Manuel Antonio is a national park in southern Costa Rica known for its wildlife, beaches, and rainforests. To get there by car from Tamarindo, on the Nicoya Peninsula, will take at least five hours. The 190-mile (306 km) trip will take you down the scenic Inter American Highway and Costanera Sur. Quepos, the closest town, is where most visitors find accommodations and a home base for exploring the wilderness area.
The park is open every day except Mondays and does have an admission fee. While it is possible to explore it on your own it's best to check-in at the welcome center first for maps and useful visitor information. This guide is also a wonderful resource for the best things to see and do on your visit.
Traveling by private transfer or taxi is preferable but a bus is also a viable option. The ride will be longer and include stops and transfers, but once you're on board you won't have to worry about anything. For a more comfortable ride, consider booking with a tour company or shuttle service which often has direct routes and extra amenities.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 5-6 hours
You'll be covering a lot of ground traveling from Tamarindo to Manuel Antonio so having your own car and driver is the best way to go. With this option, you can explore back roads or split up the drive with stop-overs in other towns along the way. At its fastest, the drive will take five to six hours. Most of the route involves well-maintained highways which are relatively free of traffic once you leave the city. In the rainy season, on the smaller roads, the mileage may vary due to flooding or erosion.
Duration: 5-6 hours
Taxis are a common way to travel around Costa Rica and a perfectly viable option after private transfer. Since it's such a long ride, make sure you settle on a price with the driver before getting in. Some are willing to negotiate, especially if you're with other travelers, but others will rely on their meter. This mode of transport means you'll have your own space for the long ride and a local driver who will know the best route to take. It also gives you the flexibility to change destinations or combine the drive with public transit.
Duration: 7-10 hours
If your plans allow for it, consider doing the trip by bus. Unless you book through a tour operator, there's no direct route to Quepos. One route gets there via Terminal 7-10 in San Jose. The other stops in Liberia and Puntarenas before continuing on. Either ride will be at least ten hours.To shorten the trip, you could do a combination of bus and taxi. Once you arrive in Quepos, you'll have plenty of options for getting to the park. The entrance to Manuel Antonio is less than five miles (7 km) away so a bus or taxi can have you there in no time.