Manuel Antonio National Park (Central Pacific Coast)
The Manuel Antonio tropical jungle and beach area is one Costa Rica’s top beach and nature destinations. This region also includes the Marino Ballena National Park just south of Manuel Antonio which is wonderful for whale watching.
It is the most perfect tombolo in the world, it means that between the coast and Cathedral Point (an Island), what unites them is sand all the way to the bottom of the see and not only does it have trees growing on the tombolo but even a fresh water lagoon which makes it a very special, unique and fragile ecosystem. It is also a very beautiful place. Here is our two-minute video:
With legendary sunsets over the Pacific Ocean and tropical jungle, its white-sanded beaches average year- round water temperatures of 82 degrees (28° C) cooled by soft tropical breezes that comfort the soul and establish Manuel Antonio as a jungle tropical paradise.
Manuel Antonio is one of the only two locations inhabited by all of the four Monkey species found in Costa Rica; spider, howler, white faced and the endangered squirrel monkey.
The Manuel Antonio National Park is actually quite small with only 682 hectares however it epitomizes many things you might want to see: stunning beaches, a magnificent setting with islands offshore, lush rainforest laced with a network of easy to walk trails, and wildlife galore. The nearby sport fishing town of Quepos has the quaint heritage of its maker, the United Fruit Company. It boasts enough nightlife for the young and not so young to “salsa” until the small hours of the morning at local discotheques While Manuel Antonio relatively remains an eco-friendly area, dining and nightlife are among the best of any beach destination in Costa Rica. Nearby bilingual guided adventures could keep you busy every day of your stay if you wish. You can also, as you enjoy the scenery, dream about when in 1519 the legendary Ponce de Leon became the first Spaniard to lay eyes on the twelve miles of rugged coastline comprised of surf swept beaches and protected coves. Most hotels and especially the best hotels in Manuel Antonio are NOT located on the beach but on a hill between the town of Quepos and the beach with one sole exception thus far. There is the Marina Pez Vela as well for Sport Fishing and sunset sails.
Jaco beach, on the other hand, is really much more a party beach area, if you are looking for entertainment and very hot night life but even then, it still features lots of nature oriented activities relatively nearby as well as a nice marina also nearby at Herradura Beach. The beach itself is quite dangerous for swimming as it features some of the country’s most dangerous undertows. Good shopping and surfing nearby also.
Bilingual guided Activities include: Whitewater rafting at the Savegre or Naranjo River, Carara Bilogiocal Reserve hike, hikes at the Manuel Antonio National Park Rainforest and beach, Damas Island Mangrove by boat or kayak, great sport fishing, horseback riding, zip lines, coastal kayak and Snorkeling, Vanilla Tour, Guided Night hikes in the Forest, Sunset Sails, and many more.
Weather: The average annual temperatures range from 31.7°C (89°F) on the coast to 16.7°C (62°F) inland. It rains more from May through June & September through November with noticeably drier days during the rest of the year.
Approximate driving distances to Manuel Antonio (deduct 1 hour if going to Jaco): From San Jose 3 hours, from Monteverde 3 ½ hours; from Arenal 5 hours; from Jaco 1 hour; from Guanacaste 5 to 6 hours.