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The 30 Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Looking for the best things to do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica?

Whether you are looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure surrounded by dense jungle or relaxing vibes with Pacific Coast views, there is something for everyone.

Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular places to visit in Costa Rica and there are plenty of things to do.

We visit Manuel Antonio several times a year so we have a lot of experience with all the best nearby activities.

Here are the 30 best things to do in Manuel Antonio! Take a look at the following options and pick your perfect tropical adventure.

1. Visit Manuel Antonio National Park

manuel antonio national park

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

Let’s start with the number one thing to do in Manuel Antonio, visit Manuel Antonio National Park! 

This national park is the most visited park in Costa Rica, and for good reason. 

Here there are approximately 110 species of mammals and 180 species of birds.

It’s not uncommon to spot monkeys, sloths, colorful tropical birds, and so much more as you explore.

The park is not just home to wildlife, but also pristine beaches and lush rainforest.

Check out our guide to Manuel Antonio National Park for details on how to visit.

If you are interested in making sure you get to see wildlife up close, we suggest hiring an experienced guide. We like the Manuel Antonio Park Nature Guided Tour.

This half-day nature walk through Manuel Antonio National Park is an adventure like no other. There’s no need to worry about what to see next, as a naturalist guide will lead you straight to the park’s highlights. 

The tour is kept intimate with small groups capped at 10.

Plus, they offer round-trip transportation from all Manuel Antonio and Quepos accommodations, which means no added travel stress for you!

Check Price and Availability for Manuel Antonio National Park Tour 🌴

2. Volunteer with Wildlife for a Day

Kids Saving the Rainforest is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and rehabilitate wildlife. They are always looking for volunteers to come for a day.

Priced at $100 for both adults and kids, this is an opportunity not just to enjoy your vacation but also to make a meaningful contribution to wildlife conservation. Got youngsters aged 7-17? They’re welcome too, as long as there’s adult supervision.

Your day will start off with a guided tour of the Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll be introduced to residents like sloths, spider monkeys, and kinkajous. 

After that, there is a brief activity with an animal caretaker or biologist, and then you can enjoy a prepared lunch with the staff, interns, and long-term volunteers. 

After lunch, you’ll roll up your sleeves for a volunteer project. 

Although you won’t be handling the animals directly, it’s still a close and personal experience. 

Don’t worry about transport; they’ve got that covered to and from locations in the Manuel Antonio and Quepos area.

I know the price tag is somewhat steep, but it is going to a good cause. I think this is a great day trip for families. 

Book Your Volunteer Experience 🦥

3. Take a Catamaran Trip

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 to 4 hours

​​The All-Inclusive Catamaran Eco Adventure from Manuel Antonio is a must-do for any traveler looking to soak up the natural beauty of Costa Rica. 

Picture this: You’re sailing along the stunning coastline of Manuel Antonio National Park aboard a catamaran, with beautiful Pacific coast views. 

Next, you anchor in the calm, clear waters of Bahia Biezans, where you can snorkel and swim. But that’s not all! 

Your adventure also includes a delicious lunch featuring fresh fruit, cocktails, Costa Rican coffee, and an array of fruit drinks to quench your thirst.

We think this tour is perfect for couples or families. Really, anyone will enjoy it.

Arrange Your Catamaran Tour 🛥️

4. Check Out Several Remote Waterfalls

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  7 hours

Get ready to immerse yourself in stunning scenery and explore a variety of hiking trails. This family-friendly, full-day nature tour offers an amazing opportunity to swim, soak up the sun, and have a blast.

You’ll visit several breathtaking waterfalls, each with its own swimming hole. And for some extra excitement, you can slide down natural rock slides!

After that, you’ll head to a secluded beach where you can swim in the Pacific Ocean or simply relax on the sandy shore.

Your tour guides have you covered with all the necessary equipment, including dry bags, safety gear, and a medical kit. Lunch is also included.

And don’t worry about transportation. They’ve got an air-conditioned vehicle to ensure a comfortable journey.

