The Essentials: Manuel Antonio
Location: Quepos, Costa Rica
Time Zone: Central Standard Time (CST), UTC -6.
Getting There: The only international airport on Costa Rica is Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose (SJO). SJO is located just under 3 hours away from Manuel Antonio if you’re travelling by car. Taxi rides and transfers organized through the hotel cost about $150 USD for the transfer. You can get a domestic flight to Quepos Airport (XQP) from SJO and many of the other domestic airports around Costa Rica that generally only take about 25 minutes. Surprisingly, they can be cheaper than the transfers if the times work for you.
Language: Spanish. Many people working in the tourism and service industry, such as hotel and restaurant staff, taxi drivers and people working at the National Parks speak excellent English.
Climate: High temperatures all year round. Rainy season between May and November, with dry season from December through to April. Very humid and sticky through the drier months.
Getting Around: You can get around pretty much everywhere in Manuel Antonio by taxi or walk. Taxis between the main road of hotels and the main beach and Manuel Antonio National Park cost about $10 USD per ride. You can walk between the National Park and the main beach in about 15-20 minutes.
The Money Sitch: There are absolutely no ATMs inside Manuel Antonio National Park. However, you can do a cash withdraw from the ticket box when you buy your ticket – this does have large fees associated with it, both in a commission fee to the ‘banker’ at the ticket box and also in international transfer fees, but it is good to know if you’re desperate. The most accessible ATM we found was at the small strip of shops on the corner of the 618 Freeway, Provincia de Puntarenas and the road that leads down to all the major hotels.
Internet Access: Great connections in most hotels as well as many restaurants and cafes.
The Main Streets: The “618 Road” (that’s the only name Google maps will give me) runs right down the hill all the way to the main beach of Playa Espadilla and Manuel Antonio National Park. You can find souvenirs and shopping between the park and the beach, with restaurants and cafes also lining the street.
Best Time To Go: Mid-December to April during the dry season, although be prepared for some very hot days and high humidity.
Can’t Miss: Manuel Antonio National Park is the main focus of this region of Costa Rica. Not only does it offer some of the most beautiful beaches with white sand shores and crystal clear water, the wildlife in the park is insane, with monkeys and exotic birds everywhere you turn. It’s also one of the best places in the country to get the chance to spot a sloth in their natural habitat. Make sure you take a walk down the Sloth Trail in the national park for your best chances. There’s also no shortage of adventure activities to be found in Manuel Antonio including 4WD, ATV and off-roading tours, kayaking, canoeing, wildlife safaris and night walks, hiking, camping, ziplining and aerial adventure parks.
Good To Know: If you’re arriving to Manuel Antonio via Quepos Airport there will not be transfers and taxis waiting at the airport (it’s not the type of domestic airport you’re probably used to). Make sure you organize to be picked up from the airport before you land to avoid waiting.