Manuel Antonio is a small town blessed with an abundance of diversity. From the stunning beaches and exuberant rainforests, to the charm of its quaint town; it is one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse areas in the world. Although Manuel Antonio National Park is the country's smallest national park, its beauty and diversity of wildlife is unparalleled. Without a doubt, it is one of the country’s most picturesque and stunning places.
This beach lover's paradise attracts visitors from all over the world year round. Manuel Antonio has activities for everyone! You can browse through our site to get a better idea of all things that this lovely town has to offer. But honestly, words don’t do Manuel Antonio justice. You have to see it with your own eyes!
We’ve created a guide with tons of information about Manuel Antonio Costa Rica so you can find anything you might be looking for! We have also shot a series of videos that will give you a broad picture of the area. We hope you enjoy them and that they are the start of a wonderful journey!
Manuel Antonio Travel Tips
What can you expect when you travel to Manuel Antonio? There is plenty to do for those seeking to explore and discover. There is hiking, surfing, diving, rafting, fishing, canopies, and lots more!
When to visit Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio has beautiful weather throughout most of the year. Costa Rica has only two seasons: a Green Season and a Sunny Season. However, if you are particular about what you want to enjoy, you can definitely plan accordingly. Keep in mind that the Sunny Season is considered High Season and it will be more expensive. As with any tourist destination, the holidays bring high numbers of visitors; Christmas, New Year, and Easter Week especially. It’s also important to remember that the seasons offer general guidelines as to what can be expected, but not exact descriptions of what every day will be like. Some visitors have been disappointed by unexpected rain during the Sunny Season, while others have been surprised to encounter favorable weather during the Green Season.
January, February, March and April are the hottest months. During May and June you can expect some showers (mostly a combination of both). During July there is a bit of a summer experience with what the locals call "Veranillo de San Juan". During August and September it rains a lot. October is the month with the most rain. November still rains and December is the transition month. Either time of the year, you'll probably get a little of both.
The months of January through April generally consist of sunny, hot, humid days and warm nights. These are the best months for walks and hikes. You can also do some River Rafting but you will mostly experience Class II - III Rivers. Snorkeling and diving are better enjoyed during the Sunny Season when visibility in the water is best.
The Green season is supposed to go from May to November, but sometimes the rains can last well into January. This is the best time to enjoy the Tropical Rainforest. River Rafting is also at its best during the Green Season, when rives go up to Class IV. According to many, this is the best time for surfing, not only because of favorable weather conditions, but also because the water won’t be as crowded so you get the waves to yourself.
Whales can be normally seen from November to March and from July to September. You can usually see Humpback and Pilot Whales. Dolphins are seen all year around. If this is what you are looking for, we suggest you visiting between December and February or August and September, as this is the time when whales are most visible in the area.
What to pack
You can pretty much buy anything you need for your tropical adventure in Manuel Antonio. Almost 100% of items you would normally need on any vacation can be easily found. There are several stores that will cover all your basic needs. Now, this is the Rain Forest we are talking about; so make sure you are prepared for rain. As a general rule, we suggest you pack lightweight and quick dry clothes (shorts, windbreakers, shoes and flip-flops). Most hotels provide basic toiletries but it doesn’t hurt to check before hand.
Getting there and around
There are many ways to get to Manuel Antonio. You can catch a flight from San José; you can take the bus or a shuttle, or (if you’re feeling adventurous) rent a car. The roads around Manuel Antonio can be somewhat challenging to navigate through, but what is a vacation without some adventure, right? A good GPS should be enough to get you where you’re going. If not you can always ask for directions, if you can manage to get there that way then you’re ready to be a local!
Facts about Manuel Antonio
Where is Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio is located off of Costa Rica's central Pacific coast just a short drive away from Quepos, 132 km (82 mi) from the national capital of San José. Lush forests and mountains as well as breathtaking beaches are part of Manuel Antonio´s landscape.More on Manuel Antonio´s location
Manuel Antonio´s biodiversity
The bio diversity in Manuel Antonio is unmatched. The different natural habitats located within it are home to over 109 different species of mammals and 184 species of birds. Spotting monkeys is quite easy. You will certainly be able to get up close and personal with some. Among them are howlers, white faced cappuccinos, and even the endangered species known as squirrel monkey. The forests are lush and teeming with vegetation. Without a doubt this one of Costa Rica’s most amazing and beautiful protected areas.