Organize Your Full-Day Waterfall Adventure

5. Check Out the Beaches Downtown

manuel antonio beach

Manuel Antonio’s downtown area boasts some fantastic beaches. 

Playa Espadilla is the town’s main beach and is located right in the downtown area. This expansive stretch of soft, white sand is absolutely perfect for soaking up the sun, catching some waves, or even enjoying a game of beach volleyball. 

It is possible to walk along Playa Espadilla towards the north and you will get to the less busy beach area of Playa Playitas.

6. Go Sailing on a Wooden Ship

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  4 hours

Get for an unforgettable adventure as you set sail on the magnificent ‘Brisa Elegante’! 

This wooden sailing ship has both a morning and afternoon tour option.

As you venture into the open sea, keep your eyes peeled for turtles, rays, and maybe even whales. 

Once the Brisa Elegante anchors at a serene spot, you’ll have the chance to swim, snorkel, and kayak in clear waters. 

All the necessary equipment is conveniently provided onboard. 

And after your sea exploration, satisfy your hunger with a complimentary meal, whether it’s lunch or dinner.

With a capacity to accommodate up to 46 guests, this sailing adventure is not just a journey, but a social gathering where you can make new friends, share stories, and create memories. 

Book Your Sailing Experience

7. Take a Surf Lesson

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

Taking a surf lesson in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, is a great way to experience the country’s stunning coastline and learn how to ride the waves.

Manuel Antonio is an ideal spot for both beginners and advanced surfers.

If you are new to surfing, the best way to get a feel for it is by taking a class. The classes start with learning about safety in the ocean, which includes understanding the rules of the water and the basics of navigating the waves. 

After getting comfortable in the shore break, instructors will teach you how to stand up on your board and maneuver through the waves in order to catch them. You’ll also learn about technique and positioning so that you can stay balanced while riding on top of them. 

Once you get comfortable with these skills, you’ll be ready to hit up some of Manuel Antonio’s bigger swells.

If you don’t need lessons, it is always possible to just rent a board instead. 

Check Prices and Availability of Surfing Lessons 🏄‍♂️

8. Enjoy a Full Day Combo Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  4 hours

We love combo tours because they are a great way to combine several fun Costa Rican adventures in one action-packed day. 

With this combo tour, get ready for an amazing adventure in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest.

You’ll get to try seven fun adventures including rappelling, ziplining, and tree climbing, all guided by expert staff. 

Round-trip transportation from the Manuel Antonio area is included.

Book Your Fun-Filled Day Tour

9. Go Horseback Riding

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  4 hours

Explore the incredible lush jungles of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica on horseback.

From the saddle, you’ll have the chance to spot wildlife such as toucans and sloths. 

Your guide will also point out interesting plants and animals, and entertain you with local legends and traditions as you traverse through the jungle. 

Check Prices and Availability of the Horseback Riding Tour 🐎

10. Watch the Sunset

sunset manuel antonio

Manuel Antonio is located on the Pacific coast, so it is a great place to enjoy the sunset.

You can always watch the sunset from the beach or your hotel, but for an even more fun experience, we suggest making dinner reservations for about 5:15pm at a place with a coastal view. That way you can enjoy your dinner while the sun goes down.

Just note, once the sun goes down the mosquitos come out. So, definitely bring some bug spray to dinner.

11. Enjoy a Ziplining Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  2.5 hours

One way to take full advantage of the incredible scenery is by taking a zip line tour. We think that zip lining is a must-do experience in Costa Rica. 

On this tour, you’ll traverse a series of platforms, suspension bridges, a Tarzan swing and a rappel. 

At the end of your thrilling zip line adventure, you will be rewarded with a delicious Costa Rican meal and traditional snacks.

Check the Availability of the Zip Line Adventure

12. Learn How Chocolate and Coffee are Produced


⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  2.5 hours

Explore and immerse yourself in the rich history and cultural significance of coffee, chocolate, and sugar cane crops. 

