Visiting Manuel Antonio
The word "paradise" is nuanced, but few other destinations on Earth match the description more aptly than Manuel Antonio National Park. A protected area on Costa Rica's central Pacific coast, it's one of the most visited destinations in the country. Manuel Antonio contains an ideal combination of rainforest and white-sand beaches that allow for diverse excursions and activities. Enjoy wildlife spotting, sea kayaking and snorkeling, river cruises, and lazing on the beach.
Check out our ultimate guide to Manuel Antonio for insider tips on how best to experience the area. For some itinerary inspiration, past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following trips that pair Manuel Antonio with other regions in Costa Rica:
- San José and Manuel Antonio - 4 Days
- Costa Rica Highlights: Arenal & Manuel Antonio National Park - 6 days
- Unique Costa Rica: Honeymoon Memories in Paradise - 9 Days
The Best Boutique Hotels in Manuel Antonio
Travelers on their way to Manuel Antonio will undoubtedly arrive in the town of Quepos, the central hub and gateway to the park. While you can find many guesthouses and standard accommodations in town, we recommend staying at one of the eco-lodges and boutique hotels found closer to the park. We've narrowed the list to feature those options with the best ambiance, accommodations, and comfort. You'll find options for luxury hotels, lodgings with beach access, and accommodation with some of the best views in Manuel Antonio.
Arenas del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort
Many luxury lodging options in Manuel Antonio are resorts, but if any option has earned that moniker, it's Arenas del Mar. Situated on its own private beach and a 13-minute walk to the park entrance, the resort has 38 rooms, making this luxurious accommodation an intimate one. Most units feature ocean views (some will ocean and rainforest views) and modern conveniences, including air conditioning. Upgrade to suites for perks like outdoor jacuzzis and indoor tiled showers with rain showerheads.
Since you’ll be right on the beach, you have entertainment at your doorstep. The resort provides beach goods like lounge chairs, games, surfboards, and more (some including a rental fee), plus daybeds and hammocks to relax. You can also swim in one of the two outdoor pools (one an infinity pool) and enjoy food and drinks (like fresh smoothies) delivered to your wooden or wicker lounge chair. For extra pampering, head to the Las Brisas Wellness Center for treatments like massages and facials.
Arenas del Mar's organic restaurants source local ingredients like fresh fish and offer vegan and gluten-free options. You can dine with your toes in the sand at Playitas Beachfront Restaurant, featuring themed nights like BBQ, tortilla making, and Costa Rican street food. Enjoy your meals with live music at the Mirador Oceanview Restaurant if you prefer fine dining.
Gaia Hotel & Reserve
This metropolitan modernist dream looks like it would be more at home in Soho or Santa Monica—but Gaia works well right where it is. Located in the forest on its own private nature reserve, it features 20 luxury suites and villas with stone showers and king beds covered with 500-thread count sheets.
You can head to the property's La Luna restaurant for fine dining with seafood dishes like mahi-mahi and tuna, and the eatery can accommodate dietary restrictions. The hotel also has a terraced swimming pool that effortlessly merges romance, style, and functionality. Other features include a fitness center, spa, and swim-up bar. Keep in mind that this hotel doesn't accommodate children, so it's best for couples, solo travelers, older families, and small groups of friends.
Tulemar Bungalows & Villas
You can escape it all at Tulemar Bungalows and Villas. Not only does kimkim love it, but the hotel also earned TripAdvisor's Traveler Choice Award as the second-best hotel in the world in 2018. You'll understand all the buzz the moment you step foot on the property's 33 acres in the middle of the rainforest, which houses 34 luxurious bungalows and villas. Each accommodation is climate controlled, and many feature rain showerheads.
There are also 12 premium villas, each with 320° views of the Pacific Ocean from octagonal balconies. A millennium pool fronts the premium villas, complete with a waterfall and views overlooking the forest. Tulemar can arrange every adventure tour and excursion under the sun, from ATV rides to sport-fishing. They even rent an offsite beach villa on Playa Espadilla for those who want to stay closer to the waves.
La Mariposa Hotel
If 360° panoramic views are your thing, then La Mariposa is for you. This property is one of the best mid-range hotels in Manuel Antonio, and it sits on the highest point in the region, so guests are treated to jaw-dropping vistas of rainforest jungle and the Pacific blue. Featuring 65 rooms, this is one of the larger hotels on our list—but they are indeed incredible rooms. Every accommodation class here (save for the standard options) features balconies looking out to the Pacific. There are even apartments with ocean views if you want to bring along the whole family.
Guests can sip tropical cocktails by the pool or sample the fresh seafood at the open-air Le Papillon Restaurant. The hotel offers wedding and honeymoon packages, and to say the views would make for great matrimonial pictures would be an understatement.
Parador Resort & Spa
The Parador is another large hotel, but its location on a hill and expansive grounds lend it an intimate feel. All of the property's 129 rooms feature modern amenities, like air conditioning and minifridges, and the premium rooms have private balconies with sea views. The suites include all of the above, plus a private Jacuzzi.
One perk with Parador is choosing from various package deals that make good use of the hotel's multiple services. Opt for a shorter romantic stay in a suite that includes a candlelit dinner, champagne, and couples massage, or choose the tropical adventure package that features a canopy tour, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, and more. There's also an eco-friendly package that includes nature tours, spa treatments, and a mangrove boating excursion. Parador is one of kimkim's recommended family-friendly hotels in Manuel Antonio, so this is a great option if you're traveling with kids.
Hotel Playa Espadilla
If you're looking for a prime location, consider Hotel Playa Espadilla, just steps away from Espadilla Beach and the entrance to the national park. The property does a good job blending into the natural surroundings and offers a pretty cool vibe with an outdoor pool, private cabanas covered in beach grass, and an open-air restaurant and bar with wooden tables under trees and twinkly lights. The ambiance of the hotel's outdoor spaces is its true highlight, as you can sit at high-top wooden tables and eat your dinner under tall trees. The food at the restaurant is tasty and international but uses Costa Rican flavors to mix it up.
Rooms and suites are spacious but straightforward, set in lodges with wooden accents and wraparound balconies connecting all units on the second floor. You'll find colorful art and warm details, plus cable TV, air conditioning, minifridges, and coffee makers.