About Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
A Gifted Place with Natural Abundance
Costa Rica is famous for its wide range of amazing natural surroundings and stunning landscapes. It has something to offer to everyone – from the nature lovers to seekers of thrills and adventures, from hikers to fishing lovers, and from explorers of rainforests to white water rafters.
Among the tourist destinations in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio deserves special attention for its green forests, vivid landscapes, and monkeys swinging in the trees. The Pacific blue waters and the hills covered with jungles make the charming buffs a photo ready backdrop. For any outdoor enthusiast, Manuel Antonio offers a list of adventures to satisfy their taste and preferences.
Manuel Antonio National Park:
A visit in Manuel Antonio cannot be thought of without a tour to Manuel Antonio National Park. The park’s diverse flora and animal life make it one of Costa Rica’s most visited parks. Forbes Magazine ranked Manuel Antonio National Park as one of the world’s most beautiful parks.
The beaches of Manuel Antonio are famous all over the world. The beaches are perfect for taking a soothing dip or plunging into the adrenaline rising water activities. Manuel Antonio has four beaches: Espadilla, Playita, Manuel Antonio, and Escondido.
Rafting in Rivers:
The Naranjo and Savegre rivers are perfect for white water rafting. One of the most convenient spots for taking rafting trips is Quepos. It is a good spot to spend a full day on water.
A walk from the sandy bridge to Punta Cathedral will give you an unforgettable hiking experience with a breathtaking Pacific views. The park has several walking trails. Pick any of the tracks for hiking and you may see ocelots, sloths, caiman, or even the endangered squirrel monkeys on your way.
The marine life of Manuel Antonio is overflowing with diversity. Besides various types of fish, dolphins and whales are also known to make an appearance.
Manuel Antonio is so tranquil and pristine that you may think it to be detached from the outside world. However, upscale hotels and restaurants are located in the folds of hills. They offer amenities such as exclusive beaches, pools, fitness centers, spas, restaurants, etc. In addition, these Manuel Antonio hotels offer vacation packages, tours and trips that visitors can enjoy at affordable rates.
Manuel Antonio National Park Beach
Located within Manuel Antonio National Park, this world famous beach is known for its white sand, peaceful atmosphere and private setting.
Activities: Trails, swim, birdwatching and wildlife.
Playa Espadilla North
This beach offers an exciting range of activities to choose from. Or for a more relaxing day on the sand, visitors can rent chairs and umbrellas. Lots of restaurants and bars nearby offer a great many food and drink options.
Activities: Beach chair rentals, surf boards rentals, restaurants and bars.
The closest beach to The Preserve at Los Altos, this beach is great for families. Kayaks are available for rental and are a perfect way to explore the natural surroundings.
Activities: Kayak rentals.
Dominical is famous for its surfing. Like beach in Manuel Antonio, it is the perfect place for learning how to surf while you are vacationing in Costa Rica. This beach is 44 km away from The Preserve at Los Altos, but if you have a rental car it is an easy drive.
Activities: Perfect for experienced surfers.
This beach is a little farther away (200 km), but is a great experience for the whole family. The beach offers excellent snorkeling, surfing and even the opportunity for whale watching.
Activities: Perfect for experienced surfers and nature lovers.
Jacó is between 45 and 60 minutes away from Manuel Antonio. The town offers a range of restaurants, bars and activities. Similar as Dominical, Jacó is known for its surfing.
Activities: Restaurants, bars, good for starting and experienced surfers.
Manuel Antonio Restaurants
Manuel Antonio offers a large variety of restaurants for travelers to choose from.
Located at The Preserve at Los Altos.
Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner overlooking the ocean. The child-friendly, adult-sophisticated menu presents a flavorful combination of comidas típicas (local meals) and an eclectic range of tropical inspired dishes and drinks.
La Luna Restaurant
This restaurant is located at the Gaia Resort which is only 3 km away from The Preserve at Los Altos. It is an upscale restaurant for couples, groups and events. The menu offers Central American, Continental, Costa Rican, and International dishes.
Victoria’s Gourmet Italian Restaurant
The number one pizza and pasta restaurant in Manuel Antonio that is perfect for families while at the same time offering a warm setting for a romantic dining experience.
