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An easy 2.5-hour drive from San Jose International Airport, Manuel Antonio is a paradise for nature lovers looking to spend time with the local wildlife. This touristy beach town is located in North Puntarenas and is home to Manuel Antonio National Park, the smallest of its kind in Costa Rica but one of the most frequently visited and famous national parks in the country.
With the national park in close proximity, Manuel Antonio has grown in popularity in recent years with tons of tourism businesses springing up. However, this doesn’t mean that the town has turned into a concrete jungle. In contrast, Manuel Antonio has maintained a delicate balance with nature. There is still a cloak of rainforest enveloping the town, and wildlife is as abundant as ever.
Apart from the national park, the breathtaking views of Playa Espadilla also draw thousands of visitors to the town every year. This has led to a wide range of accommodation options opening in town, from backpacker hostels to luxurious hilltop resorts.
While it’s great to have choices, it can be a bit of a headache to choose just one place to stay. Lucky for you, I’m pretty versed when it comes to deciding where to stay in Manuel Antonio, and in this blog, I’ll share with you some of my top hotel picks for every budget. I’ve also broken it down into the different areas you can choose from with the pros and cons to staying in each!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Most visitors will enjoy staying in Manuel Antonio town because it’s centrally located, only a short drive from Playa Espadilla (the main beach in town) and the park’s entrance gates. Our top hotel pick in the area is Hotel La Mariposa, a luxury hotel with absolutely gorgeous views. Book Hotel La Mariposa online on Booking.com here, Hotels.com here, or Expedia here!
What are the Best Areas to Stay in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
As far as Manuel Antonio accommodations go, you have four primary areas to choose from: Manuel Antonio town, near Playa Espadilla, Quepos Point, or the city of Quepos.
Manuel Antonio town is the central area with the most hotels and restaurants. Most of the accommodations here offer much-wanted privacy, but you’ll be on the hills and a short drive from Playa Espadilla (the main beach in town) and the park’s entrance gates.
Playa Espadilla is the main beach close to Manuel Antonio and is a prime spot for beach lovers to stay. The beach itself is flatter compared to the town center, so walking around is a lot easier. It’s also located right beside Manuel Antonio National Parks entrance gate, which is great for convenience but also makes the area very busy and congested.
Quepos Point is located in a remote area, so expect quiet surroundings and plenty of wildlife. You’ll only find luxury resorts here, though, but if this is your idea of a grand vacation, Quepos Point is the place to be.
Quepos is the closest city to Manuel Antonio (about 15 minutes away), which houses some of the cheapest accommodations. That said, many visitors prefer staying here for the budget-friendly rooms and to experience the more “local” community atmosphere since Manuel Antonio is purely a tourist town.
I’ve compiled a list of my favorite hotels in and around Manuel Antonio below to help you pick out which one is perfect for your vacation.
About Staying in Manuel Antonio Town
Staying in the town center of Manuel Antonio means you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping views of the ocean without blowing through your budget. You can find plenty of hotel and hostel choices here, some of which feature unmatched views of the Pacific.
Although the town center is about a five-minute drive to the beach (Playa Espadilla) and the national park entrance, you’ll still be close enough to nature, thanks to the dense vegetation enveloping the town. Expect to encounter the local wildlife, especially mischievous monkeys trying to steal your sandwich.
Another thing you should take note of when staying in Manuel Antonio is that it’s on the hills and somewhat spread out. You can still walk around, but it can be a bit tricky since the roads are inclined – just be prepared for a bit of a workout!
Advantages to staying in Manuel Antonio Town:
- Lots of cafes and delicious restaurants
- Lots of beautiful accommodations to choose from
- Budget hotels available
- A short taxi ride or bus ride to the beach and Manuel Antonio National Park
- Ocean views from up on the hill
- Easy access to all of the best activities in Manuel Antonio
Disadvantages of staying in Manuel Antonio Town:
- Can be hard to walk around with the hills
- Not walking distance to the beach or national park
- The road can be busy and loud
- Not so peaceful
3 BEST Hotels in Manuel Antonio Town
$$$ – Hotel La Mariposa
You may be in Manuel Antonio to get up close and personal with the wildlife in the National Park, but it wouldn’t hurt to add a sprinkle of luxury to your vacation. That is exactly what you’ll get at Hotel La Mariposa.
