What is it that you should know to be a potential visitor to the Manuel Antonio National Park, and that your visit will be a success?
It is kind of a crucial question for every Costa Rica connoisseur: Is Manuel Antonio because of its high animal diversity and great sandy beaches, combined with topical, green rain forest a must for every Costa Rica visitor, or is the touristic village already too crowded, and its hotel infrastructure partly that old, that you would have to call it a tourist trap?
While knowing that Manuel Antonio National Park is a favourite destination of probably all tourists to Costa Rica, as well as the locals, I recommend you to visit on a weekday; Tuestdays the park generally is closed. During the main travel time, from December to April, dry weather is relatively certain. However, if you feel addressed by animal diversity, all the other months of the year are a good time to travel, too. This because animals are more active with potentially more humid weather, and because the vegetation appears in an even more impressive green. Between September and November, the migration phase of whales from the South to the North makes the park especially attractive. With a little bit of luck, you might be able to observe the whales passing by the park from its peak (Punta Catedral). The park opens at 7 am, therefore, you should get up early. It’s also because the park allows a maximum of 600 people (Monday, as well as Wednesday to Friday) and 800 people (on weekends) a day to ensure the protection of the animals. Therefore, if you are too late, you might not enter anymore. Earlier is better, also because it’s not as hot so far in the mornings, and you’ll be able to overcome the sometimes exhausting inclined paths, to Punta Catedral for instance, better.
A lot of tourists limit themselves on a visit to the parks’ two main beaches: Playa Espadilla Sur, with its exotic-dark sand, and Playa Manuel Antonio, which simply is a dream beach in white. The park in all has way more to offer: Well worth a visit is the loop path to Punta Catedral with its exquisite viewpoints. In addition to that, there are way less used paths that lead you to the beaches Playa Gemelas and Playa Escondido, which are likewise beautiful, as well as the La Cascada waterfall. All tracks are relatively short, you can walk them in one day. If you want to get to the main beaches fast, you should use the wide gravel road. On the other hand, if you’re here to experience and enjoy nature, you are better off on the footbridges on stilts, that offer interesting designed information boards to flora and fauna. Particular well worth seeing in Manuel Antonio is bigger, domestic animals, such as the capuchin and the squirrel monkeys, sloths, raccoons, and iguanas. You don’t need a certified natural guide, nor an expensive tour, to spot animals, don’t let yourself be alienated by obtrusive local guides at the park entrance. You’ll find showers and toilets at the beaches of Manuel Antonio and Espadilla Sur, sandwiches, cut fruits, and non-alcoholic beverages for a picnic, are allowed. Snacks in bags, alcohol, and extensive picnics are prohibited to protect the animals. Furthermore, those items are being confiscated at the entrance, prepare yourself for it.
Manuel Antonio covers all kinds of accommodation forms, likewise other touristic regions in the country: From backpacker accommodation to 5-stars luxury hotels. All of them with the common denominator, that the average price for a night is clearly higher than the average one of the hotels in the Central Valley. Therefore, you have to count on the fact that with the same budget you get a deeper comfort and service, or an older infrastructure. That means that if you want to hold the same hotel standard you’re having on your Costa Rica trip, you’d have to plan a higher budget. The fewest hotels offer direct access to the beach, most of them are located on the hill between the national park and the village of Quepos but offer an attractive view to the Pacific. Also, at least as many times, many steps from your room to the hotel facilities, and vice versa.
At the public beach of Espadilla in front of the national park, there are some nice bars and restaurants, that are great for an ice-cold refreshment after an adventurous day in the park. I recommend you to visit one of the numerous restaurants with a view of the sea at the end of your day, with an amazing sunset, that in Costa Rica is early, at about 6 pm. International cuisine is in the spotlight, often in a creative-tropical setting with colourful lights, in a plane (El Avion - fresh fish and seafood), or a train cabin (El Wagon - Pizzeria). Furthermore, the 4 - 5-star hotels outperform each other with appealing locations and top quality. Although prices are high, they deliver with mentioned quality. If you’re in the area with your rental car, you should use it in the evening, because the winding street doesn’t offer a lot of space to walk safely. The other option is taking a taxi to get to your destination.
Read here more about what the "Ticos" eat.
With its unique location, its tropical vegetation and animal diversity, and last but not least, its infrastructure, the Manuel Antonio National Park earns its name to be one of the most visited national parks in the country. Therefore, best would be you’re preparing yourself to find a busy village with a wide touristic offer. If you’re preparing yourself, and you’re choosing your accommodation carefully, I am sure, you are able to spend some wonderful days of vacation in Manuel Antonio!
Would you like to get more details and information about accommodations in Manuel Antonio?
The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!
Thank you very much for everything!
Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.
Hello dear Aline,
Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!
Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
All the best
Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!
Hi Eli & ARA Team,
We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
With warm regards
Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
Sunny greetings, pura vida
Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
Thank you Stefanie!
We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!
Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.
Good day Jennifer
As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.
Thank you, everything really worked out great.
Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.
- The route was super planned, first time to arrive at the beach and then from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
- Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was very, very good!
- The Home Stay day was absolute highlight - very authentic - so they got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived, you were also allowed to look at the house there and Mrs. Neumann found it also a great experience for their children
We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!
We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.
Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!
You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!
Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.
Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!
perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled
Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!
I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).
We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀
I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!
You and your team have organized a great trip and wonderful days for the guests in your beautiful country and I thank you very much for that!
Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!
Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss
Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.
Apdo 799 – 1007
San José, Costa Rica
Licenced by the Costa Rican Tourist Board: Lic ICT OT 294
Liability insurance: Instituto Costarricense de Seguros (INS) Coverage: Territory of the Republic of Costa Rica
Derechos Reservados - ARA Agencia de Viajes Internacional S.A © 2022