Manuel Antonio is home to Manuel Antonio National Park, the most visited national park in Costa Rica. This town has pretty much every outdoor adventure you could possibly want. It’s possible to go zip lining, sport fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting and more! There are also many upscale hotels and restaurants, but it is possible to find decent places for budget travelers as well.
We find Manuel Antonio to be a little too touristy for our liking, but despite that, it is a beautiful destination that is convenient to get to from the San Jose airport.
THINGS TO DO
There are not a lot of budget activity options in Manuel Antonio that we have found. Here are our few faves though.
Visit playa Biesanz and go sea kayaking /snorkeling: Playa Biesanz is not the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen, but it has a charm about it which we love. You can park on the side of the road and have an attendant watch your car for under $5. Then walk down the path to the beach (check for howler monkeys in the trees). The beach is filled with locals selling everything you need. You can rent sea kayaks, snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards, buy cocktails, buy food, rent beach chairs, and more! All of this is at a very reasonable rate. Plus it’s usually not very full with tourists.
Visit the national park: The main reason you are probably in Manuel Antonio is probably to go to the national park. You can read our full post with tips for the park here.
Go to the Quepos farmers market: The nearby town of Quepos has a farmers market every Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. It is located along the sea wall in Quepos. We suggest picking up some unusual fruits you’ve never seen before and trying them out.
Head to La Playita: This beach is located at the very end of Playa Espadilla. It used to be known as the gay scene beach and there were a lot of nude sunbathers. Last time we were there I didn’t see any of this cool scene. It was mostly just couples who wanted a quieter beach experience away from the action of Playa Espadilla.
Watch the sunset: Please don’t miss the sunset while you are here. It’s amazing! We suggest getting dinner on the cliffs for a good view (we have suggestions in the restaurant section) or watching it from Playa Espadilla.
Hostel Wide Mouth Frog: This hostel is located in Quepos (a ten minute drive from Manuel Antonio). For about $30 you can get a private dorm for two people with a shared bathroom. There is a shared kitchen for guests and a pool.
Guest House Pura Vida: Located in Quepos (about 10 minutes from Manuel Antonio), this guest house has studio apartments with a kitchenette and breakfast for two people at prices as low as $20 a night. It really depends on the date though. sometimes the price can be higher.
Torino Backpackers Beach: This hotel is only a one minute walk from the beach in Manuel Antonio. For about $50 a night for two people you can get a large room with breakfast included. There is also a shared kitchen on the property.
Selina Manuel Antonio: This place has a super cool vibe. There is a nice pool and an amazing view of the jungle. For about $50 a night you can get a double room with a shared bathroom. There is also a shared kitchen on site.
Waterfront Hotel Verde Mar: For about $45 you can get a super basic room for two people, but you can’t beat the location. They have a nice outdoor pool and access directly onto the beach from the hotel. It’s about a 10-minute walk to the national park.
PLACES TO EAT
There is no shortage of food options in Manuel Antonio! Here are our faves.
Ronny’s Place: Really good food (fish, steaks, etc) and even better drinks. This place also has the best sunset view in town. The road is a little difficult to get here so 4 wheel drive would help, but you can probably make it without.
Falafal Bar: The perfect cute lunch spot. Their falafal is on point and the prices are good.
El Avion:We weren’t overly impressed with the food, but when else can you say that you ate in a cargo plane? You could also just go there for drinks. This place also has a killer sunset view.
Sancho’s: Quality burritos at a reasonable price. Plus the atmosphere is really fun.
El Avion: We weren’t overly impressed with the food, but when else can you say that you ate in a cargo plane? You could also just go there for drinks (that’s what we do). This place also has a killer sunset view.
TA-CHO’S: Amazing Mexican food and the nicest people ever. You’ll feel so welcome here. This is a great dinner spot.
Sol’s Frozen Yoghurt: Great froyo and smoothies next to the national park.
Backpacks Paradise Costa Linda: Your best bet for lunch after a day in the national park. Located next to Sol’s Frozen Yoghurt, this hostel has good typical Costa Rican food at an affordable price.
Baguette: Pastry heaven. A seriously good little coffee shop which I would happily eat at every day and be huge from due to carb overload.
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