On this journey you’ll witness firsthand the origins of your beloved treats. 

Discover how these crops shape the economy and cuisine of Costa Rica while eating and drinking tons of samples along the way. 

Book Your Chocolate Tour 🍫

13. Take a Jungle Night Walk

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

Led by a seasoned naturalist guide, you will embark on a 2 to 2.5-hour journey deep into the heart of the jungle after dark. 

This tour offers a unique opportunity to learn about the diverse ecosystem and witness nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat.

Keep your eyes wide open and you might spot bats swooping overhead, spiders, owls perched on tree branches, and bright tropical frogs.

We like that group sizes are limited to 10 travelers. So, you can look forward to personalized attention from your guide.

The tour doesn’t end with the walk. You also get to enjoy a traditional dinner which is included in the price of the tour. 

Arrange Your Jungle Night Tour 🐸

14. Go Whitewater Rafting

The 30 Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Get ready for an exciting experience that is the perfect mix of adrenaline and nature.

Whether you’re a seasoned rafter or a beginner, these expert guides will ensure your safety and show you the ropes. 

You can book your adventure based on your rafting experience and skill level. 

If you are new to rafting, stick to the Savegre River and book the Class II to III tour.

Book Your Class II -III Tour

If you are more experienced, you can opt for the Naranjo River rafting experience.

Book a Class III – IV Tour

15. Take an ATV Tour

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3.5 hours

Your journey begins with a pickup from selected hotels and a quick tutorial to get you comfortable with your ATV. 

Under the guidance of a bilingual guide, you’ll venture down rugged mountain trails. 

Along the way you’ll make stops at local villages, encounter exotic wildlife, and even experience the thrill of swimming under a waterfall. 

The tour also includes a delicious traditional Costa Rican meal.

Some may find the terrain challenging, the heat intense, or simply prefer a less physically demanding activity. Personally, we think the experience is amazing!

Check Prices and Availability of the ATV Experience

16. Enjoy In Shore or Deep Sea Fishing

fishing boat manuel antonio

Thomas is a bit of a fishing nut, so I turned to him for tips on this.

He said to book your trip with Captain Benn on the Good Day. You are bound to have a great experience.

If you’re looking for a calm and relaxed session, opt for inshore fishing where you can catch species like snappers, roosterfish, and mackerel. 

On the other hand, deep-sea fishing charters provide the thrill of the open ocean, giving you the chance to reel in big ones like marlins, sailfish, and yellowfin tuna. 

Either way, get ready for an incredible time on the water!

Organize Your Fishing Trip on the Good Day 🎣

17. Go Ocean Kayaking

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

Set off on an Ocean Kayaking Adventure!

Immerse yourself in the waters of Costa Rica with a thrilling Ocean Kayaking expedition. 

This beginner-friendly adventure begins at a private beach where experienced guides will equip you with a life vest, a kayak or paddleboard, and all other necessary gear.

Under expert guidance you will cruise through the scenic coastline, soaking in the panoramic views of the Pacific coast landscape. 

This is one of our absolute favorite ways to get out on the water and experience this area. 

Book Your Ocean Kayak Adventure

18. Relax in a Jungle Hot Spring

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  4 to 5 hours

We think that visiting a jungle hot spring is s must-do activity in Costa Rica. 

With this tour, you will embark on a trip through the Costa Rican jungle.

Here you’ll relax in five natural thermal hot springs amidst lush greenery. Plus, you’ll get the chance to try a rejuvenating facial mask using nearby clay. 

After pampering yourself, savor a delicious Costa Rican lunch and keep yourself refreshed with snacks and beverages. 

Round-trip transfers and an experienced bilingual guide are included.

Plan Your Hot Spring Relaxation

19. Go Paddle Boarding

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the scenic beauty of Manuel Antonio, then the Coastline Paddle Board Tour is just for you! 

As you glide on the water, you’ll pass by charming little islands, home to a variety of local sea birds. 

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a first-timer, this tour is an unforgettable way to appreciate the natural beauty of Manuel Antonio. Don’t miss it!