El Patio de Cafe Milagro-Bistro Latino
This bistro is a great option to for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu offers Caribbean, Central American, Costa Rican and Latin dishes for a reasonable price.
Kapi Kapi is known for its Indian dishes and for its romantic scenery. This restaurant is great for couples, families and small groups. Price range $10-$40
Barba Roja Restaurant
Barba Roja is located right next to The Preserve at Los Altos, which makes it very easy to walk over whenever you want. Enjoy their eclectic international menu while you listen to live music.
As you drive into Manuel Antonio you can’t miss this restaurant, which is famous for being built inside of an old plane. This restaurant is located 750 meters from Los Altos and has an amazing view overlooking the ocean. With their continental dishes and bar scene they can serve families, couples, groups and special occasions.
Manuel Antonio Sport Fishing
Manuel Antonio and Quepos offer one of the most exotic fishing spots in Costa Rica, if not the world. Many fishing companies can be found in the charming beach towns of Manuel Antonio and Quepos. These companies offer different types of fishing packages including both offshore and inshore fishing. You can charter boats for half-day, three-quarter, and full day along with customized trips for multiple days. Sport fish that are available in this region are Marlin, Snapper (mahi mahi), Wahoo, Sailfish, Jacks, Roosterfish, Snook, Tuna, Dorado, and many more.
Fishing in Manuel Antonio and Quepos can be divided into two parts – offshore and inshore fishing. Offshore fishing is normally carried out 20 to 40 miles out in blue deep sea while Inshore fishing is done inside the bay where the water is shallower. The normal depth of inshored fishing tends to be 1 to 21 feet.
Sailfish: The peak time of catching these fish is from January to July, but they are available year round. They are not as powerful or as big as Marlin, but are available and easy to find. They are the fastest fish in the ocean and are great for those looking to fly fish in Costa Rica. During peak season, it is very common for any boat to catch 10-20 Sailfish in a single day. The number decreases to 3-8 per day during off-peak season.
Blue Marlin: These fish are the most common variety of Marlins that cruise the water throughout the year. The peak season for Marlins occurs over a three month period, from October through December.
Their speed and aggressiveness have made them a great fight for any angler. Quepos is one of the best areas to fish Marlins. The best spots to find them are natural shelves and humps that form on the floor of the ocean.
Amberjack: These fish cannot jump like Barracuda, but they have enormous strength. They are considered trophy fish and anglers take great pleasure in catching them. Depending on place, they are available in gold and purple color.
Dorado/Dolphin/Mahi Mahi: Available in gold-green and blue color, these game fish are found in warm waters. November, December, and January are the months when their presence is abundant, but June and July are the best period to have a shot at the biggest Dorado.
Tuna: Yellowfin Tuna is the most common tuna species available on the Pacific coast. Though they are available throughout the year, the peak season lasts from June to September. Big tuna are not available, but large schools of small tuna are not rare too.
Wahoo: These fish cruise through the water with their lean and extended bodies. They are a bit difficult to catch due to their 40 mph speed. They are considered trophy fish because of their rarity. The anglers have to use steel leaders as wahoo have razor sharp teeth.
The anglers generally catch Wahoo while looking for other oceanic species. They can be found anywhere, but concentrate along the Pacific coast during summer season.
Barracuda: These aggressive fish are known as the ‘Tiger of the Sea’. They are found in places where schools of small fish are available. By jumping out of the water, they often give anglers an aerial display.
Roosterfish: This light tackle gamefish is available throughout the year. These monstrous fish are incredibly strong and almost bend the anglers’ rods with brutal power. They are attracted to live baits like blue runners or mullets.
Red Snapper: It is one of the most expensive fishes that is highly prized by anglers and fishermen. They are easy to tackle and tend to weigh between 3 and 50 pounds.
Snook: These fish are available near river mouths, in the surf, and near mangroves. They are found in both fresh and salt water and can rival Snapper and Dorado with their tastiness. The heavy rain season from July to November is the best period to catch them.
Manuel Antonio National Park
An Amazing Tourist Destination
Manuel Antonio National Park is the smallest, but one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. Created in 1972, the park is located in the province of Puntareanas, along Central Pacific Coast.