Standing on the town’s highest point, La Mariposa treats guests to a majestic 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean, the National Park, and even the neighboring town of Quepos. You can see the expansive blue for miles on end with no obstruction at all. This makes it a perfect backdrop for your photos (believe me, the pictures you’ll take here will be the highlight of your Instagram feed).
La Mariposa has a lot more in store for its guests, too. With its wooden furniture and tropical decor, it’s brimming with Costa Rican charm everywhere you look. There are also top-notch amenities and services you can find right on the property.
Among them are two infinity pools, where a panoramic vista of the ocean is waiting; a spa center, where you’ll get pampered with soothing body treatments; a pool bar to quench your thirst for cocktails; a complimentary beach shuttle for easy access to Biesanz Beach; and concierge services for days when you’re up for an adventure.
My favorite amenity is definitely the large infinity pool, but I personally think the hotel’s open-air Le Papillon Restaurant is the next best thing. Serving both international and Costa Rican cuisines, Le Papillon combines exceptional views with sumptuous dishes to create an unmatched gastronomic experience. Make sure to grab a seat on the alfresco dining terrace, so you can enjoy the views while digging into your food.
Apart from the amenities, I’m sure you’ll love the rooms. Save for the Standard Rooms, they all feature floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to your balcony or terrace that look out to the jungle and the ocean. If you really want to splurge, stay at the Honeymoon Suite on the upper floor. This spacious room comes complete with a living room and an oversized jacuzzi on the deck overlooking the gorgeous Pacific.
$$ – Hotel Villas Lirio
Nestled in the lush foliage of Manuel Antonio, Hotel Villas Lirio will definitely wow you with its Costa Rican charm. As soon as you step into the property, you’ll be greeted with Costa Rican-style décor featuring wood accents and tropical colors. This gives the property a warm, cozy atmosphere that makes you want to stay longer.
Another major thing I love about Villas Lirio is the individuality of each room. While all 33 guestrooms are appointed with the same amenities like air conditioning, mini-fridge, and cable TV, no two rooms are exactly alike. Every one is uniquely decorated and highlights different local Costa Rican art. But whichever room you end up picking, you’ll still get a refreshing view of the hotel’s garden from your window or terrace.
Stepping away from your room, you’ll wind up in the large crystalline pool in the middle of the property. This one has a pool bar for your cocktail needs and is bordered by about a dozen sun loungers. If you’re looking for somewhere more private, Villas Lirio has another pool on the edge of the property, away from the main buildings and lined with towering palms.
Once you’ve had your fill of the water, you can relax in the game room outfitted with table tennis, billiard table, foosball, and card game. I personally liked hanging out in the tropical-style restaurant and lounge, though, where you can find more local artwork.
Accommodations here cost between $104 and $173 USD per night, inclusive of breakfast.
$ – Teva Jungle Hotel and Hostel
For something that’s right in the town proper of Manuel Antonio, Teva Jungle Hotel and Hostel is easily one of the most budget-friendly accommodation providers.
You can pitch your own tent on the 20-hectare property for as low as $10 USD per night. And if rustic camping is not your thing, there are plenty of room options to choose from. The hotel has several private rooms ($46 to $110 per night) for those who want peace and quiet and lots of dorm beds ($14 to $30 USD per night) for those who like to meet new travel buddies.
While I love the idea of camping on the property to get closer to nature, I’m someone who prefers having the conveniences of modern life. If you’re like me, then I can’t recommend the Apartment enough. This is the most spacious room option at Teva, well-equipped with a living area, smart TV, kitchen, and en-suite bathroom with a hot-water shower. I also love the room’s private outdoor deck that overlooks the lush jungle.
Besides the cheap rooms, Teva’s major draw is its fabulous Moroccan-Latin fusion restaurant, Azulëo. Here, your taste buds will be spoiled for choice with dishes like Moroccan Kefta Burger, Pil Pil Pacific Shrimp, and Famous Shakshuka.
After filling your tummy, grab a drink in the pool bar and take a quick dip in the pool to escape the summer heat. The hotel also offers fitness and wellness programs to choose from.
If you feel like exploring for the day, the hotel staff can recommend adventure tours for you to try in the Manuel Antonio area. I also suggest trying the hiking trails right on the property (especially when the National Park is packed), as this alone is enough to get you up close and personal with the local wildlife.
