Manuel Antonio National Park is a microcosm of many of the things that travelers come to Costa Rica for, and its proximity to San José makes it an ideal destination if you're short on time in the country—it's possible to go for just a day. But for travelers with more flexibility, extra time spent in and around Manuel Antonio won't be wasted, with so many natural and outdoor activities to enjoy. Here's a guide to spending your time in Manuel Antonio wisely.
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Manuel Antonio Essentials
Manuel Antonio is a slice of paradise on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. A short flight (or four-hour drive) south of San José, the national park and surrounding area have rainforest hiking trails and lots of beaches to explore, each with its own character. Learn where to eat, stay, and play with this comprehensive guide.
For sheer diversity, Manuel Antonio National Park has it all: rainforests, coral beaches, and wild rivers abound. Stay the night nearby in one of these recommended boutique hotels or ecolodges, all offering noteworthy views, architecture, and proximity to the park.
Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica's smallest protected area, yet its ecological diversity is surprisingly plentiful. The same goes for restaurants—the tiny town of Quepa, gateway to the national park, has more quality eateries than you might expect. Learn where to eat in the Manuel Antonio area in our list below, where beachfront seafood spots, Mediterranean falafel shops, and more await.
Manuel Antonio Itineraries
Most people visiting Manuel Antonio spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, which usually includes some time in Arenal/La Fortuna and Monteverde as well. For travelers wanting to visit Manuel Antonio exclusively, plan about 5 days for a well-paced trip. A fast-paced highlights trip is possible in 3 or 4 days for travelers with limited time. Check out our favorite Manuel Antonio trips below.
Fun for the whole family, this itinerary covers two of Costa Rica's most famous areas. Arenal and Manuel Antonio are some of the best representations of Costa Rica; Arenal area features one of the most famous volcanos in the country, surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, while Manuel Antonio National Park is renown for its white sandy beaches and vast diversity of tropical plants and wildlife.
If you can't get enough mountain biking, hiking, and rafting in exotic locales, then come to Costa Rica, where you can do all three. This physically demanding 12-day itinerary involves traveling from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast by foot, bicycle, and raft/kayak. It will test the limits of your endurance, but by the end, you'll have seen and experienced some of the most beautiful locales in the Americas.
This exciting 6-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who want to experience quintessential Costa Rica. You'll take in awe-inspiring views of Arenal volcano, and have an exciting rafting day on the Sarapiqui River before heading to Manuel Antonio to explore the jungle and white sand beaches of this nature lovers paradise.
This quick getaway will let you experience the many sides of Costa Rica in just five days. After enjoying an evening in San José, you'll head to Manuel Antonio, a national park boasting some of Costa Rica's most famous white sand beaches and coastal jungles. Hike, kayak, and snorkel until your heart's content before heading home.
This fun weeklong itinerary highlights Costa Rica's amazing natural scenery through a thrilling series of adventurous activities including whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and more. Starting in the nation's capital, you'll make your way to rivers, jungles, waterfalls, and cone-shaped volcanoes, culminating on the Pacific coast with time to relax on Manuel Antonio's four white-sand beaches—each one accessed by hiking trail.
This 4-day quick getaway allows you to experience a taste of the diversity of Costa Rica. Start off in the bustling capital of San José, you'll have time to explore the history and culture of the city for an evening before heading on to Manuel Antonio, a national park boasting some of Costa Rica's most pristine white sand beaches and coastal jungles.
With the awe-inspiring Arenal volcano, a wildlife tour of the Damas Island estuary, and just some time to relax on the beach in Manuel Antonio, this trip captures the essence of the Costa Rican motto - Pura Vida!
Most people visiting both Arenal and Manuel Antonio spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, usually with some time in Monteverde as well. For travelers wanting to visit Arenal and Manuel Antonio exclusively, plan 6 to 8 days for a well-paced trip. With less time it's possible to see the highlights in as few as 4 days. Read on for best itineraries to explore Arenal and Manuel Antonio.
Most people visiting both Manuel Antonio and Monteverde spend about 8 to 10 days in Costa Rica, which usually includes some time in Arenal/La Fortuna as well. For travelers wanting to visit Manuel Antonio and Monteverde exclusively, plan on 6 to 7 days for a well-paced trip. With less time, it's still possible to see the highlights in as few as 5 days. Check out our favorite Manuel Antonio and Monteverde trips below.