Just note that this tour can be tiring for those who are not used to paddling for extended periods of time.

However, the guides are great and will happily keep things to a pace you are comfortable with. 

Organize Your Paddle Boarding Adventure

20. Go Kayaking Through Mangroves

isla damas

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

We love this kayak tour because it is just so peaceful!

You’ll feel like you’re entering a secret world as you paddle through the calm waters, taking in the natural beauty of this protected area and its unique wildlife. 

Your guide will also point out the many different species, plants and birds that live in this area

Organize Your Kayak Adventure

21. Take a Boat Trip Through Mangroves

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  3 hours

If you don’t want to kayak, that OK! You can still explore the mangroves near Damas Island. 

Join a boat tour and take in the beauty of this natural wonder from the comfort of your seat. 

Your guide will explain all about the mangrove’s ecosystem as you make your way through winding rivers, ponds, and estuaries. 

Spot wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, iguanas and more!

Book Your Mangrove Boat Tour

22. Visit Rainmaker Park

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  4 hours

While in Manuel Antonio, don’t miss out on the secluded gem that is Rainmaker Park. This is a private nature reserve in the jungle.

With this tour you’ll get to cross some of Costa Rica’s longest suspension bridges, swim in natural waterfall pools, and enjoy a delicious lunch at the local Rainmaker Park restaurant.

This private rainforest reserve, located near Quepos, offers the chance to observe flora and fauna from varying vantage points along a canopy walk.

Organize Your Visit to Rainmaker Park

23. Try Parasailing

manuel antonio parasailing

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  45 Minutes

Have you ever gone parasailing? Personally, I am too wimpy, but I’ve met plenty of people in Manuel Antonio who have tried this and they have all said it was amazing.

Basically, this adventure allows you to soar 600 feet above the Manuel Antonio Beach, either alone or with your companions.

It’s a really exhilarating once-in-a-lifetime way to experience Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.

The package includes round-trip transportation from Quepos and the Manuel Antonio area.

So grab your adventure spirit and get ready for an unforgettable experience.

Book Your Adrenaline Pumping Parasail Tour

24. Relax at Playa Biesanz

playa biesanz

Playa Biesanz is a secluded beach that offers stunning views. This is often a safe spot to swim because it is somewhat of a cove. 

We like this spot because there are always locals renting beach chairs, kayaks, etc and it is possible to buy food from locals here. 

Check out our guide to Playa Biesanz for more details. 

25. Go Mangrove Fishing

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  6 hours

Imagine this, you’re casting your line into the waters of the Isla Damas mangroves, surrounded by the beauty of Costa Rica’s natural landscapes. 

Cool, right? 

Whether you’re a seasoned fisher or a complete newbie, you’ll enjoy this activity. 

You’ll be guided through this ecosystem, fishing in both fresh and salt waters for species like snapper, grouper, and jack crevasse. 

Plus, snacks and beverages are included to keep you refreshed.

Keep in mind that there is limited space on the boat. Tour groups are small to ensure safety and comfort for all passengers.

Arrange Your Mangrove Fishing Experience 🎣

26. Visit Nauyaca Waterfall

nauyaca waterfalls

The Nauyaca waterfalls are located in the hills above Dominical, just south of Manuel Antonio. It is possible to visit here on your own if you have a rental car. 

Or, you can always opt to take a guided tour with transportation. 

With the tour you’ll be part of a small group, making your way to the park and embarking on a scenic hike to reach the falls. 

You can enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear natural pools at the base of the falls. And there are plenty of opportunities to snap photos of the lush surroundings. 

The tour includes a packed breakfast and a traditional lunch, plus hassle-free transfers from and to your hotel.

Just note that the hike to the waterfalls can be physically challenging for some

Book Your Nauyaca Waterfall Trip

27. Take a Traditional Cooking Class

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  5 hours

The traditional food in Costa Rica is something you’ve got to try while here. 