About Staying near Playa Espadilla (the Beach)
Stretching along the coast next to the national park, Playa Espadilla is considered the main beach of the town. The waves here are smaller compared to other Costa Rican beaches, but that’s exactly why it’s such an ideal spot for learning to surf.
Playa Espadilla is actually divided into two sections: Espadilla Norte and Espadilla Sur. Espadilla Norte is closer to the town itself, is open to anyone, and has a flatter coastline than Espadiila Sur. You can find plenty of dining options and beach vendors here, so you don’t need to wander far if you’re craving coconut juice. This is also the area where you will find some of Manuel Antonio’s best hotels!
Espadilla Sur, on the other hand, is only accessible via the national park, meaning you’d have to pay for a ticket to get here. But I promise you, the price is worth it as the beach is away from most of the crowd. You also have access to the mangroves on the beach’s backside, bringing you closer to the park’s beautiful flora. You can’t find establishments or vendors here, though, but this only makes it more secluded and relaxing. If you choose a hotel near Espadilla Norte, then you can easily walk into the National Park and relax at Espadilla Sur for the day.
Advantages of staying in Playa Espadilla:
- Close to the beach
- Some nice restaurants and stores around
- Walking distance to the national park
- Can easily walk around
Disadvantages of staying in Playa Espadilla:
- Limited accommodation options
- Most hotels are expensive
- Can be very busy during the day when tour buses come to the national park and beach
- Hard to get parking
- Less wildlife around
3 BEST Hotels near the Beach in Manuel Antonio
$$$ – Espadilla Gardens Hotel
Espadilla Gardens Hotel is relatively small at first look, especially since it only has single-floor buildings. But don’t let its size fool you. While small, it’s perfectly suited for a comfortable stay and comes with all the essentials you might need.
When it comes to dining, you can walk to Puerto Escondido Restaurant, the hotel’s off-site restaurant only two minutes away on foot. Both international and Costa Rican flavors are served here, from fresh toast and burgers to fresh seafood and chicken. My favorite dish is hands down, the whole fish with spicy sriracha sauce. I love their cocktails and smoothies, as well.
Back on the property, there’s a large swimming pool in the middle of the buildings, where you can swim to your heart’s content. I like that the pool is surrounded by lush vegetation, so you can watch the wildlife hanging out in the trees while you float in the water. You can also find a handful of luxurious covered sunbeds and sun loungers lining the pool, perfect for an afternoon nap. Speaking of napping, several hammocks and chairs dot the hotel’s tropical garden in case you want to be closer to nature.
If your idea of a good time is exploring the area, just approach the hotel staff, and they’ll happily assist you in booking local tours in Manuel Antonio. You can try sport fishing, hiking in the National Park, and white water rafting.
Playa Espadilla is really close to the hotel, too (just a three-minute walk), so feel free to play in the sand and surf whenever you like!
Retreat to your airy room at the end of the day, well-appointed with air conditioning, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and a coffee maker. I also love that the rooms have a little furnished terrace with pool and garden views. Nightly rates here start at $234 USD, with breakfast included.
$$ – Millenium Manuel Antonio
If visiting the National Park is your main reason for coming to the town, there’s no better hotel for you than Millenium Manuel Antonio. This two-star hotel is legitimately just 25 meters (82 ft) away from the park entrance and five minutes on foot from Playa Espadilla, meaning you can enjoy the park and the beach whenever you please! I also like that Millenium is conveniently located near supermarkets, restaurants, and bars, so it feels like you’re just within the town proper.
Beyond the hotel’s prime location, what makes Millenium an awesome find is its on-site amenities and services. If you don’t feel like walking to the coast, you can always stay cool in the outdoor pool, lay back in the sun loungers, or rent a car to explore the area. I personally love booking with Adobe Cars because they have a no-charge drop off service!
I also loved spending my afternoons holed up in the cozy and airy room, just watching TV or reading a book on the terrace. Other amenities you can find en-suite are air conditioning, a private bathroom with a shower, and a seating area (select rooms).
The Basic Double Room here costs as low as $134 USD per night, while the Deluxe King Suite starts at $249 USD, both for double occupancy and inclusive of breakfast.