The main attraction of the park is its diverse wildlife. The most common animal of this park is the monkey. Howler monkeys, capuchins, and squirrel monkeys, an endangered species, each call this park home. The park also has an exciting variety of reptiles, more than 350 kinds of birds of almost every color and shape imaginable, and animals like armadillos, raccoons, coatis, peccaries, agoutis, sloths, caiman, ocelots, etc.
The park’s offshore coral reef is bustling with rich marine life. You can even have a glimpse of whales and dolphins there too.
Many visitors tend to throw food to the monkeys, but the park authorities place signs warning visitors not to feed the monkeys. Doing so leads to the endangerment of animals. Moreover, they will develop a taste for these kinds of foods and eventually, will end up stealing the visitors’ lunch.
The park offers beautiful trails that allow visitors to explore its bountiful nature. The ‘La Trampa’ trail is located just after the entrance and it leads to two beaches called ‘Manuel Antonio’ and ‘Espadilla Sur’. Another trail called ‘Serrucho Point’ leads to a second trail called ‘Gemelos Escondido’ and a lookout that offers amazing views of ‘Escondido Beach’ below.
These well-maintained trails do not have many obstructions and are quite short in length.
Manuel Antonio National Park Beaches
Apart from sightseeing and trekking on the trails, visitors gather on the beaches as popular picnic and swimming spots. The park has four wonderful beaches called ‘Espadilla Sur’, ‘Manuel Antonio’, ‘Playita’, and ‘Teldoro’ that appeal to people of all ages. A natural sand-made land bridge is there that divides the former two beaches. During the dry season, ‘Manuel Antonio’ and ‘Espadilla Sur’ beaches become very suitable for snorkeling, as the water turns very clear. In fact, park beaches are hot spots for swimming, surfing, and just relaxing under the sun.
When to Visit the Park
The park is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The park authorities do not allow more than 600 visitors on weekdays and 800 on holidays and weekends so it’s better go early in the morning to avoid crowds.
What to Expect in a Nutshell
Manuel Antonio National Park is a total package for fun, enjoyment and discovery. It is equally appealing to sun lovers for its beautiful beaches and to nature lovers for its abundant wildlife. People can hike the trails, swim in the water, bask on the beaches, and refresh theirs mind by observing the diverse, rare wildlife. The park’s landscape is stunning for its rainforest bordered by immaculate beaches and capes with views across the sea to a few islands. It is the smallest park in Costa Rica, but attracts millions of visitors from around the world.
The weather in Manuel Antonio
Characterized by coastal breezes, Manuel Antonio weather is sub-tropical. As a tropical country, Costa Rica has two major seasons – dry and rainy. The weather is normally characterized as moderately humid with temperature ranging from the 80s during daytime to the 70s during nighttime.
The temperature in Manuel Antonio remains more or less the same throughout the year. The driest period of the year lasts from December to April. However, the place remains commonly humid year-round. In Manuel Antonio the dry season is not totally arid and the rainy season is not totally wet. You can enjoy beautiful and sunny weather during both seasons.
The climate of Manuel Antonio can be divided into three seasons
Dry Season – December through April
Wet Season – May through November
Wettest Season – September and October
Both the wet and wettest seasons fall under the rainy season. The only difference between them is the amount of rainfall they have.
The weather remains hot and sunny during the dry season. At this time, the days tend to be humid and the nights remain warm and muggy. It is the peak-season when numerous tourists visit Manuel Antonio to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of its Park and beaches and to experience the excitement of fishing and other water activities.
It rains heavily during the rainy season. Because of that, some paths in the Manuel Antonio National Park become a little muddy. Because of the hassles that rain creates, the rainy season is considered to be the off-tourist season in Manuel Antonio. There is a very good chance to have the Manuel Antonio National Park rather empty during this time. However, it can be said that nothing is more refreshing, natural, and clean than experiencing rain in the rainforest. Nevertheless, sometimes it becomes depressing as well as irritating when rainfall continues for days after days and does not let people to see the sun for a long time. However, rain does the job of helping the Park’s plants to grow in their green glory.
