the national park, you don’t see the cliffs or anything because it’s not super high and there are a bunch of buildings on both sides of the road so you’ll see just forest and buildings. Then when you get down to the national park, it is all flat.
Kara A Sherk says
I am extremely afraid (phobia) of driving on steep roads with a lot of cliffs, but not walking on them. Do you think I will panic on the road into the park? Thanks.
Barbara Hale says
You were 100% correct on hiring a guide for Manuel Antonio for seeing wildlife. I joined a group just before going in (after checking that he was certified). There were 4 of us with one guide. It costs me $25. He did a great job finding animals, birds and insects. He even took my iPhone and took amazing photos and videos through his scope. I saw several people with huge cameras trying to figure out what we were looking at without any luck. I had been debating whether to hike a tour guide and your blog helped me make the right decision. Thank you.
I’m glad to hear that Barbara! Some people think they can find the animals on their own and don’t want to pay extra but without trained eyes (and those guides do it everyday!) it’s incredibly difficult to see unless it’s right in front of you. We always recommend a guide for anyone who wants to see animals and I’m glad you did and had a great experience!
Great post ! Question, is 40 usd for a certified guide with round trip transportation reasonable ? Seems a but steep to me. Thanks !
Is it per person? I just checked with Iguana Tours and they charge $59 per person with transportation but it also does include the national park fee which is $16 per adult.
Hey Sammi! My wife and I are going to Costa Rica next month and we couldn’t be happier that we found your blog, it has been so incredibly helpful as we prepare. And your rental discount was awesome!
We were wondering for the guides at the park, how can you tell who is actually certified and who isn’t? And what is a fair price for the 2 of us to bargain for with someone who is certified? Lastly, are there some guides to book with inside the park or is it just outside?
They should have their badge with them that is ICT certified to be a guide, so you can ask them to show it to you. As for 2 people for a guided tour, last time I was there they offered my friends and I $20 or 30 (Can’t remember exactly) per person for a 2 hour guided walk I believe but we went in September so the price may be different for March as it is our peak travel season. There are only guides outside the park.
What are the options and prices from Jaco in November to Manuel Antonio?
You can take the bus, drive or a shuttle/tour. Here is our post on taking the bus: Jaco to Manuel Antonio bus
Dane Moore says
Do you know if one member of a party can show up early to buy tickets for everyone and then come back with them a little bit later and go directly in? Or does everyone have to be present at the time of purchase for immediate entry? Thank you!
Hi Dane, I’m pretty sure you don’t all need to be there, only if there is a Costa Rican citizen because then they will need to show their ID.
Hi. First of: love your blog!!! We want to come to CR march 2019 for two Weeks my haubans,me and my two kids. I want to do Cahuita, Monteverde and after that is it better to go to Manuel Antonio or in Guanacaste ??
Hi Christine, if you’re flying out of San Jose Airport, I would recommend Manuel Antonio as it’s closer.
I have enjoyed your blog and it’s really getting us excited for our upcoming trip! We are taking our 9 and 10 years old to M.A. Great info and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your adventures.
Steven Delforce says
First and foremost, you guys have a great blog and instagram page with loads of informations and recommendations :-).
In February we are coming to Costa Rica for 3 weeks. We will be driving a 4X4 car with rooftop tent from Nomad America. Do you know a good campground or camping near Manuel Antonio National Park?
Kind regards from Belgium
Hi guys, thanks for the nice words! Regarding campsites, I recommend downloading the iOverlander app and I see on there that you can camp at Beach Packers, Kacha Hostel and you can also check out the day time parking lots.
My kids (ages 7 and 9) and I are going the area in early May. Is it possible to get a private tour of the park? Thirty people in a group sounds like a lot for them (and my weak ears). Thanks! Randy
Hi Randy! Yes you can definitely get a private tour. I recommend booking one beforehand and you can book one through tour companies like Jacamar. You can also wait until you get to the park and hire a guide, but just make sure they are ICT certified naturalist guides (there are some people who try to pass off as guides and charge a ton of money).
The guides that are onsite are awesome! They each will carry a telescope and can look up into the trees to show you up-close the animals they see. Our guide was super helpful in taking pictures thru his lens from your phone camera so you can actually look back and see what you spotted high in the trees! Well worth the few $ to get a guide! This is a MUST if you’re heading to Costa Rica…Manuel Antonia is such a beautiful park, but the ‘end’ of the tour is breathtaking!!