With abundant wildlife, a nocturnal nature tour, a visit to the jungle in Manuel Antonio National Park, and time to relax on the beach, this trip captures the essence of Costa Rica's motto: Pura Vida! Starting in San José, you'll travel first to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where you'll encounter Costa Rica's famed biodiversity. Continue on to Manuel Antonio National Park, where the forest meets the sea, for activities including a sunset catamaran cruise.
On this 8-day adventure, experience every facet of Costa Rica's culture, from food to national museums, native people, and even wildlife. Starting and ending in San José, the itinerary includes a visit to a coffee plantation, immersing with one of the country's last indigenous tribes, and opportunities to explore by land and sea.
The jewel of Central America, Costa Rica offers everything—cities, beaches, and many unique ecosystems to explore. This itinerary encompasses the country’s most spectacular landscapes, plus an opportunity to savor the culture of local villages and capital city. Hike near a volcano, experience world-class bird-watching, snorkel with sea turtles, and more.
This romantic itinerary is ideal for adventurous couples with more than a week to spend. Together, you'll bask in Costa Rica's biodiversity, take a whitewater rafting trip down the Río Pacuare, and go on multiple day hikes. Relax on Pacific beaches, soak in natural hot springs, and check into some of the country's best luxury resorts throughout your memorable stay.
Perfect for nature lovers and first-time travelers to Costa Rica, this fast-paced itinerary takes you to two of the country's most beloved national parks. With the diverse wildlife of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the jungle-lined white sand beaches of Manuel Antonio, you'll get to the essence of the Costa Rican motto: Pura Vida!
This 8-day trip is ideal for travelers looking to experience Costa Rica's highlights. Go for a dip in Arenal's hot springs and spot monkeys and other wildlife on hikes around the famous volcano. Continue to Monteverde, where you'll discover the remarkable flora and fauna of the cloud forest. Finally, spend a few days in Manuel Antonio National Park, kayaking through turquoise waters and relaxing on pristine white sand beaches.
Combining Arenal/La Fortuna, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde - Recommended Itineraries from 8 to 14 Days
A trip to Costa Rica that includes Arenal, Manuel Antonio, and Monteverde takes around 8 to 10 days. If you don't have that much time it's possible to see the highlights in 6 or 7 days, but your trip will feel quite fast-paced. If you have more time, or want to pack more places into your trip, you can add Tortuguero, Tamarindo, or Puerto Viejo to your itinerary. Read on for the best itineraries to explore Arenal, Manual Antonio and Monteverde.
This 11-day vacation offers everything you could imagine on a trip to Costa Rica–volcanic views of Arenal, the beautiful Pacific beaches of Playa Panama and Manuel Antonio, and fun activities along the way. Enjoy a chocolate-making class, a mangrove tour by boat, horseback riding along the ocean, and more.
This 10-day itinerary showcases three of Costa Rica's most popular destinations: Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. In Arenal, you'll paddleboard past the volcano on the lake, traverse tropical forests on suspension bridges, and soak in the region's hot springs. Monteverde offers the chance to spot monkeys, birds, and more of the country's wildlife as you zip-line through the Cloud Forest Reserve, while Manuel Antonio provides downtime at the beach, where days end with spectacular Pacific Coast sunsets.
If you're an intrepid traveler who likes testing the limits of endurance, this Costa Rican adventure is for you. Over 14 days you'll engage in a variety of physical disciplines including mountain biking, white-water rafting, and kayaking. Your goal is to travel from one coast to the other solely on your own power, and you'll do this by conquering mountains, volcanoes, rivers, and even crossing over the Continental Divide.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love adventure. Visit Costa Rica's highlights, from the famous Arenal Volcano to the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and powdery beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, you'll fly over the treetops on a zip line tour, swim in waterfall lagoons, and spot wildlife on nature walks and snorkeling excursions.
This itinerary combines mountain excursions with a bit of a beach holiday and some aquatic adventure. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From there, drive to Arenal Volcano National Park, where you'll hike to a waterfall, relax in natural hot springs, and raft world-class whitewater. Then it's west to the Monteverde to see the cloud forest canopy via suspension bridges and a zip-line tour. A drive south will take you to Manuel Antonio, a unique destination with a combination of the beach, jungle and national park. After a couple days enjoying the beach and wildlife in Manuel Antonio, you'll return to San Jose for your journey home.