$ – Costa Linda Art Hostel
When deciding where to stay in Manuel Antonio on a budget, you can never go wrong with Costa Linda Art Hostel. Sure, its rooms are pretty bare and basic, but it’s the hostel’s budget-friendly rates and central location that make it one of my go-to Manuel Antonio hotels.
For as low as $40 USD a night, you get to be just a two-minute walk away from the beach and seven minutes on foot from the entrance of the National Park! Costa Linda Art Hostel is also one of the cheapest accommodations in the area (the other budget spots are all the way in Quepos). That alone is already a major draw, in my opinion.
The hostel also boasts a handful of amenities, so you won’t need to wander far. You can grab breakfast in the in-house restaurant and bar. My favorite is the Mahi Mahi Special, but there are also tons of continental options like pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fruit slices. When I’m not making a splash on the beach, I love hanging out in the on-site library that houses an extensive German book collection.
Another thing that makes Costa Linda special is that they display several of their guests’ artwork, from carvings to paintings. It was because of this that the property came to be known as “Art Hostel.”
You can choose from a wide variety of rooms here. They have a six-bed dorm and several private rooms, all inclusive of breakfast.
About Staying in Quepos Point (Puntas Quepos)
If luxury is your thing, there is no better place to look for the best hotels in Manuel Antonio than in Quepos Point. This remote area is nestled on the peninsula and is brimming with luxury resorts to spoil you rotten. Most of the accommodations here are surrounded by tropical vegetation, so you’re sure to see lots of wildlife.
Did I mention that the ocean views here are nothing short of dreamy? Since the hotels are perched on the hills, you get spectacular sunset views.
The only downside of staying in Quepos Point is you’ll be a drive away from the beach and the national park, so you have to add car rental or taxi expenses to your budget.
Advantages to staying in Quepos Point:
- Very quiet environment
- Luxurious and more exclusive area
- Lots of wildlife around
- Some quieter beaches nearby
Disadvantages of staying in Quepos Point:
- Very few shops and restaurants around
- Resorts and hotels are expensive
- Must get transport to visit the National Park or Playa Espadilla
3 BEST Hotels in Quepos Point
$$$ – Parador Resort and Spa
Boasting a unique blend of old-world ambiance and the warmth of Costa Rican hospitality, El Parador Resort & Spa is one of the best hotels in Manuel Antonio for guests looking to spoil themselves rotten. This luxurious hotel is set on the hills of Quepos Point, close to Playa Biesanz and overlooking the vast Pacific. This means the spectacular views take front and center here.
In fact, you’ll get to enjoy the phenomenal views wherever you are on the property, whether you’re splashing in one of the three pools, dining on the restaurant terrace, or chilling in the private balcony of your suite. I also love that El Parador features a host of world-class amenities for your enjoyment. There’s the fully-equipped fitness center, outdoor tennis court, mini-golf course, jungle trails (where you’ll see tons of wildlife!), and yoga sessions.
If you’d rather explore the area than stay in the hotel, I’m happy to tell you that El Parador offers a complimentary shuttle service to take you straight to the beach! You can find a concierge desk at the hotel, too, if you need help planning your itinerary around Quepos and Manuel Antonio. When you head back to the property, cool yourself off in the 24-hour adult-only pool before rejuvenating your tired muscles with a relaxing body treatment at the hotel’s spa.
At dinnertime, you can pick from one of the restaurants on-site. I personally enjoyed dining in the La Fragata because I got to take in the refreshing view of the ocean while digging into my fresh seafood meal. La Cava is also a great choice if you’re after a more private romantic dinner – perfect if you’re on a honeymoon in Costa Rica. Other dining options you have on-site include the Gourmet Room, El Galeón Pool Bar, La Reina, Bar Don Juan, and La Galeria.
Finally, head to your suite to cap your day off. A total of 129 rooms are available, spread among four buildings and each one featuring a balcony with a view of the mountain or ocean. If you like to spoil yourself, I suggest booking the adults-only suites that come complete with a private jacuzzi on the terrace. Other en-suite amenities at your disposal include air conditioning, a mini-bar, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, and a coffee maker.
Booking a room here starts at $410 USD, inclusive of a daily buffet breakfast at La Galeria Restaurant. If you really want to get the most out of your stay, El Parador also offers package deals with tours and spa treatments.
$$$ – Shana by the Beach Manuel Antonio
Don’t know where to stay in Manuel Antonio with your family? Then check out Shana by the Beach. This boutique hotel is nestled in the lush greenery of Quepos Point’s hills, bringing you closer to nature and treating you to an expansive view of the Pacific.