Jen Hollandsworth says
I will be arriving from La Fortuna by bus at 115pm. I will need to check in to room first and would like to head over immediately to see the guided tour of the National Park. Will we be able to get a guided tour around that time? Or will it be too late? Only have one other day and want to do the beach. Thanks!
Hi Jen, the park closes at 4 PM so you won’t have a lot of time in the park. You can probably still get a guided tour but it won’t be very long. There are beaches inside the national park so you can do a beach/hike day at the park because a couple hours at the park won’t really be enough.
Hello! We will be visiting Manuel Antonio NP early May this year. I was wondering if you can get in and out the park with your ticket the same day? Let’s say we want to go at 7am to watch the wildlife, then go out for lunch and come back to enjoy the beach the rest of the afternoon.. is this possible? I read somewhere that you can if you leave through the main entrance/exit and the rangers sees your ID. Not sure how reliable this information is though…
Do you know?
Thank you for your help!
Hi Amy! I believe you can, I would let the ranger know when you enter the park (the one who checks your bags) and keep your ticket. I am not positive in May though since during high season, they will only let people go in as they go out and there’s always a long line during the busy months. May is still busy but not quite as crazy as February – April but I would let the ranger know, and ask the person who you buy the ticket from if they have a stamp or can initial and date your ticket to show when you go back in.
My husband and I are going to Costa Rica the first part of July, and we’re hoping to visit Manuel Antonio National Park, but we have a question about food. You mentioned that things like sandwiches and fruit are okay, but foods like peanuts and chips are not allowed into the park. Does that include all nuts? Can we bring trail mix? What about beef jerky or power bars, or other bite-sized foods? Are there any places near the park to buy appropriate, but packable lunch food?
Hi Johanna, any kind of snack food like chips aren’t allowed, I brought in granola bars before and they said they were fine but I don’t recommend bringing trail mix since that has nuts and raisins and bite size things too. There are a lot of restaurants around the national park entrance and lots of convenience stores/snack stands to buy food.
Shelley Williams says
I have a question and can’t seem to find where I can type my own question. Sorry I have invaded your post!
Are the trails accessible for someone using a walker? We are wanting to travel with my mother in law who needs a walker some. How accessible is the park?
Hi Shelley! I have a post about the trails in this national park here: Hiking Manuel Antonio National Park with pictures. Most of the trails are gravel/dirt, there is only the sloth trail that is on platforms and the small section down to Playa Manuel Antonio from the bathrooms has a concrete sidewalk. Unfortunately most of the national parks in Costa Rica are not very handicap friendly but if she can walk on her own to the platform sloth trail, she can use the walker there and then on the concrete sidewalk down to the beach. It is maybe like… a quarter of a mile from the park entrance to the sloth trail platform.
We just visited today, and your guide was so helpful! We were especially glad to know about the scam parking guys. They were actually out in the road, stopping traffic and waving us into their lot. I would have been so angry to realize that they are nowhere near the park entrance. The real parking near the entrance wasn’t free, though. It was 3000 colones.
It’s rainy season, so it was hard to see any wildlife and we got drenched. I was glad you had recommended the guide, because we would have seen absolutely nothing without him.
Hi Millie! Glad the guide was useful! Yeah this year’s rainy season has been very strong so far so good idea to get a guide to see wildlife! If you guys park by the roundabout by Playa Espadill Norte, that parking is actually free. I learned that the hard way too since I parked by the entrance by the park entrance which was 3,000 and then found out the roundabout parking was free.
Ryan Biddulph says
Great review guys! Those monkeys ARE feisty LOL although they did not mess with me too much. I did see them pester other tourists. This is one of my favorite spots in Costa Rica because it is small and easy to cover yet wildlife is everywhere. We even saw a caiman which was super sneakily hiding just below the surface. Thanks for sharing!
Samta Varia says
Such useful info! I’m here in Manuel Antonio NOW, at San Bada and love this property! The rooftop bar has excellent views of the beach and the howler monkeys treated us with a visit during lunch test and woke up to one on our balcony this morning! Thanks again for such a great blog!
It’ll still be very hot and probably pretty humid since the rains have started but you can still wear shorts and hiking sandals 🙂 The trails won’t be muddy since they are well laid out and aren’t on dirt, they have platforms. You can see what the hiking trails are like in this post: Hiking Manuel Antonio National Park
Thank you for all the great info. We’re arriving next week, and the forecast calls for rain. Will the trails be muddy? Are shorts and hiking sandals still recommended during the rainy season?
Hello, since the park closes at 4pm do they kick you out or can you get stuck there? Or do they just stop letting people in at 4pm?