During the wet season that remains from May to November, you can expect a few hours of rain each day. However, the regular routine-like rain does not mean that you will be totally devoid of sunshine. There remains sufficient sunshine this time which is enough to spend a few hours at beaches. One of the big advantages of traveling Manuel Antonio during the wet season is to have much cooler evenings. The weather turns really nice especially after a rain in late afternoon. This time, plants and trees explode with new growth and you will see lusher than usual foliage. One of the most exciting and eye-catching views during this season is the gorgeous sunsets, which occurs around 5:45 p.m. everyday due to the country’s proximity to the equator.
The range of temperature in different seasons:
Dry Season – 75 to 90 degree Fahrenheit
Rainy Season – 70 to 85 degree Fahrenheit
The major characteristic of Manuel Antonio’s weather is the humidity, which remains almost 90-100% all the year round.
Quepos Costa Rica
Quepos is port town that works mainly as the entrance to Manuel Antonio, which is located seven kilometers to the southward. This humble beachside town sits on Costa Rica’s western coast. It is just 4 hours from the capital San Jose and 2 hours from Jaco, making it easily accessible to all. During the 1930s, the flatlands of the town had been used for establishing banana plantations. After that, the town rose to eminence as a banana-exporting port. After a disease killed off the plantations in the 1950s, African palms took the place of bananas.
Quepos is a place that has appeal to day-trippers from every walks of life. All kinds of people including surfers, anglers, families, couples, hippies, and gays come here to bask in the splendor of pure beaches and to soak up the welcoming lush rainforest.
A Doorway to Manuel Antonio National Park
Quepos is the doorway to the most visited, attractive, and popular National Park in Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio Costa Rica. The park has a few trails that will lead the tourists to some of the most astounding and secluded white-sand beaches in all of Central America. The emerald bays and a jungle-lined island of quietude will take your breath away in the true sense. You may catch glimpses of colorful parrots, three-toed sloths, massive toucans, exotic flowering plants, flamboyantly colored insects, luminous butterflies, white-faced capuchin monkeys, and quirky spider monkeys. However, the real attraction of this park is some of the last remaining squirrel or ‘titi’ monkeys left in the country.
Quepos Adventure Activities
A good way to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty of Quepos is to take a quad bike riding through the tropical settings. You can take a full day tour that will include visiting the traditional Tico village, tree plantations, and the fudging mountains. There are breaks in the midst of the ride, which will give chance to cool off in swimming hotels.
The energetic travelers can also experience the thrill of river rafting, scuba diving, sea kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, etc.
This city is also famous for sportfishing. It is a favorite place to those anglers who are seeking to catch Pacific Sailfish. Travelers can charter boats for half-day, full day, or for few days to catch fishes like Marlin, Tuna, Dorado, Snapper, Grouper, Roosterfish, Mahi Mahi, etc.
The nightlife in Quepos offers a good combination of entertainments including nightclubs, bars, cafes, and beachside dancing. Many bars put on live music during the weekends. However, like many other tourists cities, illicit and unwanted activities are not rare in Quepos during nighttime. So, if you are on a family tour, avoid certain spots of the city at night.
Many hotels and hostels are there in Quepos where travelers can stay. If you are looking for a luxurious accommodation within reasonable price, you can choose the Preserve at Los Altos, which sits near the beach in Manuel Antonio. This hotel has indoor pool, spa center, restaurant, and other modern amenities and you can choose either Penthouse suites or luxury suites to stay with your family or partner.
Quepos – As a Whole
Visitors can find here an assorted collection of galleries, bakeries, cafes, bars, backpacker lodgings, boutique style hotels, etc. It has beaches but the hidden coves and pristine bays of Manuel Antonio are more attractive to the visitors. One of the major attractions of the place is the locals themselves. These happy-go-lucky people do not spare a single moment of enjoying the life. Their celebration of life becomes more prominent during the Festival De Mur in February. The month-long festival holds party concerts, carnival activities, and parades.
Quepos, along with the nearby town Manual Antonio, is a place to enjoy at an easy pace, to refresh the mind, watching the rich wildlife, and tasting sporting activities in the clear blue ocean.