It’s the property’s prime location that drew me into it in the first place. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to get away from the busy town streets?
Another one of Shana by the Beach’s major highlights is its private beach access to Biesanz Beach. From the hilltop, you can follow a nature trail lined with jungle trees and tropical flowers. Lots of wildlife hang out around this area, so keep your eyes peeled for sloths, toucans, and spider monkeys in the trees. Once you reach the end of the forest, you’ll be welcomed by the soft sands of Biesanz Beach – one of the best beaches in the area.
If you feel like a visit to the beach is meant for another day, you can always stay within the property grounds. Shana by the Beach has tons of entertainment facilities in store for you. You can find a refreshing pool here, complete with a poolside bar to quench your thirst for a glass of margarita. Drop by the Elements Spa for a soothing treatment or order the best-selling seafood pasta in the Bella Vista Restaurant, both of which are just right on-site.
After a day of adventure, retreat to your airy room outfitted with cable TV, mini-fridge, air conditioning, rain shower, and Wi-Fi. I love that all the room types have a private balcony for you to enjoy the jungle and ocean views.
If you’re traveling with family and friends, I suggest booking the Presidential Suite which sleeps up to eight people. This room doesn’t only give you more than enough space but also offers access to your very own pool, full kitchen and dining area, and outdoor daybed. Talk about sleeping in style!
A night here can cost anywhere from $202 to $396 USD, inclusive of breakfast. You can check availability and book Shana by the Beach online here on Booking.com, here on Hotels.com, or here on Expedia!
$$$ – Issimo Suites (Adults Only)
The perfect honeymoon in Costa Rica is spent at a luxurious five-star hotel on the beach. But what makes it even better is when you can spend your entire stay without having to deal with rowdy kids. This is exactly why the adults-only Issimo Suites makes it on my list of the best hotels in Manuel Antonio.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific cove, this boutique hotel offers guests complete relaxation and privacy. You’ll be cozily nestled in the lush jungles of Quepos Point but will still be just within a quick walk away from the hotel’s secret beach. Can you imagine a more ideal setting?
With Issimo Suites being a five-star hotel, you’ll probably expect nothing but world-class amenities. Fortunately, the hotel doesn’t disappoint. It has an on-site spa that will massage your worries away, an outdoor pool with a poolside bar that will keep you cool during the day, and a Mediterranean restaurant that will serve you tender cuts of lamb and a breathtaking view of the ocean and jungle.
While these amenities alone make Issimo Suites one of the must-book Manuel Antonio hotels, what really made me fall in love with the property is its terrace. Here, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of the Pacific and its year-long beautiful sunsets that will surely make a phenomenal backdrop for your Instagram photos.
Apart from these top-notch amenities, I love the hotel’s lavish suites, all well-appointed with TVs, Egyptian cotton sheets, wireless internet access, air conditioning, and a minibar. But if you think the en-suite facilities stop there, think again. The suites also feature floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces, giving you an unmatched view of the jungle and the ocean. As the cherry on top, you have a private jacuzzi right in the comfort of your room!
You have three room options at Issimo Suites: the Master Suites priced from $326 USD, the Penthouse Suites from $391 USD, and the Honeymoon Suites with an ocean view from $456 USD a night. Breakfast is already included in every booking.
About Staying in Quepos (City)
Sitting about a 20-minute bus or taxi ride from Manuel Antonio, Quepos is referred to as the entry point to Manuel Antonio National Park. This harbor city is typically where guests first arrive when visiting the area, so expect to find plenty of budget accommodations and guesthouses here.
The small city also hosts several restaurants, bars, banks, supermarkets, and other shops, so you won’t have to go far to get your essentials. Everything is just within walking distance, and with Quepos having easy-to-walk streets, you won’t have to rent a car. The bus station in the center of town offers transport to the National Park every 20-minutes or so.
I also love that the dining scene here is very cheap compared to the tourist prices in Manuel Antonio. In fact, you can get some seafood meals for half the price!