This 11-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who like to combine their mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. You'll arrive in Liberia, the hub of Costa Rica's Guanacaste Province. From the airport, you'll head to Rincón de la Vieja and spend two days exploring the nature surrounding one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to spend a few days crossing suspension bridges, zip-lining over trees, and hiking through the jungles of La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip in Manuel Antonio National Park. More than just stunning white-sand beaches, Manuel Antonio is rich in biodiversity and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Experience Costa Rica's most spectacular national parks on this 15-day tour. You'll catch glimpses of sea turtles and monkeys in Tortuguero National Park and spot hundreds of bird species in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Then it's time to head to the countries largest and most famous volcano, Arenal, for a mix of wildlife and heart pumping excursions. Finally, you'll end the trip in Manuel Antonio, where you'll snorkel among colorful fish and traverse jungle trails.
Enjoy a 15-day honeymoon adventure that covers several of Costa Rica’s greatest outdoor destinations. Begin in the capital city for a welcome dinner, before heading to the Arenal region for river rafting, volcano hikes, scenic waterfalls, and more. Next, go snorkeling and kayaking in the ocean on the shores of beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park. Venture into the cloud forests of Monteverde to take suspension bridges and ziplines through the greenery, followed by downtime in Tamardino Beach to surf, sail, and relish magnificent sunsets.
Get your adrenaline pumping with this active 8-day itinerary showcasing Costa Rica's magnificent natural wonders. Starting in the capital of San José, you'll journey through a land of rivers, jungles, waterfalls, and volcanoes to reach the spectacular white-sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, enjoy a perfect blend of thrilling activities and relaxing downtime as you brave whitewater rapids, hike high into the rainforest's canopy, and sail and swim off the pristine Pacific coast.
Add a little adrenaline to your family vacation with this 8-day Costa Rica adventure. Starting in San José, you'll set out to experience the rainforest and its hidden treasures first-hand in Arenal Volcano National Park. Raft the rapids of the Sarapiquí River, zipline through the jungle canopy, and visit with monkeys and parrots at a local wildlife center. End your trip where the rainforest meets the ocean at Manuel Antonio National Park, where kids can swim and snorkel, relax on pristine white sand beaches, and go dolphin-spotting on a catamaran cruise.
This high-octane trip is designed to get your adrenaline pumping as you take on some of the best adventure activities Costa Rica has to offer. You'll see the country's rainforests, volcanoes, and beaches, and encounter tropical wildlife as you take part in a variety of thrilling activities. From whitewater rafting through the rainforest to biking around a volcano to zip-lining down a mountain, this exhilarating itinerary is sure to make for an unforgettable experience.
Costa Rica prioritizes the protection of its abundant (and delicate) biodiversity, and national parks and reserves make up nearly a quarter of the country's land. This makes it a fabulous spot for travelers keen on experiencing outdoor activities and spotting wildlife. This immersive 12-day trip includes a guided nature hike in coastal Manuel Antonio National Park, birdwatching and zip-lining in the Monteverde Could Forest Reserve, and aquatic fun in the estuaries of Tamarindo.
Costa Rica is a favorite destination for all ages. This 16-day adventure allows your family to experience the country from both coasts and includes a visit to the bustling capital of San José, the lush rainforest of Tortuguero National Park, the towering Arenal Volcano, the cloud forest of Monteverde and the spectacular, white sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. There are plenty of kid-friendly activities along the way, from watching sea turtles hatch on a Caribbean beach to sampling locally produced chocolate to whitewater rafting.
With a mix of rugged jungles, active volcanoes and world-class beaches, Costa Rica offers some of the best natural sights and experiences in the world, all conveniently packed into one territory. Almost a quarter of the land is preserved within national parks, allowing a wide range of animals and plants to flourish, making Costa Rica an ideal destination for ecotourism. With this itinerary, you'll discover the best attractions Costa Rica has to offer in just a week.
Explore Costa Rica's amazing natural scenery through a thrilling series of activities including whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, and more. This tour will take you to a wide range of coasts, jungles, and rivers, all while keeping your adrenaline pumping.
The jewel of Central America, Costa Rica offers an array of adventures, from city to cloud forest to sea. This weeklong itinerary includes trekking near an active volcano, some of the world’s best bird-watching, and snorkeling with sea turtles. It's a trip that encompasses the country’s most spectacular and varied landscapes, plus an opportunity to savor the culture of local villages as well as that of San José, Costa Rica’s dynamic capital city.
Some 25% of the total area of Costa Rica is protected. You'll see evidence of this in the country's many national parks and reserves—the goal being to ensure that Costa Rica's natural wonders and delicate eco-systems remain viable for years to come. This is great for visitors such as yourself, who can luxuriate in Costa Rica's natural beauty on this immersive 9-day itinerary.