Manuel Antonio Weather
Manuel Antonio´s weather varies from year to year. In general terms, you can expect around 70-85 Fº in the Green Season, and 75-90 Fº during the Sunny Season.
The Green season usually goes from May through November, but the rain can last well into January. Typically, the days from January to April are sunny, hot, and humid, with warm nights. Remember that the tropical Rainforest experience is exactly that, an experience!
Manuel Antonio is for the most part quite humid. But be warned, just when you think you have the weather patterns figured out, they’ll surprise you; just ask any Tico! During the Green Season there will be some very hot and sunny days, between the rainy ones. If you’re visiting during the Sunny Season bear in mind that this is the rainforest, so you might be in for a surprise at any given moment!More on Manuel Antonio Weather
The food scene in Manuel Antonio is very diverse. You can easily find traditional meals called “casados”, drinkable tap water, and some of the tastiest coffee, chocolate, and tropical fruits in the world for very reasonable prices. If you’re looking for something more elaborate Manuel Antonio has dozens of restaurants offering every type of cuisine in the world. Like most areas in Costa Rica, there are options for sophisticated foodies as well as the budget traveler.
Barba Roja has been the go-to restaurant in Manuel Antonio since 1975 and serves the best smoked ribs. If you are in the mood for conspiracy theories, make sure to visit El Avión Restaurant just outside Manuel Antonio National Park. It is set inside a C-123 US cargo planed that was abandoned at the International Airport in San José. The whole story behind “El Avión” can be found on the back of their menu so make sure to check it out!More on Manuel Antonio´s Food
Things to do in Manuel Antonio
Whether you are looking to embark on an adventure filled journey or are just in need of some peace and quiet, Manuel Antonio is the perfect choice. There tons of activities such as surfing, fishing, diving, rafting, whale watching, and exploring mangroves or relaxing on white-sand beaches. There is so much to do you that you just might find yourself going back again and again.
Monotony is simply not a choice in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica! The question here may not be what to do, but what to leave out. After all, there's only 24 hours in a day...More on things to do in Manuel Antonio
Life in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio is a small Oceanside village with plenty of diversity. Costa Rica has been rated as the happiest country on the planet and you will experience this claim first hand when you visit Manuel Antonio. The natural beauty of this coastline has brought many expats to live in or around it, so meeting people is very easy. The popularity of the region with tourists and expats has also brought development. You’ll find some of the country’s most expensive real estate here, but there are plenty of budget homes and hotels in the area as well.
Between Quepos and Manuel Antonio you can find virtually any convenience you might need while travelling. However, downtown Manuel Antonio is more limited. If you don't find something there you can go to Quepos, which is just a short drive away.
- Public transportation: Frequent bus service run from San José to Manuel Antonio, and between Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Taxis are also available.
- Public amenities: There are public bathrooms, showers and water fountains within Manuel Antonio National Park.
- Shopping: Shopping is abundant, from larger grocery stores to roadside fruit stands and souvenir shops.
- Money: There are banks and ATMs. There is also a Western Union office in Quepos.
- Gas stations: There is a full-service gas station in downtown Quepos.
- WiFi or Internet cafés: Many mid-range and upscale hotels and restaurants offer free WiFi; Internet cafés are also popular in downtown Quepos.
- Cell Phone Reception: check with your carrier and to make sure your phone is not locked for international services. If not, it is easy to buy a local SIM chip
- Restaurants: There are many options to suit all budgets.
- Medical facilities: The Red Cross provides 24-hour emergency service line: 2777-0116. There are several bilingual doctors that offer hotel and home visits, and can address minor surgeries or urgent care. The Quepos hospital is located on the outskirts of the regional airport. Their direct line is 2777-0922. For all major emergencies, dial 911.