They won’t let people in past 4 and will start ushering people out. You won’t get stuck there – they’ll make sure everyone is out.
Thanks for the awesome site. We will be visiting Manuel Antonio in April. Are there any lockers available at the park? I would like to bring our nice DSLR to photograph wildlife but I’m hesitant to just leave it in a bag on the beach when we go swimming. Also, if you go in and walk around for a while and decide to hire a guide later can you do that without leaving the park or do you only find guides outside the park entrance? Thanks!
Hi Ben, there aren’t any lockers in the park. Whenever we go, we always have one person watching our things, it’s annoying but it’s better that way to prevent any theft since there isn’t anywhere secure to put your belongings. You can hire a guide later, and there are always groups walking around so you may be able to join in on one at the entrance or ask the rangers at the entrance office if there are any guides for around.
Thank you for a great post. One question, you state that your not allowed to bring in items like chips or peanuts. I take it this is because they dont want you feeding the animals.
But then you say in your tips to bring water and snacks. Can you give us a list of what is and isn’t allowed in? We are visiting with a 6 year old so we need to ensure she has snacks she’ll eat.
Hi Jes, yes they don’t allow snacks like peanuts and chips because they don’t want visitors to feed the animals which is what most people give them. You can bring food like sandwiches and fruit. Just make sure to zip them up in a bag and always close your backpack because those monkeys are smart and know where the food is!
Very expensive if you will visit from other Latin American countries… 🙁 16 usd is a lot of Mexican pesos.
And how much is bus fare from San José? Which bus and parada?
Yes I totally agree, the entrance fee for foreigners to national parks in CR is very expensive :/
I don’t know how much the bus far is from San Jose, but here is the bus info:
San José, calle 5, Av. 18/20 Terminal Transportes Tracopa: Todos los días, directo, 6:00, 9:00 (L-S), 12:00, 14:30 (L-S), 18:00, 19:30.
4:00 (L-S), 6:00, 9:30, 12:00, 14:30, 17:00, D 6:00, 9:30, 12:00, 15:00, 17:00
3:45 hrs. 200 km.
San José, calle 5, Av. 18/20 Terminal Transportes Tracopa: Todos los días, Colectivo, 7:00, 10:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00 (L-V)
5:00, 10:00, 14:00, 16:45 4:30 hrs, 200km
Leigh Anne says
We just arrived in Manuel Antonio. Excited to explore.
Have a great time!!
How much is the entrance fee?
$16 for foreigners. Cash only, they do take dollars
Great post! Thank you!
Do you happen to know about night life in Manuel Antonio? Like nice bars and restaurants to go to?
Hi Cata! It’s not a huge party town but when you drive through Quepos and Manuel Antonio you’ll see restaurants and bars all around.
Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says
Oh how I’d LOVE to go to Costa RIca and your photos have only made the longing stronger! Thanks for sharing this experience.
Thanks Phoebe! Hope you make it here one day 🙂
Ow boy, we so need to go to Costa Rica! I’m reading this while haven a luch break at work and I know this park will be on top of my mind all afternoon.Love the little monkey’s! 🙂
hehe you guys should!!
budget jan says
Your first photo says it all for me. I could happily use that photo to gaze at all day and dream.
Me too, that view was simply stunning!
Yes tourism raises it’s ugly head when businesses start popping up and it ends up becoming a big tourist zone just outside some park or attraction, but the economy depends on it so hopefully it’s done in a sustainable fashion.
Costa Rica has many laws regarding environmental protection and conservation. There’s always more that could be done but as far as it’s come, they’ve done a good job it seems
The Dessert Engineer says
Your posts are really, really tempting me to visit Costa Rica soon… Since my husband and I hardly speak a word of Spanish, how easy would it be for us to get around CR?
In the tourist areas, most of the locals speak some degree of English so you will be able to find someone who speaks English by asking around. It does help to know a few basic phrases though just in case!
Sand In My Suitcase says
We’ve heard many good things about Manuel Antonio National Park – and that it’s a true highlight of a visit to Costa Rica. We so want to visit one day…
It’s touristy but gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. One of the gems of Costa Rica!
Bob R says
I was there last July, a return visit after 15 years. The change in the immediate area was quite dramatic but certainly expected. The beach was still very nice. 🙂
I would have loved to see what it was like 15 years ago. I’m sure it was every bit as beautiful as it is today. The beaches are amazing!
Such a good post…amazing photos and practical info. I still have to get to Costa Rica…and tussle with those pesky monkeys!!!
Thanks Corinne! haha careful, those monkeys are quite feisty!