This itinerary is specifically tuned for wildlife lovers. Expect to get up early and stay out late to see monkeys, lizards, birds, insects and other spectacular fauna that inhabit the virgin rainforest, cloud forest and swampy estuaries covered here. The trip begins with a southwest journey from San José to Parque Nacional Corcovado (Corcovado National Park) before continuing northwest along the Pacific coast. Next head inland to Monteverde for birdwatching and spotting wildlife in the unique eco-system of the cloud forest.
This 14-day seaside adventure takes you from scenic Uvita Beach on the south Pacific Coast all the way to Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean side. Along the way, you’ll stop in Manuel Antonio, with its beautiful beaches and namesake national park. Then, enjoy a day exploring La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano. Mingle with monkeys, sloths, and other animals at the Jaguar Rescue Center on this family-friendly vacation that ends in the capital city of San José.
A whopping 25% of Costa Rica's total area is protected. This is a conscious effort to preserve the nation's abundant natural treasures in the form of various national parks. To this end, we've created a dream itinerary for intrepid nature lovers that includes the four best parks in the country. So clear two weeks off your calendar—it's time to experience Costa Rica to the fullest extent.
This self-guided road trip is ideal for those who love nature, beaches, and adventure activities. It covers all of Costa Rica's highlights, starting at the famous Arenal Volcano. From there, on to the Gulf of Papagayo on the northern Pacific coast. It's the perfect spot to snorkel and take a sunset sailing cruise. Then, you'll venture into the misty cloud forests of Monteverde—spot rare birds, partake in a zip-line canopy tour, and embark on a nocturnal wildlife excursion. End your trip with hiking and beach time in Manuel Antonio National Park.
This adventurous itinerary checks off four of Costa Rica’s key regions. Raft down some of the world’s best rapids, head to Arenal for hikes and hot springs, and lounge on the Pacific beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. End your journey on the remote Osa Peninsula, where rainforests, wildlife, and a near-empty coastline await.
This itinerary is designed for those who want a classic tropical excursion into Costa Rica's rainforests. Start with the remote Osa Peninsula, where you'll visit beaches and hike through the rainforest. Then, drive north along the Pacific coast to the white-sand beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park before heading northwest into the Monteverde region. Finally, pay a visit to Arenal, an active volcano and one of Costa Rica's most famous landmarks.
If you prefer an active holiday in the great outdoors amid exotic wildlife, then this is the trip for you. Over 11 days of travel throughout Costa Rica, you'll indulge in almost every activity the country is famous for. This includes zip-line tours, canyoning, horseback rides, rafting trips, and kayak excursions. All in all, this itinerary packs 10 vacations worth of experiences into just 11 days.
Enjoy active adventures and luxurious stays on this 11-day Costa Rica journey. Conquer whitewater rapids in Pacuare, before heading to the Arenal Volcano region with opportunities to zipline, hike, and soak in natural hot springs. Then, stop to visit the crocodiles along the Tarcoles River en route to coastal Manuel Antonio, where you'll explore the rainforest and snorkel in pristine waters. Next, hop a flight to an Osa Peninsula eco-lodge, before one last day of exploration in San José.
Costa Rica is a nation as biodiverse as it is beautiful and the best way to experience all this nature and beauty is by touring the country's many national parks, reserves, and protected areas. Also, no trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting the famous Pacific coast. This nearly two-week itinerary delivers both these highlights with plenty of time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the Costa Rican way of living "Pura Vida!"
If you prefer an active holiday in the great outdoors amid exotic wildlife, then this is the trip for you. Over 12 days of travel throughout Costa Rica, you'll indulge in almost every activity the country is famous for. This includes zip-line tours, canyoning, horseback rides, rafting trips, and kayak excursions. All in all, this itinerary packs 10 vacations worth of experiences into just 12 days.
This jam-packed tour of Costa Rica’s highlights takes you from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Begin with a boat tour of Tortuguero before two days o f relaxation on Puerto Viejo Beach. Conquer the rapids on the Pacuare River en route to adventure-filled Arenal. Then, head to Monteverde, where you'll zipline through the rare cloud forest, followed by a cultural tour of local plantations. The trip winds down in Manuel Antonio, with its gorgeous beaches and adundant wildlife.
This road trip itinerary is a truly off-the-beaten-path nature excursion. Head to the remote beaches and rainforest of the Osa Peninsula before a scenic drive up the Pacific coast. You'll experience white-sand beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park, along with the cloud forest ecosystem of Monteverde where you'll hike over the jungle canopy via suspension bridges. Finally, you'll pay a visit to Arenal, an active volcano and one of Costa Rica's most famous landmarks.