Beyond the convenient facilities and great-value-for-money food, Quepos will enchant you with its authentic local atmosphere. It’s almost as if you’re not close to a tourist destination as the town has retained its Tico charm despite the tourism boom. This is one of the reasons why many visitors prefer staying here.
Advantages to staying in Quepos:
- Cheap accommodation
- Walking distance to tons of local shops and restaurants
- A nice marina in town to walk
- Has a more local atmosphere
Disadvantages of staying in Quepos:
- Busy local city with not many tourist attractions
- Far from Manuel Antonio and any nice swimming beaches
- Lack of nature
- No luxury hotels/resorts to choose from
3 BEST Hotels in Quepos
$$ – Sueño Tranquilo
While Sueño Tranquilo Hotel seems pretty basic at first look, it’s one of the Manuel Antonio hotels with a really good value for money. For as low as $67 USD per night, you can enjoy a spacious room with all the standard amenities to make a comfortable stay: a shower, flat-screen TV, hairdryer, and work desk.
If you do end up staying at Sueño Tranquilo, make sure to book a room with a terrace or balcony, where you can enjoy a relaxing view of the pool. Speaking of the pool, it’s a decent size and bordered by some tropical plants. It can get a bit hot, though, since there is no shade. But you can always lay back in the sun loungers under the palm tree if you want to stay outside your room.
Although Sueño Tranquilo lacks luxurious amenities, its convenient location is what makes me want to return here. It’s just right across the street from the highly recommended Bahia Azul restaurant, six minutes on foot from the Parada Boca Vieja bus stop, and a 12-minute walk to the Canopy Safari. You can also drive to Nahomi Park (1.4 km away), El Oscars Galleria (7.7 km away), and Manuel Antonio National Park (7.7 km away).
$$ – Best Western Hotel & Casino Kamuk
If chain hotels are more your style, then Best Western Hotel & Casino Kamuk is one of the best Manuel Antonio hotels for your vacation. It’s a bit of a drive from Manuel Antonio National Park (about 16 minutes), but it’s totally worth it, especially if you’re after the amenities of a four-star hotel.
There are tons of things to do right on the property grounds. Try your luck in the casino, make a splash in the private outdoor pool, or get pampered with a tropical organic facial in the Kae Spa.
My personal favorite amenity, though, is the Mira Olas Restaurant. It’s on the hotel’s third floor, meaning you can take in a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean while digging into your complimentary continental breakfast. Apart from serving only the freshest of ingredients, the restaurant also lets you bring in locally caught fish for them to prepare and serve with no extra fees! Talk about excellent service!
Best Western’s strategic location is one of the major things I also like about it. You’re so close to the beach that you can go surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and pier fishing at any time of day. The hotel also has super friendly staff who’ll happily help you plan your day and book you canopy tours to the rainforests or river-rafting trips.
After a long day of adventure, you can head back to the property and retreat to your cozy suites. Every room here is outfitted with luxurious amenities like air conditioning, a cable TV, a coffee maker, and a hot shower.
If you’re after an elevated experience or traveling with family, I recommend the Premium Room. This is the most spacious room type in the hotel and comes complete with a balcony, where you can sip your morning cup of coffee while enjoying the ocean view and sea breeze.
$ – Wide Mouth Frog
If you’re staying in Quepos on a budget, I highly suggest booking a room (or bed) in Wide Mouth Frog. This backpacker hostel is not only close to the main bus station but also offers guests a wide range of room types to suit every budget.
There’s the family room priced from $63 USD to $120 a night, double rooms from $32 to $55, single rooms from $38, and a dorm room bed from $20. Whichever one you pick is outfitted with the basic amenities for a comfy stay, including free wireless internet, cozy beddings, and a private bathroom and outdoor seating area for select rooms.
When you step out of your room, you will immediately see the inviting pool, complete with sun loungers, where you can lay back and enjoy the refreshing atmosphere. There are some chairs and tables under the shade of the towering trees, too, perfect for spending a lazy afternoon with a good book. You can also watch a movie or two in the open-air TV lounge or sink into one of the hammocks in the garden.
If you’re a solo traveler who wants to meet new travel buddies, just head to the open-plan kitchen and dining area. You’re sure to find some guests prepping their meals here. I also loved hanging out in their on-site restaurant, especially since they serve both Costa Rican and American dishes!