Taking a Costa Rican cooking class is the perfect way of taking that to the next level. 

With this tour, you will visit a farmers’ market, learn to make corn tortillas, ceviches, and picadillos from scratch with local cooks, and gain insights into traditional Costa Rican cuisine. 

You will enjoy a delicious lunch, round-trip transfers, and leave empowered with the knowledge to recreate these authentic dishes at home. 

It’s super fun!

Arrange Your Cooking Class 👩🏻‍🍳

28. Visit the Farmers Market

The farmer’s market in Quepos, popularly known as the “feria,” takes place every Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

We love going to farmers markets in Costa Rica because it is the perfect way to embrace some of the culture and try some unusual fruits you have likely never seen before.

29. Enjoy a drink in an old Cargo Plane

el avion

If you’re in Manuel Antonio, make sure to check out El Avion restaurant!

It’s housed inside an old airplane, which adds a unique touch to the experience.

While the food may not blow you away, it’s definitely worth coming for at least a drink in the old cargo plane. It is also a great place to watch the sunset from out on their large deck.

30. Take a Day Trip to Uvita and Dominical

The 30 Best Things to Do in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

If you’re staying in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, I highly recommend taking a day trip to the nearby towns of Uvita and Dominical. 

Uvita is famous for its stunning Whales Tail Beach where, if you time it right, you can see the sandbar create a whale’s tail at low tide. 

As for Dominical, it’s a surfer’s paradise! The waves are perfect for both beginners and pros. Afterward, indulge in some local food at one of the many amazing restaurants. 

FAQ: Manuel Antonio Activities

What is the most popular things to do in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica?

The most popular thing to do is visit Manuel Antonio National Park. This is a great place to see tons of tropical flora and fauna in a condensed area. Plus, it has breathtaking beaches.

How many nights should I spend in Manuel Antonio?

We suggest spending 4 nights in Manuel Antonio. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy a few different activities, relax on the beaches, and eat at some delicious restaurants with coastal views.

Are there any activities I should avoid in Manuel Antonio?

No, there aren’t any activities you should necessarily avoid. However, it is always best to trust your instincts. If any activity feels unsafe, or something just feels off, don’t participate.

Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio offers a wide range of things to do, from jungle adventure to Pacific Coast beach activities.

This area is a great jumping-off point for exploring nearby towns, white water rafting, visiting waterfalls, and more!

One thing is for sure, you really should explore Manuel Antonio National Park while here.

No matter what, there is surely something for everyone in Manuel Antonio!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you plan!

Also, don’t forget to check out our complete guide to Manuel Antonio. This will give you all the best info on great hotels, the best restaurants, the best time of year to visit, and more!

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🚗 Should I rent a car in Costa Rica?

Having a rental car will give you the most flexibility when traveling in Costa Rica. This will also allow you to take fun day trips on your own.

🏄🏽 How can I book things to do?

We find that Viator tends to have the most comprehensive selection of activities with secure booking and good cancellation policies.

🍍 I’m overwhelmed with planning. Can you help?

Of course! I suggest joining our Facebook group for specific questions and head to our Start Here Page to get started planning.

✈️ What is the best way to book a flight?

Usually, we have the best luck finding great prices with Skyscanner. Check for flights to both San Jose Airport (SJO) and Liberia Airport (LIR).

🛏️ What is the best way to book my Costa Rica hotels?

We highly suggest Booking.com for hotel bookings and typically use VRBO for Costa Rica vacation rentals.

🗣️What is the main language in Costa Rica?

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Most people working in tourism speak at least some English.

💰 What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The currency used in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC). However, the US dollar is widely accepted in most tourist areas

📞 What is the best way to stay connected?

An eSIM from Airalo is the easiest way to get 4G data while traveling in Costa Rica.

🌴 Is Costa Rica safe?

Generally, Costa Rica is considered safe for tourists. However, like any travel destination, it’s best to use caution and be aware of your surroundings.

🛂 Do you need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

Yes, Costa Rica is its own country. You will need a passport to visit.