This two-week nature tour is all about Costa Rica's biodiverse national parks. Begin in Tortuguero, where, depending on the time of year, you can embark on a nighttime turtle nesting tour. In Monteverde, explore the cloud forests via the hanging bridges and ziplines. Manuel Antonio provides the best of both worlds—rainforest and beach scenery–while a tour of the famous Corcovado National Park is a bucket list field trip for nature enthusiasts.
On this 14-day tour, you’ll experience some of Costa Rica’s most iconic destinations. First, stroll the capital city of San José prior to adventuring through La Fortuna, from Arenal volcano to whitewater rafting. Next, zipline through the biodiverse cloud forests of Monteverde. Then, tour three of the country’s most iconic beaches—Manuel Antonio, Uvita, and Jacó—which will include equal-parts exploration and relaxation, topped off with beautiful nightly sunsets.
This two-week itinerary includes many of Costa Rica's greatest hits. You'll venture into the country's most beautiful national parks and enjoy zip-lining adventures, nature hikes, beach excursions, and more. All the while you'll spot exotic animals as you traverse some of the most virgin rainforest landscapes in Central America.
Cycle from coast to coast on this epic adventure tour that will take you from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. See the real Costa Rica as you bike from village to village—past the farms, banana plantations, and sugar cane fields of the lowlands. You'll experience all this gorgeous country has to offer as you make your way towards the west coast, from jungle rivers to mountains to an active volcano to Costa Rica's famous coffee growing region. After an unforgettable cross-country bike ride, celebrate your achievement on the beaches of the storied Manuel Antonio National Park.
Checking off three key regions in Costa Rica, this 10-day itinerary is perfect for adventurous travelers. The trip starts with a visit to Costa Rica's famous Arenal Volcano for hiking and natural hot springs before continuing to the Pacific Ocean for some beach time at Manuel Antonio National Park. Finish off in one of the country's most remote areas—Osa Peninsula—for undeveloped rainforests, rare wildlife, and near-empty coastline.
Explore many of Costa Rica's off-the-beaten-path destinations on this 16-day self-drive tour. You'll travel to all corners of the country, from the surf town of Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast, to Arenal Volcano in the north, and to Pacific beaches and protected areas home to exotic wildlife like scarlet macaws. The final leg of this adventure will be a trip to the far south and the remote and beautiful Osa Peninsula.
There's no better place to replenish your mind, body, and soul than Costa Rica. It's a country as abundant in world-class wellness resorts as it is natural beauty. On this 15-day itinerary, you'll compliment the spa treatments with some exciting adventure excursions the country is famous for, like whitewater rafting, waterfall hikes, and ocean trips off the Pacific coast.
Head off to Costa Rica for a wellness excursion guaranteed to recharge your batteries. Over 14 days you'll enjoy yoga sessions and spa treatments in some of the most incredible eco-resorts in the world. Aside from total relaxation, you'll hike to tropical waterfalls, brave whitewater rapids, and experience the beaches of the Pacific coast.
This 16-day tour of Costa Rica will recharge your batteries through a combination of luxury wellness experiences and thrilling outdoor adventures. On this excursion, you'll travel across the country, from Arenal Volcano to the wild Pacuare River and out to Pacific beaches. Throughout the adventure, you'll replenish your body and soul in some of the most luxurious eco-retreats anywhere in the world.
There's no better way to rejuvenate your body and spirit than with a long soak in natural hot springs and some tropical outdoor adventures. Costa Rica offers all of this in the form of waterfall hikes, beach excursions, and whitewater rafting. You'll enjoy all of this plus spend a few days getting pampered in some of the most luxurious spas and eco-resorts in the world.
This packed 12-day itinerary combines the mind and body rejuvenation offered by wellness retreats with all the tropical adventure Costa Rica is famous for. You'll enjoy spa treatments and soaking in natural hot springs before embarking down wild rivers and hiking to exotic waterfalls. Add in some beach time on the Pacific coast and you have the perfect vacation for total enrichment.
In Costa Rica, it's possible to seamlessly mix tropical adventures with luxury wellness retreats and eco-resorts. Over 11 days you'll replenish your mind and body with yoga sessions and spa treatments while also enjoying some thrills in the form of white-water rafting and waterfall hikes. As a bonus, you'll get to laze on Pacific beaches and even learn the secrets to making chocolate.