Must-Do Activities While You’re in Manuel Antonio
Coffee and chocolate tour – Coffee and chocolate are two of my favorite things. So, it should come as no surprise I just had to join this top-rated coffee and chocolate tour in Manuel Antonio! The tour teaches you about the historical importance of cacao as well as the entire process of making chocolate. It’s a fantastic experience!
Ziplining – Did you know that Manuel Antonio is home to the longest twin zip line in Costa Rica? Well, on this tour, you’ll get to zoom through the treetops on a tandem zipline over 4,300 feet long! You can race your friends and enjoy the experience together, which is incredible!
ATV tour– ATVing is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Manuel Antonio. The entire tour is so much fun and takes you into the jungle to explore at high speed and then refresh in a natural waterfall. You’ll get wet and dirty but have a fantastic time! A traditional Costa Rica lunch is also included.
Getting Around Costa Rica
How you choose to get around Costa Rica is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning your holiday here! How you do it depends on your budget, travel style, and comfort level.
Renting a Car
Without a doubt, the number one way to explore Costa Rica is in a rental car. We book rental cars on the Discover Cars website as we have had good experiences with them in the past.
One of the things you need to watch for when renting a car in Costa Rica is the mandatory insurance that the government requires you to have. There are a lot of very cheap rentals that don’t include this mandatory insurance (TPL) in the original booking price, but there are also ones that do. To avoid additional surprise charges when you pick up your rental car, be sure to rent a car that includes the mandatory insurance when you book.
Thankfully, on Discover Cars it’s easy to tell apart the companies that include the mandatory insurance and those that don’t. The trick is you can’t pick any car on their website. In the picture below, you can see this rental car, with pick up in Jaco, includes the TPL. That means the mandatory insurance is included in the price. Any cover you get above that is extra.
Of course, I still suggest getting the full coverage offered by Discover Cars, which covers you even more.
You can browse cars on Discover Cars here.
Adobe Rental Rent A Car is another rental company that we most often use in Costa Rica. We love them because Adobe has 15 offices around Costa Rica and delivers door-to-door around their offices at no extra cost. We also are pleased that all of their cars are new. In fact, they are never older than 2 years to the date. They are also the only company to include mandatory insurance and promise no hidden fees. You can get a free quote for a rental car from their website here.
If renting a car isn’t in your budget, you don’t feel comfortable driving in Costa Rica, or you just don’t like driving, shuttles are the next best option. There are hundreds of shuttle routes available all over the country, and they are very affordable.
Shuttles in Costa Rica are specifically for tourists and often include pick up and drop off at your selected hotels and airports. The drivers also speak some English, and the vehicles have air conditioning. You’ll also be guaranteed a seat when you book a shuttle (which isn’t the case with the public bus system.)
To get the best price, use the website Bookaway. They compare all the offers and prices of shuttle companies in Costa Rica so you get the best price! Honestly, we have saved so much money using Bookaway!
You can search for shuttles online on Bookaway here.
Lastly, you can use the public bus system. On short journeys, such as from San Jose to La Fortuna or Uvita to Manuel Antonio, this system is great. However, the longer the journey the more hassle and time spent on a bus. It’s undoubtedly best to save the public bus in Costa Rica for short and straightforward trips!
The public buses are definitely the cheapest way to get around Costa Rica, but they are not always very reliable and schedules often change without notice and delays are to be expected. The buses can also be very crowded and hot – so just be prepared!
It’s also good to speak some Spanish if you plan on riding the public bus since most drivers and ticket booth operators don’t speak English.
Invest in Travel Insurance
Paying out of pocket for trip interruptions or medical treatment will add to what might already be a stressful situation. We always travel with SafetyWing travel medical insurance.
The best part is that it costs only a fraction of what most insurance policies charge, which makes it perfect for digital nomads, long-term travelers (like us), and budget travelers. It only costs $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country. We usually purchase it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada from Colombia before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Everything you need for a tropical vacation is all here in Manuel Antonio: pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and thriving wildlife. With all the exciting activities and mouth-watering cuisine the town boasts, it’s easy to see why it has become a hotspot in recent years.
Between these 12 Manuel Antonio hotels, I hope you finally have a pick! If you’re still undecided, though, you’ll be happy to know that you can find dozens upon dozens of other accommodation options in and around town. Let me know in the comments where you stayed in town, and I’ll surely check it out the next time I visit.
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