Visiting Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio Costa Rica is one of our top recommended destinations a great location to experience the best rainforests, white sand beaches and adventure activities that Costa Rica has to offer. About 4 hours away from the capital, San Jose, it is located on the Central Pacific Coast and home to the fantastic Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio is a magical combination of rainforest, beaches, hills, and coral reefs, making it one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and one of the most visited in Costa Rica. Whether you want to relax on white sandy beaches or trek through the jungles looking for wildlife, Manuel Antonio is sure to please all types of travelers.
Flora and Fauna
Despite being one of the smaller national parks in Costa Rica, there are still 184 species of birds and 109 species of mammals within the park and almost 80 species of fish in the surrounding water. The diversity of rainforest plants and animals you will find walking through the Manuel Antonio national park is unparalleled anywhere else in Costa Rica.
Quepos is in the Northern part of Puntarenas and it’s most famous for big-game sport fishing. It’s a great place for both novice and expert anglers. Popular fish you can catch off the coast include big eye tuna, marlin, snapper, wahoo and yellow fin. Quepos is also popular because it is located so close Manuel Antonio, meaning you’re only minutes away from some of the best wildlife in Costa Rica!
Fly through Manuel Antonio National Park on some of the best ziplining tours in the world! You’ll hike up to the cables with with certified bilingual guides who will help you have a safe and amazing time. Enjoy the view of native Costa Rican trees and the Pacific ocean while you glide through the rainforest.
Tour the rainforest on horseback for a truly unique experience! Tours are available for children as young as five and can last half or full days. You can ride through the forest while you watch for monkeys, sloths and toucans and then end your tour with a swim under thundering waterfalls!
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife. Hire a guide to help you spot monkeys, birds, sloths, iguanas, and more. The guides know the best places to find hiding animals and use special telescopes to see up into the trees. Don’t forget your camera!
White Water Rafting
Just 30 minutes to an hour away from Manuel Antonio and Quepos you’ll find excellent white water rafting. A rafting trip can include both hiking and rafting and last a half or full day. Manuel Antonio visitors will get their blood pumping on the adventurous rapids while they see Costa Rica’s natural beauty from a different perspective.
There are five fantastic beaches to visit in Manuel Antonio, Playa Espadilla, Playa Manuel Antonio, Playa Gemelas, Puerto Escondido and Playa Biesanz. All of the beaches offer various activities including swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Make sure to pack your sunscreen because these stunning beaches are incredibly sunny.
Discover the aquatic life off the coast with a private or public tours, or with a catamaran tour that includes a stop for snorkeling and a chance to see the beautiful Costa Rican sunset on the sea. You can also dive down to 60 feet below the surface with an expert guide and discover a mesmerizing world of marine life. Manuel Antonio is a great place to see a huge variety of marine life, including Starfish, Sea Turtles, and White Tip Reef Sharks. Whale watching is another popular option.
Don’t forget to plan a morning or afternoon for surfing on the Manuel Antonio beaches. The gentle but regular waves are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers looking to practice their new skills. There are also surf schools and surfing lessons available for those just starting out. Plan your vacation between May and November for the best breaks.
Catamaran tours are a great way to tour Manuel Antonio waters! You’ll ride the waves while you look for dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. Then you will get the chance to snorkel, paddle board or swim in the sparkling water. Many offer a traditional lunch on the boat and tropical cocktails, which you can enjoy while you soak up the sun with your family and friends.
Are you ready to see Manuel Antonio from 600 feet above? Parasailing lets you get a bird’s eye view of the Manuel Antonio beaches and National Park and it is an experience you won’t want to miss. Some parasailing tours also come with 30-60 minutes of jet ski time as well.
Closest International Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Getting to Manuel Antonio is easier than ever. For the fastest and most convenient transportation, rent a car right from the airport upon your arrival. You will drive through Quepos to get to the national park. There are also shuttle services available from San Jose or Guanacaste. Private transfers are a little more expensive, from $200-$300, but won’t have to make extra stops. Shared shuttles, however, are more affordable from $50-$100. Finally, you can fly there. You can use Sansa Air to fly to Quepos from San Jose. The flight costs about $75 dollars and takes approximately 10 minutes.