Famed for its wildlife-filled national park and stunning beaches, Manuel Antonio is a small town on the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It hugs the edge of Playa Espadilla near the harbour of Quepos, which is considered one of the best sportfishing destinations in Latin America.
Things to do in Manuel Antonio
A network of hiking trails wind through Manuel Antonio National Park and offer up-close encounters with capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys. Keep your eyes peeled for sloths, iguanas and agoutis along the way, as well as some of the more than 350 bird species that have been recorded here. Naturalist-led hikes give you the best chance of spotting shyer species, with early mornings considered the best time.
Alternatively, you can follow the short hiking trail that leads to Playa Manuel Antonio, a blindingly white stretch of sand that offers gorgeous views. A little further afield is Playa Espadilla Sur, a quieter beach where you can go swimming and snorkelling. Manuel Antonio’s beaches are particularly spectacular as the sun sinks over the Pacific Ocean.
Want to learn to surf? Playa Espadilla offers waves for all abilities, with surf lessons and board rentals available. While the southern end of the beach is best for beginners, advanced board riders can tackle the bigger waves to the north. Nearby Quepos is the departure point for sportfishing charters, with catches of marlin, tuna and wahoo seeing the town named the “Billfish Capital of the World”.
Getting around Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio is 10 minutes’ drive from the town of Quepos and 20 minutes from Quepos La Managua Airport, which has regular flights to San Jose. By road, the Costa Rican capital is 3.5 hours away. Buses connect to Manuel Antonio and the town centre is compact enough to explore on foot.